Monday, 30 June 2008

US General Convention is heralded as ‘magisterium’

FRIDAY, JUNE 27 2008, Church of England Newspaper

THE FULLNESS of God’s revelation is expressed in the councils of the Episcopal Church, the president of the US General Convention’s House of Deputies told reporters last week.

In a briefing on the forthcoming Lambeth Conference held on May 30, Bonnie Anderson explained the “the joint work of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops is the highest institutional expression of our belief that God speaks uniquely through laity, priests and deacons and bishops.”

The assertion of a magisterial authority for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church by Mrs Anderson follows upon a letter she sent on April 21 to deputies to the triennial gathering of the church’s synod.

“In the Episcopal Church the belief that God speaks uniquely through bishops, laity, priests and deacons, enables our participatory structure and allows a fullness of revelation and insight that must not be lost in this important time of discernment,” Mrs Anderson wrote, adding “the joint work of the Houses of Deputies and Bishops is the highest institutional expression of this belief.”

Critics of the American church’s liberalizing tendencies argue this usurpation of authority by General Convention - the gathering of clergy and lay deputies and bishops - has led to the church’s present theological and ecclesial morass.

Anglican commentator Dr Todd Granger notes Mrs Anderson’s teaching “goes well beyond what the Catholic Church teaches.”

While the Roman Magisterium “interprets the Word of God” as revealed in Tradition and Scripture, the “Episcopalian construal apparently creates a magisterium as an independent authority, uniquely receiving God’s Word,” Dr Granger notes. Such an understanding of authority offers a new understanding of the foundations of authority that bears little relation to traditional Anglican dogma, he said.

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