Read it all.
I should hope not!
I’m relieved to hear it. I’m glad George Conger put the question directly to him so soon after his election. Still I can’t help but notice that +Davies didn’t shut and lock the door unequivocally. For declaring that you “have no intention” of changing policies isn’t the same as declaring that under no conceivable circumstances will you do so. Nor did he pronounce the desire to have deacons or lay people “administer” the Lord’s Supper to be wrong-headed and unAnglican or theologically unacceptable (all of which most of us Anglicans would say). Of course not. He presumably just thinks it inadvisable or unwise, etc. Perhaps in the spirit of 1 Cor. 10:23, “[i]All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.[/i]”
Of course, there is still the fundamental problem that Sydney is Sydney, i.e., the archdiocese is still a hotbed of fervent, ultra-Protestant Neo-Puritansim. If we could be sure that the disease would be permanently contained and quaranteened in Sydney that would be one thing. But the prominent place of leadership that Sydney’s archbishop has had for generations among conservative evangelical Anglicans around the world, not least with ++Jensen serving as Secretary of the GAFCON council of primates, means that those of us who are deeply worried about that leadership role can’t relax too much.
Evangelical Anglicanism is one thing. I love and admire evangelicalism, Anglican and otherwise. But Puritanism is another matter entirely. I can’t stand Puritanism, inside or outside of Anglicanism.
[Comment deleted by Elf]
#2 Rev Handy
[blockquote]Of course, there is still the fundamental problem that Sydney is Sydney, i.e., the archdiocese is still a hotbed of fervent, ultra-Protestant Neo-Puritansim. If we could be sure that the disease would be permanently contained and quaranteened in Sydney that would be one thing[/blockquote]
I know what you mean about some of their wilder ideas, and not particularly Anglican ones – more Geneva than Cranmer – but I would not agree about Sydney Anglicanism having a disease in need of quaranteening in isolation from the rest of us.
Sydney has considerable strengths. In our Communion one of the real problems is the depth of biblical ignorance: whether in the sermons of the Presiding Heresiarch of TEC or the new Dean of the Washington Cathedral, or indeed its bishop what is apparent is not so much their willful wickedness [although that may flow from it], but their woeful lack of education.
That cannot be said for Sydney, which stands out for its depth of biblical education and scholarship – we all stand in need of that, and it means that Sydney has put down deep roots into the Christian faith – as indeed we all should. They have much to offer us if they can resist the temptation to throw themselves off some Puritan cliff.
Whereas I don’t consider myself a Puritan, I’m learning more about them. I think Puritanism often gets unfair treatment. It’s not fair to paint the classical Puritans as reformed Baptists, because they weren’t. Mainstream Puritanism had a very high view of the Eucharist and the idea of lay presidency would not have even occurred to them. They were aiming for a high sacramental view without sacerdotalism. They would have thought, I think, that to allow only ordained priests to preside over the eucharist, but to let virtually anyone preach any old nonsense from the pulpit to be outrageous… The classical Puritans held the same view of the sacraments as Calvin.
Thanks for that thoughtful and apt response, Pageantmaster. I agree with you that Sydney brand Anglicanism has many tremendous strengths, which make it infinitely preferable to the Unitarianism-with-vestments that has taken over so much of North American Anglicanism. At least Puritans are fellow Christians, whereas Unitarian-at-heart pseudo-Anglicans are not. I also would heartily agree with you that one of the major problems that has left global north Anglicanism so terribly vulnerable to deception in matters of both theology and morality is the woeful lack of proper theological education, especially such lack with regard to the clergy but also for the laity. I happily confess that I admire the rather rigorous standards of theological training at Moore Theological College, which far surpass most of what is offered at Anglican schools in North America (with a few notable exceptions).
Still, in the end, the root problem remains that the hardcore ultra-Protestantism that is so characteristic of Sydney Anglicanism represents a brand of religion that’s flatly unacceptable to me. Anglicanism is, and always has been, a very big tent, containing lots of diversity. But Puritantism was ultimately deemed incompatible with authentic Anglicanism in 1662, when many fine and worthy Christian ministers were forced out of the CofE, including the noble Richard Baxter and John Owen. The CoE’s huge loss in the Great Ejection was the great gain of more consistently Protestant groups (Presbyterians, Congregationalist, and Baptists). But the dream that the CoE could include all moderate Protestants was shown to be a mere illusion.
Neither can worldwide Anglicanism continue to include some of the disparate groups that currently inhabit it and claim, with varying degrees of legitimacy, to be truly Anglican. Moreover, that sad state of affairs even applies to the GAFCON/GFCA movement. I have no doubt that Sydney Anglicans will remain the staunchly Bible-based, conservative evangelical Christians that they are, and have long been. But are they Anglican?? Or will they stay Anglican?? That is in very serious doubt, but that is for the majority of Anglicans around the world to determine, which means that it’s basically up to the Global South to discern.
Permit me to be more personal. I don’t say what follows to be antagonistic or polarizing or intentionally offensive or anything of the sort. But one of the urgent and primary needs of Anglicanism in our time is to recover a COHERENT Anglican identity and to establish a basis for once again exercising real discipline in the areas of both doctrine and practice, when intolerable heresy and immorality have been permitted to grow unchecked in the global north. As it now stands, there is no consistent or convincing identity left in Anglicanism, fractured as it is not only by a Liberalism that’s unChristian, but also by at least three basic forms of Anglicanism (“Low and Lazy, High and Crazy, plus Broad and Hazy”) that are fundamentally incompatible: three essentially different forms of Anglicanism that are trying, vainly, to co-exist under one institutional roof.
Or to put it as sharply and clearly as possible, although it’s sadly provocative and controversial to put it this way, as broad and diverse as Anglicanism may be, it simply isn’t big enough to include a Neo-Puritan like Mark Thompson (head of Moore Theological College and a fine Christian leader) and an Anglo-Catholic like me. Our brands of Anglicanism are just mutually exclusive. Eventually the GFCA is going to have to decide which of us it can include, but it simply can’t include both of us and have any reasonable theological coherence.
The Sydney gang sees Anglicanism as properly being the English form of Protestantism, and they ardently believe that what Anglicanism needs is to return to the principles of the English Reformation, and indeed to continue their godly work by finishing the job they left half undone (due to the firm resistance put up by the monarchy). OTOH, I believe that Anglicanism at its best is a true Protestant-Catholic hybrid, and that rather than the remaining Catholic elements being a deplorable weakness that ought to be eliminated at long last, purifying Anglicanism of all traces of Romanism and medievalism, it is those Catholic elements that are the glory of Anglicanism. Rather than being tossed out as useless baggage from the past, those Catholic elements are to be expanded and more thoroughly integrated into Anglicanism. If you want a label for it, the faculty of Moore Theological College, by and large, represent Neo-Puritanism, whereas I stand for a Neo-Patristic Anglicanism of a “3-D” variety.
I say all that, mindful that if the GFCA movement were in fact to ever make such a fateful choice between Neo-Puritan and Neo-Patristic Anglicanism, I would almost certainly be on the losing end, as the GS is overwhelmingly low church on the whole. So let me put it this way. Should the Sydney brand of Anglicanism ever triumph in most of the world, then I will swallow hard, bite the bullet, and swim the Tiber at last. Better to be a Roman Catholic, with all of Rome problems and errors, than a Sydney sort of Anglican!
To #6 (David Handy) — I think you have described the fault lines accurately. I have a couple of questions, and, since I have read your comments on this forum with profit for many years, look forward to your answers.
You wrote — “Anglicanism is, and always has been, a very big tent, containing lots of diversity.”
Isn’t that in part a result of the role that the Church of England played as the established church in England? It seems to me, at least in part, that, especially after the restoration of the monarchy, and, even more after the abdication of James II, the rulers of England at least implicitly recognized that a “big tent,” with a fair amount of latitude, was a desirable feature, because it allowed for a degree of civil peace. If members of the C of E could follow the Book of Common Prayer, and recognize the Crown as the head of the Church, then the C of E could be an institution for national unity, rather than an occasion of division.
Then, as England (and, after the Act of Union, Britain) established colonies, the C of E also advanced — in part from a real desire to advance the Gospel, but also as part of what preserved cultural ties to the home country. Then, as the Empire expanded, and retracted, the various components of the C of E had to articulate a new identity as Anglicans, and to figure out what that meant.
You wrote, “But one of the urgent and primary needs of Anglicanism in our time is to recover a COHERENT Anglican identity.” I guess I wonder (and in all sadness, because I loved high church practice in the ECUSA until I left several years ago), was there ever a coherent Anglican identity, other than roots in the BCP, and a certain fondness for (or nostalgia for) certain elements of English culture (as adapted to local circumstances)?
In other words, is there anything coherent to recover? And are the current fissures in Anglicanism relatively new, or merely exposed by developments in North America and the UK itself?
I do not actually know the answer to this. I am no theologian, or church historian. I am not even an Episcopalian any more. But I do miss it (or, more accurately, what it once was).
Thank you for your kind words and for your thoughtful questions. Alas, I’m afraid that an adequate answer to them would probably take us too far off topic, at least if pursued to the point where it would get instructive and illuminating. However, I’ll take a brief stab at responding to such sincere and appropriate questions.
First and probably most important, I agree with you, Franz, that the Big Tent approach in Anglicanism has everything to do with the established nature of the CoE. That’s precisely the problem, of course, because that Big Tent approach simply can’t survive the death of the social context that gave it birth and legitimacy. That is, IMHO, the demise of the old Christendom marriage of Church and State, or more generally the breakup of the old alliance of classical Christianity in its various forms and the mainstream English culture, spells the inevitable demise of the dream of including within one religious institution forms of doctrine, ethics, and worship that are in fact incompatible, and were only able to get along under duress, because the whole political and social system imposed that necessity upon them. Now that those old constraints are gone, the various parties are in the process of diverging farther and farther apart, and there is absolutely nothing to keep them from eventually separating completely and formally.
Many observers, myself included, have reached the conclusion after prolonged historical research that while many Anglican leaders have spoken through the centuries about the famous, celebrated “comprehensiveness” of Anglicanism as being the result of a sincere desire for the full understanding of the truth rather than a mere desire for social (and ecclesial) peace, that laudable ideal has generally been shown to ring very hollow indeed. The unpleasant fact is that the Low Church, High Church, and Broad Church parties have only gotten along with each othe becquse they have been forced to do so, or lose their place in the whole social system in England. However, my take on the history of the CoE is that with Parliament’s invitation to William and Mary to take the throne in place of the Papist James II, and with the combined revisions to the Coronation Oath (whereby the monarch has ever since 1689 solemnly pledged to uphold “[i]the Protestant Reformed religion[/i]”) and where the rules of royal succession were revised to ensure that no Catholic would ever again reign in England, or would ever even marry a Catholic), and OTOH with the Act of Toleration in 1689 extending a large measure of acceptance to moderate Protestants (i.e., Presbyterians, Congregationalists, but not Quakers, etc.), the political leadership of England finally and reluctantly admitted that the dream of the Reformers that ALL English inhabitants (except for a few pesky Jews who refused to assimilate or a few radical Anabaptists of ill repute and no account) would be embraced in THE Church OF (all) England was a mirage that would never come to pass.
The Parliamentary actions in 1689 that reduced the monarchy to being merely a constitutional monarchy of very limited powers strictly subordinate to Parliament also amounted to the death of that impossible dream and the frank admission that henceforth the established church would merely be A Church IN England, even if the church of the majority of the English people. By 1689, after the bitter Civil War of the 1640s and the Great Ejection in 1662 of almost 2000 Puritan ministers from the CoE, it was abundantly clear that English society was hopelessly and permanently divided religiously. Since then, the proportion of the population that identifies with the “CoE” has declined sharply, so that what once was plausibly The Church OF England is now merely “The Church of a teeny tiny minority of England.” In such a radically altered social context, why continue the shallow pretense that the CoE was theologically or religiously united when it quite obviously wasn’t??
More to come…
Continuation of my reply (#8) to Franz (#7),
The real question, indeed the “Million Dollar Question,” is this: [b]Has there in fact EVER been a truly coherent theological position in the CoE since the Reformation??[/b] Alas, I think the fairest and most objective answer to that key question is that it depends entirely on whom you ask. If you ask four different Anglican theologians, you may well get four different answers (or even five, as someone is likely to be unsure and give you two possible answers). It all depends, I suppose, on what counts as “coherence” for you. I must admit that I’m extremely skeptical that ever was true theological coherence in the CoE, but to the degree that there was such coherence in the first two or three generations after the famous Elizabethan “Settlement” that produced the 1559 BCP, and the 39 Articles of 1563/1571, especially as reinforced and amplified by the two Books of Homilies, plus John Jewel’s semi-official Apology for the CoE and John Foxe’s influential Book of Martyrs, then unquestionably the substantial consensis was emphatically Protestant, and largely Reformed as opposed to Lutheran in spirit and content. IOW, to the degree that there ever has been a coherent Anglican theology, in the 2nd half of the 16th century, that early Anglican stance is severely flawed. It is badly imbalanced by being excessively Protestant and hence obsolete (IMHO).
Returning to topic, the Sydney gang can rightly lay claim to representing something close to the “original” Anglican doctrinal position, as staked out in the 39 Articles, and strengthened and clarified by the Books of Homilies, Jewel and Foxe, plus the writings of such influential Anglican divines as the admirable William Perkins, who wasn’t exactly a Puritan, but was clearly within the broad Reformed camp.
But the pendulum began to swing back toward a more balanced position with the great Richard Hooker, often seen as the Father of (truly) Anglican theology. When his classic The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity began to appear in the 1590s (although only five of his eight volumes appeared in his lifetime, probably because Hooker’s views on the proper relation of Church and State, especially visible in book 8, would’ve been unacceptable to Queen Elizabeth, or even King James I later) the pushback to excessive Protestantism had begun. The Caroline Divines of the mid 1600s, starting with the saintly +Lancelot Andrewes and being taken farther in a re-catholicizing direction by the likes of the (unsaintly) ++William Laud, or such eminent theologians as John Pearson or John Bramhall, John Cosin, etc.) carved out what many of us regard as CLASSICAL Anglicanism. But it has to be admitted that these High Church divines failed to win over the English population as a whole. Neither the laity nor the majority of the ordinary parish clergy bought into their re-catholicizing tendencies, and thus when the High Church favoring kings Charles I and II passed away (or were outright rejected and executed, in the case of Charles I) and when Parliament turned to the Dutch Calvinist William of Orange to assume the throne, it was the turn of the Broad Church/Latitudinarian wing to take over, as the nation was utterly weary religious conflict and desired peace above all else, and at any cost (even the cost of theological coherence or precision). When the 18th century House of Hanover favored liberal-minded advocates of toleration like ++John Tillotson and his like, it became clear that there weren’t just two options in Anglicanism, but three. But if Elizabeth has reluctantly appointed many Low Church and heavily Reformed men as bishops (having virtually no choice), and if James I, Charles I and II had appointed many High Churchmen as bishops, the monarchs of the 18th century clearly favored Broad Churchmen. Thus, on the eve of the Evangelical Revival, it was already clear that the CoE really had no clear and consistent theology. True, its official liturgy had been remarkably stable since 1559 (with the crucial exception of course of the Interregnum when the BCP was banned), and clergy (though not laity) were forced to declare their “subscription” to the 39 Articles all along, but the all important fact is there has NEVER been any officially binding and authoritative interpretation of either the BCP or the Articles. Never. And yes, Franz, that again has everything to do with the CoE being a state church and part of the whole establishment social system.
But throw into that confusing mix the Evangelical Revival of the 18th century and the Catholic Revival of the 19th century, plus the emergence of true Liberalism (starting with the Deists) within the CoE, and what was already an incoherent mix of incompatible groups was turned into sheer chaos. And things have only gotten worse since then.
Ultimately, Franz, it always comes down to the vexed question of authority, or rather the lack of real authority in Anglicanism. What we are seeing today is the fruits of the deplorable lack of any real authority in Anglicanism. This is our Achilles Heel as Anglicans. In the end, when protracted disputes appear insoluble as they so painfully are today, the issue always comes down in practice to the question: WHO GETS TO DECIDE?? Who has the acknowledged right to make the final and binding decision, and has the power to make their decision stick??
In Anglicanism, we simply don’t have a living magisterium anymore. We once did, historically, and that magisterium was a LAYPERSON, the English monarch. He or she had both the right and the power to settle all religious disputes as “Supreme Governor” of the CoE. But that magisterium was eventually rejected (with the expulsion of Jemes II and the submission of the moarchy to Parliament etc.). Now I’m not a royalist, and I don’t hanker for the “good ole days” to return (as if Charles I “the Martyr” could be brought back somehow). But it’s been nothing short of devastating for Anglicanism that we’ve never created any replacement for the monarchy as a living magisterium. That vacuum at the very center of Anglicanism is killing us today.
Or to return to topic again, I could restate my own postion this way in contrast to that of Sydney. [b]I don’t fear the tyranny of Rome half as much anymore as I fear Protestant anarchy![/b]. Yes, I linger on this side of the Tiber because I agree with Article XX of the 39 Articles, Rome has erred, and erred seriously, even in central matters of doctrine and practice. But Wittenberg erred seriously too. And Geneva erred even worse. And Zurich worse yet. Yes, I do reject such errors as the “Romish” doctrien of the Immaculate Conception (also rejected by Thomas Aquinas and the Eastern Church, so it’s not just a Protestant vs. Catholic dispute), but Sydney’s errors are worse yet. That’s why I was utterly in earnest when I teasingly said above that should Sydney’s brand of hyper Protestant Anglicanism come to dominate Anglicanism worldwide that I would reluctantly swim the Tiber. Yes, even with all Rome’s errors and problems, I’d rather be a Roman Catholic than a Sydney style Anglican. I really and truly mean that.
Sorry, everyone, for being so verbose. But the issues at stake are huge, and they aren’t going away. I hope GAFON II this October helps shed some welcome light on the question of whether Anglicanism in the future finally develops a truly coherent theology and then means to enforce it (without falling into tyranny).
To the Rev. Mr. Handy (and that probably betrays my cultural bias, if not my ecclesiology). Thank you very much for your extensive reply. It confirmed my understanding of the broad points of the relevant history, and added some illuminating detail.
Of course, in the U.S. (and I am guessing that you are in the U.K. — please correct me if I am wrong), the issue is complicated by the fact that the Episcopal Church was [b]never[/b] was an established national church (it may have been the established church in one or more of the southern states after independence, but not for long). The Episcopal Church maintained (and in some areas gained) a certain social prominence. In some ways, it may have been more of a club than a church. It was, for much of the history of the United States, associated with the wealthy and the politically powerful. But there was not much thought given to theological coherence. For example, in Boston, if one had a taste for “smells and bells,” one could go to Church of the Advent. It was (and is) Anglo-Catholic and style (and perhaps in theology). If one was more Protestant in style, one could attend Trinity on Copley Square (with the legacy of Phillips Brooks). The different strains within Anglicanism became a matter of personal preference, or family tradition, as did the choice between the Episcopal church on Main Street, or the Congregational or Presbyterian church down the block.
It all hummed along nicely for several decades, but it did mean that the ECUSA (along with the other mainline churches) tended to follow the culture. Which is why the management of ECUSA is what it is now.
[i]The different strains within Anglicanism became a matter of personal preference, or family tradition[/i]
Certainly the effects of family tradition have been a powerful determinant of where one might go to church. And personal preference on a surface level might cause one to chose a particular building, set of programs, etc.
But I think one of the powerful positives of the Anglican Church has been that within one single denomination one could find an Anglo-Catholic ecclesiology, a Protestant ecclesiology, and a Charismatic ecclesiology: all worshiping pretty much out of the same [or related] BCP and sharing [in theory] a common understanding of the Christian Faith. And so, how the Holy Spirit calls one to God, could be manifested in which flavor of Anglicanism one chose.
Although I am a staunch High Church Anglo-Catholic, I have felt at home when worshiping in a Charismatic Anglican church in S. Korea because the BCP was familiar and we shared an ecclesiastic bond. Likewise, I used to serve in some pretty protestant churches in Florida but still felt that ecclesial bond. I lead an Anglo-Catholic Anglican Church now and on the high feast days we have all the smells and bells. But we welcome and encourage our more protestant and evangelical brothers and sisters to raise their hands if the music or prayer moves them.
I wouldn’t call it the big tent church, but the three-streams analogy that others have talked about seems like a helpful model.
Thanks for your kind words. I won’t try to respond further to your last comment. But I would like to make one final comment regarding my earlier series of highly controversial and provocative remarks above. I now regret expressing myself in such an “over-the-top” way. Pageantmaster was right to call me on using such a derogatory expression as condemning Sydney style Anglicanism as a “disease.” That’s certainly not in the moderate and tempered spirit of this blog, and I recognize that I may have needlessly alienated some readers. If so, I apologize for being so uncouth and unedifying.
Having said some very harsh things about Sydney brand Anglicanism, let me bow out of this thread by making clear that, however critical I might be of Sydney’s hyper Protestant Neo-Puritanism, that pales in comparison to my far more vehement rejection of the agnostic, antinomian Liberalism that now dominates TEC. So let me conclude by emphasizing that however far apart my “Neo-Patristic” Anglicanism might be from that of Sydney’s leadership in terms of churchmanship, I am in hearty agreement with them in their utter and complete rejection of Liberalism. To echo ++Glenn Davies, I “have no intention” of swimming the Tiber any time soon. Among other things, I hesitate to do that because I know full well that switching from Anglo-Catholicism to Roman Catholicism would certainly not solve all my problems, it would merely amount to exchanging one set of problems for another set. For example, regular readers of T19 know that I’m a strong supporter of WO (although NOT the ordination of women to the episcopate), and even if I do someday become a Roman Catholic, I’ll almost certainly remain a supporter of WO as a Catholic. But I’d rather have a Church with a coherent theology and the courage and will to enforce that coherent theology, even when it’s wrong, than the disastrous state of affairs in worldwide Anglicanism today, where we lack both a coherent theology and, more importantly, even if we were to achieve a much more coherent theology in my lifetime, it’s even less likely that Anglicanism, even when dominated by the orthodox leaders of the Global South, will develop the necessary means, and the will, to ENFORCE that consensual theology. That’s what continues to bother me and what troubles me deeply, and I don’t see that fundamental problem going away in my lifetime.
Or to close on a more conciliatory note, as seems fitting, let me turn my outrageously inflammable anti-Sydney remark earlier on its head and reapply it in a different direction. There is much about ++Glenn Davies that I respect and even admire. He is a FAR better bishop than most of the bishops that I’ve known in TEC. He is fervently and solidly committed to biblical and historic Christianity (at least as he understands classical Christianity, with his ultra-Protesant blinders on). Moreover, Davies has proven himself to be a skilled and effective administrator as a bishop. This is in stark and glaring contrast with, say, the PB of TEC. ++Schori is unspeakably worse on both fronts. She is a flagrant heretic, and she has shown herself to be grossly incompetent at “oversight” as well. So my final word on this thread is this: Better to be a Sydney Anglican, with all Sydney’s problems and errors, than a liberal Episcopalian!! I may be allergic to Sydney’s Neo-Puritanism, but TEC has become completely toxic to me. Sydney’s ultra-Protestantism and fundamentalist tendencies may make me sick, but the outright heresy and rampant immorality of TEC’s apostate leadership is much worse, it is utterly poisonous. TEC’s errors are FATAL.