Hooray for the Archbishop of Wales!

Dear Archbishop: Thank you!

Here is what the Archbishop of Wales, The Most Rev. Barry Morgan said (I don't know when it first was posted but I found it today through Titusonenine.)

"The Windsor Report advocated that provinces should covenant with one another and consult with one another before making decisions, which might affect the life of the Communion as a whole. As a member of that Commission, we did not have in mind a covenant that was prescriptive and detailed and intrusive. What we did have in mind was what ECUSA did at its convention in July when:
  • It re-affirmed its abiding commitment to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and sought to live into the highest degree of communion possible.
  • It reaffirmed that it was in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
  • It went on to make a commitment to the vision of inter-dependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect, and commended the Windsor Report and process as a means of deepening understanding of that commitment.

I do not know about you, but I could sign a covenant such as that. For, just as we have to recognise that the theory of the just war does not answer all the difficulties raised by modern methods of warfare, so too we have to recognise, as far as the Anglican Communion is concerned, that globalisation and instant communication have changed the nature of our relationships with one another and that what happens in one part of the church does affect another for good or ill. A covenant, setting out our mutual inter-dependence would remind us all of that fact. But that is totally different from the kind of covenant that some people want – a kind of prescriptive one, setting up an inter-provincial constitution that would set out theological boundaries and perimeters for individual provinces in both belief and behaviour, policed by a central curia of the primates or Archbishop of Canterbury. That would go much further than what ECUSA has done, or the existing agreement of the Lambeth quadrilateral, based on the acceptance of the scriptures, the creeds, the two dominical sacraments and the historic episcopate. It would cut at the root of the Anglican Communion as it has been traditionally understood with to my mind, disastrous consequences. We are after all a communion not a confession. We all need reminding of the words of St Augustine ‘In certis, unitas. In dubiis, libertas. Et in omnibus caritas.’ ‘In fundamentals of faith there must be unity. In disputable matters there must be freedom for debate. But in everything there must be love.’"

'nuff said.


  1. "We all need reminding of the words of St Augustine ... ‘In fundamentals of faith there must be unity. In disputable matters there must be freedom for debate. But in everything there must be love.’"

    It was of course this selfsame Augustine who contended with Pelagius and drove Pelagian doctrines from the church. For Pelagius did not agree with Augustine on the fundamentals of the faith. So there could be no unity between them.

    Unity begins with doctrinal boundaries. We must agree on something. But we possess mutually exclusive views of the Christian faith. There is no basis for unity because our fundamentals do not in any significant way overlap.

    As Augustine fought with Pelagius, so conservatives fight with liberals today - and for the same reason. Truth is important, and is worth defending.


  2. Bill Carroll11/10/06 8:45 PM

    Augustine also thought that unbaptized infants went to hell. Like the Bible, Augustine said many things, but not all of them are true. The bit that Archbishop quotes is pretty good. If you want to know where Episcopalians take our stand, look at the baptismal covenant. We liberals will defend this faith, just as Augustine rightly rebuked the Pelagians for their false teaching. We will defend the quadrilateral and a loose Covenant, as the Episcopal Church did, because this is the only way to preserve Anglicanism, which is something quite precious.

    I wish the Archbishop of Canterbury would commend this statement as representing a way forward.

  3. Mr Carroll,

    I never made any judgments on the correctness of Augustine's teachings. I only pointed out that the quote from Augustine has no applicability to this conflict. It presumes first of all a common faith which we do not possess.

    I have no doubt you will defend your faith. Pelagius defended his faith as well. The problem is that the doctrinal division between us is wider than that which occured between Augustine and Pelagius.

    And it all begins here: "Like the Bible, Augustine said many things, but not all of them are true."


  4. Of the differing views of the provinces of the Anglican Communion, frequently it has been those of the Celtic churches--Scotland, Wales and Ireland--that have been the most sane, often because they have also been simple and straight forward; evidence this statement, which is an extract from from the Presidential Address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales.

  5. What “we” had in mind very likely means, “what I had in mind.” He’s right, the WR did advocate that provinces consult with one another; but ECUSA didn’t, and still doesn’t, on the issues that got the WR written in the first place. It certainly doesn’t uphold the historic Faith and Order, no matter what it says, unless I’ve missed the Anglican tradition of an elastic definition of marriage. I’ve yet to read an endorsement of such in the great Anglican theologians of the past, but I’m always open to suggestions.

    All this says is Morgan is willing to be lied to for the sake of peace.

  6. Carl:

    First comment: most historians these days suggest that Pelagius didn't believe what has been reported, but that he did feel, as in James, that faith without works was dead. Somehow, the debate got expressed in the extremes. (That does seem applicable, if not in the way originally intended.)

    Second: I think we can consider unity without such clearly defined boundaries. After all, Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me;" (Mark 9.39) and, "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." (John 10:16)

    No two human minds will be identical, and much that is fundamental in our faith is beyond comprehension (not beyond the process of reflection, but beyond our capacity to know in fulness). How shall we demand a unanymity that Christ does not?

  7. I'm going to try reposting something on the Archbishop of Wales' address and its wider implications for the Anglican Communion. I posted an earlier version of this on Fr. Jake, in response to someone whose comments were very much like Carl's here:

    Carl wrote: "Pelagius did not agree with Augustine on the fundamentals of the faith. So there could be no unity between them .... As Augustine fought with Pelagius, so conservatives fight with liberals today - and for the same reason."

    This gets very close to the heart of the disputes within the Anglican Communion today. Here is my own understanding of it.

    Our debates are over whether membership in the Anglican Communion is conferred by adherence to church polity (on the one hand), or adherence to confessions or articles of belief which are (it is asserted)derived from Scripture (on the other).

    "Church polity" here stands in for the formal structure through which we are all able to live and worship together in common. It used to be called "church government," and it is much like a governmental stucture.

    Now those Carl calls "conservatives" believe that all those who worship together must subscribe to common articles of belief or confessional statements. Those who do not or cannot sign on to these should not be worshippers in the Church. "Unity begins with doctrinal boundaries," as Carl says.

    Most "liberals" as well as almost all "centrists" would accept that some core belief statements are necessary, but they would make them as few and as broadly defined as possible. (More than a few of the Thirty-Nine Articles should be seen in this light.) What is necessary for participation in the Anglican Communion is an agreement to accept the historic Anglican polity as one's system of church government.

    A complicating factor at present, as many of us would admit, is that while Anglican forms of church polity are reasonably well-defined within Provinces, they are poorly-defined among Provinces. We may well need a clearer structure and a better definition of spheres of responsibility. This is not to say we need a Pope or a Curia. We don't.

    Let me make an analogy that will I hope make the difference clearer. If this were politics and not religion we were speaking of, the debate would be between:

    "conservatives" who believe it is necessary to belong to a particular party and subscribe to a particular set of party principles to participate in a nation's political life


    "liberals" who believe that to participate in a nation's political life it is necessary only to accept the terms laid down by its system of government.

    (I suppose another spate of posts will follow all arguing over who broke which rule first or most often and which rule is/was most important. I wish we could get off that part of the debate!)

  8. It certainly doesn’t uphold the historic Faith and Order, no matter what it says, unless I’ve missed the Anglican tradition of an elastic definition of marriage.

    Um, hello Phil? Henry the VIII? Some would argue that the Anglican tradition BEGINS with an "elastic definition of marriage"! *LOL*

    [Note, I'm not one of them. To me, the Anglican tradition begins w/ the first disciple of Jesus---in a straight line out of the Great Commission in Galilee---to reach the British Isles. Just in case any Papists are among us here. ;-/]


    carl, apparently believing "ALL things in the Bible are true": do please reveal the "truths" of Psalm 137:9 would you?

    Furthermore, carl, if you would renounce the basis of Anglican unity in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, could you just come right out and SAY SO??? Good googly-moogly! :-0

  9. Mr Fisher,

    "do please reveal the "truths" of Psalm 137:9 would you?"

    The shory answer is that God was executing judgment upon the Babylonians, and that His judgments are always just. If you wish to know the truth behind the judgment of Babylon, then read Isaiah 13, or Jeremiah 50-51.

    If you are saying these cannot be true because God would be shown as unjust, then you err because you do not know the Scriptures. Your argument proceeds from a false view of the nature of man, a false view of the nature of God, a false view of the relationship of God to his Creation, and a false view of the seriousness of sin. If you want to know what I am talking about, read the Book of Job - especially Chapter 40. Then read Edwards:

    As for the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, it is far too ambiguous to serve as a basis for anything. Indeed, that very ambiguity is why you refer to it.


  10. http://www.ccel.org/e/

    (since the link got cut off)



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