With respect to Archbishop Duncan's toothache I think we can by-pass it as the main news out of Day One of GAFCON 2. On the other hand, reading here there is not much news from Day One worthy of ADU's expert panel (of one) analysis. (But do note the photo, critics of GAFCON, of a woman clergyperson).
So, back to yesterday's theme of Anglican revisionism.
Rightly correspondents to yesterday's post have queried my reflections. How can Anglicans keep revising if there are not queries to drive further revision!
Two issues, at least, are worth comment. One concerns substance and style. Are Anglicans free to revise the latter but not the former? Have Anglicans revised the former as well as the latter? Another concerns a possible distinction between revision and reform. Is reform the process we engage in when we refind and reformulate the unchanging truth of our faith (e.g. because we have lost sight of the truth, or because we recognise a need to restate the truth in contemporary language)? Is revision the process we engage in when we intentionally change what we say we believe in, that is deny the unchanging truth of our faith by, in fact, changing it?
I suggest that we need careful discussion as to what is substance and what is style. It could be that the distinction is clearer for some Anglicans than it is for other Anglicans.
I take it that every commenter here, if not every reader would agree to the substance/style distinction in the following propositions: Anglican believe, with the Great Creeds, that God is Trinity; Anglicans are indifferent to whether a chasuble is worn by the presiding priest at communion. Hopefully we also agree which of the two statements concerns substance and which concerns style!
I also take it that every commenter here, if not every reader would agree that the following is a proposition about the substance of our faith as Anglican Christians: the vows made in a marriage service are for life since marriage is a permanent contract only intended to be ended when one party to the marriage dies.
But would we all agree with the following propositions?
A. Anglican doctrine of marriage is fundamental to Anglican theological commitments, that is, it is as substantial a matter as (say) the doctrine of the Trinity or the doctrine of salvation (even though it is not referred to in either the Great Creeds or in the 39 Articles).
B. It is a change in the substance of the doctrine of marriage when Anglicans permit the remarriage of a divorcee except where the previous marriage has broken down because of adultery.
That is, Anglicans can agree on matters of substance but may disagree on which matters are substantial or may disagree on the degree of substantiality of a substantial matter.
We could multiply examples of potential rocks upon which the good ship Substance Distinguished From Style may founder.
If an Anglican priest refuses to baptise infants (because theologically unable to baptise infants of believing parents), is the priest guilty of infraction of substance or of style (or of both)?
If an Anglican priest encourages presidency at communion by laypersons, has a matter of Anglican substance or Anglican style been denied?
When an Anglican such as John Newman admits the claims of Rome upon his ministry, has he changed his mind on a matter of substance or on a matter of style? If on substance, what doctrine has changed for him? Is it, say, salvation? Episcopacy? Both? Something else? If concerning both salvation and episcopacy, are each of the same substantial status?
In other words, I and many Anglicans easily recognise the distinction between substance and style for a number of instances in Anglican life but I (at least) do not so easily recognise that distinction in other instances.
Thus I am less than clear whether, say, a distinction between 'revision' and 'reform' holds up when we work out how we handle the remarriage of divorcees. Have we made a revision to our doctrine of marriage or reformed it? If we determine that the doctrine of marriage is 'up there' with the Trinity, exemplified, say, by a willingness to enter into schism if the doctrine is changed (e.g. by allowing that marriage might involve two people of the same sex) have we revised or reformed the status of the doctrine of marriage within the panoply of Anglican doctrines?
Would an Anglican priest, driven by theological reflection to refuse to baptise infants, or to permit lay presidency, or to recognise the claims to primacy of the Bishop of Rome be involved in reform or revision in understanding of Anglican doctrine?
And, just to have a little kicker re GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration: are Kiwi priests who sign up to the Jerusalem Declaration (i.e. to accepting the conclusions of the first four Ecumenical Councils, including the Nicean Canons which specify one bishop per geographical area) and who remain under the authority of our General Synod (which permits more than one bishop per geographical area) guilty of a sin of inconsistency in style or substance? Do they and I belong to a church which has reformed or revised its understanding of episcopacy?