Category Image Hitting the Reset Button 

A number of years ago, I was working on a program with an upper division computer engineering major to create 3D representations of molecules and cause them to rotate on screen.  By today's standards, probably a project in a lower division CS class.  Back then, we were doing it in 6809 Assembly language, and it was quite a project.  Jerry, the engineer, was doing all of the heavy lifting with calculating the positions of points on the plane as a function of their location in the 3D space.  My job, as the owner of the computer in question, was to write the graphics handlers so that we could get the drawings to appear with little or no flicker, and fast.  We ultimately succeeded.  It was, if I may be so bold, quite an impressive piece of software.

Along the way, however, I had finished keying in some code that Jerry had sent me over the summer and had saved it on the cassette drive (we had just graduated from punch cards in those days).  I ran the program and the computer just froze - locked up the computer entirely.  The only solution was to hit the reset button, reload the program, and run it again.  It would begin, and progress would be made, but ultimately the whole system would just hang again.  Ultimately, Jerry and I had to read through the program in great detail in order to identify the underlying problem.  We found the error (a bit of failure to communicate clearly between programmers), and realized that no matter what, the program was always doomed to hang.  That is, until we rewrote some fundamental pieces of the code.

Okay, so what does this have to do with Anglicanism?  I've been reading some bits at various blogs about the recent GAFCON in Israel.  The outcome is, in my opinion, tantamount to hitting the Anglican reset button.  They have basically decided that the 39 articles will be the foundation of the new Anglicanism.  Much as it was the foundation of the old Anglicanism.  As noted by some bloggers, though, the 39 articles are really a fudge - an attempt to create a hybrid between Catholicism and Protestantism.  Perhaps its not fair, but it brings to mind the mule.  A useful enough animal, but not capable of procreation.  Not a perfect analogy.  This new Anglicanism will reproduced for a little while, until the program hangs again, and people start searching for the reset button.

The 39 articles attempt to be both Catholic and Reformed.  Along the way, people have had to struggle with that combination.  For the most part, people were content to mostly be Reformed.  That is, until the 19th Century, when Cardinal Newman et al., arrived on the scene.  Cardinal Newman found himself needing to write a tract to defend his belief in things with a distinctly Roman Catholic flavor with the 39 articles.  The result was spin worthy of many modern politicians.  To be honest, the outcome was that Anglicanism was then able to fully except multiple groups of people with distinctly opposed views.  It was only the clever use of semantics which could hold it all together.  Once Pandora's box was opened, should we have been surprised when the modernists arrived on the scene, merely seeking to spin the 39 articles, the Nicene Creed, and Scripture, to fit their beliefs?  I think not.

So now, with GAFCON, we're seeing the reset button hit.  But things have accelerated.  The AngloCatholics are still in the game.  In order for them to accept the 39, they have to already buy in to Newman.  So the box remains open.  We this already in that the subject of women's ordination had been a problem since the emergence of the Global South in the U.S.  While by itself it may not seem like a huge issue, it speaks volumes about the manner in which the Church handles Scripture and Tradition. Right now, there is, at best, sort of a moratorium.  How long, though, before we land back in 1976, and a group of women are ordained by a bishop who feels that the moratorium is utterly wrong?  After that, how long until the divinity of Christ, or the reality of his resurrection are questioned?  Then the program hangs again.

No, the solution is to stop hitting the reset button.  Look at what is fundamentally wrong in the code.  Then fix that problem.  The solution does not involve 39 articles, nor protestantism, nor even Roman Catholicism.

Posted: Monday - July 07, 2008 at 03:04 PM