June 28, 2010

Thought for 6/28/2010

This morning, I read a June 18, 2010, article in Church Times about the then upcoming General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). In it, SEC Primus David Chillingworth is quoted as saying that “interdependence and co-responsibility are the essence of Anglicanism.” How can that be, since, for centuries, “Anglicanism,” if that term was used at all, could only refer to the Church of England? Even looking at a later time, say 1800, could anyone assert that the Church of England was interdependent or had co-responsibility with any other church? I think not.

How, indeed, has “interdependence and co-responsibility” become the “essence of Anglicanism” in the minds of some?

When I joined The Episcopal Church in the early 1980s, it was explained to me that the Anglican Communion was a voluntary arrangement whereby churches discussed matters of common interest and worked together on mission. Churches had no responsibility for one another. Likewise, although the Archbishop of Canterbury was the spiritual head of the Communion, he had no power over its members. Where is the binding agreement that changed that situation?

No Anglican Covenant

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  1. Lionel, I don't know who in a confirmation class would reduce the complex history and common life of the Anglican Communion to the "voluntary arrangement" for discussion and shared mission that you describe here, but such a definition is certainly not one that has been held historically by the Episcopal Church, nor is it one the vast majority of Anglicans around the world would recognize today. It might be fair to say something like "the Anglican Communion is a family of self-governing national or regional Churches in full communion with the Church of England, inheriting a common faith and order from the Church of England, and living and working together in mission and ministry in a spirit of mutual responsibility and interdependence." That's what I teach in my confirmation classes, anyway. The idea that the Communion is made up of forty or so "independent Protestant Denominations" who share some historical memory and who occasionally like to get together to talk or do good works certainly isn't something anybody would have said until about fifteen minutes ago, anyway. Though I grant it seems to be an emerging, new definition in a few corners . . . .

  2. I'd at least point you to Ephraim Radner's latest and I think very thoughtful post on the ACI website, to offer a different perspective on Communion life.



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