Lost Our Middle Way?

Yesterday, the priest in charge of our link parish in London, the Rev. Paul Kennedy reminded us of the original goal of the Church of England to be a “via media”–a middle way that would be able to unite the various factions within Christianity.

This is particularly true of the Broad Church, which in the past has strived to accept both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical Anglicans into the one fold under the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen of England. In the nineteenth century, Incarnation was part of this progressive, non-partisan wing of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.

These days, the increasing divisiveness of the political arena seems to have affected the religious realm. Christian denominations are becoming more and more political, either toward the right, as with some evangelical churches, or toward the left, as most mainline Protestant churches. One result is more politics in the pulpit and in public prayer–a phenomenon that has often put off potential members of American churches and driven present members away.

Yet, as Fr. Kennedy noted, Anglicanism strives to present the subtleties of Christianity, which doesn’t lead to easy answers or hard doctrines, and therefore will often shy away from extreme political positions.

It’s not easy to be the via media. —J. Douglas Ousley

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