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Communion and Knowledge in the Canons of the Episcopal Church

William Glass


This paper aims to take the consecration of a practicing gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2004 as a case study in the church’s discernment processes. First, the essay attempts a reading of the Episcopal Church formularies (Canons, Prayer Book, and Scripture) to derive a characteristically Anglican vision of theological epistemology—that is, whether and how the Episcopal Church can know the will of God. Second, assuming for the sake of argument that the disposition of the Lord on lifelong, monogamous homosexuality is favorable but that the wider Communion is as-yet unaware of it, the essay then attempts to understand the Episcopal Church’s decision-making processes in light of the epistemology just presented and to evaluate the epistemological consequences of such decision-making. Third, a possible solution is examined for its value both in se and as programmatic for conciliar navigation of future church controversies.

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