The Working Party on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion speaks... or perhaps mumbles.

One of the better committees, called a "working party", in the Anglican Communion is the "Working Party on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion." At least it is on paper.

The Working Party just met in Sri Lanka 1-7 March and issued a report, which can be read HERE.

In it is the following remark:

"TEAC participants then traveled to Kandy for a day of interactions at the Theological College of Lanka, the ecumenical college founded jointly to provide theological education together for Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists. Here TEAC members listened to the challenges facing the college and the special opportunities these offered as well as sharing insights from the four-fold shape of the Anglican Way of being formed by Scripture, shaped by worship, ordered for Communion and directed by God’s mission." (The bold/ italics is my emphasis.)

One of the reasons I am opposed to a greater layering of the Anglican Communion is that committees or working parties or commissions and such on an Anglican Communion wide level are given to making statements about what it is to be Anglican, statements which go unchallenged and unnoticed, until one day, voila, they become the voice of Anglicanism and more or less institutionalized writ.

Where did the idea "the four-fold shape of the Anglican way" come from, and how did the recitation of the way as one "formed by Scripture, shaped by worship, ordered for Communion and directed by God's mission" come to be determined?  Probably in a document of some Commission, or a paper at a meeting of TEAC. But who knows?

The thing is, it doesn't matter where it came from. The notion that there is an Anglican Way is a bit mythological, just as is the notion that there is an Anglican method. In any event we might notice that reason gets the short straw and is not mentioned, worship trumps sacrament (particularly baptism and Eucharist which I hope forms us more than worship), the Communion (shall we read The Anglican Communion?) is something that orders us and God's Mission (which I am all for) gets made a direction rather than a way of being.  And notice the verbs: formed, shaped, ordered, directed.  Get the picture? 

Actually being formed, shaped, ordered and directed sounds pretty much like living the faith. My sense is this is what is meant by "formation." The problem is this "Anglican Way" seems filled with agendas whose weight it cannot bear.  Who invented this slogan?

A working group on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion is a good thing. But it would do  well not to announce an Anglican Way whose shape is four fold, etc.

We need to take a long and careful look at this business of a Four Fold Anglican Way before it sneaks in under the wire and becomes yet another phrase that gets set in stone as part of the Anglican ethos.

The thing is, building an Anglican Communion ethos, including this Anglican Way of formation, is part of building for a world wide Anglican Church.

I have no notion if the Anglican Communion is on its way to being a world-wide church, but I am against it and will be glad to be off the path (probably by death) before we get there.  About Anglicans and others around the world, I have need of you.  About the Anglican Communion as a world wide church I have no need what so ever, not that anyone cares.


  1. Is it not about time to acknowledge that almost none of the bureaucracy of the Anglican Communion, including its myriad committees, groups, commissions, conferences, councils, or what have you, is actually useful in the sense of either unifying its component churches or advancing any recognizably Christian mission?

  2. I'm with you, Mark. No world wide Church writ large. And what Lionel said. I have nothing to add to the conversation. I just want to stand up and be counted.

  3. Well I hope your directive is also aimed at bromides like 'scripture, reason and tradition' is the Anglican Way. There's a chestnut. Find any anglican who appeals to it as if Hooker set it forth for that purpose, until the mid-20th century (at which time Reason meant something vastly different than in Hooker's day). I thought the fourfold pattern better captured Hooker than proponents of his cord of three strands, in which to scripture is the highest honor due.


  4. All this being formed, shaped, etc. is passive voice. The ideal disciple is a passive recipient, it seems.

  5. Cast in stone - the way the Instruments of Communion (Unity) are mentioned in a white paper one day and someone has redesigned the AC website to incorporate them the next?

  6. John 2007 writes...

    Am I reading Preludium?

    A fair number of post here in the past have made very clear claims for The Anglican way of doing and not doing things and articulated normative aspects of Anglican identity.

    (And for the record Hooker so elevated, and assumed, the centrality and authority of Scripture in its major sense and revelation that any 3 legged stool with it wd be impossible to sit on!)

  7. I agree with you, Fr. Mark. No worldwide Anglican Church. As I read the statement of an "Anglican Way," I was puzzled and wondered, "When did this happen?" Perhaps it happened when this TEAC got together for some wine and cheese before heading off to Sri Lanka!

  8. John 2007

    Again, I note the 'swithcing of jerseys' so to speak. Fr Mark, many times, claimed things were 'un-Anglican,' didn't folllow the Anglican way or methos, were not part of our polity expressed down through history (funny how polity is assumed to be unchanging), and not bristles at some suggestion for the nature of Anglican Identity, and hardly an aggressive one at that.

    What does this change mean? No Anglican identity? No Anglican tendencies even?


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.