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MERE ANGLICANISM DAY TWO: "Something Old, Something New..." ^ | January 26, 2007 | by J. Gary L'Hommedieu

Posted on 01/27/2007 9:02:15 PM PST by Huber

This writer had to leave Charleston early in the afternoon of Day Two, but what I was able to observe in the day and a half I spent at this conference was important enough to talk about.

Day Two was "more of the same" in a very positive sense as Day One, and I believe it is important to characterize the emerging character of Mere Anglicanism.

My perception from the beginning of the conference has been that classic Anglicanism is reemerging in North America with a renewed drive and vigor. By "classic Anglicanism", I'm referring to Anglicanism of the classic Formularies: the historic Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal, the Articles of Religion, the First and Second Book of Homilies.

This is the classic Anglican Way according to such diverse contemporary authorities as Peter Toon of the Prayer Book Society, Bob Duncan of the Anglican Communion Network, and Leonard Riches, Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church, just to name a few.

Today I heard three presentations. I will try to characterize them rather than present highlighted quotes. It is the character of "mere Anglicanism" emerging from this conference, and the trend this indicates in the North American scene, that is real news for the church.

First, Dr. Edith Humphrey of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary presented a lecture entitled, "On the Word of God, Wobbling Stools and Upstart Quadrilaterals". In this presentation Dr. Humphrey gave, among other things, a superb analysis of the contemporary misuse of Richard Hooker's fictitious "three legged stool", which is cited by revisionist Episcopalians as the authority for the church's theology. Citing a parish website somewhere in the US, she analyzed the essentially gnostic religion that results from this "wobbly" stool. She echoed a common observation, that "experience" has been added to the three legged stool as a fourth leg which quickly usurped the roll of the other three. She then made a very original and striking observation: that "experience" in its current emphasis really means "my experience". Among her numerous characterizations of contemporary theological method, one of the most profound, and humorous, was her characterization of the contemporary church as a sort of post-modern "self-help group". Toward the end of her talk she identified "ecclesiology" as the key theological concept for "Christians who want to be faithful".

Dr. Humphrey's presentation touched on many other themes. What is worth mentioning to the general reader is that the quality of analysis she demonstrated is indicative of a theological revival within classic Anglicanism. There are emerging in orthodox circles profound and in depth expositions of authorities such as Hooker. Rank and file Anglicans can soon arm themselves for theological battle with confidence and creativity.

The next speaker was Bill Boniface, founder and head of Episcopal Witness, a lay organization that seeks to educate "the murky middle" of the Episcopal Church's membership. Describing himself as a "nominal" Episcopalian all his life, Boniface was motivated to take action when a fellow parishioner forced him to face up to recent changes in the church's theology and morality. He described his initial disbelief. As he educated himself, he found he needed to assess his own personal faith. This led to personal conversion and an end to his self-satisfied "nominal" Christianity.

Boniface's main point was to stress that people in the "middle" need to meet their orthodox brethren and find out that they're not the negative stereotypes that have been created by revisionist ideologues. He explained that people are often grateful to have the facts about the church pointed out, even to have their comfortable status quo disrupted.

Boniface now trains individuals to visit local parishes and witness to the membership there. He related that local rectors frequently thank these visiting "witnesses" for saying things they couldn't get away with saying without being accused of bringing "church politics" into parish life. (To contact Episcopal Witness, email Bill Boniface at

The last presentation I was privileged to observe was the lecture by Dr. Ashley Null, Canon Theologian of the Diocese of Western Kansas. Fitzsimons Allison introduced Canon Null as the acknowledged authority in the world today on Thomas Cranmer, the architect of the English Reformation and author of the Book of Common Prayer. In a presentation of a little over an hour, Canon Null presented highlights from his new book on Thomas Cranmer's "Gospel for the Heart", punctuated with off-the-cuff comments and illustrations that were sometimes hilarious, sometimes spellbinding.

In the opinion of this writer, the power of Null's presentation was in his presentation of Cranmer the man, relating the facts of his biography with his theology, and even more with a coherent and elaborate pastoral method. His description of Cranmer's theology of the human heart was illuminating, with fresh and clear implications for current practice.

Null distinguished Cranmer from other reformation traditions, on the one hand, and from contemporary evangelical theology on the other. What emerged was a distinctive contemporary Anglican evangelicalism with a distinctive pastoral emphasis based upon psychological insights from the Bible. This portrait of Cranmer the pastoral theologian was like meeting the man behind the Prayer Book for the first time, and sensing new, unforeseen depths in practical Prayer Book religion.

Mere Anglicanism is revealing a level of competence and theological depth in the orthodox wing of Anglicanism worldwide, and in the American branches in particular. The excitement 250-plus participants suggests that "something new" is in the air. Clearly there is a difference between Anglicanism that is "classic" and Anglicanism that is just "old fashioned".

Could it be that, far from being archaic or locked in the cultural trappings of another time and place, classic or "mere" Anglicanism is in reality an idea whose time has come?

--The Rev. Canon J. Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon for Pastoral Care at the Cathedral Church of Saint Luke, Orlando, Florida. He is a regular VOL columnist.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: anglican; mereanglicanism

1 posted on 01/27/2007 9:02:18 PM PST by Huber
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To: ahadams2; Way4Him; Peach; Zippo44; piperpilot; ex-Texan; ableLight; rogue yam; neodad; Tribemike; ..
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Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 01/27/2007 9:23:20 PM PST by Huber (And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. - John 1:5)
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To: Huber


I'm quite curious about the content of this conference ... not to mention I'm dreaming of a weekend in Charleston, with any excuse ...

3 posted on 01/28/2007 3:53:57 AM PST by Tax-chick ("Let all your thinks be thanks." ~ W.H. Auden)
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To: upchuck


4 posted on 01/28/2007 5:06:40 AM PST by Huber (And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. - John 1:5)
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To: Huber

I'm up getting ready for church--eager to get there early. We had two people attending the conference, plus today is our annual meeting. This is a HUGE day for our church. I can hardly wait to hear the reports!

5 posted on 01/28/2007 5:11:43 AM PST by Ray'sBeth
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To: Huber

Thank you for posting this! I wish I could have been there.

6 posted on 02/02/2007 6:31:23 PM PST by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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