Credit goes where credit is due. For some time the Global South Anglican theological team has been working on a document related to an Anglican Catechism in Outline, one that it is hoped would, along with the emerging Anglican Covenant, provide a basic communion wide teaching on what it means to be Anglican.
In my mind there are several glaring failures to this effort, yet in reading it I was struck by the utility of both its content and method.
First to get my concerns out of the way: It carries forward the increasingly untenable notion that the 39 Articles are foundational of what it means to be Anglican. It is too married to the emerging Anglican Covenant in a form that has now been transformed as the Anglican Covenant itself has been a work in progress. Attached to it are position papers, one of which proposes that the 1979 BCP of the Episcopal Church is not a "Book of Common Prayer" of the sort that derived from the 1662 book, the "standard" as far as the Catechism in Outline is concerned. I am not moved.
There is a lot to be concerned about in the Catechism in Outline, but all those concerns gathered together do not mean that the effort was in vain. I have read the paper several times and find myself attracted to its basic methodology and its sense that the enterprise is primarily about teaching the faith in context and with purpose.
It would be interesting to take its recommendations and spread them out next to the 1979 Catechism to see just how much is in common. The Episcopal Church Catechism will be I suspect a bit more baptismal covenant oriented, more suggestive of the roles of all orders in the church, more personally directed in its sense of the mission of the church. Yet much of what is in our Catechism is to be found in the "outline" proposed. The flavor is different, but I suggest many of the ingredients are the same.
The project was described by one of its authors as follows:
A Global South Catechism is designed provide for a complete presentation of the story of faith that “hands on” fundamental theological truths and the possibility of practical spiritual living of these ageless truths with the post-modern context. This work does not offer absolute answer to the great questions of life and faith. It does offer a way to understand those questions in the context of how the mystery can be lived as opposed to trying to attack life as a series of problems to be solved! The future of a 21st Century catechism should be based in the three traditional thematic of Anglican identity, that is oft termed the “three-legged stool”. These are: Scripture, Reason and Tradition. As the Anglican foundations have not changed; how they may be lived out in a dynamic way does and will. The Global South catechism is an invitation to shape that dynamism of lives in such a way that can offer people direction and meaning and serves as an excellent complement to the liturgical Rites of the church and will assist in the reclamation of an Anglican Christian mythic consciousness as had occurred during the great catechetical periods in the Church."
Quite an undertaking.
Under the heading of taking one another seriously I recommend a reading of the Catechism in outline. It can be read by downloading the 90 page paper from the Global South webpage, under the entry, "Anglican Catechism in Outline: A Common Home Between Us.
(You may have to hunt to find the PDF file....for some reason the link file and its own page do not give the PDF link. But seek and ye shall find. )
Let the criticism begin.