The Anglican Curmudgeon has written an essay, "What in the World Is Going on in South Carolina? He is as puzzled as we all are as to just what is going on in the Diocese of South Carolina.
He quotes the DSC resolution regarding its understanding of the meaning of the phrase "doctrine, discipline and worship" in the oath of conformity signed by persons ordained as of the date of that resolution. Here is what the DSC understands as the content of the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of TEC.
"Further Resolved, that the following statement shall constitute our understanding of the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church and shall be read at all ordinations in The Diocese of South Carolina, and a copy of which shall be attached to the Oath of Conformity signed by the ordinand at such service of ordination:
“In the Diocese of South Carolina, we understand the substance of the 'doctrine, discipline and worship' of The Episcopal Church to mean that which is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”
The reader will note that there is no reference in this to the Constitution and Canons of TEC, and no reference to the question asked of the ordinand in the Presentation at the beginning of the service of ordination,
"Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of
Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in
accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop
and other ministers who may have authority over you and
I am willing and ready to do so; and I solemnly declare that I
do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments
to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to
salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine,
discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.
The answer is to a question involving the canons as discipline - obedience being a matter of discipline. "And will you, in accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop
and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work?"
So, where in the list of the Diocese of South Carolina will one find the Constitution and Canons of TEC? Not in the "theology of the historic prayer books." Rather, it is in the specific question and response in the Presentation of the candidate and in the original intent of the oath of conformity, which included obedience under the canons that we trace the presence of canon.
I have no doubt that the The Diocese of South Carolina assumes that those ordained in it will be obey the Bishop and others in authority over them and their work. I assume the ordinands know that. But bishop and priest both exercise their disciplinary relation in the context of canons. I doubt that either bishop or priests would be fully comfortable without canons that both spell out duties and limit authority.
But the thing is, the DSC has cleverly weeded out any reference to canons at all - diocesan or national - and vacated the intent of the word "discipline" in the oath of conformity. That, dear friends, is less than kosher.
I might add, and hold for another day, the fact that "the theology of the historic prayer books" essentially vacates the notion that the actual Book of Common Prayer in use in the Church constitutes a valid part of the "doctrine, discipline and worship." It turns out only the theology of the historical books do. And which might those be? If the current BCP is not among them, then its theology on many matters is not agreed to by the ordinand. Ah, great and troubled waters there!
At least that's how I read it.