No, not the panel of reference, that mythical Anglican creation whose job is to do precisely nothing, but terms of reference. What does each side in the Anglican wars (and wider afield) call each other?
OK, I know this isn’t the most important thing in the world and that it’s been discussed before but nevertheless this is my muse for today. I promise you I shall try and get to some more prophetic type stuff in the near future.
The traditional labels used have been ‘conservative‘ and ‘liberal‘ to denote each side. There are plenty of people who don’t like this for various reasons and I’m one of them. The trouble with being ‘conservative’ is that suddenly you are tarred with this particular image. Me, I tend to be conservative socially, economically I’m a bit of both, I support the hot-button issues like AIDS and poverty that are normally defined as ‘liberal’, and I doubt the wisdom of the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan. I could go on, but I hope you get the point.
The other thing with ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ is that it has particular cultural and political meanings in N America that are different elsewhere. The words do not always translate as you might wish (I’m British and I often see the words being used in a very local way).
So what are our alternatives? One currently in use is the reasserter/reappraiser label. It’s an admirable attempt to find some kind of neutral descriptive words. However it suffers very much from that same neutrality – this is most emphatically not a theoretical academic discourse that we are having right now. There are fundamental truths and worldviews involved.
Apart from that, it suffers from the ‘hold on a minute, what am I again?’ syndrome. Well OK, it does for me anyway.
Then there are the descriptors that are used by both sides when referring to the other. On ‘my’ side heretic, heterodox and other terms are used that, while having the advantage of being generally true, tend to be best used in-house. And, yes, there are some terms used by ‘us’ that I’ll not repeat here but that are just plain unnecessary. VOL and in particular some of his commenter’s are good examples of that. In either case these terms don’t generally facilitate conversation.
Now, the ‘other’ side are the same, referring to us as fundamentalist, extremist (one of Jakes favorite terms). Interestingly enough I have noticed a definite uptick in the amount of vitriol, scorn and barely disguised hate emanating from some progressive (there’s another word) websites. According to one lady we are evil. Now, the last example is a little extreme and it appears that she may not be entirely well (meant just as said and not as sarcasm) however it illustrates a trend.
Anyway, I digress. The main point here are there are terms used in-house that do not go down so well should one need to talk to the ‘other side’.
The same point can be made with self-descriptors ‘orthodox‘, ‘progressive‘ etc. Works well in-house, but not as conversation pieces.
So what are you saying Peter? That you would like your cake and eat it? That you would like a description that honours the truth whilst facilitating conversation? Yes – I would. The impossible is all that I’m asking for.
In the past these things have been defined by the key figures – Arianism as an example. So, what would we be here then? I’ve seen one commenter refer to us as Duncanites. Therefore, could we refer to them as Griswoldians? Or Schorians? Or because I’m north of the border as Hutchinites (with us as Harvians)? The trouble is here is that there is no one key figure that we can latch onto, so it kind of falls flat again.
Ah, heck. Perhaps we’ll just have to be conservatives and liberals for now, at least for cross-communication. But I don’t like it and I thought you needed to know, ahem.
The conclusion – it’ll probably be history that will eventually decide the labels, not us in the trenches here and now. So with that, I’ll bid you adieu!