Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why I am really, truly Anglican (and maybe you are not)

It is understandable that these days some want to speak about 'truly Anglican' to distinguish something or someone who is the genuine Anglican article from run of the mill or even fraudulant Anglican claimants. But the phrase 'truly Anglican' bears a bit of examination. How do we determine who is 'truly Anglican' from someone who is not? Where, for example, is the criterion or criteria written down for all to see which assists with such determination?

It is possible to invoke some criterion, e.g. an Anglican who lives by Scripture, Tradition and Reason, with which many Anglicans would agree. But not all Anglicans agree with this criterion. And it is not written down anywhere that I know as an agreed standard for global Anglicanism.

In any case 'Scripture, Tradition and Reason' itself bears examination as it involves a curious sleight of hand, as I shall attempt to explain soon.

Alternatively, some might invoke the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. But as I understand that, it is a statement of an Anglican meeting. These days it is fashionable to question the authority of any Anglicna meeting posing as a council with authority. So the famous Quad is, really, just a statement with no authority.

So, if there is no recognised criterion or criteria for determining who is truly Anglican, then perhaps determination boils down to a matter of opinion. Accordingly I am really, truly Anglican. Maybe you are not!


Anonymous said...

Spot on Peter. ephraim Radner talked recently about the dreary relitigation of of issues at every round of discussions in the Anglican church, and this is equally so with the three legged stool theory. Yet I think we could in our hermeneutics project try to come up with some kind of agreement on how we understand this in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Rhys Lewis

Paul Powers said...

The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, which was adopted by the U.S. House of Bishops (but not by the House of Deputies), wasn't intended to define Anglicanism, but instead to provide the framework for a discussion of unity among the various Christian denominations.

It may be a little easier to define what is an Anglican Church than who is an Anglican, which may require more of a window into people's souls than is available. For example, was George Washington an Anglican? He was a life-long member of the Church of England, then later the Episcopal Church. He attended services faithfully, and he often served on the vestry of his parish church. On the other hand, he rarely (if ever) took communion, and some of his biographers believe that he was really more of a deist.

But in defining a person or church as "Anglican," in addition to the first requirement of self-identification as Anglican, we should add a second requirement that the person or church be recognized by other Anglicans as Anglican. Which Anglicans would need to do this recognizing is something that would have to be worked out.

Canon Neal said...

Reminds me of the joke about the farmer who was surveyed about his religious preferences. He told the interviewer: "I'm a 'pistopal." The interviewer replied,"Oh, do yu attnd the local Episcopal Church?"

"No," the farmer replied. "But I went to a 'pistopal church one time, and they said, 'We've done those things we ought not have done, and we didn't do those things we oughtta done' and I figured, ye; that's me. I'm a 'pistopal."