I was just telling my wife that being inside the Anglican world very much does feel like a Mere Christianity, as the Anglicans imagine themselves as the middle way between Catholics and Protestants. They are what Leithart is seeking, and yet there still is not reconciliation or cooperation. But my point was that being inside Anglicanism is an attempt at mere Christianity and I can say that it feels very bland and hollow. Anglicanism, in order to be moderate and broad for all, has to strip away theological emphasis in general in favor for liturgy, rituals, prayers, holidays, and administration. Within the broad lines of the Nicene creed, you can believe whatever you want and there is no real discussion or teaching or tradition of doctrines otherwise. This is the reason the women’s ordination issue is there for Anglicans. Technically the Bible doesn’t say one cannot ordain them.
Even as the issue is being discussed, not many people in the Anglican world are writing or arguing about it. Theology and doctrine are not their thing, generally speaking. (There are a few that would disagree, but they are the few as represented by Anglicanism’s aristocratic structure.) The reason is that they want to be broad enough for everyone to be included. They want unity and compromise as a fundamental principle. So, as I said, inside this world I feel like I have had my theological heritage stripped from me. It is really deflating and enervating. Anglicans as a culture of people don’t discuss the Bible, or theology, or anything particular to church history and contemporary topics. They talk about moral lessons, how to grow Anglicanism in the sense of being broad, compromising, and unified. It is so broad as to be shallow.
I grew into Christianity loving theology and identifying strongly with a tradition of orthodoxy developing throughout the centuries. Entering Anglicanism for lack of options in my region, I feel as though all the centuries of Christian teaching – along with the heritage of its people – have been taken away and replaced with a bare Nicene formula and a Unity Mandate. My question for Leithart, middle way Anglicans, and for the general movement today among multi-ethnicists is, “Where is the Unity Mandate in the Bible? And where does it tell us to emphasize a broad unity in place of a de-emphasis on rich, deep, particular truth-centered doctrine?”
Jesus’ prayer to make us all one no more makes us the same, indistinguishable, or removes denominational variations than it does in removing marriages. We’re all “one” in Christ but I still have a marriage, a wife, and children who come before others. In other words, unity in Christ doesn’t dissolve distinctions or even hierarchies among us. Calvin and a whole line of Protestant and Catholic teachers say the same thing, up until the mid 1800s when everything became rationalistic egalitarian such that “equality” meant sameness in every way. There is no reason why being one body requires us to be inside one church building or denomination.