Not being of a Chauvinistic/ Imperialistic bent about religion, I’ve always thought people should serve within the denomination in which they can best be discipled. All denominations are only delivery systems for the Kingdom, after all.
This new scheme has some rather odd resonances — if a clergy colleague came to see me to say they believed God was calling them to be a Baptist, if that’s discipled, I’d be delighted. If the Baptists then announced they had a special scheme for Anglicans where you could be a Baptist but also, as a former Anglican, you could carry on doing infant baptisms, my eyebrows would raise.
How jolly postmodern of them, I’d think, but wait a minute. Assimilating a lot of people who perhaps have struggled, and some might even say haven’t made a raging success of living within their own tradition, you’ll get two sorts of “convert”:
- people who really should try out and perhaps are called by God to be part of the Roman tradition. Becoming Roman Catholics will enable them to be better disciples, so the whole Church of God, every denomination, is enriched — the wealth of one Christian expression is the resource of all: Hip, hip, hooray!
- people who aren’t terribly good at living in any tradition on anything but their own terms. “The disciplines and relationships of Community are for the little people...”
The latest special offer may not be good news for the Pope’s own people. There are, for example, genuine Roman Catholic clergy who have faithfully and heroicially struggled and somehow managed to live sacrificially within their Church’s discipline, because they sincerely believed it was necessary. Where does it leave them to know that Auntie in Rome is now doing a PostModern family promotion for married Anglicans, but they’re not invited? However delighted I might be, were this me, that Auntie is now being jolly and Post-Modern to the Anglicans, I’d hope she manages to find some way, after all these years, of being jolly and Post-Modern to me…