Jesse Zink has a few thoughts on the various maxims, slogans, symbols, buzzwords and bromides that define, or, more often, fail to define the Episcopal Church, and its role in the Anglican Communion.
I don’t find many of these particularly helpful. I can never remember the Five Marks of Mission, mainly because they don’t really grab me. I think the Millennium Development Goals promote a shopping-list mentality among churches that prize dollars and cents over relationships. The Decade of Evangelism is very well-remembered in the non-western Anglican Communion (an archdeacon in Nigeria last summer told me, “The Decade of Evangelism saved the Church in Nigeria”) but I rarely hear anyone in the U.S. talk about it.
The thing of it is, despite our wonderful slogans we still seem to have difficulty articulating what the Episcopal Church is and is for (though we seem to have no problem articulating what it is not). And, we lack a clear sense of what mission is, which results in something like the Sauls’ resolution’s very thin idea of mission.
There is much to find depressing in all this but two stand out. First, these slogans replace genuine theological engagement with inconsistent and confusing sound-bites. Second, they betray the assumption that we all know what we’re talking about when we say something so we don’t need to bother figuring out what it means. This is never a good assumption to make.