Skip to comments.The Rev. Charles Erlandson: "What is Anglicanism? A Few Questions"
Posted on 12/17/2005 12:50:48 PM PST by sionnsar
By email I received this provocative set of questions that was written by the Rev. Charles Erlandson of the REC, whom you will recall is one of the clearest thinkers anywhere in Anglicanism. These questions are really something to think about:
In light of several threads of the past days, I have a few questions I would love to hear (folks) answer. My life, in many ways, has become about the future of orthodox Anglicanism, not the least because I have been given 2 years from June 2005 to finish my PhD on the future of orthodox Anglicanism.These are good questions to consider in this day. I suppose my answer to question 1 is that Anglicanism is not necessarily synonymous with the Anglican Communion. If some of those within the Communion fall away from their heritage and other churches "outside" the Communion are more true to that same heritage, why would those who have fallen away be the true heirs to the Anglican ethos? But defining that "ethos" is tough, as everyone knows. If I understand Fr. Peter Toon correctly he would say that an adherence to the historic Anglican formularies is the most important factor, and I think that would be my answer as well.
There is so much I'd like to hear all of your opinions on, but for starters:
1. What is "Anglicanism?" The term wasn't used until 1836 by John Henry Newman, whom I consider the person more responsible for destabilizing "Anglicanism" than any other individual.
I asked this most important question about a year and a half ago and didn't receive many responses. Does Anglicanism = the Anglican Communion? If not, then can someone clearly define it?
2. It is possible to define Anglicanism in terms of certain norms, for ex. the 1662 BCP as Akinola, the Network, the Common Cause Partners, etc. have stated.
3. If we all agreed that the 1662 Prayer Book were to be a standard for orthodox Anglicans - would it make a difference. The fact is, that how we pray and how we use a prayer book makes all the difference for Anglicans.
My own humble, and humbling, opinion is that it doesn't mean much to say that the 1662 BCP is the standard when very few orthodox Anglicans actually use it or a BCP like it. The BCP preserves and transmits a theology, a spirituality (it is a Rule of Life, and not merely a collection of services, as many newer PBs or alternative books assume), and a unity that must be lived out by using it.
4. How many of you who are using the 1979 BCP, for example, would actually use the 1662 or 1928 and be willing to give up the 1979? I could be wrong, but I think it would be a minority of orthodox and/or moderate Anglicans in ECUSA.
Regardless of whether or not the Global South rides to the rescue, I think it would be wise if we all had a clear and coherent idea of what Anglicanism is, before we presume to know whether or not the Global South has (or is even capable of) saving it.
And I would be most willing to adopt the 1662 Prayer Book as the standard for all Anglicans everywhere; I think that would give us all a common foundation as indeed the Book of Common Prayer should do. But I am not at all optimistic about ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada moving towards this.
Without the common form of worship, Anglicanism risks defining itself more by what it is not, than by what it is.
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