Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Calling on the Spirit in Unsettling Times: Anglican Present and Future

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Calling on the Spirit in Unsettling Times: Anglican Present and Future

Article excerpt

Calling on the Spirit in Unsettling Times: Anglican Present and Future. By L. William Countryman (place of pub. Morehouse Publishing, 2012, Pp. xviii, 110. $16.00.)

Anglicans and Episcopalians, especially in the West, are often most vexed by the third branch of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. But L. William Countryman's "Calling on the Spirit in Unsettling Times" is an important invitation for the Anglican Communion to pay attention to this arm of the Trinity as we seek to define/ redefine ourselves in these days. Countryman notes that no one can write about what the Spirit may be saying without bias. He describes himself as an "affirming" or "liberal" catholic. He makes clear he does not seek to vindicate any particular position, "but to ask how all aspects of our heritage may participate in a future that the Spirit is even now in the process of creating" (xviii).

Indeed, in the fifth and perhaps most important chapter, he names three pillars of the Anglican Communion which are often in conflict and at the root of our divisions: evangelicals, liberals and catholics. And then he undertakes to be critical of all three, demonstrating that none alone holds the whole truth or the solutions to the world's problems. He argues for a deep humility which must undergird our Anglican ethos so that we are less entrenched in our own biases. In laying his foundation on our need to call on the Spirit he says "The Spirit can be comforting. The Spirit can also be alarming and unsettling. Either way, the Spirit is always beyond our grasp" (3). He takes considerable time to demonstrate why we live in "unsettling" times, which range far beyond internal squabbles within the Anglican Communion. He cites cultural shifts including political tensions (the Arab Spring) and mass migrations to urban centers among the issues we must address, and notes the unfortunate role of religion (s) in creating some of the tensions and conflicts today. …

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