Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Book On The Anglican Dilemma

A visitor very kindly sent me a copy of Allen Guelzo's For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians. Guelzo, a Lincoln scholar, has detoured into the history of the Reformed Episcopal Church, though even the briefest reading suggests there's a great deal in the book about 19th century US culture, and perhaps more importantly, the contradictions within Anglicanism that led to the 1873 breakaway by the REC.

As Guelzo says in the inroduction, ". . . in a larger context, I want to show how the story of the Reformed Episcopalians is, in the long term, indistiguishable from the fate of Anglican identity." He begins with a recent illustration of what I think is one problem with Anglican identity, a quote from religious journalist John Whale, written just before the 1988 Lambeth Conference:

You are an Anglican if you think you are. The terms are comprehensive. You are most incontrovertibly an Anglican if you have been confirmed by an Anglican bishop and go regularly to an Anglican church. . . . But you are just as much an Anglican if you go regularly to an Anglican church, unconfirmed; or if you go intermittently; or if the church you would go to if you ever went is Anglican; or if it is an Anglican church that you go to for rites of passage, or that others look to on your behalf. . . . It [the Anglican Church] is already unhostile to departures from doctrinal orthodoxy. Alongside doctrinal authority it will increasingly accommodate the idea of a God who does not act, and a Unitarian God at that [cf Bp Pike -- jb]. It will be explicitly uncertain about an after-life, and unassertive about the exclusive rightness of Christianity as against other faiths.
Bring to this characterization what I believe is the naively expressed ambiguity of Bp Lopes, Abp DiNoia, and others about what the "Anglican patrimony" consists of, because the collection of rather silly individuals who post at the Anglicnorum Coetibus Society blog are getting a particular message, whether the CDF understands what it's saying or not.

There's much, much more to gather from this book, which I'll discuss in coming days. Many thanks to my visitor for bringing it to my attention.