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Episcopal Innovations 1960-2004: theological & historical reflection on the current crisis in ECUSA
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 2/13/2006 | The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon

Posted on 02/13/2006 5:31:20 PM PST by sionnsar

The religion professed by the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA from the 1780s through to the 1960s is best described as Reformed Catholicism. That is, neither Roman Catholicism nor Orthodox Catholicism of the East, but that form and shape of Christianity which originally came into being as the Church of England underwent a reformation and renewal in the middle of the sixteenth century. From this Reformed Church of England, worship, doctrine, discipline and polity were taken around the world, including to the thirteen colonies of Britain in America. Thus after American Independence, English Reformed Catholicism was the religion given a specifically American dress and context in the Formularies (local editions of the traditional Book of Common Prayer, Ordinal and Articles of Religion) by the newly organized Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA. The churches of the thirteen colonies became the first dioceses of this national Church [PECUSA], later to be a province in the Anglican Communion of Churches, and they embraced Reformed Catholicism. Some of them expressed it as "Low Church" or "Latitudinarian" and others as "High Church" and later in the nineteenth century it had "Anglo-Catholic" and "Evangelical" expressions as well.

From the 1960s, if not earlier, this Reformed Catholicism, with its various forms of churchmanship, was subject to all kinds of pressures to change, usually in a liberal theological direction. And these influences for change were not isolated to doctrine, they also included liturgy, morality, order, discipline, Episcopal Innovations 1960–2004 polity, mission and so on. Thus by the 1980s the religion of the PECUSA (now called by a decision of its General Convention, the Episcopal Church [ECUSA]) may be described as Liberal Catholicism. The Church believed that it still had a Catholic character through its commitment to the Threefold Ministry and to the principle of increasingly elaborate liturgical worship (and thus it preferred to call all male priests, "Father" to distinguish them from "Protestant" pastors); but, it also believed that it had a vocation to be "prophetic" and demonstrate to others what truly being relevant in post-modern society is all about, and how "peace and justice" are to be implemented in society and church. It is worth noting that in the name of this Church the modifier "Protestant" was deliberately dropped from the title page of the Prayer Book of 1979. This puts the ECUSA in the odd position of referring to itself as the PECUSA in its Constitution but as "The Episcopal Church" in its official Prayer Book, which is legally a necessary part of its Constitution. Critics ask, Is this a kind of Nominative Schizophrenia?

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TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 02/13/2006 5:31:24 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

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2 posted on 02/13/2006 5:35:36 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006 | Is it March yet?)
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