What would an open source Church of England look like?
I ponder this because it seems that there are many indicators showing that i) centralising leads to failure (Tainter) and ii) the open source alternative is much more humane, creative and resilient.
Three more specific points to add:
1. There is a collapse of authority, the idea that ‘Father knows best’ or ‘the Leadership has decided’, and this extends far more widely than simply within the church. All traditional institutions are struggling.
2. The burden of our buildings is crippling us. Whilst Simon Jenkins is indeed writing drivel we are just as clearly not in a sustainable position.
3. Incumbency drives out priesthood; or, why do we invest so much in clergy only to then ask them to do things that they are neither called to or trained for? Might we not simply release them?
There remains a role for central authority in open source systems, even if only to mark out the labels for different things. In the same way, I would still see a role for episcopacy and priesthood in an open source church – some people’s theology is actively harmful, not just non-Anglican! Yet what it would look like I am not sure.
Maybe stipendiary priests located in different places but without any legal authority or connection to buildings or church councils? There simply to preach the Word and administer the sacraments, and let all the rest of it float upon the waters of the wider Body?
I know we can’t carry on as we are – and I don’t know that many people that actually want us to. After all doesn’t open source characterise the early church rather well – a community of people that shared collaboratively and threw themselves into a radical dependence on God?
The code that is shared in open source anglicanism is the gospel as the Church of England has received it – along with the accumulated liturgy and wisdom and liturgical wisdom that goes along with it, not understood statically, but as something that is open to progressive improvements. Despite its problems, Common Worship is quite a good format for this.
Anyhow. Thinking out loud, which is appropriate for the post-Easter lull. Needs much more work. Need also to get my wife to design a logo…