Friday, 26 April 2013

Who - in fact - is an Anglican?

I'm indebted to Fr Anthony Chadwick (who is now a priest of the A.C.C.) for including on his blog an address given in 1987 (that is, some five years before the ordination of women in the Church of England) by Bishop (now Mgr) Robert Mercer C.R..  
Mgr Mercer is now, of course,  a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and, clearly, his view of ecclesiology and the realities of ecumenism have changed in some vital respects (who couldn't say the same after the events of the last twenty five years?) , but the questions he asked in 1987 are still very relevant - indeed now of far wider application given the current incorporation of some elements of Anglican patrimony into the Latin Church.

But perhaps the question should now be directed not to Canterbury or to the 'official' Anglican Communion but more to those of us who regard ourselves as theologically and ecclesiologically / apostolically 'orthodox' and who remain - precariously and on sufferance - within those 'official'  structures, but are nevertheless (in many ways rightly in view of their past divisions, rival claims and bitter infighting) somewhat suspicious of the indigestible 'alphabet soup' of  the continuing Anglican world.
Yet we are all, however partially and imperfectly, endeavouring to be faithful to a common tradition - something which, whatever the outcome of the current battle for adequate provision for traditionalists in England and in Wales, could be of ever greater significance in the years ahead, given the likely direction and even possible disintegration of the Anglican Communion itself...
Please note: I'm repeating a question, not advocating any particular strategy.

Here are are few snippets, but read the article in full here:
What is an Anglican?
"Nobody quite knows. But it would seem that communion with Canterbury is not THE deciding factor, and there is nothing new about this. You will know. When William and Mary came to the throne, several good Anglicans, not being disciples of the Vicar of Bray, believed that their oaths to the ousted King James had to hold fast. They could not in conscience accept their new rulers. They were therefore driven out of their bishoprics and out of their parishes. They were called ‘Non Jurors”.
"They continued to wear the same rochets and chimeres, or the same surplices, that they had always worn, and they continued to worship according to the same Book of Common Prayer, though being Anglicans they could never resist the temptation to improve upon it, and so some of them had a go at producing their own Improvements.Where the “Non Jurors” Anglicans or not? Were they in communion with Canterbury if they were not in communion with Canterbury’s King? At least two of these “NonJurors” are now regarded widely as saints Bishop Thomas Ken and William Law. They are regarded as representative of all that is best in our own tradition. Can any of us dare say that because they were not then in communion with that particular Archbishop of Canterbury, they are not Anglicans? .....
Now things in other parts of the Anglican Communion may be different, but here at home In England you know your own custom. The people lead, and when its safe, the bishops will follow....."
"....The best things in the Church of England happen in spite of the official church, not because of it the Evangelical revival, the classical revival, the institution of theological colleges, the recovery of the religious life, the great missions overseas, the slum mission at home. All these things happened sometimes largely, sometimes entirely because of priests and people, not because of bishops..."
" ..... Those people who in recent years have left the official Anglican provinces of Canada and the U.S.A. think themselves as continuing Anglicans, though by the official provinces in those parts and by the Archbishop of Canterbury they are called schismatics, though continuing to practice the faith as our church has received it:
1. They worship according to the Book of Common Prayer, to their own edition of it.
2. They accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as containing all things necessary to salvation.
3. They accept the Apostles’, Athanasian and Nicene Creeds as summarising and interpreting those scriptures for us and as protecting us from other American vagaries such as those of Mary Baker Eddy and Joseph Smith (the Mormons).
4. They accept the three fold ministry of bishops priests and deacons and like our Lord and the twelve apostles and nearly 2000 years of Christian history they confine this ministry to persons of the male sex.
5. They practice the seven sacraments in all their fullness.
Dare we say that these continuing Anglicans are not Anglicans because they are not in communion with His Grace of Canterbury? Were the Non Jurors of the 18th Century not Anglicans? It is known that Bishop Ken and William Law are now recognized by Canterbury in communion with America and Scotland. In some respects Canterbury has caught up with reality, and may do so again!
These new extra mural Anglicans are people we must go out and embrace. ..."

Fr Chadwick has a new blog, The Anglican Catholic [here], specifically concerned with ACC matters but likely also to touch on matters concerning a common 'Anglican catholic' patrimony...

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