Skip to comments.Proposed Doctrine for the Network. Can it be improved? YES, very much so.
Posted on 07/17/2006 5:22:57 PM PDT by torqemada
Proposed Doctrine for the Network. Can it be improved? YES, very much so.
The Common Cause Partners of the Anglican Communion Network are being asked to adopt the doctrinal statement printed below at its meeting at the beginning of August 2006.
Proposed Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partners
We, the representatives of the Common Cause Partners, do declare we believe the following affirmations and commentary to contain the chief elements of Anglican Reformed Catholicism, and to be essential for membership.
1) We receive the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scripture as the inspired Word of God containing all things necessary for salvation, and as the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
2) We confess the historic faith of the Undivided Church as declared in the Catholic Creeds.
3) We believe the teaching of the Seven Ecumenical Councils in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, and have been held by all, everywhere, at all times.
4) We hold the two sacraments of the Gospel to be ordained by Christ Himself, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, and to be administered with unfailing use of Christs words of Institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
5) We accept the 1549 through the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its ordinal as the foundation for Anglican worship and the standard for doctrine and discipline.
6) We believe the godly Historic Episcopate to be necessary for the full being of the Church.
7) We affirm the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as foundational for authentic Anglican belief and practice and as correctives to doctrinal abuses.
* * *
I offer below some comments upon it from the perspective of the famous Canon A5 in the Canon Law of the Church of England, the mother Church of the Anglican family:
The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.
This indicates that the Anglican Way is at heart a particular way of reading, interpreting and receiving the truths of Holy Scripture as the Word of God written. The use of the ancient Creeds and the Formularies is part of this process of hearing and doing, believing and worshipping, according to what God declares to his people through his Word written.
Personally I cannot see why this Canon in and of itself (slightly edited) is not sufficient as the basis for a working unity for this mixed group of charismatics, evangelicals, anglo-catholics and evangelical high churchmen. There are problems of internal lack of coherence in the above proposed Statement and there are positions stated which self-respecting educated Evangelical Anglicans cannot accept, and below I shall indicate some of them.
If, following the C of E Canon, carefully reads the Thirty-Nine Articles, one will get a full and clear statement of the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures for instructing us in the way of salvation and godliness. One will also learn what are the Catholic Creeds and why they are accepted in the Church in relation to the Bible. And the same goes for the two Dominical Sacraments. (See also the Catechism in the BCP)
At the same time one will learn that Councils may err and so one will not accept automatically the teaching of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. And this is especially important with regard to the seventh, the Second Council of Nicea, whose teaching on the veneration of icons is effectively rejected by the Articles and specifically by the Book of Homilies to which Article XXXV points. The historic Anglican Way has always affirmed four general councils and stopped at that leaving to the area of discretion by local churches whether to affirm more. (In this regard the Affirmation of St Louis set forth by Anglo-catholic Continuers in 1977 went way past any previous official, provincial or Lambeth Conference Anglican statement in relation to the Councils by making 7 councils and their teaching mandatory a big mistake.)
Further, if one reads the Articles and the Ordinal together then one will not be able to say on the basis of them (or by direct deduction from the New Testament) that the historic Episcopate is necessary for the full being of the Church. This statement is an Anglo-Catholic doctrine and belongs, I think, to the distinctions between the Episcopate seen as the bene esse (of the well being) or the plene esse (of the fullness of being) or the esse (of the necessary being). Anglicans have held varied doctrines of the relation of the Episcopate to the Church and it is not clear what is being claimed by the English expression, full being here. Whatever is claimed it excludes the majority of Anglicans since 1549 who have recognized other Churches (Lutheran, Presbyterian etc) as genuine churches with genuine presbyters, even if lacking the good thing of the Episcopate.
Then in regard to the statement about The Book of Common Prayer. It is the 1662 edition that is in the Constitutions of the majority of the Anglican Provinces and this Book has been translated into 150 languages or more. (Go to provinces like Uganda and see it used each Sunday and find it written into the Constitution.) No official province of the Anglican Communion authorizes the 1549 or the 1552 or the 1559 or the 1604 editions. A very small continuing group here or there may authorize the 1549.
Further, the 1662 was adapted for use in the Republic of the USA in 1789 (and gently edited in 1892 and then again in 1928) and also it was gently edited in Canada in 1918 and then again in 1960/62. Thus the living editions of the ONE BOOK of Common Prayer for the Common Cause groups are the 1662 (used in many countries), the 1928 and the 1962. These are the editions to cite, not those of 1549, 1552, 1559 & 1604!
So, in order to obtain the greatest acceptance and the greatest comprehension on the best principles, I suggest that the above Statement be set aside and in its place the C of E Canon adapted as follows:
We accept the doctrine of the Anglican Way as it is grounded in the holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, we receive such doctrine as is to be found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal (as all three of these are printed in the English edition of 1662, the American edition of 1928 and the Canadian edition of 1962 of The Book of Common Prayer).
The Revd Dr Peter Toon July 17, 2006 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)
President of the Prayer Book Society of the USA 1-800-PBS-1928
I think the Anglo-Catholics would strenuously object.
No doubt. You make my point, exactly. Within those 7 statements, there's something for everyone to object to. Within Dr. Toon's suggested affirmation - just the one. The Anglo-Catholic faction of the continuum should take note of this fact from Dr. Toon..."No official province of the Anglican Communion authorizes the 1549 or the 1552 or the 1559 or the 1604 editions"...& then ask themselves whether they are willing to continue to walk apart from the rest of the Anglican World for the sake of using the 1549 BCP.
Of course, it wouldn't surprise me if they answer in the affirmative. It's just this sort of thing that has caused the Continuing Church to fracture over & over again over the past 25 years. Never over "Salvation issues," but rather over "churchmanship issues"...with a few power-hungry bishops engaging in turf wars thrown in for good measure. Shame.
A few remarks....
On saints and icons:
The 39 Articles decry the "Romish doctrine" of the veneration of saints as well as of relics and images. This does not mean we cannot have icons and that we should not remember great saints, just that we should avoid the "Romish" doctrine concerning them. One could argue this item was written prior to key Roman councils that clarified Roman dogma and is therefore no longer necessary, but the popular piety exhibited in many Roman parishes and the growth of the cult of Mary (derisively dubbed "Mariolotry" by some) underscore the need to keep this particular article around.
On apostolic succession:
Apostolic Succession is not merely an elaborate ordination genealogy. It is adherence to the Apostolic Faith. Episcopalians erred by concerning themselves more with maintaining the historic line and less with making sure the person being ordained believed, practiced and taught the Faith Once Delivered. As a result, Gene Robinson is considered "valid" whereas Billy Graham is not. Whom would you rather have celebrate Communion in your parish?
On the BCP:
Archbishop Cranmer's most important reform may have been making Scripture and worship readily available to the people. That was accomplished by translating the material into the proper language of the day (without compromising theology) and using the most efficient medium for its dessimination. How does using Shakespearian English in the liturgy today compare with using Latin in the 16th century?
Anglicanism's schizophrenic theologies never have made any sense to me.
I find it untenable to have a Church where co-religionists are divided between apostolic Catholic beliefs on one hand and Protestant Evangelical ones on the other.
This High Church/Low Church split in some ways created the prime atmosphere for what has been happening in Anglicanism for the past 40 years.
As a Lutheran convert to Catholicism, I firmly believe the two creeds are firmly different religions. How Anglicans have historically tried to be either here nor there makes little sense to me. I find it completely illogical.
Anglican doctrine and discipline are based on a three tier standard: Scripture, Reason and Tradition. Is the issue Biblical? Does it make sense? What has the Church said about it in the past? Catholic and Protestant beliefs and practices that meet those criteria are acceptable, while those that do not are unacceptable. This results in a theological system that gives a diverse appearance on the outside (some parishes sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" while others sing "Shine Jesus Shine") but maintains a uniformity underneath.
The problem that has arisen is the unwillingness of Western Anglicanism to discipline those who get out of line. My priest has always said that there are canon laws but no canon jails. Unless Anglican leaders put into use an effective disciplinary system, no theological statement will prevent what's happening now from happening again.
Reason, whose reason?, Tradition, whose Tradition?
Anglicanism is now reaping the consequences of its inherent self-contraditions.
Reason? God gave us brains. It's safe to say He expects us to use them. When electric lights arrived, it was seen as perfectly reasonable to use them to light the church. There is no Biblical mandate to use electric lights and there certainly wasn't any tradition (in anyone's church) of using electric lights. The same could be said of air conditioning.
Tradition? When addressing an issue, it's important to learn if anyone in the Church has dealt with the problem before. Did their solution work? Would it work here? I have come across too many Evangelical types who think and act as though Pentecost happened 50 years ago.
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