The Quest for a North American Anglican Theological Center

Some Thoughts and Proposals

For those paying attention to the Anglican blogosphere and social media, it will come as no surprise that the idea of a theological center weighs heavy on the minds of many North American Anglicans. There seems to be a general sense that Anglicanism’s historic latitude on matters of doctrine and discipline has been stretched too thin, and that, moving forward, if the ACNA is to avoid the problems TEC and other churches within the larger Communion have run into, it will be necessary to establish a sturdy, definite theological center on which to ground our Anglican identity. There is little patience for the “anything goes” brand of Anglicanism that passes in the CoE, and the “three streams” theory of Anglican identity appears to many to be a disguised version of this same sort of indolent churchmanship. The phrase, “a church that stands for nothing will fall for anything” I think captures the North American Anglican mood quite well. This is for the most part a good sign. It means that North American Anglicans care about their identity, that doctrine and discipline matters to them, and that they want to learn from the Church’s past mistakes. This increased focus on identifying a theological center also makes sense given our current ecclesial moment. The ACNA is now on the far side of the transition from a fledgling, African-based missionary province to established North American church, and it is only natural that our concerns and challenges should be different at this new stage of development.[1]

The search for a theological center has given rise to heated, usually online debate, involving issues ranging from sacramental theology and ecclesiology to ritual and vestments. These debates are sometimes done with a high degree of sophistication, sometimes less so. One will also find a range of temperaments amongst the debaters, running from warmly charitable to bitterly acerbic. Reformation Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics, Old High Churchmen, and Evangelicals are some of the major players, though there are others. My aim in this article is to provide some guidance for how these debates should, and should not, proceed, after which I will conclude with a proposal for how they might amicably resolve.

Exclusion and Relativization

First, identifying a theological center does not, or at least should not, exclude other, non-central theological schools and sensibilities within an acceptable range. Yes, we are trying to weed out those excesses and deficiencies we have accrued from too much latitude, but we need not fall into the opposite extreme of defining our theology too narrowly. If, hypothetically, the more Reformed leaning Anglicanism exemplified in the thought of James Ussher, John Davenant and Joseph Hall were to establish itself as the ACNA’s theological center, it would not automatically exclude from communion those adhering to a theology closer to that of the Caroline Divines or moderate Tractarians (although it would likely, and, I presume, deliberately rule out excesses on the high church, Anglo-Catholic end of the spectrum). We see this sort of dynamic concretely in other Christian communions. The centrality of Thomism in the Roman Catholic Church, for example, does not exclude the Franciscans, Augustinians, or Jesuits from the Roman See, but rather relativizes them. This is, negatively put, the goal of a theological center: to exclude excesses and abuses while relativizing secondary or peripheral aspects of the tradition.[2] My sense is that ACNA Anglicans would like to exclude hyper-Catholic, ritualistic Anglo-Papalism on the high end, and “snake-belly-low”, Anglo-Baptist Anglicanism on the low end (i.e. relativize Pusey, Keble, and Ramsey, while excluding Newman; relativize Ryle, Simeon, and Packer, while excluding the lower expressions of Sydney Anglicanism).

Second, these debates involve complex theological, historical, philosophical, and sociological concepts, as well as an enormous amount of data, making them painstakingly obscure and difficult. Indeed, English religious history is at best convoluted. There is nothing in the history of the English Church parallel to, say, the period of Orthodoxy in Lutheranism. In his anthology of Lutheran dogmatics, The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Heinrich Schmid derives a largely uniform, coherent theological system from the writings of divines from Chemnitz (1522–1586) to Hollaz (1648–1713), exhibiting the strong Lutheran consensus that prevailed from the drafting of the Formula of Concord in the late sixteenth century to the early eighteenth century prior to the rise of Lutheran Pietism and Enlightenment rationalism.[3] Trying to piece together an anthological systematics of this kind based on the writings of Anglican divines from the span of just a decade would be enormously difficult, much less one that covers the tradition over the entire course of its history.[4] There are just too many and too diverse divines, parties, documents, and theological sensibilities at play, making any tidy identification of a singular Anglican center that covers the entire course of the English Church’s history an enormously difficult task, if not an impossible one.

Picking and Choosing

Third, this same complexity and diversity demands selecting some elements of the Anglican tradition and prioritizing them over others. Some chide this selection process as “cherry-picking” or “picking and choosing,” but everyone does this in practice, and if we are going to successfully locate a theological center for North American Anglicanism from out of the diversity and vicissitudes of Anglican history, and prune its excesses and deficiencies, such a selection process is inevitable. It is, put simply, a process of theological construction. Moreover, there is no neutral or objective space from which to do this: different theological, historiographical, philosophical, devotional, and theoretical values will inevitably play into this selection process. There is nothing inherently problematic about this. Aquinas “cherry-picked,” so to speak, from different aspects of Augustinianism, Aristotelianism, and Neoplatonism in constructing his Summa; Calvin preferred Augustine over the other Fathers, and “picked and chose” biblical passages citing God’s sovereignty as more central than those emphasizing human freedom when writing the Institutes; the above-mentioned Lutheran Orthodox dogmatics were hybridized systems pieced together from different aspects of the thought of Luther and Melanchthon (who differed from one another on many topics), Neo-Aristotelianism and Thomism; all of which is perfectly fine. The real question is how to make these selections well, and what theoretical values and practical concerns ought to guide them.

As an aside, the messiness of English religious history, the necessity of selecting different aspects of the tradition over others, and the lack of a neutral, objective standpoint from which to do so, ought to inspire in us a sense of humility and charitableness when engaging in debates over a centering Anglican theology. Dismissiveness towards those of our brethren with whom we disagree on this difficult topic is, or at least it ought to be, unacceptable, and is, moreover, offensive to Christian charity more generally.[5] English theology and ecclesial history are difficult even at a merely descriptive level, such that making theological judgments in a normative register based on English theology and history is harder still, and therefore ought to be approached with humility.

Our Present Context

Fourth, a North American Anglican center ought to be fitted to the challenges and dynamics of our twenty-first-century North American context. While the Gospel is unchanging, those aspects of it we emphasize in presenting it, and how we articulate its message, are variable, and differ according to time and place. To be clear, this does not mean a desperate attempt at being “relevant”, or going along with whatever the culture says (that is how global Anglicanism has arrived at its current state of crisis). What it means is that our presenting the Gospel, and our doing so through the medium of a centering Anglican theology, must effectively speak to our culture and its needs. Indeed, this might involve (and almost certainly will, given our context) rejecting or denouncing certain aspects of the culture, and challenging received values and norms; but whatever it ends up looking like on the ground, our Anglican center needs to take seriously our distinct North American situation, and try and speak into it.

A Church Under Authority

Fifth, our North American Anglican center must conform to the Canons and Constitutions of our Church. Disregard for authority, whether of established doctrine, constitutions, or canon law, is the great thorn in Anglicanism’s side, and has led to the current anarchic situation in the greater Communion. Reverence for the rule of ecclesial law, then, will be fundamental to the ACNA’s future as a faithful, orthodox Christian Church, and our centering theology needs to reflect this. For some concrete examples of what this might look like, fundamental declaration #7 requires us to receive the 39 Articles in their literal and grammatical sense, which might lead us to reconsider the legitimacy of Newmanian, pro-Tract 90 Anglo-Catholics within our Province. On the other end of the spectrum, declaration #5, and Article XX with it, demands that we take seriously the conciliar dimension of Anglicanism, and also intimates a strong commitment to the authority of the ancient, undivided church, which pushes against the Reformation Anglican attempt at reducing the ACNA to a merely confessional (as opposed to a confessional and conciliar) Church.[6] These are just some examples from among many, but the point, I think, is clear: the ACNA must be a lawful Church, and one that honors authority. Failure to acknowledge and respect this authority will lend itself to the kind of lawlessness characteristic of TEC and other renegade churches within the Communion.

“Ecumenism in the Trenches”

Sixth, and lastly, we need to consider our ecumenical conversation partners when debating over our theological center. Now, by no means do I subscribe to the idea of Anglicanism as a distinctive-less, “mere Christianity,” or as wholly subject or indebted to extra-Anglican theological resources. Nevertheless, when deciding which features of our tradition to elevate, which ones to moderate, and which ones to exclude, it is important that we think about the ramifications these decisions might have on our ecumenical dialogue, and with the possibility, or impossibility, of intercommunion with other Christian traditions in mind. Indeed, with the rise of militant secularism, union between Christians may very well become increasingly urgent in the coming years, and providing the theological grounds for that union of greater importance. We would do well to remember this growing threat, as well as our list of potential allies, when thinking about how to center, develop, and present our tradition

These are just some thoughts on the nature of the debate, and how we might engage in it more effectively. Which brings me to my proposal! Rather than choose from among the available modes of churchmanship (Anglo-Catholic, Old High Church, Evangelical, etc.) for a centering theology, I propose a hybrid mode of churchmanship as the way forward, a churchmanship consonant with the general sense and direction of North American Anglicanism. The modes of churchmanship we’ve inherited are not rigorously thought out systems: they are the products of historical accident and bricolage. There is, for example, no logical connection between Arminian soteriology and Eucharistic virtualism, as in the non-jurors, nor is there a necessary relation between moderate Calvinism and a bene esse view of the historic episcopate, as in the Jacobean divines. There might be a natural fittingness (convenientia) between the constituent parts of certain styles of churchmanship (the connection between higher sacramental theologies and higher ceremony is of this sort), but nothing so integrally related as, say, Calvin’s view of sovereignty and its natural issue in his theology of predestination. So what would a hybrid, ACNA churchmanship look like?

A New Hybrid-Churchmanship

I suggest that a hybrid, centering churchmanship for the ACNA should be moderately Reformed/Calvinist in its soteriology, moderately Anglo-Catholic (some would say Anglo-Lutheran) in sacramental theology, and Old High Church in ritual and ceremony. The moderate Calvinism of the Jacobean divines, especially that of John Davenant (whose Treatise on Justification should be a textbook of soteriology in Anglican seminaries), is a highly sophisticated, nuanced, and temperate soteriological system, deeply rooted in both Scripture and the Church Fathers (Davenant sees himself more as a faithful interpreter of Augustine, Prosper, and Fulgentius than a Calvinist). Its lower, intellectualist anthropology would also help to check both the excesses of liberal anthropological optimism and the deficiencies of post-modern voluntarism. Ecumenically, its doctrines of effectual grace and unconditional election would give us common ground with Reformed Christians, while its hypothetical universalism on the atonement would render our soteriology more palatable to our friends in the LCMS.[7] It would, I think, admit tempered forms of Arminianism (e.g. those of Andrewes, Bramhall, and Heylyn), while excluding stronger, more straightforwardly synergistic soteriologies like those of Scotus, the Anabaptists, and liberal Arminians like Philip van Limborch. On the ground, ACNA Anglicans, as a general rule, seem to be of this soteriological persuasion anyways (of course, as with anything Anglican, there is any number of exceptions), and it gives some ground to our Reformation and other Reformed-leaning Anglicans.

A higher, more realist sacramental theology, along with a strong dose of mystery (like that put forward in Pusey’s Doctrine of the Real Presence, which we might fairly describe as a moderate or modified Lutheran view), is in my opinion the strongest Anglican position and the most faithful to the patristic witness, being neither “Romish” (nothing Pusey says can’t also be found in Luther, Chemnitz or Gerhard) nor contrary to our Formularies (despite the protests of Reformation Anglicans). Perhaps most important, it meets the needs of our disenchanted age by opening Christians up to a greater sense of mystery and the working of God in and through the material, whereas receptionism can easily play into modern subjectivist tendencies (though this is not a necessary consequence of the doctrine, and can be avoided if articulated well). By accepting this higher, more Anglo-Catholic sacramental theology, we effectively rule out Zwinglian memorialism while relativizing dynamic receptionism and virtualism; and, if we stick to the thought of the early, more moderate Tractarians, we remain far removed from transubstantiation (most of the early Tractarians were harder on transubstantiation than even the Evangelicals!). Dr. Phil Andreas has written an insightful article on Anglicanism and the ACNA’s gradual shift from a more Calvinist to a more Lutheran understanding of the Real Presence, a shift, which, in my view, is a positive development, and which simultaneously appeases our Anglo-Catholic brethren (I have found that this issue, and not ritual or bishops, is most important to them), offers enchantment to a disenchanted world, and facilitates closer ecumenical dialogue with the Lutherans.[8]

Finally, Old High Church ceremonial presents a middle ground between Sydney austerity and ritualist excess. The moderately ornamented Old High Church style of worship and ceremony has a uniquely Anglican elegance to it: it is beautiful without being flashy, and austere without being impoverished. Indeed, if cassocks, choir dress, tippets, stoles on special occasions, and preaching tabs (which should make a comeback!) strike you as “Popish” or “Romish”, your tastes might be more fitted for Presbyterianism, and you should think about worshipping with our Presbyterian brethren; and if those ornaments and ceremonies seem to you intolerably lacking, the ACC might be a better Anglican home for you.

A Classical Center

This is just an example (and my preferred example) of what a hybrid, centering mode of churchmanship for the ACNA might look like. It is “Classical” or “Classic Anglican” through and through, being composed of various elements from the seventeenth-century, baroque Anglican tradition; it harmonizes well with our Constitution and Canons; it speaks to the needs of our culture, and provides a center of gravity that rules out abuses while keeping what is authentically Anglican; and it opens us up to ecumenical dialogue with other Churches. Of course, there are other features of a centering theology (ecclesiology, eschatology, etc.) that need to be addressed, but this suffices for an illustration of a possible hybrid churchmanship. How this might actually be promoted and implemented by our leadership is another question, but it is a possibility worth entertaining, and one that, in my view, should be more prevalent in debates over a centering Anglican theology.


  1. The fact that the ACNA was the natural choice for popular evangelical author Beth Moore moving from her previous denomination (Southern Baptist) into the historic Christian faith bears witness to this. See her article, “Beth Moore: When I was a Stranger in the SBC, Anglicans welcomed me”, in Christianity Today, March 6, 2023. Our Archbishop Foley Beach’s prominence within the GAFCON community, the largest grouping of orthodox, conservative Anglicans in the world, evinces this still further.
  2. Relativizing here is not a bad thing. For example, in the American armed forces, special operations troops don’t see themselves as somehow downgraded or ostracized for their not being at the center of things (the place held by ground troops and artillery units), but as elite, and, well, just really cool. Framing our thought about the central and peripheral aspects of the Anglican tradition in this way might better serve the ACNA as we move forward.
  3. Heinrich Schmid, The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1876).
  4. The closest thing our tradition has to this is Paul More and Frank Cross’ Anglicanism: The Thought and Practice of the Church of England, Illustrated from the Religious Literature of the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: James Clarke and Co., 2008). But More admits up front that what his compilation embodies is a “direction” (p. xxviii), not a finished and uniform system; and he is well aware of the inconsistencies amongst the figures whose works he anthologizes. He includes figures ranging from the Non-conformist Baxter to the proto-Anglo-Catholic Thorndike, and diverse figures in between, showing just how messy and eclectic our Church’s theology has been in the past.
  5. One sees this frequently with dismissals of Tractarian and Anglo-Catholic interpretations of English Church history as “revisionist” or “picking and choosing”. Not that these accusations are entirely without merit, but they are often mean-spirited in tone, and frequently assume bad faith on the part of the Tractarians (which is, I think, a palpably false accusation). A brief excursus: astute Anglo-Catholics are well aware that their theological positions, considered as first-order statements or theological propositions, are not all identical to those of the earlier Jacobean, Caroline, non-juror, or other pre-Tractarian English divines, and so are equally aware of the majority of criticisms made against them by their more Reformed, Protestant-leaning critics. Their argument is rather that they are faithfully drawing out the full implications of their Anglican forebears’ principles, as well as teasing out the more reactionary and excessive accretions from the Reformation and post-Reformation periods, all, ideally, in a manner consonant with the general spirit or ethos of historic Anglicanism, and without contradicting or discarding the Formularies (even if their theology might not be the most natural reading of them). This argument is not without its problems, and there are almost always corruptions that enter in with attempted developments and the reapplication of foundational principles. However, their detractors should know their argument, and critique them with an understanding of what their position is and on those grounds.
  6. Rev. Chuck Collins is a notable clergyman who has argued against the conciliar nature of the ACNA in favor of a confessional, Reformation Church in the same order as the Lutheran and Reformed churches. See his, The ACNA is Confessional, Jul. 6.
  7. Historically related fact: James I/VI actually sent Davenant to the Synod of Dort in part to ensure an outcome that would be acceptable to the Lutherans. See Anthony Milton’s The British Delegation and the Synod of Dort. See also Michael Lynch’s book, John Davenant’s Hypothetical Universalism: A Defense of Catholic and Reformed Orthodoxy.
  8. See Andreas’ article, Has ACNA gone Lutheran on the Supper?


Fr Seth Snyder

Fr Seth Snyder is an Air Force chaplain in the Special Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces, and the vicar at St. Mary the Virgin's Anglican Mission in McConnelsville, Ohio. He holds a B.A.S. in philosophy and history from Ohio University, an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, an S.T.M. from Yale Divinity School, and he's a Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge University, Corpus Christi College. A brand new lecturer at Reformed Episcopal Seminary, he has a wife, Jessica, and two daughters, Alexis and Abigail.

'The Quest for a North American Anglican Theological Center' have 22 comments

  1. April 19, 2023 @ 3:37 pm Jennifer Thompson

    I would appreciate it if this publication would consider asking the conributors to including a short (maybe five sentence) precis of their articles before or after the article that is aimed more at lay people. I think there are many lay people, like myself, who are very concerned about the future of the Anglican communion and who are in the trenches trying to find decent churches for their families to attend, or who are trying to support those churches and their clergy, or who are stuck in an effective “Church Wasteland” and are trying to educate their children at home in theology that aligns with the acna’s views. But some of us don’t have the time or the training to parse these articles and have trouble following the terminology and the nuances of some of these issues. It would be great if you could give a brief summary for the average lay reader. Thanks for your consideration!


    • April 21, 2023 @ 3:58 am Seth Snyder

      Hello Jennifer. Valid criticism, and my sincerest apologies. Allow me to summarize and simplify. Over the last 50 years or so, the Anglican Communion has been excessively liberal and careless when it comes to matters of doctrine and discipline, leading to its acceptance of false and dangerous teachings, especially (though by no means exclusively) on human sexuality and issues of life (abortion, euthanasia, etc.). ACNA Anglicans don’t want to reinforce or repeat this mistake. We desire greater theological clarity, consistency and rigor, so as to avoid the errors and false doctrine that have entered into the theology and practice of the larger Communion. A well-defined theological center, or, put another way, a defining and representative theology, would be helpful on this front. Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics, and Reformation Anglicans, amongst other parties in the Church, all want to be this central, defining theology, but they each have their problems. For this reason, I propose we don’t choose any one of them as our centering and defining theology, but that we instead choose from among different parts or aspects of them, making our own “hybrid” theology or churchmanship from out of these parts/aspects. Our selection of these parts/aspects should be informed by the canons and constitutions of the ACNA, cultural context, and ecumenical concerns. With that in mind, I think that emphasizing the Reformed aspect of our doctrine of salvation, the higher, more Lutheran-leaning aspect of our sacramental theology, and Old High Church ceremonial, would be a good blend to put forward as our central and defining theology, thereby giving our church greater clarity and direction. I hope that helps, and blessings in Christ.


      • April 22, 2023 @ 3:30 pm Wes Morgan

        Thank Seth for this summary and clarity! I think the trouble I had were the terms “Evangelical” vs. “Reformation Anglican” and “Anglo-Catholic” vs. “Old High Church”. Could you define these terms with more precision? I would love to see a sequel that spells out more in depth what a moderate Reformed soteriology looks like in your view (that is one in which the ACNA should adopt), along with the Lutheran sacramentology and Old High Church liturgy. Would you say this theology looks like the current REC?


  2. April 19, 2023 @ 3:40 pm Connor Perry

    This is a very good article, much like the ideas you present, the tone strikes the right balance between having a deliberate and clear message and having an amicable and conciliatory delivery.

    I have one concern, which is with the Eucharistic section and unmentioned issues looming in the background. The Anglican focus of the Eucharistic debate as a debate between an “Objective” and “Subjective” presence hampers discussion at the source of the debate, which is Christological. Is the human body of Christ omnipresent by nature? Can it bilocate at all? Can a human body be present bodily without being present physically or locally (as Concord claims), or is that meaningless metaphysical language designed to affirm something nonsensical? It should be noted Lutheran tradition itself is not monolithic on explaining omnipresence, having two main schools of thought on the Ubiquity of the Body of Christ, one of which being the Swabian school (that Christ is intrinsically omnipresent in view of his human nature) that causes an issue regarding the distinction between the natures taught by Chalcedon, as well as for introducing complicated metaphysics. This is an issue often unaddressed in much of the modern discussion on the Eucharist but, if I may speak for myself on a moment, is primarily why I find myself aligning with men such as Vermigli as opposed to more “Lutheran” theologians. I believe it would be beneficial to have explicitly Christological discussion on this issue before trying to give a practical settlement on the matter of the Eucharist, lest we allow for some ideas that might even raise eyebrows from our Lutheran fellows.


    • April 21, 2023 @ 4:16 am Seth Snyder

      Mr. Perry, thank you for your compliments on my article. I think we are more or less on the same page. Though without submitting to Vermigli’s doctrine, I too take issue with some of the ideas and language used by Lutherans to describe the Real Presence. What it means for a body to be substantially or essentially present without being physically, quantitatively (i.e. by extension) or locally present, I haven’t the slightest idea (though I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s impossible). It is, as an explanatory, metaphysical account, unhelpful, and, in my view, puts on clear display the limitations of metaphysical language for describing holy mysteries. To throw my cards on the table, I would argue against the Reformed and with the Lutherans that there is in the Eucharist a manner of presence greater than the virtual, or the presence of the benefits of Christ’s body (per virtualism and certain theories of receptionism); but I would further argue against the Lutherans that this presence need not be defined by the terms substance and essence, but ought to be left to mystery. In a word, on my view, the Reformed deny too much while the Lutherans affirm too much. And to both I would contend that it is better and safer to say what the Real Presence is not than what it is, an approach I call “Eucharistic Apophaticism”.


  3. April 19, 2023 @ 7:14 pm Philip Enarson

    Very interesting read! It touches on many things I have been pondering concerning the imagined ‘theological centre of ACNA. In ACNA’s promotional \ Marketing material ACNA is referred. To as the coming together f Three Streams: Catholic, Evangelical, Charismatic. I take note that the Charismatic Stream is not referenced in this article.

    Question? Why not?


    • April 19, 2023 @ 10:15 pm Francis R Lyons

      Exactly, Philip. A great observation. The answer is neither the Catholic or Evangelical emphases focus much on the Spirit.


      • April 19, 2023 @ 11:31 pm Fr. Rick

        Your grace,
        I don’t think that’s a completely fair assessment of either the Reformed or Catholic parts of the church. It is true, especially in reformed circles, that a sort of materialism has crept into the church, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t focus much on the spirit. My own personal view is that much of what the charismatic stream means by “the spirit” is emotionalism and emotionalism and genuine moves of the spirit are not always the same things. A truly Catholic understanding of the church will have something of an emphasis upon the spirit, but in a way unique from what charismatics are used to experiencing. For example there is the issue of the real presence in the Eucharist. There’s something mystical right there in how that ontological change takes place. In any regards, though, it is encouraging to see you engaging with these things in this forum.

        Many blessings


    • April 21, 2023 @ 4:45 am Seth Snyder

      Thank you Mr. Enarson, and good question. To be clear, I have not omitted reference to the Charismatic Stream so as to be dismissive. On the contrary, I grew up in charismatic, non-denominational churches, and value the charismatic movement as a dynamic and thriving aspect of the Anglican tradition and Christianity more broadly. I have left out discussion of the Charismatic Stream because of its versatility and compatibility with other modes of churchmanship. Whereas Anglo-Catholicism and Anglican Evangelicalism, for example, hold to incompatible views on various theological topics, they each could, in principle, be continuationists and operate in the supernatural and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thus, whether the ACNA went in a more low-church, Reformed-leaning direction theologically, or in a more high-church, Lutheran-leaning direction, it could in either case be (or not be) charismatic. I for one don’t see the Charismatic Stream or theological sensibility in as exclusory terms as many seem to. My vision for the ACNA is a church in which we worship with ceremony, vestments, and sacramental piety, along with charismatic worship, prayer teams, and dynamic preaching on gifts and spiritual warfare. Maybe I’ll see the day?


      • April 21, 2023 @ 9:32 am Philip Enarson

        Excellent addition to your initial post on this most important topical. We hope and pray that we meet with success in harmonizing the various theological streams within ACNA as we pursue our quest for truth and the God inspired love for one .


  4. April 19, 2023 @ 10:23 pm Francis R Lyons

    Anglicanism has always been messy. I’m afraid folks just do not like messy. But we have from those who hold to 1 and 1/2 Sacraments at one end to those who hold 6 and 1/2 Sacraments at the other. It’s just hard to keep that together, as the article suggests. This has been a constant cry for 500 years…


    • April 20, 2023 @ 4:27 pm Philip Enarson

      ‘”It’s just hard to keep that together’. Well said! We Know that Jesus desires the unity of His Church. We also know how seemingly impossible it is to attain to this desired unity. Agreement over the fine points of certain theological doctrines seemingly does more to divide Christ’s Church then unite it e.g.. Various teachings on Baptism \ Eucharist. Etc. Some sage Theologian has said everything in theological discussion is simply a footnote to the repentant thief’s plea for Christ to remember him when He comes into His Kingdom inclusive of Christ’s response. Maybe this core reality might have hope in spiritually uniting Christ’s Body, the Church.


  5. April 20, 2023 @ 5:59 am David

    Have to agree with another comment that there is a glaring omission of the Charismatic stream here.

    Regardless of one’s theological position, charismatic evangelicals in the Church of England hold major influence, they count Archbishop Welby as one of their own, who himself speaks in tongues, and generally represent the few churches left that are actually growing (alongside conservative evangelicals). I am not sure of the prominence of charismatics in the ACNA, but they hold a lot of sway in England, especially churches like Holy Trinity Brompton, and the launch of the Alpha Course which has reached global significance. (Regardless of whatever one’s theological qualms with that course may be.)

    Any search for Anglicanism’s ‘theological centre’ is incomplete without due regard and serious thought given to the Charismatic stream in Anglicanism, given both its large influence and arguable success in both gaining prominence and being one of the few constituencies that is actually numerically growing, evangelising and bringing people to accept Jesus as their Lord.

    Perhaps this whole point is moot if we are specifically focusing on North America and charismatics simply don’t exist to a significant extent in the ACNA, which I am not very knowledgeable about. But it seems to me a real absence in this piece.


    • April 20, 2023 @ 6:34 pm Brandon Hughes

      I second this as well. I think especially with the significance of the Wesleys on Anglicanism and Christianity in general, to overlook the non-Calvinist side of the Evangelical revival and the Charismatic character it brought with it is to neglect a significant piece of our tradition.
      The Wesleys also were heavily influenced by William Law, who was, in ways, an Anglo-Catholic forerunner.
      And me personally, being a former Methodist, but continual student of Wesley, I think it’s targeting this aspect of our heritage not realizing the bridge we can build (since so much of American Christianity has been significantly influenced by the Methodist movement, just you try driving more than 5 minutes in any direction in the U.S. east of the Mississippi without driving by a Methodist Church.


    • April 21, 2023 @ 4:52 am Seth Snyder

      Thank you David. See my comment to Mr. Enarson above on the Charismatic Stream and why I chose to omit it from this particular piece. Oh, and as an aside, I had the privilege of living in England for some years, and was blessed to have attended Trinity Brompton and St. Aldates in Oxford on occasion whilst visiting friends. Wonderful experiences in those charismatic Anglican churches, and many lovely and godly people there. Blessings in Christ.


  6. April 20, 2023 @ 1:08 pm Mick Benton

    My mind is exhausted after reading this article/proposal. There’s truly something to be said about brevity. Like get to the point-quickly. I do admire your intellectualism, I really do, but the “wordiness” of this article has potentially caused as much confusion as the whole crisis within Anglicanism that is so well articulated here.
    May God bless each of you in your search.


    • April 21, 2023 @ 4:54 am Seth Snyder

      Thank you Mr. Benton, and my apologies. See my comment to Ms. Thompson above for what I hope is a helpful summary. Blessings.


  7. April 21, 2023 @ 3:12 pm Cliff Gobin

    While the idea of finding a “theological center” for ACNA is intriguing, I am not at all certain that this would help us “avoid the problems of TEC and other churches.” Historically, as noted, there has been a great deal of latitude in Anglican theology since the 16th century; but until recently the traditional Anglican tenets of the primacy of the Scriptures, the authority of the creeds, and the doctrinal expressions of the liturgy (the 1662 BCP) held Anglicans together. I believe the “problems of TEC” began, not with an inadequate theological base, but with a failure to discipline bishops who veered from the clear teaching of Scripture in the 1960s and thereafter. The problem wasn’t inadequate doctrine, but inadequate strength of will to enforce the basic tenets of Scripture itself.
    From my perspective as a parish priest, I hope that as my young people move away some day to college or careers, they will find another Anglican parish home centered on the Scriptures, the Creeds, and the Prayer Book. I don’t care nearly as much whether their new parish priest preaches Wesleyan-Arminian or Reformed theology, Lutheran or Real Presence views of the Sacrament, or uses alb-stole or cassock-surplice. If their new parish teachers salvation by grace through faith; the importance of maintaining a personal relationship with Jesus; the Bible as our infallible standard; and the Prayer Book as our basis for worship, I will be quite satisfied that our next generation is in safe, godly hands. The key to prevent our Church from stumbling, I believe, will be a willingness to confront heresy and unrepented sin in our bishops and clergy, so that none of our sheep fall into the hands of false shepherds (cf. Ezekiel 34)


    • April 22, 2023 @ 8:32 am Seth Snyder

      Mr. Gobin, my thanks for your very interesting and challenging post. You are absolutely correct that the lack of will to confront heresy in the Church is a, if not the, principal cause behind the problems that afflict TEC and the larger Anglican Communion. And it is undoubtedly true that the Anglican Church has historically enjoyed a wide range of theological beliefs and schools of thought while remaining united under Scripture, Creeds, and the Prayer Book. But my claim has more to do with the general sensibilities and wants of conservative North American Anglicans than with the actual historical and theological causes behind corruptions in the Anglican Communion. Now, whether or not the apparent desire amongst conservative North American Anglicans for greater doctrinal clarity and rigor is altogether a good thing is highly debatable. In fact, I have been critical of those Anglicans who have, in my view, taken this too far, and have tried to argue for an immediate and necessary connection between, say, the entrance of Arminianism in the Church of England and unbridled liberalism (Reformation Anglicans sometimes make this sort of argument). The connection between these big and multifaceted ideas is simply not that clear or direct. Nevertheless, I would join them in arguing that excessive latitude on doctrinal matters might “lend itself to”, or “incline towards” similar latitude on matters of fundamental orthodoxy and social issues. With this in mind, my proposal for a centering theology is meant not to solve all our problems, or alleviate the need for strong-willed bishops committed to doctrinal orthodoxy, but rather to orientate Anglicans towards greater clarity and rigor more generally, in the hopes that this will better posture our Church to fend off heresy and deviant social ideologies. It certainly couldn’t hurt.


  8. April 23, 2023 @ 3:56 pm Caleb

    I may be opening a can of worms with this question but… why does everyone make such a big deal about chasubles? Other than aesthetic preference, why are they contrary to Anglican expression and why do some seem to imply that they are inherently \”Pope-ish\”? This is a genuine question as I have only been in the ACNA a couple years and the priests in my diocese use chasubles but I wouldn\’t label our diocese as overly Anglo-Catholic either. Links to articles or books for further reading would be appreciated!


    • Brandon LeTourneau

      April 24, 2023 @ 12:02 pm Brandon LeTourneau

      Hi Caleb,

      This is a sentiment left over from the Reformation. There were certain Medieval Roman beliefs associated with traditional eucharistic vestments which caused the Anglican Tradition remove them from worship. Fortunately, these associations aren’t really around anymore today – even in Roman Catholicism – but some of those legacies die hard. There’s nothing really un-Protestant about them as the Lutherans never stopped wearing the Chasuble and even Presbyterians wear Eucharistic vestments now. They don’t even indicate a certain kind of Churchmanship anymore as your comment indicated. What’s more, Article XX of the 39 Articles makes it clear that the Church has the authority to decree ceremonies and rites – the Church has decided that Chasubles are fine. I think that part of the debate is romantic – longing for the glory days of Anglicanism – and part of it is a desire for consistency in Anglican vesture. So that’s all to say that it’s really a silly debate but one that is understandable and easy to sympathize with.


  9. May 21, 2023 @ 7:01 pm Barry Bruce

    Fair-to-middling isn’t the narrow way. And the narrow way is the only way, not Anglican geehawing.


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