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WHAT HAVE WE BECOME?

When I was a pre-teen youngster, says the sage as he shakes his grey locks, we were taught that the instruments were the See of Canterbury, the Book of Common Prayer, the Lambeth Conference and the Articles of Religion. Of course in those far off days Canterbury still exercised Primatial authority in a great deal of the Communion, the BCP (either derived from the 1549 family or the 1662 family, or the American combination) was indeed common, and the Articles, to various degrees were fundamental formularies. We still, rightly or wrongly deferred to authority and thus whatever its juridical status, when the bishops met and spoke, their conclusions demanded enormous respect throughout the Communion.

 

 

 
In the intervening years, influenced I think by secular corporate and Western political models committees replaced most of the above. The development of national and in some cases multi-national Provinces, their adoption of a variety of liturgical texts many influenced more by scholarly stabs at composing ‘Early Church’ texts than recognizably Anglican ones, the disappearance of the Articles even merely as a blueprint for how we do our theology in an era of doctrinal conflict, the rise of a new nationalism, and the loss (good or bad) of deference to authority have all contributed to internal fragmentation. 
 
 
 
As a result, both in ecumenism and in our own relationships Anglicanism has lost its cohesion. I think we concentrate on political and juridical aspects of our relationships because we no longer have a commonality of ethos. The Covenant is an attempt to re-establish that commonality. If it fails, at least in its present form we will still be left with the question: what do we have in common other than nostalgia?