In a previous post I reflected on a chaotic year for Anglicans. The post itself remained largely ambiguous as to whether I saw much hope for the coming year and several commenters wondered aloud what might set us back on track.
Far be it from me to miss an opportunity to wax eloquent on my own opinions. In this post I shall briefly, unsystematically and without much justification toss out some things I’ve been thinking about that, it seems to me, could contribute to a discussion on being faithful to our Tradition. There is absolutely no reason that anyone should take the meanderings of a kid too seriously so take it all with a grain of salt.
Of course there are reasons I think these things, but with homework being of much greater importance than blogging I will largely keep from any thorough justifications for my two cents.
- 1)For the love of God everybody stop, stop, stop with revisions of all kinds. A total moratorium on all Prayer Book, theologically informed Canon Law, Liturgical and theological revision for at least a decade. Our English is not nearly old enough to need updating, our laws left unchanged will not hand us over to chaos, our prayer and collects are and have been largely consistent with Catholic Christian practice and thought and our theology is not yet proved false. This will provide the common bonds of public trust so as to continue to enable the recognizability within our fellowship. Any priest altering a liturgy independently should be swiftly disciplined and any bishop or province should be pleaded with to just chill out: This means you Church of England with your lady bishops (and I’m all about lady bishops), you Nigeria with your canonical marginalizing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, you Episcopal Church with your endorsing diocene composition and implementation of rites of same sex blessing and consideration of Communing the unbaptized, and you Australia with your insufficient theology of Priesthood and Eucharist.
- 2) With that in mind, for now focus on those things central to our life and mission as Churches. Worship, Evangelism, Justice and Catechesis seem to be atop this list to me.
It seems that these two things will build the trust and love necessary to begin to hash out the future of Anglican practice which will largely be in reference to, either for or against, the Anglican Covenant. It’s here and it’s not going away. The one, a choice rooted in the Protestant conviction that one is at liberty to interpret the Scriptures on their own, the other a choice for that Episcopal concilarity of the first four universally regarded Ecumenical councils.
But the “Covenant” is not nearly enough. As the massive and desperately needed book “Love’s Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness” states, there has been at least since the Second World War, a general inability to understand our Anglican identity. To that end I propose a few things…
- Episcopacy is absolutely central to Anglican theology and life. It must be insisted upon and emphasized that in continuity with the very early Church through the ages, we have vigorously maintained that Apostolic Succession by the reality that we have never christened a bishop without the laying on of hands of at least three other bishops so consecrated. Our Liturgies for consecration have never deviated from this. We are not Baptists with prayer books, indifferent to the right ordering of our life, neither do we think Church tradition so trite as to be of no authoritative worth. Our Articles also bear this out as we understand nothing in our liturgies to be contrary to Holy Scripture.
- Related to the above…What the hell ever happened to Common Prayer? I propose the possibility of a Book of Common Prayer for use in all Covenanted churches. Or, at the very least, in terms of the liturgist exraordinaire’ Dom Gregory Dix, the “Shape” of our liturgy should agreed upon, especially our Eucharistic liturgy and the liturgies for Episcopal functions like ordination, baptism and confirmation. Parishes should not be allowed to use the Roman Mass nor neglect the Hymnal in favor of modern chorus’, or ignore the Rubrics.
- Similarly we need a Catechism. Which, though not to be used as a “Confession” in the sense that it’s contents are necessarily to be comprehended or assented to in entirety for Salvation, should be widely used and authoritative.
- Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury is fundamental to being Anglican and is one of the only “checks” against loose consularity and is essential to ecumenical dialogue with the Roman and Orthodox Catholic churches.
- Jesus loves Fender guitars
- There being a large number of Christians in the so-called “Global South” does not meant that a) those Anglicans can disregard their history b) that they cannot nor need not listen to the insights of more historic fellowships, especially the Church of England c) that they have become our rightful judges
- The idea of in-house “parties” like “Anglo-catholic,” “Broad Church” and “Evangelical” needs to become progressively left behind in favor of solidarity. Evangelicals will have been unfaithful Anglicans to the extent that they do not include the whole Christian tradition in their theology, piety and Scripture reading; Anglo-catholics will have been unfaithful to the Reformation in England if they not recognize the centrality of Scripture over all else; and Broad churches will likewise fall short if they don’t realize that there is nothing virtuous about being bland.
- All of this points to the need of a more unified practice of piety.
- If you don’t like it, become a Baptist. ***update*** (One misses the point if they think I’m using “Baptist” pejoratively. I mean only that being Anglican is not simply uniquely British way of being a Congregationalist.)
- Authority is not a four letter word.
- I am most certainly full of myself.
Responses…? Additions…? Complaints…? I want ’em all.