6/21/2010

Further rumination on "Faith and Order"

Over on Anglicandownunder, Peter Carrell has posted two items related to my previous post on Faith and Order. Read his HERE and HERE. Read mine HERE. Peter writes so well and I agree with him about half the time, which is better than most, and he is, I suspect, witty and intellectually sharp in person. I sometime wonder why I bother to write at all. Between Peter and Elizabeth and the MadPriest the competition for the combo of elegance in writing and pizazz is too great to bear.

Still, having started a rumination on Canon Kearon's comments on Faith and Order, and having given the sources in the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church (ripped off from Lambeth 1930), in Kearon's comments and in the World Council of Churches, I couldn't help also referencing the proposed Anglican Covenant.

What does the proposed Anglican Covenant mean by "Faith and Order?" The phrase only appears three times, once in the Introduction, which as we remember is not part of the Covenant but always to be printed with it.

In the Introduction it is written,

"5. To covenant together is not intended to change the character of this Anglican expression of Christian faith. Rather, we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ (2 Cor 1.20-22).

In the text itself we find these two references:

(1.2.1) to teach and act in continuity and consonance with Scripture and the catholic and apostolic faith, order and tradition, as received by the Churches of the Anglican Communion, mindful of the common councils of the Communion and our ecumenical agreements.

and

(4.1.1) Each Church adopting this Covenant affirms that it enters into the Covenant as a commitment to relationship in submission to God. Each Church freely offers this commitment to other Churches in order to live more fully into the ecclesial communion and interdependence which is foundational to the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, of national or regional Churches, in which each recognises in the others the bonds of a common loyalty to Christ expressed through a common faith and order, a shared inheritance in worship, life and mission, and a readiness to live in an interdependent life.

Nowhere in the Covenant is there any suggestion that "Faith and Order" includes specific reference to decisions taken by Lambeth Conferences, by the Primates, or by any body of the Anglican Communion. "Faith and Order" mostly references precisely the sorts of issues that resulted in the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral - the most basic building blocks for communion among churches.

Once again the places where the phrase "Faith and Order" appears in Anglican polity and practice are quite different from how "Faith and Order" is used by Kearon.

In the midst of all this it is interesting to compare the wording of the 1930 Lambeth reference (res 49), used in the definition of the Anglican Communion and the wording of the Anglican Covenant.

Here it is line by line:

Lam: The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,
AC: The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,

Lam: of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, which have the following characteristics in common:
AC: of national or regional Churches,

Lam:
  1. they uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer as authorised in their several Churches;
  2. they are particular or national Churches, and, as such, promote within each of their territories a national expression of Christian faith, life and worship; and
  3. they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference.
AC: in which each recognises in the others the bonds of a common loyalty to Christ expressed through a common faith and order, a shared inheritance in worship, life and mission, and a readiness to live in an interdependent life.

In the Lambeth statement "faith and order" refers to doctrine and discipline set forth in the BCP.
In the Anglican Covenant "faith and order" refers to a "common faith in order, a shared inheritance in worship, life and mission and a readiness to liven in an interdependent life. We might note too that the AC definition of faith and order makes no reference at all to the BCP in its several forms.

All of which is to say the references to "Faith and Order" in Canon Kearon's comments at Executive Council are instructive of the extent to which the current conversation in higher-up Anglican circles has moved from matters of polity based on "building blocks" - Scripture, the BCP, etc, and polity based on the magesterium in Anglican Communion "instruments of communion."

The divergence between The Episcopal Church and certain Anglican Communion leader's understandings of faith and order is now more readily apparent.

TEC in its 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which I believe rightly moves the focus of common life into the context of the Baptismal Covenant, continues the process of polity and doctrinal development by way of the BCP as the point of reference for faith and order.

The promoters of the Anglican Covenant and the Anglican Communion with "strengthened instruments of unity" move the focus of common life into the context of a shared magesterium - the teachings of the "mind of the Church" as reflected occasionally in the unifying efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

So the matter of "faith and order" remains at the core of the "troubles."

More later.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Mark--Also deeply troubling, at least to me, is item GS1782 on the Synod agenda. I'd value your opinion on that item. If you go over to TA and just scroll down the agenda items are there.

    Keep the faith

    and aaah the Order too if we can figure out what that is.

    A friend of mine reminded me the other day that the only certainty in this life is change.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mark,
    FWIW, keep writing. Your work is well thought out, rational and thoroughly researched albeit conservative in approach.

    My WV is flogist! hummmm.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for a very helpful post, Mark, offering some useful comparisons (and some flattery which will be useful if you are in NZ and need lunch :) ).

    For me a phrase to ponder in the Lambeth words is this:

    "they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference."

    ReplyDelete

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