how to be faithful “in the mean time”

Over at StandFirm, in response to this article, Eddie Swain wrote:

I’m starting to see that my problem is my ecclesiology.  I don’t get the whole “individual and personal goals” thing that [some are talking about].  But, that is because I think of the church as one body.

I’m not looking for me to develop a plan on my own and then follow my own personal goals . . . I wouldn’t even be all that terribly wild about a local parish plan for survival.  All of that is just too “congregationalist” for my understanding of ecclesiology….

But, I have yet to be convinced that ACNA will end up being much more than “congregationalist” by the time all is said and done, though I am convinced that the goal is to move past congregationalism in some way or another.

It may be that all of our options are just too congregationalist for me, and that may be a reality that I just need to accept and evaluate my choices from there.

What I long for is a concerted effort rather than a collection of individual and personal goals that do not have a clear unified direction.  That appears to be impossible on the “inside strategy,” and, if so, another reality I just need to adjust to.

Believe it or not, Sarah’s clarification [Sarah had written, the national institutions of TEC are lost forever.  But then . . . we all knew that back in 2003 and 2004 and 2005 and 2006 and 2007 and 2008, right? The question is, are there portions of TEC that are salvageable.  I believe that there are. But we shall see and time will tell.] may have helped, even though it wasn’t at all what I was hoping to hear.

and my response:

I too resonate with the whole subject of ecclesiology. And I too find parochial and personal plans to be nearly deficient. It has helped me to remember that “catholic” does not mean universal as so many want us to think. You’ll remember that it comes from two Greek words: kat’, meaning “according to,” and holos, meaning “the whole.” To be catholic means that every church has the marks of, the characteristics of, the whole Church. Fr. Thomas Hopko has said

The term “catholic,” as originally used to define the Church (as early as the first decades of the second century), was a definition of quality rather than quantity. Calling the Church catholic means to define how it is, namely, full and complete, all-embracing, and with nothing lacking.
Even before the Church was spread over the world, it was defined as catholic. The original Jerusalem Church of the apostles, or the early city-churches of Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, or Rome, were catholic. These churches were catholic… because nothing essential was lacking for them to be the genuine Church of Christ. God Himself is fully revealed and present in each church through Christ and the Holy Spirit, acting in the local community of believers with its apostolic doctrine, ministry (hierarchy), and sacraments, thus requiring nothing to be added to it in order for it to participate fully in the Kingdom of God.

And so the personal and parochial plan I’m engaged in is to work very hard to see that my parish has the marks—the characteristics—of unity, sanctity, wholeness and faithfulness to the Tradition. I can do that irrespective of whether the ABC and the Primates choose to recognize the ACNA, and I can do that irrespective of what 815 and General Convention do. My spiritual director reminded me to take the long view and be patient. It took from 325 to 681 for the Church to work out Who Christ is and what His nature is…


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