Recently, Greg Forster addressed in this space the question of whether or not the faith and work movement is overrun by Reformed folks, or at least by their theology. His answer surprised me. He thinks the answer is “no.”
Greg actually says a lot of great things in that post which I agree with, but his contention that the theological leadership of the faith and work movement is is more Anglican than it is Reformed made me stop and think.
I am, and have been for the past nine years, Episcopalian. Before that I was United Methodist. When I began thinking of specific faith and work thought leaders, I did come up with a number of folks who are ACNA or Church of England, and one other person besides me who is also an Episcopal priest.
And there aren’t as many Anglicans as there are Reformed Christians in the world, overall, so the fact that I can think of nearly as many leaders who identify as Anglican in the movement as I can who identify as some flavor of Reformed is, well, something.
But granting Greg’s point that this is so, the ethos of the movement is miles off from my own experience of Anglicanism. And I’ll give you one good reason why: I haven’t heard anybody (except this group which arose completely separately from the evangelical coalition normally referred to as “the faith and work movement”) talk about the sacraments and root our vocation in the common commissioning we all receive in our baptism, with our daily walk of faith fed by frequent participation in the Lord’s Supper.
This is basic mainline language on vocation. If mainliners discuss the vocation of all Christians and the priesthood of all believers, this is where they are going to start. This is the focus of mainline catechesis and formation on the ministry of all Christians in their daily life and work. Everything else mainliners like me say and do about the doctrine of vocation builds on this.
And because Episcopalians view themselves as centered on the sacraments as experienced in worship through the Prayer Book, we place I think a particular emphasis on this doctrine of living out our baptism in our daily life and work, nourished by the Eucharist. And I never hear anybody in the faith and work movement talk about it.
I’m a historian by training, so I could give you some historical and cultural reasons why I’m not hearing this from other FAW folks who identify as some variety of Anglican, but that’s actually not my point. My point is that if we truly want to become what Greg sees us as, “bring[ing] together Christians of many different theological traditions around the idea of vocation,” we need to actually make sure we’re including all the traditions we can.
Is this going to mean some uncomfortable questions on both sides around issues of politics and human sexuality? Probably. Is this going to require seeking out new virtual and physical places to make connections? Definitely. Is this going to require that mainliners meet y’all halfway? Absolutely. (That’s why I’m here.)
But please, let’s make a start.