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?

One Response

  1. Greetings Tony,

    I used to think either the Empire or our language or both. Now neither fits. I grew up in a family that had both defended and ruled the Empire – those pink places on the world map. We all spoke English – I thought – and even here in Peru the Anglicans were the expats. Now all is changes culturally and socially. I think that there was a social link in my first sentence as socially one behaved and was obedient and deferential.

    My tendency is to blame the Americans, after all they were and are rebels. HOWEVER that is not the real answer. On the whole we from England were an arrogant, autocratic and paternalistic from the get go. I am sure if we had let the Americans have their own bishops and clergy matters would never have become so polarized. The rest of the story IMHO is an unfolding of the same.

    Meanwhile I think we have left a good heritage for the African Anglicans albeit they learned our flaws as well as our good points. The church there is flourishing, growing and certainly outnumbers the rest of us handsomely. However we in the West still refuse to acknowledge their achievements and leadership. So now they ignore us, as we deserve.

    Meanwhile here in Peru, and maybe in most of South America, we are seeking an authentically different but recognizable Anglican Church with spirituality that is more often than not both Evangelical and Catholic, yet always in another tongue that is hugely different from English. The northern part of this continent is far more influenced by TEC than England and is thus more liberal theologically. Meanwhile God is at work.

    My dream is that one day the AC will realize what a jewel she has here in South America. What a blessing to be outside the toxic fray of the northern hemisphere!

    Blessings – Ian

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