Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Church

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Church

Article excerpt

The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Church. By Ephraim Radner and Philip Turner. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. xiii + 306 pp. $25.00 (paper).

Buy this book and read it. It is an essential volume in the current discussion about the fate of the Anglican Communion, presenting a beautifully articulated argument for a conciliar-based communion ecclesiology from a "conservative [Anglo] catholic" perspective.

The book has four major sections. Though some of this material is based on previously published material, the whole has been edited to provide a consistent and building case for staying together, staying in the Episcopal Church USA during the struggle, but pushing towards "Windsor compliance." The four sections are: 1) a portrayal of the present situation in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, painted on a broad canvas of cultural analysis; 2) a discourse on questions of authority covering truth and conservatism, scriptural authority in community, the strengths and limits of diversity, and the role of episcopal authority in a communion of churches; 3) chapters on the Virginia and Windsor Reports as pointing an imperfect but still plausible way forward for a truly conciliar church based on scriptural community and the emerging ecumenical consensus on an ecclesiology of communion; and 4) three essays drawing the authors' conclusions for what was the present moment at the time of writing.

This is, by its own lights, a polemical work. That in itself is no criticism; some of the most brilliant works of Anglican theology have been polemical. The authors are mostly clear about exactly where they stand on all the issues, though Turner is clearer about his support for the ordination of women than is Radner. Both are clearly opposed to the failure of the North American church to consult deeply enough with the rest of the Communion on the issues of homosexuality, and, though they do not make this explicit, they would appear to oppose the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of persons active in such unions. This is not a book about that, however, but about communion and conciliarity as strategies for opening up time-God's time-for a community to do the necessary theological arguing to work through such issues (and they are not naive about the amount of time that will take). This case is presented with the theological acumen and beauty of prose one expects from these two authors. …

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