Following the religious news and over the last few years, including the breakup of the anglican communion, has made me face the stark reality of how liberals are situated and viewed within the greater church. We are seen as apostates and worse and while small in relation to the whole church, we're a threat to be removed. The resulting clashes from this has worn my faith down a bit. Preliminary conclusions come to mind after following such fights.
I think the bishop of Uganda is right when he questions whether it really is the case that we have more which unites us than divides us in the church? Do liberals and evangelicals mean the same thing when we talk about God, Jesus, the church, and salvation? Is there any religious symbol which solicits a common response? Thinking there is commonality where little exists, gives some liberals an inaccurate view of the crises, that somehow church unity is just around the corner.
On the other hand many evangelicals believe that liberals have no religious convictions and simply act to curry favor with the culture. I doubt whether culture can somehow be separated from any religious expression, including their own. I suspect the southern baptists are more faithful representatives of our current culture than episcopalians. In any case the right seems surprised when liberals stand for their convictions, even when punishment is heaped on them.
One comment posted on this site proposed that the best thing to do was to be the church. Question is, how do we become the church, when you have denominations who for the next decade or so will be caught up in damaging fights. It's hard in such a context to go about the church's business, which is to point people to obedience to that creative work acting in the world to transform and save us. I'm tempted to think that the only way to do such a thing and not to become consumed by the conflicts is some form of separation.
But such a separation represents a failure on part of the whole church. I have my doubts that any corner of the church is fully sensitive to God's workings in the world and I believe (thinking of Paul's example of the body) that we need each other, to correct, to broaden how each part of the church does it's work. But if we're caught in continual conflict, we're not learning from each other as it is...and one can't force oneself on another. Robinson wants a church with Akinola in it, but the reverse is not the case. Thus the dilemma.
I'm not sure of the solution, but for myself, I will remain the protestant I've always been, but I won't join a religious body unless they have gone past the gay wars, which a small handful of groups have done. If we are to do the church's business than having church councils debate the status of persons in such a manner is no longer appropriate. Question: what do folks think of the idea of a new protestant denomination, a united church?