Saturday, June 21, 2008

Trying to define an Anglican way...

Dean Robert Munday of Nashotah House Seminary points out a potential disagreement between faithful Anglican leaders.

It comes down to this: are Anglicans guided by confession (statement of belief) or by councils (gatherings of Christian leaders)? The Jerusalem gathering issued a document that emphasizes confession, while Bishop Robert Duncan's opening remarks emphasized councils. (I have links to both of these in various posts below).

Dean Munday goes on to harmonize the two perspectives, seeing the confession as setting boundaries in which councils deliberate. I think he's right - and I think we need a succinct statement of this idea. Here's a first try:

Our confession guides our councils, our councils minister our confession.

Anyway, what do you think? How would you express the relationship of confession and council in Anglicanism?


David Handy+ said...

Well, perhaps the first thing to say is that international Anglicanism currently seems to have NEITHER a real confession nor a working council. And that's a big part of our problem. We need both, but there are deeply entrenched forces in the Anglican Communion with vested interests to protect who like it that way, and are stronglyh opposed to the creation of either a modern confession worthy of the name or a true council with transprovincial powers.

That is, the 39 Articles of 1571 are no longer considered binding or to reflect our current beliefs as Anglicans but rather as a mere historical relic of the Reformation era. And the proposed Covenant falls far short of being a real creed. The liberals would prefer that we had no confession of faith or covenant at all.

As for councils, the various provinces have their own synods, similar to our General Convention, but none of the three corporate Instruments of Unity or Communion is really a council, i.e., a legislative, decision making body. Instead, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates' Meeting are all merely for consultation and fostering fellowship among the 38 national or regional provinces of the AC. The liberal western provinces love it that way too.

I agree in principle with Dean Munday of Nashotah that we need to develop BOTH things, a new creed and a new governing structure at the international level. Neither by itself will be sufficient to solve our problems.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I'll comment on this question tomorrow after my weekend guests have left.

Here are some of my published thoughts:

TLF+ said...

Very insightful, Fr. David. A "church" of vested interests would have no interest in true unity of faith and mission.

Which means that the AC, as it is at present, is in large part led by those who came to be served, not to serve.

TLF+ said...

Will look forward to your comments, Alice. It seems we were posting at about the same time!

Alice C. Linsley said...

Traditional Anglican catechisms begin instruction on Holy Communion with this question: “Why was the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ordained?”

The 1979 ECUSA Catechism begins instruction on Holy Communion by asking “What is the Holy Eucharist?”

The answer given by historic Anglicanism is: “For the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive hereby.”

The answer given by ECUSA is: “The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again.”

The 1979 Catechism, in keeping with 20th century trends, moves from ontology to phenomenology. Ontology is the study of being, source, and origin. Phenomenology is the study of what is sensibly perceived.

An ontological approach asks the catechumen for faith in the Person of Jesus Christ and in the redemptive power of his death. A phenomenological approach asks the catechumen to describe Holy Communion, which can be done without personal commitment.

Anglicans Church Fathers maintain that a true description of the Holy Communion is possible only where there is faith in the One who ordained the Sacrament. In other words, asking “why” places value on the Sacrament because of the One who ordained it. Asking “what” devalues the Sacrament by drawing attention from the Author of sacrament to the thing itself.

This is but one small instance of the diabolical method of modernism and how it has distorted Anglicanism.

TLF+ said...

Super, Alice - clear as can be and an enourmous example of what people are being sold.