Whither Goes Anglicanism? Diagnosing the Disease

A Review of The Rev. Dr. Charles Erlandson’s Orthodox Anglican Identity: The Quest for Unity in a Diverse Religious Tradition


Where are we headed?

The trajectory of Anglicanism is bleak or blossoming – depending on how you define Anglicanism. The Rev. Dr. Charles Erlandson provides a multifaceted definition for Anglicanism after weighing a variety of possible definitions along trajectories of ecclesial, normative, practical, and historical lines in his book, Orthodox Anglican Identity: The Quest for Unity in a Diverse Religious Tradition. The long title of this book indicates how difficult it is to adequately, much less sufficiently, and succinctly define Anglicanism. The Rev. Dr. Erlandson’s analysis is crucial for understanding why under the banner “Anglican” there exists contradictory diversities and dual “integrities” – much to the confusion of outsiders. This inability to articulate and define Anglicanism as a comprehensive and singular entity or theology frustrates non-Anglicans and Anglicans alike. Difficult as it may be, the Rev. Dr. Erlandson provides the clearest and most succinct definition of Anglicanism presently available: “Anglicanism is the life of the catholic church that was planted in England in the first few centuries after Christ; reshaped decisively by the English Reformation that reformed the received catholic traditions and also by the Evangelical and Catholic Revivals and other historical movements of the Spirit; and that has now been inculturated [sic] into independent, global churches.”[ii] However, such a definition fails to reveal an Anglican ethos that can guide orthodox Anglicans in the 21st Century and beyond. Before such a definition can be realized, Anglicanism’s present crisis must be properly diagnosed before a more sufficient and clear description can be articulated.

Trouble Defining Anglicanism

The ultimate definition chosen by the Rev. Dr. Erlandson is historical in nature, albeit through a healthy lens of the three stages (and emerging fourth stage) of Anglicanism he outlines in his work.[iii] Unfortunately, he rejects a normative definition in favor of a historical definition. He rejects a normative framework due to the present crisis in Anglican identity – namely the failure of ecclesial authority to enforce Anglican formularies.[iv] But this begs the question. Anglicanism’s present crisis, nay its disease, is a failure in ecclesial discipline enforcing its normative identity. Were Anglican provinces and the Anglican Communion as a whole to agree to enforce its normative foundations, the formularies, then it would not suffer from the disease of being ill-defined due to lax canonical discipline. As the author notes, “Anglicanism may be defined in terms of two kinds of formularies: general and special.”[v] These formularies include the universal catholic orthodox Church formularies[vi] and the uniquely Anglican formularies: “The Book of Common Prayer (especially the 1662), the Ordinal, the Thirty-nine Articles, and the canon law” of Anglican churches.[vii]

Defining Anglicanism – actual Anglicanism and not those who merely use the term “Anglican” in their name or as a description of their ecclesial tradition – must occur at the normative level. The abuse and disregard of the formularies within Anglican jurisdictions demonstrate those bodies stand outside the bounds of the formularies, and therefore orthodox Anglicanism. Other communions have similarly defined boundaries as to what qualifies as authentic Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism, Presbyterianism, etc. Certainly, there are Christian denominations that claim they are “Lutheran,” but fail to adhere or abide by the Book of Concord, thereby resulting in other Lutheran bodies avoiding intercommunion.[viii] Indeed, plenty of formerly Roman Catholic communions have been created by breaking off from Rome’s jurisdiction, but no one would claim these are Roman Catholic after rejecting papal dogma and authority.[ix] Likewise, it is through her formularies the Church of England defined herself as reformed catholic over and against the Roman communion. The subscription to the Articles of Religion, adoption of the Book of Common Prayer, and promulgation of the Book of Homilies were key in reforming the Church of England as a catholic church. This is demonstrated by the fact that those same formularies were quickly suppressed when Queen “Bloody” Mary reimposed Roman Catholicism during her brief reign. Once Queen Mary suppressed the formularies[x] and reinstated allegiance to the Pope, there was no doubt the Church of England had reverted to Rome – that is, until Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne and reimposed the Anglican formularies to once again reform the Church. In other words, to be Anglican, one must attest, uphold, and enforce the formularies.

“He rejects a normative framework due to the present crisis in Anglican identity – namely the failure of ecclesial authority to enforce Anglican formularies.”

Erosion of Authority

The present crisis, however, is the result of the slow erosion of the authority of Scripture[xi] within dioceses, provinces, and the entire Anglican Communion. The disease of denying Holy Scripture’s authority only grew as the formularies were ignored, [xii] cast aside as “Historical Documents” in the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer, and opened the floodgates. This cascaded into carving a great canyon separating entire provinces within the Anglican Communion due to a failure to impose discipline at all levels of the church: the diocesan, the provincial, and the Communion.[xiii] When whole provinces adopt measures contrary to Holy Scripture, how can those provinces (or dioceses) claim to be a “true Church [as] an universal congregation or fellowship of God’s faithful and elect people, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner stone.”[xiv] Further, whereas a “true Church … hath always three notes or marks, whereby it is known; pure and sound doctrine, the Sacraments ministered according to Christ’s holy institution, and the right use of ecclesiastical discipline,”[xv] can a province (or diocese) truly be Anglican (much less a church) if it fails to enforce adherence to Scriptural doctrine as received in the formularies?[xvi]

Anglicanism defined without her formularies is simply not Anglicanism but a wax nose free for the zeitgeist sculptor to craft into a post-modern horror on display at the Metropolitan Museum. Regrettably, even those who profess with their lips adherence to the Anglican formularies engage in problematic actions running contrary to them. For example, GAFCON has a task force[xvii] studying the possibility of women bishops, which is foreign and abhorrent to the formularies, and two member provinces have proceeded to ordain women bishops, despite a moratorium on the practice. Neither province has faced any repercussions from GAFCON, which is curious as GAFCON primates have criticized the Anglican Communion for its inaction after TEC ignored calls from the Anglican Communion to not consecrate Gene Robison a bishop.[xviii] The second instance, occurring in Kenya, has resulted in complete silence from GAFCON despite the former GAFCON General Secretary issuing a statement in 2018 affirming a moratorium was in place – albeit a moratorium without enforcement or repercussions when defied. The actions by the South Sudan and Kenyan provinces in consecrating women bishops fly in the face of the Ordinal,[xix] which is acknowledged at Point 7 of the Jerusalem Declaration “as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.” Likewise, the ACNA has essentially decided to “walk together” as a province that accepts “dual integrities” regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. Although the College of Bishops acknowledges “this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order” and “there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province” no action has been taken or discussed to correct, terminate, or place a moratorium on this practice.[xx] These statements reveal some ACNA dioceses (and diocesans) are complicit in defying historic Christian teaching, order, and practice. Therefore, the ministry of Word and Sacrament is impaired in certain dioceses within ACNA, and the formularies defining what is Anglican are subverted in deference to personal whims.

Our Catholicity is in Question

At present, the ACNA College of Bishops excuses inaction by stating they “continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.” This blaming of constitutional and canon law ignores that since the entire College of Bishops held women’s ordination to the priesthood defies the tradition and order of the universal catholic orthodox Church and is not normative in Holy Scripture, then women’s ordination violates the Fundamental Declarations of ACNA, found in Article I of the Constitution. Namely, how can ACNA claim to “being a part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ” if it engages in uncatholic and non-apostolic teaching, practice, and order? Furthermore, Points 6 and 7 of the Fundamental Declarations uphold the authority of Anglican formularies, namely the Ordinal “as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline” and the Articles of Religion “as expressing fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief” – both of which preclude women clergy.[xxi] Irrespective of ACNA Constitution Article VIII.2 limiting the Province from canonically banning women’s ordination, if the practice has been unanimously found to be an innovation then either the practice must cease or ACNA jeopardizes its claim to uphold Holy Scripture, the Anglican formularies, catholic tradition, and apostolic order, and to being a member of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ as claimed in Article I of the Fundamental Declarations.

Sadly, we return to where we began. Anglicanism’s present crisis needs reframing from an identity crisis to a discipline crisis. Anglicans may wish to ignore their identity in the formularies or re-interpret them, but the end result is a church that does not resemble Anglicanism but a diocesan’s pet theology or even an altogether different church tradition. Anglicanism becomes a three streams mess of “Presbyterians with (without more than likely) Prayer Books”, “wanna-be” Old Catholics,[xxii] or “Charismatics with Sacraments,” with the end result being a smorgasbord ocean of liberal Western theology, “Zeitgeist with Vestments,” and choose-your-own-adventure worship. Ultimately, the formularies have not failed Anglicanism, Anglicanism has failed to uphold her formularies through ecclesial discipline.

“Post-Anglican Anglicanism”?

Where does this leave Anglicans? In need of diagnosing the problem accurately so that it may be remedied. The identity crisis stems from a discipline crisis. Unless diocesans, provinces, the fledgling GAFCON movement, and Global South Fellowship of Anglicans enforce the Anglican formularies then they will forfeit Anglican identity and replace it altogether with non-Anglican, uncatholic, heterodox, and non-Christian identities. Or what the Rev. Dr. Erlandson has termed, “Post-Anglican Anglicanism.”[xxiii] Whither goes Anglicanism? It depends upon her clergy and her laity. The path forward is the path back – towards doctrinal clarity, doctrinal enforcement, and doctrinal unity – as only the formularies may provide. This course requires bishops willingly to give power to the words of the formularies: through their enforcement. It requires priests to adhere to the formularies: through Word and Sacrament ministry. Anything less is a diseased tree that will wither,[xxiv] unless it is rooted in “the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”[xxv]


The Rev. Dr. Charles Erlandson, Orthodox Anglican Identity: The Quest for Unity in a Diverse Religious Tradition, (Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2020), p. xvii, 14-20. (See page 36 for his concise definition).

[ii] Id. at 36.

[iii] Id. at 24-36.

[iv] Id. at p. 17. (“However, normative definitions require some ecclesial authority to define and defend them, and challenges to some of these historic norms are at the forefront of the crisis in Anglican identity.”)

[v] Id. at p. 16.

[vi] Id. (“These formularies have their basis in the two Testaments of the Bible and include: the creeds, the decrees of the ecumenical councils, the writings of the church fathers, and the common law of the church.”)

[vii] Id. (I would concur with The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon that the two Books of Homilies deserve to be included as an expression of how the formularies are interpreted.) See The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon, The Anglican Formularies and Holy Scripture: Reformed Catholicism and Biblical Doctrine, (Brynmill/Preservation Press, 2006) (available at: http://assets.newscriptorium.com/toon-collection/doctrine/angformularies.htm) (“What the three Formularies, together with The Books of Homilies and Canon Law, provide for us – as summarized for ordinary folks in the late 16th century by the great Lancelot Andrewes – is a simple 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 of the Anglican Way.”)

[viii] The LCMS, WELS, NALC, and AALC would dispute the ELCA is truly Lutheran due to its departure from Lutheranism’s confession, the Book of Concord.

[ix] The Old Catholic Churches (Union of Utrecht) and Union of Scranton come to mind, and dare I say, the Church of England? Each body argues they divorced from Rome in order to maintain their catholicity but no one would mistake them for Roman Catholicism due to underlying differences in doctrine.

[x] Note the Articles of Religion at this point consisted of forty-two articles and the Book of Common Prayer was in its 1552 edition. Both would be edited when Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne and again reformed the Church of England away from Romanism.

[xi] Required in Article VI of the Articles of Religion.

[xii] See supra n. 1, at p. 6 (regarding the failure to do more than simply censure Bishop Pike).

[xiii] Although the Rev. Dr. Erlandson accurately depicts the inability of the Anglican Communion to enforce discipline across provinces, the limp-handed efforts at actually forbidding TEC representatives from attending Anglican Communion functions for three years after the Primates Meeting censured TEC demonstrates a failure in ecclesial discipline – not a failure with the formularies in defining Anglicanism.

[xiv] The Homily for Whitsunday, Two Books of Homilies, (Oxford University Press, 1859), p. 462 (available at: https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Two_Books_of_Homilies_Appointed_to_b/O58UAAAAQAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=discipline) (italics original, quoting Ephesians 2:20).

[xv] Id.

[xvi] Before one objects to my quotation from this Homily as bearing any authority, one may find the essence of Word and Sacrament ministry within Articles VI, VIII, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVIII, XXIV, XXVI, XXXIV, etc. constantly referring to Word and Sacrament ministry and upheld by “the discipline of the Church” in the words of Article XXVI.

[xvii] Task Force on Women in the Episcopate, Interim Report (2019), GAFCON, June 14, 2019 (available at: https://www.gafcon.org/resources/task-force-on-women-in-the-episcopate-interim-report-2019).

[xviii] A Statement on the Consecration of a Female Bishop in South Sudan, GAFCON, Feb. 8, 2018 (available at: https://www.gafcon.org/news/a-statement-on-the-consecration-of-a-female-bishop-in-south-sudan) (GAFCON issued a statement that provided an unsubstantiated excuse for South Sudan’s action); George Conger, First woman bishop for Kenya consecrated, Mar. 31, 2021, Anglican Ink (available at: https://anglican.ink/2021/03/31/first-woman-bishop-for-kenya-consecrated/).

[xix] The classic ordinal reserves all three ordained offices to be limited to men: “And none shall be admitted a Deacon, except he be Twenty-three years of age, unless he have a Faculty. And every man which is to be admitted a Priest shall be full twenty-four years of age, unless being over twenty-three years of age he have a Faculty. And every man which is to be ordained or consecrated Bishop shall be full thirty years of age.” The Preface, 1662 Ordinal.

[xx] College of Bishops Statement on the Ordination of Women, Sept. 8, 2017, ACNA (available at: https://anglicanchurch.net/college-of-bishops-statement-on-the-ordination-of-women/)

[xxi] I noted one instance in The Preface to the Ordinal. Another instance is within the Articles of Religion, where Article XXXII states “it is lawful for them [bishops, priests, and deacons], as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion.” Furthermore, Article XXXVI upholds the classic Ordinal as being the manner in which clergy are “rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered” which is a requirement to provide Word and Sacrament ministry (Article XXIII).

[xxii] Archbishop Haverland on the Formularies of the ACC, Decaf Catholic, May 25, 2021 (available at: https://decafcatholic.postach.io/post/archbishop-haverland-on-the-formularies-of-the-acc) (As the largest Continuing Anglican jurisdiction in the United States, the ACC is leading the movement towards uniting the “G4” continuing bodies into eventual reunion. Notably, he outright rejects the Articles of Religion as a formulary and elevates “the Affirmation of Saint Louis [as] the lens through which we view all Anglican authorities.”).

[xxiii] Supra n. i, at p. 80-82.

[xxiv] Matthew 3:10 (ESV) (“Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”).

[xxv] James 1:21 (ESV).

Rev. Andrew Brashier

Rev. Andrew Brashier serves as the Rector of Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Pelham, Alabama, and is the Archdeacon overseeing the Parish and Missions Deanery in the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy. He writes regularly about ministry, family worship, daily prayer, book reviews, family oratories and the impact they can have in reigniting Anglicanism, and the occasional poem at www.thruamirrordarkly.wordpress.com. He recently republished Bishop John Jewel's Treatises on the Holy Scriptures and Sacraments (https://a.co/d/ikWCXG4). The second edition of his first book, A Faith for Generations, is now available at Amazon (https://a.co/d/3iVgwdJ) and focuses on family devotions and private prayer in the Anglican tradition.

'Whither Goes Anglicanism? Diagnosing the Disease' have 14 comments

  1. June 5, 2024 @ 1:38 pm Philip Enarson

    A very intriguing report on Erlandson’s book. Addressed a number of concerns I’ve been pondering on Anglican identity in the GAFCON era. No doubt the reticence to exercise ecclesial discipline in accordance with Scriptural and Ordinal is the heart of the matter. What does the future hold for GAFCON given this reticence?


  2. June 5, 2024 @ 1:45 pm Rev. Christopher C. Little

    *Enforce* the formularies? Seriously? Even the Homilies? Enforce how?
    The trajectory of Anglican history with respect to subscription is one that shows quite clearly that the majority of Anglican clergy would demur. Thus, my questions are meant to suggest the implausibility of this ever occurring in the ACNA. More importantly, however, the argument that the problem of Anglican identity can only be solved by slavish commitment to the Articles and the Homilies begs the question IMHO. It assumes the catholicity of Cranmerian, Edwardine and Elizabethan divinity, when a number of notable Anglican scholars have set forth compelling reasons to believe otherwise.


    • The Ven. Isaac J. Rehberg

      June 6, 2024 @ 2:46 pm The Ven. Isaac J. Rehberg

      Yes. Anglicanism must assume the catholicity of Elizabethan divinity. Period. If it doesn’t, then you have something other than historic Anglicanism, regardless of the name. I daresay more Anglican clergy ought to read our early divines rather than 20th century scholarship about them. This is something I say to all churchmanships. If a given jurisdiction has rejected those foundational divines, I guess that’s their business. But surely we can see how such a stance is just as revisionist as whatever things the liberals have been doing since the late 20th century.

      Now, as for ACNA and the enforcing the Formularies… well, as Archdeacon Andrew has pointed out, they’re already enshrined in the Fundamental Declarations of ACNA and in the Jerusalem Declaration of GAFCON. For ACNA, the Formularies *are* our theological center-of-gravity, even if such things are not yet fully enforced. Applying them to today’s context is a different issue, and gets worked out on the ground on a diocese-by-diocese level. But no one in ACNA can legitimately reject them.

      That said, the Homilies are less of a Formulary in the same way as the Articles, BCP, and Ordinal are than semi-authoritative applications and elucidations of the Formularies. They don’t have the same weight as the BCP, Articles, and Ordinal. They should hold at least as much weight as Hooker’s Laws or Jewell’s Apology.


      • June 7, 2024 @ 5:40 pm Rev. Christopher C. Little

        While that may be the official position of the ACNA, it does nothing to gainsay my point that many Anglicans do not so believe. Nor does it seriously factor into the reality that the subscription requirement began to founder on the rocks relatively early on.

        With respect to the first point, the Rev. Seth Synder penned these words in a comment here at TNAA back in August of last year:

        “No one doubts that Cranmer, Jewel, or Hooker were deeply committed to the witness of the ancient Church and the Fathers. The real question is whether or not their reading of Christian antiquity and the Church Fathers was superior to that of the Caroline divines, non-jurors and Tractarians (the theological lineage from which Anglo-Catholicism derives). If not, the question then arises whether the Church should change, adjust, or nuance its theology and interpretation of the Formularies, or uphold Reformed doctrine over and against the witness of Christian antiquity as understood by our best scholarship. Anglo-Catholics answer yes to the first question, and then recommend adjusting the Church’s theology accordingly. In fine, you’re right that the Reformers were committed to, and saw themselves in continuity with, the ancient Church; but what matters is whether or not their reading of the ancient Church is correct. Some of the Reformation and Classical Anglicans’ arguments that our Formularies, read (so they think) according to their plain, historical sense, demand a Swiss/Rhenish Reformed interpretation, and therefore require of us Reformed theology, taken together with their subsequent pleading the English Reformers’ commitment to antiquity, seem to me an evasive attempt at not having to do any real, constructive patristics work against the Anglo-Catholics. And, if I had to place bets, a fiddle of gold against your soul to think Pusey, Austin Farrer, E.L. Mascall, et al. are better than you.”

        Provocative words, yes, but I am in agreement with him. Certain works of Aidan Nichols, George Tavard and Canon Arthur Middleton, which I reference in one of my blog articles linked below, have only bolstered my thinking.

        With respect to required subscription, I quote from E. J. Bicknell’s “A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles of of the Church of England” (pp. 20-21.):

        “The change of language in the form of subscription was deliberate. We are asked to affirm today, not that the Articles are all agreeable to the Word of God, but that the doctrine of the Church of England as set forth in the Articles is agreeable to the Word of God. That is, we are not called to assent to every phrase or detail of the Articles but only to their general sense. This alteration was made of set purpose to afford relief to scrupulous consciences.”

        By “scrupulous consciences” Bicknell is surely referring to those Anglican academics and clergy, who, after a couple of hundred years of scholarly analysis and reflection, and on a biblical and catholic basis, have found certain of the Articles possibly defective at points. Alister McGrath provides significant support for their scrupulosity in his magisterial work on the history of the doctrine of justification. In the 17th century, a number of scholars in the Church of England had become uneasy with the solafidianism of the Edwardine and Elizabethan divines, and if it turns out that “Wright is right”, well, Katie bar the door.

        Lastly, to argue that one has departed from “historic Anglicanism” if he takes issue with the belief that the Articles should be afforded confessional status is to beg the question, since the term “Anglicanism” didn’t come into usage until the 18th century, at a time when the Catholic revival was proceeding apace in the Church of England. That being the case, Reformed Anglicans have no monopoly on the appellation.

        If it is the case that the Homilies can be “less of a Formulary” than the Articles, might it not stand to reason that that the Articles are “less of a Formulary” than the BCP? I think that’s in essence what many if not most Anglo-Catholics believe.



    • June 7, 2024 @ 3:30 pm Wes Morgan

      Is your concern that Anglo-Catholics would be culled from the ACNA jurisdictionally and Anglicanism metaphysically if enforcement of adherence to the Articles occurred? I’m just trying to understand the concern, reverend.


      • June 7, 2024 @ 8:07 pm Rev. Christopher C. Little

        Of course, I am no prophet, so I genuinely don’t know what would happen, but I suspect the vast majority of the ACs wouldn’t see this as a reason to leave, as long as the language of subscription contained a little wiggle room. Many Anglo-Catholics have affirmed the Articles and do so today, and that’s probably because they found some wiggle room one way or the other. I’m guessing that they still do consider the Articles “patient, though not ambitious, of a Catholic interpretation.” (J.H. Newman)


  3. June 5, 2024 @ 4:18 pm Seth

    Fr. Andrew,

    There’s no mechanism to update the formularies, though. If we are going to “stick” to a given canoncial century, why the 16th instead of the 5th? Or the 3rd? If we’re “Reformed” we should be “Reforming”, not stifled and statically tethered by 16th century documents that address particular historical (and local, non-global and non-ecumenical English) issues, seek to achieve a particular political solution, and in various ways completely over-correct or misunderstand catholic doctrine (i.e the 7th ecumenical council). Do we all return to using the 1611 AV? To wearing only a surplice and stole? To lacking BCPs (i.e. 1662, 1928) with rites for the 5 ecclesial and catholic sacraments and the third catholic creed (i.e. 1928)? To usual Sunday services of Morning Prayer only? Should we be following the historic anomaly of North End the few times of year we do have Holy Communion?

    The core problem is this: the forumlaries are in need of update or an authoritative lens of interpretation at the provincial level. At the very least, the referenced Affirmation of St. Louis does the latter since the former will never “strictly” be possible. The former is what “revisionists” such as the Tractarians and Reformational Anglicans do today as both – though with enormous differences of thought – understand the formularies, especially the Articles, to be time-bound to the 16th century and insufficient for the landscape of the 21st century (i.e. abortion, gender, marriage, and much more)


    • The Ven. Isaac J. Rehberg

      June 6, 2024 @ 3:04 pm The Ven. Isaac J. Rehberg

      Again, for ACNA and GAFCON the theological authority of the Formularies are already affirmed even as they are in some ways “updated” via the ACNA’s Fundamental Declarations and GAFCON’s Jerusalem Declaration. Shoot, ACNA even included these as “Documentary Foundations” in its BCP. The issue is applying the Formulary’s theology in our current context. I.e., it’s not that the the Formularies should be rejected, but applied. That is indeed what the Tractarians did. OTOH, for many of their Anglo-Catholic/Ritualist descendants, the Formularies were indeed sidelined, if not outright rejected, in the name of “Catholicity.”

      Don’t confuse the changible issue of “rites and ceremonies” (to paraphrase Article XX) with the theological foundation of the Formularies. North side, surplice, MP as a principle Sunday service; those aren’t the core of what the Formularies are about. The Church has historically used canon law to work that out. In fact, one of the ways the Church has indeed “updated” how one applies the Formularies is through the Canons of an individual province/jurisdiction. And those, of course, are very changable. And the Fundamental Declarations and the Jerusalem Declaration are received on that canonical level.

      Here’s a good case study where I think the ACNA approach to such an update is better than that of the Affirmation of St. Louis. The Articles don’t mention the Ecumenical Councils other than than 21st declaring that Gereral Councils can err (which was probably a swipe at the 7th, but might not have been). Early Engish divinity (roughly 16th and 17th centuries) tends to discuss catholicity in terms of the 1st through 4th Councils, generally ignoring 5 &6, and usually taking issue with the 7th. The Homilies outright reject the 7th (though one might argue with its reasoning/history on the issue). The Affirmation declares all seven as definitive of catholicity, a marked departure from Anglican thought before about the turn of the 20th century. The Fundamental Declarations receive the first four without qualification, and receive the Christological clarifications of 5th through 7th, insofar as they are agreeable to Scripture. This is a position that is in continuity with historic Anglican approaches while still taking more recent scholarship and ecuminism into account. And it’s done in such a way that doesn’t reject the theology of the Formularies.


      • June 8, 2024 @ 10:32 pm Nick McAvoy

        I notice your parish still uses the 1928 prayer book. I beg to differ with your assertion in 2019 that “the very concept of truly ‘common’ prayer (i.e. prayer held in common) is effectively dead in North American Anglicanism.” We’ll be praying the same prayers tomorrow.

        I see this as a fruit of St Louis Anglicanism, and it’s a fruit by which I wish to know the tree.


  4. June 6, 2024 @ 9:52 pm J. Philips

    Thank you for this review.


  5. June 8, 2024 @ 11:59 am William N. McKeachie

    Implying that ‘normative’ and ‘historical’ are contrary to each other is a mistake. Just as we come to understand (as in ‘fides quaerens intellectum’) the One through the Many, the Word through His words, the Invisible Spirit through visible signs, so what is eternally ‘true’ is plumbed in the here and now of humanity’s ’crooked timber’. That which is ‘normative’ about the Anglican Fornularies is the necessity of their outworking in history, like every other expression of the ecclesial Body of Christ in time and space. That said, and to that end (‘already/not yet’), what is also always ‘necessary’ is their explicit re-clamation anew in and by each and every generation — not their relegation either to the ‘past’ or to mere appendices.


  6. June 9, 2024 @ 12:15 am Mack

    IMHO, the Church of England is simply the successor to England\’s Roman church after it asserted its national independence and turned to the king for supremacy rather than the Pope, just as occurred throughout Protestant Europe, the states there also becoming Lutheran or Reformed, pursuant to the \’cuius regio, eius religio\’ principle.

    Independence from the Pope, justified by reference to independent Patriarchs and Metropolitans under diverse rulers in the Eastern Orthodox Church, freed English Bishops at the direction of the king to adopt Reformation based doctrines and formularies, yet while claiming a continuity to \’Catholic\’ identity; as did the German/continental nobility with their Lutherans/Reformed churches likewise (yet often in the absence of a succession of bishops).

    This liberation movement set loose religious enthusiasts who insisted that Christianity ought to consist of independent local congregations free from all state control, which ideas leads to Puritanism (and a sovereign English Parliament) and American Congregationalism (and the principle of \’separation of church and state\’).

    True Anglicanism, therefore, in the sense of a hierarchical established state-church, under the nation\’s Protestant monarch, that expects attendance by all good citizens, does not exist. It doesn\’t even mean an \’episcopal\’ since any disaffected persons can leave their bishop and find or elect a different one in a rival organization. Today\’s churches – regardless the size of the denomination – are all more or less \’congregational\’ in their outlook: the people govern, not the king or the king\’s bishops.

    The attempt to pull Anglican churches into a big-tent communion is just nostalgia, and, unless all discriminating standards are cast aside, a fool\’s errand. It seems to me that American \’Anglicans\’ are mostly just disgruntled Episcopalians – people who are quite liberal enough to stay in that church – yet they pose as \’Anglican\’ while not even familiar with the original Book of Common Prayer or the Authorized Version. Doing so would be a good place to start rather than just adopting the label of a new brand name.


    • June 9, 2024 @ 12:19 am Mack

      edit: aren’t quite liberal enough


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