Anglicanism, Post-Modernity and a Habitat for Giftedness by Scott Cowdell

In Bruce Kaye (ed)  ‘Wonderful and Confessedly Strange’:  Australian Essays in Anglican Ecclesiology (ATF Press; South Australia, 2006)


At the close of a week full time in the library at St. Mark’s Canberra, I am full of excitement:  about God;  about living life with Jesus;  and, relevent to this post, about the new relational pathways that Emerging Church opens up.  My Anglican Emerging friends come from all strands of the inherited church – evangelical; charismatic; catholic; liberal; etc.  – but somehow we are meeting in this emerging new space where new paradigms are possible.  Is it possible that the connections were there all along, but it is not until we are willing to let go of the past that we see the Spirit in each other?

In this short article, Scott describes how it is possible to embrace both individualism – the uniqueness of our own journey – and a commitment to tradition and community.  Holding those two things in tension is key for understanding Paul’s theology of spiritual giftedness in the emerging church.  We bypass the nihilistic, narcissistic tendencies of consumer individualism when we commit to the adventure with others.  In that context we discover that knowing who we are in ourselves and in relationship, seeing the impact of the best of who we are on others, is a thrilling experience of church and humanity.

In this quote here, Scott talks about ‘worship’, which could be misunderstood.  He has in mind the shared spiritual experience where all of our being comes together in relationship with God and each other.  I think that he is encapsulating something Emerging Christians have also been trying to say – but in Anglican language!

“Worship is the primary context of faith formation and empowerment for mission… This connection between church and world, sacred and secular, is an Anglican instinct rooted in an incarnational vision of the church… It is in this tradition of worship, faith and practice interwoven in a commitment to the life of the world, that Anglicanism understands ‘gifts’ for ministry in individual Christians.  This ‘habitat’ of Christian formation elicits and develops ‘giftedness’.”

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