Let me start with a huge disclaimer that this may go far astray. I am not a theologian. I know that truly great minds, far greater than mine, have tackled this issue and been only mildly successful, depending on how one defines success. However, on occasion, it is good to stray out of our comfort zone and to allow others to perhaps help set me straight on some very, very basic issues.Hold the cries of heretic and the resounding denunciations at least for a little while.
God, as I know and understand the concept, the person, the almighty, omniscient and omni-present being does not depend on me for his (or her) existence. God knows me and perhaps knew me before I was even born but I did not know him until a little thing called sanctifying grace came along and moved me in his direction. In point of fact, God's existence does not depend on any of us at any time for any reason. To somehow say something else, or believe something else, shrinks God to our size. My God, and I hope your God, is much, much much larger than that! The God I now know, can perform miracles. Did so in the past and does so now and will continue to do so in the future whether I believe it or not.
What God asks of me, more than anything else is to enter into a richly rewarding relationship with him and through him with my neighbor. These relationships are not based on what church I attend or what communion I belong to or even what version of the bible or Koran or any other book I read. It is based on the concept that God is my God, I am his child and my need to love, honor, cherish, obey and follow him wherever he leads me is paramount. And, that every other person on the face of this earth is also a child of God (whether they know it or not, whether they accept it or not, whether they believe it or not). And again, God's existence does not depend on this either. But as such, God wants me to be in a "right" relationship with my brothers and sisters. In fact, all His creation!
Yes, I do use my relationship with God, my church and my "religion" and a bible to help me discern this relationship. I am too weak, too fragile, to ignorant and too sinful to believe for even one moment that I can do this all by myself. So I talk to God, yep, I talk with God. Prayer is the most powerful thing I have ever come across. It quite literally has saved my life at least once. So, the very first thing I use is, of all the silly things, my relationship with my God to help me understand and grow in that relationship. In effect, I ask God what I should be doing to create a more perfect union between God and me and me and my neighbor.
I also have figured out that God has called me to worship him in the most pure and heartfelt manner that I can find. And I do that as Moslems do that, as Hindi do that, as Buddists do that. See, the relationship I have with my God creates a need for me to be a Christian just as the need in others creates a need for them to be whatever they have discerned God is asking them to be. This is what I call reason. I could be wrong but reason, for me is the expression of how I understand what God has shared with me in prayer and how I put that into action.
Because of this selection I use a Bible and follow Christ. I could have used a Koran and followed Mohammed or the I Ching and followed Lao Tzu but while many millions of others have, I have picked a different path. The path I picked is, only in my opinion better because that is what, through prayer, I have discerned God wants me to do. I do not think for one second any one else has picked another path simply to irritate me or God.
The book I read, the Bible comes in many forms, or at least many translations. Unfortunately for me, I do not read or speak or write any of the ancient languages I find the original documents to be written in. If I did I do not think I would be a whole lot better off because I still need to read and discern the will of God and these books while great and I believe inspired only help me with my conversations with God. You know what, sometimes I find that the passages are contradictory, conflicting and very confusing. So what do I do? I go back and open another dialog with, you guessed it, God. And I hope and pray that what I finally determine is the right path is indeed the right path -- but keep in mind it does not change God, it only changes me.
One thing I find immutable at this point in my life. There are two great commandments. I find that Moses had ten and gave us all ten but those ten can be reduced to the two that Jesus gave us. First, love God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and, love your neighbor as yourself. (On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets.) But even having figured this much out, God's existence does not depend on me and these two commandments, only my relationship with God and my neighbor.
And so my actions, insofar as they affect my relationship with God and my neighbor depend on those things. Should there be more? Can there be more? What about all the other stuff like tradition and the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury and all that stuff? Well, that which I have described informs ALL my other actions and decisions. Notice that I said it informs MY actions and decisions. I have chosen to be Episcopal/Catholic (another time for that definition). I will say this much, since it has taken me about forever to get here (and I apologize to those who have been here and those who should have been here and were held out for reasons not entirely clear) that in my basic understanding as written about above, no one is excluded from participating. Not a single solitary soul. It cannot be, it should not be, it must not be.
Insofar as the Anglican Communion is concerned, if it promotes that which I have described, then we should keep it. If it does not, then jettison it just like so much flotsam and jetsam. The Anglican Communion should promote the healthy relationship between each individual and his/her God. I do not see that as happening, at least not right now. It has become an impediment to our journey and should be released. Nothing terrible will happen. God will not cease to exist because we do not belong to this Anglican Communion. Our relationship with our God and our neighbor will not be irreparably damaged if it goes away. Let others argue about the Covenant and about the Communion, it has become a millstone around our necks. Time to move on, time to get back to what matters, time to renew our relationship with God and our neighbors -- ALL our neighbors!
A hat tip to Father Mark. This is your fault (;-).