Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Editor's Notes

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Editor's Notes

Article excerpt

One of the more sinister characters in Evelyn Waugh s first novel is an academic architect who finds it a frustrating assignment to design buildings suitable for human habitation. Humans, in his estimation, are sad misfits. They fail to display either the repetitive instinctual responses of animals or the mechanical consistency of engines. Theirs is not the being of nature, not the doing of the machine, but becoming. They change.

Things would, perhaps, be easier all around if change and becoming were not the intrinsic feature of humanity that they have always been. There would be no need, for one thing, to examine how we became what we are, or to deliberate, for another, about what we are to become. Being neither animals nor engines, though, we need both.

What we are to become as Christians, and how that happens, is the question that lies beneath current debate about the relation between the two "outward and visible signs" of grace enacted in baptism and the eucharist. Which comes first, and why? In the last issue of the ATR James Farwell laid out a carefully argued position on introducing the practice of "open communion," to which Kathryn Tanner responds in this issue. What she says about the article she critiques applies equally to her own: "like all the best theological work, it is good to think with."

Among Anglicans, introducing unheard-of practices is hardly an unheard-of practice. A century and a half ago, Priscilla Lydia Sellon stirred up considerable controversy by founding one of the earliest religious orders in the Church of England. As Rene Kollar relates in his study of that controversy, the difficulty many people had in accepting the work of Sellons sisterhood was compounded by suspicious devotional practices observed by the orphan girls the sisters cared for. …

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