“Reformation, Not Realignment”

The Rev. Canon Mark E. Rudolph

Contents
Contents Realignment . . . . . . . . . . . Where does it hurt? . . . . . . . Indefatigable indefinability . . . What have I got, doc? . . . . . . Where to start? . . . . . . . . . . Cranmer’s courageous via media It’s time for reformation . . . . . Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Abstract A meditation on the present state of western Anglicanism, this essay posits that without a recognition and a re-forming of the substance and theology of Anglicanism, the realignment of its forms and structures is unhelpful and likely exacerbates Anglicanism’s ills.

Realignment
The Archbishops of Canterbury talk about it. Global South archbishops do it. TEC hates it. Many of Anglicanism’s continuing movements in North America depend on it. The “it” is global Anglican realignment, a movement that has been all the rage for over a decade and remains a buzz phrase in Biblically-oriented Anglicanism. As TEC has continued its moral and organizational sprint into chaos, the whimper started by the Reformed Episcopal Church in later became politically-correctly articulated “regret” and “grief” by the evangelicals within (then) ECUSA. Folks eventually stopped being “grieved” and became outraged. Over time, outrage, regret, and grief became pass´ e (at least, far less news-worthy) and Anglicans found themselves outside of TEC (either perforce or by choice) and trying to figure out who they were, what they are becoming, and why they exist. Concurrently, Anglicans found themselves competing in the marketplace of churches for the first time in their North American history, no longer holding a monopoly on ancient/future faith. Anglicans also began to discover that liturgically minded Christians could be found in many corners of evangelicalism earlier and “everyone was doing it”! In order to keep their distinct brand of Christianity, Anglicans had to find a way to explain, define, and distinguish themselves from other liturgical and non-liturgical organizations. Many believed and still believe that the best way to do that is to reattach themselves to some other facet of the worldwide Anglican Communion. In other words, (re)alignment within the Anglican Communion has become the most important defining factor of Anglicanism for many. This realignment ostensibly has been driven by the laudable desire to keep the global fellowship as intact as possible. However, the underlying reasons for unity widely vary, from apostolic succession, to political elegance, to the theological principles in John , to a deeply personal sense of relationship with exemplars of global south moral courage. The foreign investment in North American Anglicanism has been staggering, both monetarily and politically: Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, South East Asia, the West Indies, the Province of West Africa, the Southern Cone, Bolivia. Unfortunately, the original intent of unity has turned into organizational confusion and disunity. Illustrative cases abound, but consider the interplay between just two of the global south players on the field, Rwanda and Nigeria. • Rwanda led the pack in the formation of AMiA (though AMiA later repudiated

Rwandan oversight) and some went that way, at least, until the great schism of . • Nigeria led CANA and others went there. • AMiA was against women’s ordination, but not really, because Rwanda was for it (sort of), though the subsequent (re)organization of PEARUSA is against it. • CANA was for women’s ordination, but Nigeria never was; then CANA “discerned the mind of Christ,” so now it’s against it. • In their literature, both organizations claim many of the same unique and distinct characteristics as their own. And that’s just a small bit of history in only two organizations!

Where does it hurt?
As described above, the medicine largely prescribed for Anglicanism’s ills has been structural realignment. But was structural misalignment the problem? Was having the wrong partner the source of North American Anglicanism’s ills? Especially if Anglicanism is defined as being in relationship with the See of Canterbury, why all the fuss among those who still have that distinction, as do most of the Anglican communion world-wide as of this writing? In other words, if we’re all ultimately aligned through Canterbury, who cares how we get there? To put it differently, have we diagnosed the illness properly? Or are we putting a cast on an unbroken limb? To switch metaphors, are we trying to pour old wine into new wineskins, new wine into old wineskins, or have we switched our gospel wine for another intoxicant altogether? Personal relationships and the organizations that often formalize them are the vessel (the form) into which philosophies and purposes (the substance) are poured. This is virtually a truism in any human endeavor, whether in the corporate world, in governments, or in churches. However, in the manner of the cart’s proverbial attempt to lead the horse, while there has been incredible fuss over the form, there seems to be very little agreement about the substance of Anglicanism. This is particularly alarming, because the forms are solidifying apace.

It is my thesis that without a reformation on the matters of substance, the realignment of the parts is unhelpful. In fact, it’s worse than unhelpful. The realignment of the parts without clear substance and purpose actually exacerbates Anglicanism’s ills. It only obfuscates the issues underlying the nature and purpose of Christ’s church and only delays the inevitable break-up that will most certainly occur, once the common enemy of TEC is no longer on the radar.

Indefatigable indefinability
It has been observed that one of Anglicanism’s most notable characteristics is its unwillingness or inability to define itself. • Some consider this to be a strength, creating a big tent and plenty of room for “dialog” and such initiatives as the inaptly-named indaba, an especially effective form of obfuscatory communication. • Others consider this an irritating trait, preventing enemies and friends alike from deciding what they like or don’t like about Anglicanism. I consider this trait of undefineability an incredible weakness. Ponder, for example, the so-called four instruments of unity of the Anglican Consultative Council. In , they resolved that “the … Council notes with approval the suggestion of the Windsor Report that the Archbishop of Canterbury be regarded as the focus for unity and that the Primates’ Meeting, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council be regarded … as the ‘Instruments of Communion’.” This statement may warm the cockles of someone’s heart; but that strange warmth is probably indigestion. There is very little unity around any of these four instruments (archbishop, Lambeth, primates’ meetings, the ACC), both from the right and the left. Nigeria rewrote its constitution, demonstrating high irony by entitling the section on unity “The See of Canterbury.” The section reads: “ . . The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) . . . shall be in full communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that

hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of and in the Thirty-Nine Article of Religion” (emphasis mine). Other than the title of that section, the document never again mentions Canterbury! Archbishop Orombi of Uganda commenced his answer to the question “What is Anglicanism?” this way: “However we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.” Ouch, ACC! Take that, Canterbury! Even TEC acknowledges the fundamental shifting of definitions. The Rev. Canon Mark Harris rightly noted this disunity in his essay “Contending with Anglican Realignment.” “Whatever else the Anglican Communion is about, it is not, it seems, about unity based on the symbol of the Archbishop of Canterbury.” Harris blames the disunity on TEC’s opponents’ failure to successfully grapple with modernity. “Those opposed to what the Episcopal Church is doing represent a cloud of witnesses from increasingly un-useful worldviews . . . ” I cannot commend Canon Harris’s theology; but his directness is refreshing. My point is that realignment and restructuring, in whatever configuration is most popular at the moment, is scratching what does not itch, binding what is not broken, and is leaving an infected limb to turn gangrenous. Unity with Canterbury did not prevent Anglicanism’s spiritual malaise. TEC is already dead and has forgotten to stop breathing. Trying to attach the dead or sick parts of it to another body will only carry disease and death with it, the self-same ailments which are responsible for the sickness in the first place. A fundamental statement of what Anglicanism is must be made, before it can effectively decide where it’s going.

What have I got, doc?
So far I have argued that the disease has not been organizational (the form). Therefore, it is highly probable that the disease is theological (the substance). I propose that the vector of the disease is disengagement from confessional/creedal Christianity.

A sister from a non-denominational denomination told me that she is excited about Anglicanism’s theological content. “You’re connected,” she said, “with clear creeds and statements of doctrine, both in your Articles and in your worship.” Out of the mouth of a low-church sister comes great wisdom — wisdom which Anglicanism itself seems to be ignoring. Contrary to this sister’s impressions, when I am in a heterogeneous gathering of Anglicans, my experience has been that it is hard to find a definition of Anglicanism common to the group, at least, one whose precision extends much beyond the Apostles’ Creed. Here are some examples. • Archbishop Duncan publicly opined that the Thirty-nine Articles are not a sufficient statement of faith around which Anglican unity can be built. His subtlety is reflective of the ACNA constitution’s statement about the Articles: “We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of , taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.” Do you see the careful use of words? “. . . certain doctrinal issues . . . ”, “. . . at that time . . . ”. Certain issues are addressed, which represent one form of authentic Anglicanism in a particular context. That’s not the same as saying that authentic Anglicanism is derived from the Articles. If one is strict about the Articles, well, OK, that’s authentic! And if one is not strict about them, well, that’s OK, too; the Articles were only addressing certain problems of a bygone era — our times are different. I am not attributing any malice to Archbishop Duncan. In fact, when I heard him make the statement above noted, I truly believe I detected wistfulness in his words and tone. Perhaps he was only stating the nature of things as they are, not as he wished them to be. • Another example: it was explicitly stated by an Anglo-Catholic brother in a private conversation that any attempt at defining Anglicanism beyond the Nicene Creed and whatever piety had occurred in Britain would be a recipe for division, if not dissolution. In other words, vague is virtuous, precision is pugnacious. • Defining oneself as a child of the “English reformation” and its formularies ( Articles, BCP, and the Elizabethan Homilies as commentaries thereon) sets some brothers’ and sisters’ teeth on edge as too “reformed” sounding and narrow.

• Others argue that the Articles were never meant to be a confession or creed, just a statement of faith (the subtleties of that argument still escape me!).

Where to start?
My question remains. “What, then, is Anglicanism?” I began my own investigation by looking at what Anglicanism has said about itself. I started where GAFCON, PEARUSA, and ACNA purportedly start; I start with the English reformation. All of these institutions nearly uniformly affirm the Articles and the BCP as the starting place for Anglican definition. Global Anglican Future (GAFCON): “Authentic Anglicanism is a particular expression of Christian corporate life which seeks to honour the Lord Jesus Christ by nurturing faith, and also encouraging obedience to the teaching of God’s written word, meaning the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. It embraces the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (published in the year ) and the Book of Common Prayer (the two versions of and ), both texts being read according to their plain and historical sense, and being accepted as faithful expressions of the teaching of Scripture, which provides the standard for Anglican theology and practice” (emphasis mine). Province Of Rwanda: “The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, the Form of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating Bishop, Priests, and Deacons, the Form of Consecration of a Church or Chapel, and an Office of Institution of Ministers, and Articles of Religion based on the Book of Common Prayer are the standards for this Church as set forth in the Solemn Declarations of the Provincial Constitution. The Church of Rwanda affirms the liturgy found in the Book of Common Prayer as being based on the Word of God” (emphasis mine). Anglican Church In North America: From the theological statement found on ACNA’s web site, “ ) We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in , together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship. ) We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of , taken in their literal and

grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.” This is a good start! But is it good enough? If we compare these statements with what one often hears in the heterogeneous gatherings I mentioned, it seems that modern Anglicanism would adjudge our Anglican forefathers to have died for (merely) idealistic — if not irrational — reasons. Would things like justification, sanctification, and the doctrines of the church and her sacraments stir us today, as in their day? What would those forefathers think of today’s Anglicanism ignoring the Articles of Religion for which they fought? Some self-described Anglicans embrace the precise doctrinal opinions which the reformers opposed; yet there is no protest or correction! And one more time — if Anglicanism is not defined by the things for which Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer were willing to die, and by which both North American and Global South Anglicanism define themselves on paper, what else is offered as a statement of unity? Realignment? “Living into our mission”? Being more entrepreneurial? The Apostles’ Creed and any practice of English piety that catches our fancy?

Cranmer’s courageous via media
What I find particularly unhelpful (disingenuous? uninformed?) is the oft-repeated claim that Cranmer and his kind desired and designed a political and theological via media, purposely avoiding doctrinal clarity (as distinct from the continental reformers). Cranmer, it is said, was attempting to strike a safe middle path of compromise between the various factions of his day. • Randy Sly asked in a opinion piece, “Anglicans have traditionally been called the ‘Via Media’ or ‘the middle road’ between Catholicism and Protestantism. What does that even mean any longer?” He followed up with this variation on an old joke: “Why did the Anglican cross the road? He never did, he stopped in the middle.” • A former Episcopalian, now Roman Catholic, blogged: “Have you heard of the Anglican via media? This is the idea that Anglicanism is the ‘middle way’ between Catholicism and Protestantism. The concept is often extended to

mean that Anglicanism is the ‘middle way’ between many different extremes. It is the way of compromise, the way of common sense, the way of ‘dual integrities.’ I used to be attracted to this theory. It seemed a very creative way to deal with the tensions of Catholicism and Protestantism within Anglican history. However, Cardinal Newman observed that the Anglican via media was never anything more than an idea. A via media might work in politics where utilitarianism is the rule, but it cannot work in the realm of religion. Religion demands choice. You have to take one road or the other.” Cranmer and crew had the opportunity to work toward exactly such compromises, if they had wished. Cranmer was very sympathetic toward the causes of Calvin in Switzerland and Luther in Germany. It is well-known that Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr were prot´ eg´ es of the Archbishop and played significant roles in work of the Book of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion. Cranmer could have gently oriented himself and the English church around these various foreign relationships, while keeping himself aloof from the dangers of ecclesiastical politics at home, awaiting the day that it would be safe to come out of the closet as a reformer. Instead, he pressed forward with prayer book revision and a doctrinal statement modeled on the continental reforms, no matter what alignments might have been deemed safe in the moment. Cranmer and others were not immune to international intrigues and attempts at political cleverness. Nevertheless (and such claims notwithstanding), the English reformers did not give their lives for a compromising middle path. Truly, if Cranmer’s middle path was intended to be a compromise, then one must stand in awe of his political stupidity. He knowingly adopted a position that was sure to anger Rome and the hard-core disestablishmentarians of both Anabaptist and reformed persuasions. His via media was not a path designed to keep everyone happy; it was the path that made everyone angry! The product of his and his comrades’ labors was a national church framed around the clear articulation of faith and practice found in the Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Elizabethan Homilies. Yet in our day, there is a shyness about holding to these instruments, or any clear statement of faith and practice. Though commitments are made on paper, they are rarely practiced with any vigor. The reason for such shyness is that clearly articulated statements are not comfortable. Such instruments clarify one’s thinking, and heighten one’s sensitivity to differences. Of course, they can also divide and may even offend. God forbid that one should offend! We might lose our properties and — er, oh, wait, that’s right,

many already have done that, but without any unifying purpose other than opposing ECUSA. In the aforementioned essay by Canon Harris, he complains about a statement from the Anglican Communion Network called “Confession and Calling . . . ” “What is sought is confessional allegiance based on the statement . . . which supposedly promotes ‘unity of belief and practice that serves to expose the individualism and congregationalism that is now regnant within the Church at large and denies the Name of Jesus.’ All free thinkers and all members of the ecumenical community in which congregationalism is rampant take note — these people want you and me out because they think we deny the Name of Jesus.” The document to which Harris refers is a statement by the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (a.k.a. The Anglican Communion Network) that serves (or at least, for a time did serve) as a theological charter statement, noting that “Scripture’s meaning is rightly discerned . . . through the theological ordering of our common historic formularies, including the sixteenth and seventeenth century authorized Books of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles.” It appears that Canon Harris fears theological re-formation a great deal. He should! Harris indignantly — and correctly — points out that adoption of that statement would mean that there will be a basis on which some are in and some are out! As he warns, one cannot propose this kind of solution, since it would be entirely out of keeping with the spirit of the age: “It is appalling that at the close of the modern era that religion has once again become the rallying point for the warrior’s courage.” A frightening prospect, that — Christ-like courage in Christianity!

It’s time for reformation
In my judgment, one of the two elephants in Anglicanism’s living chambers is whether we will have standards and take them seriously. I say, enough of realignment! It’s time for reformation! Let all parties brave the risk of stating their positions clearly. Liberal, conservative, left, right, progressive, regressive, high church, low church, snakes and spikes all — let us say what we

think. I believe that this would serve to purify Christ’s bride by washing it in the unmuddied waters of truth and transparency, rather than the tepid and opaque stream of obfuscatory unintelligibility. Adherence to the Anglican formularies is just the medicine that will save our beloved patient. They are a rule of faith which provides the necessary common language and framework for our work as Anglican Christians and as part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. That’s the kind of Christianity that feeds one’s soul and will be a vigorous reformation-working faith for our time. If we clearly state our positions, will there still be questions needing answers and problems needing solutions? Of course! But at least we may approach them with a common vocabulary. If we adopt clear statements of what Anglicanism is and take them seriously, it just may be that the now guttering candle lit so long ago by Latimer and Ridley will again shed a light in this world. Let us return to the warrior spirit that sent our fathers to fire, jail, drowning, and exile, before such extremes for defending the faith become a literal necessity for our progeny. It’s important for Anglicanism. It’s necessary for the body of Christ. The Rev. Canon Mark E. Rudolph has been a pastor since , is a presbyter in PEARUSA, and thinks that Cranmer was “just this guy” who never planned to be a hero, was nevertheless a brave fellow, and is an example to be followed. Mark loves the formularies and provides them free of charge on his web site, www.bishopcranmer.com.

Endnotes
These endnotes are not crucial for understanding this paper, however, they do provide additional resources for background information and allow the author to make snide comments without breaking the flow of the text! :-) 1 Wikipedia identifies the Anglican Global South as of the extant provinces (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global South (Anglican)). Not a uniquely Anglican term, the north-south divide is “broadly considered a socio-economic and political divide,” with the south being comprised of of Africa, Latin America, and developing Asia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global South). This region of the world also roughly equals the so-called “ - Window” of missions theory, about which see www.joshuaproject.net/ - -window.php, win .com, and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ / Window, last accessed - . 2 See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing Anglican movement, last accessed - . 3 To see how important this distinction is, see the article entitled “Not In The Communion,” anglicansonline.org/communion/nic.html, last accessed - . The article begins, “The churches listed here are not ‘in the communion’. That means that they are not part of the Anglican Communion. To be part of it, a church must have a formal relation with the See of Canterbury.” 4 Full disclosure: I am part of PEARUSA. 5 I recognize that a few organizations are beginning to openly repudiate the relationship with Canterbury as a norm in Anglicanism, perhaps most notably Nigeria. 6 Indaba is a Xhosa word meaning “business,” which meaning unfortunately did not follow the word itself when it was imported into the west. 7 www.aco.org/communion/acc/meetings/acc /resolutions.cfm#s , last accessed - . 8 www.anglican-nig.org/Constitution.php, last accessed - , see Section . 9 www.firstthings.com/article/ / / -what-is-anglicanism- , last accessed - . 10 www.thewitness.org/agw/harris .html, last accessed - . 11 Constitution, Article I, Paragraph . 12 If one hopes for any unity among Biblically-oriented Anglicans in North America, at least two of these institutions must be taken into account: GAFCON and

ACNA. I acknowledge that PEARUSA is not as universally of interest to others, as it is to me. 13 Theological Resource Team of the Global Anglican Future Conference . See the document at gafcon.org/resources/the way the truth and the life official gafcon study document, last accessed - . 14 Canons of the Province Of Rwanda, Title II, Canon . See also PEARUSA’s statement, www.pearusa.org/wp-content/uploads/ / /PEARUSA-Charter-Final.pdf, last accessed - . 15 Again, note the subtlety of language in the phrase “a standard.” 16 www.anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/about#theo-stmt, last accessed . Even with the aforementioned weakness of this statement, it’s still a pretty clear pointer to these documents as a starting place for Anglican discussion. 17 www.catholic.org/national/national story.php?id= , last accessed . / /anglican-via-media.html. 18 www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/ For a more thorough critique of this understanding of via media, see accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/ / /via-media-movement-no-orthodoxy-were.html, last accessed - . 19 In fact, Cranmer often directly quoted from them, albeit in English. 20 A thoughtful examination of the Articles reveals this audacious theological clarity, written in a time when clarity could get one killed. 21 I find it strange that a politician committed to compromise burned the hand that signed his earlier compromising recantations, saying: “This hand hath offended.” How uncompromisingly foolish of him! 22 Consider ACNA’s clear adoption of the Thirty-nine Articles, while living comfortably with both Anglo-Catholic and Baptistic sacramental theology in practice. 23 I have been told that in a meeting in which a modern-language version of the was being drafted, one of the committee’s members objected to the whole project, because — as he put it — “if we put it in modern English, people will be able to understand it and they might not like what they read”! 24 See www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/ /posts, last accessed - . 25 The other elephant is ordination, its meaning and recipients. 26 Missions experience demonstrates that a clear definition of one’s standards comforts those who disagree with us, so that working together is more likely, rather than less.