Anthony Dale Hunt–Some 2009 Reflections "on what is going on in Anglicanism"

….being in The Episcopal Church, and considering all that has happened in the last year, I wanted to throw out there some thoughts on what is going on in Anglicanism.

I will certainly make for these reflections to be theological, but I imagine that some will fall back into sentiment and they will have a sense of arbitrarity, for which I cannot apologize. It may seem that at times I will ramble but I hope, especially for our Anglican readership, that my fears and hopes will reveal a bit about the struggles in our Churches to be faithful both to the “gospel” as we perceive it, and to ourselves as a Communion of Churches.

I’ve grown a bit more into the role of a “Traditionalist” in matters of theological revision but I hope that I will never be received as a “Stand Firm” type. I have no pretensions about having the whole of Truth wrapped up and if I say things that are “conservative” or whatever the damn word we want to use, I am quite passionate about living together in diverse minds. But it is the width and nature of and reasons for diversity that is up for question.

Read it all, noting especially his remarks on what he has recently been reading.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Theology

18 comments on “Anthony Dale Hunt–Some 2009 Reflections "on what is going on in Anglicanism"

  1. Sarah says:

    Oh okay, I’ll read it — just as long as he makes crystal clear that he’s *certainly* not a “conservative” or an “evangelical” or [heh] one of those many many “fundamentalist” Episcopalians out littering the world. [I wonder if he’s ever actually met a fundamentalist — one of those people who believe that dispensational, separatist, American Protestant brand founded in the early 20th century and now in its fourth generation — I gather not.]

    Great reading — but one must chuckle a bit at how hard he works rhetorically to make sure people know that he’s got the appropriate disdain for those on the outs in his group.

  2. cseitz says:

    Nice to see Dr Radner’s work mentioned. ‘Thinking Anglicans’ and some other blogs routinely condemn ACI but very few have through the published work of its contributors. It has made me wonder more than once what the adjective ‘Thinking’ really means.

  3. cseitz says:

    BTW, Dr Turner has a new essay posted last week at — on the difference between disagreement and dissent.

  4. Jon says:

    “Fundamentalist” in reappraiser discourse usually means “firm believer in every plank of the Creeds.” Thus, in Spong’s book “Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism” he’s interested in rescuing it from belief in the Virgin Birth, in the Resurrection, in the Atonement, etc.

    “Thinking” in reappraiser discourse usually means doubting one or more articles of Creeds (as in “The Episcopal Church is for Thinking People” or “You Don’t Have To Check Your Brain At The Door”).

  5. adhunt says:

    Wow, thanks for the traffic. As a student and as a blogger it is always a temptation to take away old posts as they are not always indicative of how I feel now, lest it lead to confusion. But the dialogic of the blogging experience has been instrumental in my development and so I am happy to take that risk even if such a high volume site as yours stumbles across these op eds. I would say that my exaggerated tone with respect to “evangelicals” and “fundamentalists” is a clear example of the kind of rhetoric I would no longer use.

    p.s. – And if there was any confusion, as a couple comments imply, I am by no means sympathetic to the perspectives of “Thinking Anglicans.”

  6. Sarah says:

    Hi adhunt — seriously, I enjoyed the post despite my snark about the rhetoric. Consider it “early morning blog snark” . . . ; > )

  7. Jon says:

    In this case, the guy actually really does seem to be thinking, which is great. As in really having some openness to classic traditional Christian ideas, and a willingness to engage the ACI thoughtfully and consider how they might be right. This is not an easy thing to be doing as a young proto-seminarian: all of the forces of TEC and the culture are marshalled against that. So the fellow is indeed swimming upstream and deserves a lot of support.

    And although Sarah’s post was funny and on-point, I am willing to cut the guy a lot of slack. Sometimes in order to communicate with readers of a certain sort (extreme ideologues of the Left but also sometimes of the Right) you have to go out of your way to reassure them that you haven’t gone over to the Dark Side, if you want them to hear you at all.

  8. William Witt says:


    The term “fundamentalistm” can be understood in at least three senses.

    1) It can refer to the historical early 20th century movement–American Protestant, biblicist, separatist, dispensationalist. I have met many of these. Quite a few of them are relatives.
    2) It can simply be a term of opprobrium used to refer to anyone to the theological right of the author. For those who use the term in this way, anyone who believes “more than I do” is a fundamentalist. On this criteria, N.T. Wright and Ephraim Radner are fundamentalists for some.
    3) Fundamentalism can also refer to an attitude or a way of doing theology. The Evangelical theologian E. J. Carnell defined fundamentalism as “cultic orthodoxy.” The German term Rechthaberi translates loosely as “I am right and everyone else is wrong.” Fundamentalism in this sense cuts across denominational lines. It may have the theology of Cranmer or Luther or Calvin or Thomas Aquinas, but it operates with the mindset and ecclesiology of a “sect” (with apologies to Mennonites). Such fundamentalism certainly exists, including among those who call themselves “orthodox” Anglicans or Episcopalians, and who would be appalled to be caught reading Tim LaHaye.

  9. Sarah says:

    Mmmm . . . I understand that that’s the way some would like to define the word. I tend to see #3 — by virtue of its extreme blurriness and vagueness, as well as the rather suspect attempt to define the “attitude” of the theologian at to be a subset of #2, myself. But of course, those who use it in the sense of #3 would not approve of that categorization.

  10. Sarah says:

    Just to add a bit, I expect that those who use the word in the #3 sense are really struggling with their own notion that the theologian with whom they are skirmishing is “angry” or “rigid” — but they recognize that it’s really not apropos to say “you’re too angry and I disagree utterly” or “you’re too rigid and I disagree utterly.” So they use the word “fundamentalist” in the same sense. I don’t have a lot of respect for the use of the word in that sense — I see it as an obscuring of the flailing, myself.

  11. Larry Morse says:

    #8. Thanks for the distinction. This is essential,given the single shot definition often used. Larry

  12. Undergroundpewster says:

    #5 adhunt,

    Have you changed your opinion about being received as a “StandFirm type?”

  13. adhunt says:

    #12 Undergroundpewster,

    Well…”When did you stop beating your wife?”

  14. Undergroundpewster says:


  15. adhunt says:

    ha! “When did you stop beating your wife?” is a classic kind of loaded question. Meaning, whether you intended it or not your question puts me in a rather awkward place with respect to answering as there are likely many who frequent Rev. Harmon’s site who also frequent StandFirm and VirtueOnline.

    Uh…I don’t frequent the site.

  16. Undergroundpewster says:


    Try it, you might like it!

  17. Jon says:

    I like what Sarah said about definition 3 for fundamentalist. Part of what is a bit frustrating about it is that, in a way, it makes any one who (in the words of Luther) “delights in assertions” (he was speaking of the Holy Spirit) a fundamentalist.

    Take the doctrine of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity, or her Immaculate Conception. Both are things asserted by the Church of Rome. Now in one sense, the Vatican believes that it is right on this and any Christian who disagrees (many non-RCs) are therefore wrong. But that’s not a trait of religious fanaticism, but a simple consequence of what it means to believe in something. If I vote with confidence for Obama, then of course I think that everyone who voted for McCain is wrong. When Galileo believed the earth moved about the sun, he by definition thought everyone who held the geocentric view (a lot of people) was wrong.

    So I get a little irritated when people make accusations of fundamentalism (in the #3 sense) when in fact they are just bothered by the law of the excluded middle. They want all assertions to be the same thing as “I like vanilla ice cream” where everyone can have their own favorite flavor and everybody is equally right.

    That said… there probably still is a place for #3. As WW says, it may be more of an attitude than anything else. It’s hard to pin down but I think we know it when we see it. It probably means something more like “I believe A, B, C, D… and there’s no chance I could be mistaken in the slightest about any of it.” (E.g. zero humility) Or: every single one of my theological beliefs are dealbreakers and there’s no way I can be in communion with you unless you first agree about everything I say first. Or: my theological beliefs are so important that I will kill you if you disagree with them.

    Perhaps it’s easier to see in the opposite: in say an RC priest and a Presbyterian minister who are close friends and who’s respective parishes work together on a number of things. The two guys necessarily think the other fellow is mistaken, simply by logic alone: but each has some humility, owns he could be mistaken, and in general is able to say that not every one of his doctrinal claims are dealbreakers.

  18. William Witt says:

    By definition #3 Fundamentalistm, I do not mean “you are angry and I disagree utterly.” There are plenty of people of whom that might be true that I would not call fundamentalists, for example, the Presiding Bishop of TEC.

    Carnell’s “cultic orthodoxy” comes close to what I mean. Fundamentalists tend to be creedal “orthodox” Christians who have some of the following characteristics:
    1) Equation of a theological system with orthodox Christianity itself. The particular system varies, and the systems are mutually incompatible, but adherents are convinced that their system, and theirs alone, is the one valid expression of “true Christian orthodoxy.”
    2) The equation of infallibility not only with revelation (or, in the case of Catholics, an infallible magisterial interpretation of revelation within very prescribed limits), but with a particular interpretation of revelation. For example, I own a copy of the Book of Concord published by a particular Lutheran denomination. In the Preface, the editors acknowledge that Scripture alone is infallible. However, the Book of Concord just happens to provide the one correct interpretation of Scripture, so to question the Book of Concord is to question Scripture. Similarly, one can find Calvinists who seem to think that to question Calvin’s understanding of predestination is to question God.
    3) Elevation of secondary items of Christian faith to primary significance, overshadowing in practical importance primary articles of the creed; examples include epistemological criteria (papal infallibility, particular understandings of inspiration), ecclesiological distinctives (episcopacy, congregationalism, presbyterianism), particular doctrines of grace (not just justification by faith, but a proper understanding of law and gospel, or covenant theology or federalism), etc.
    4) A tendency to draw the boundaries more and more narrowly: it is not enough to be an orthodox Anglican; one must be a proper Evangelical or Anglo-Catholic. Wearing a chasuble (or not) or elevating the host (or not) is grounds for suspicion. The ordination of women is not only problematic; it is church-dividing; It is not enough to be a Lutheran; issues like the third use of the law become fighting matters; it is not enough to be Reformed; one must be supralapsarian and affirm limited atonement, etc.
    5) Ecclesiastical separatism: One must not only affirm the distinctives of a very narrow interpretation of orthodoxy; one cannot be in the same denomination with those who do not exactly agree, and one must constantly be in the lookout for potential traitors. Heresy hunts lead to expulsion for issues that leave those in other ecclesial bodies scratching their heads in disbelief.
    6) A tendency toward post hoc, propter hoc arguments: abandoning the 1928 Prayer Book was followed by numerous aberrations; therefore, etc. Questioning supralapsarianism leads to compromised views of divine sovereignty leads to Armininianism leads to Pelagianism leads to Unitarianism, etc.

    Others could perhaps think of other distinctives, or might qualify some of those I have laid down above, but I think this is a broad outline of what I mean when I refer to fundamentalism as “cultic orthodoxy.”