I should be spending the early part of summer reading a fascinating and cutting edge thesis by a religion honors graduate whom I had the privilege of knowing and working with during his undergraduate years. Instead, on something of a challenge from a friend of mine, I’m wading through Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (Belknap Harvard 2007). A passage caught my eye this morning that I think speaks directly to the current internecine warfare within the Anglican Communion. About the various hard-core reformists and their opponents of centuries gone by he writes:
The tremendous investment in reform and hence discipline, which inspires such a sense of their spiritual superiority in the breasts of Latin, and ex-Latin Christians, when they contemplate those of other faiths, or even other Christian churches, this immense effort seems itself to have obscured the essentials of the faith, and to have led to a substitution of something secondary for the primary goal of centering everything on God.
I follow a number of Anglican blogs and news sites. Most of them are consumed with demonstrating that they are the first to know and know the most about what is going on with Lambeth, GAFCON, Pittsburgh or any of a dozen other flashpoints in the world of Anglicanism. I follow them because they are informative, and the occasional appearance of wry wit has some entertainment value. But Taylor is right not only about the Church of past centuries. In our own day we have “substituted something secondary for the primary goal of centering everything on God,” and that is to our shame.