Principal Sumner Article Featured in The Living Church
Thursday January 20th, 2011
A response written by Principal Sumner to an article in The Living Church has been featured on their website:
Seven questions point toward theological clarity
By George R. Sumner
Leander Harding and Christopher Wells mean in “Teaching Jesus and the Unity of the Church” [TLC, Dec. 26] to put first things first, and so should we as respondents. It is only from theological clarity on primary issues that a similar light can be shed on what is secondary. We would all do well to heed their call to pay renewed attention to the unum necessarium, the one thing necessary. I would also note the charity which is their motive and the hope which is their end, namely, that the Holy Spirgit might in such meditation do a work of reconciliation and renewal in us who too readily fall into spiritual despair (“It’s all power politics,” “Everyone is fixed in what they think”).
While I agree that this invitation rightly went out first to those called to teach the faith, I suspect, in the spirit of Bishop John C. Bauerschmidt and Dean William S. Stafford’s response (“Go to the Sources”), that the renewing impetus for such an effort may come from the grassroots, from younger Episcopalians, who are often more eclectic, and in some ways more traditional, than we of their parents’ generation would expect.
My friend Philip Turner tells the story of a colleague who once emerged from a faculty meeting and said, “After three years we have finally achieved disagreement.” He meant that until then, in their arguments, the debaters had been talking past each other. It is obviously only against a background of agreement that meaningful and fruitful disagreement can be had. Several of the respondents in TLC’s symposium commented, in a similar vein, that this common effort should not aim at the cessation of disagreement. But it can aim at more cogent and focused disagreement among brothers and sisters in Christ.