Thursday, July 20, 2006

Common Cause Statement

Along the lines of some of our recent Whitehall discussions:
Proposed Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partners
We, the representatives of the Common Cause Partners, do declare we believe the following affirmations and commentary to contain the chief elements of Anglican Reformed Catholicism, and to be essential for membership.
1) We receive the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scripture as the inspired Word of God containing all things necessary for salvation, and as the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
2) We confess the historic faith of the Undivided Church as declared in the Catholic Creeds.
3) We believe the teaching of the Seven Ecumenical Councils in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, and have been held by all, everywhere, at all times.
4) We hold the two sacraments of the Gospel to be ordained by Christ Himself, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, and to be administered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
5) We accept the 1549 through the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its ordinal as the foundation for Anglican worship and the standard for doctrine and discipline.
6) We believe the godly Historic Episcopate to be necessary for the full being of the Church.
7) We affirm the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as foundational for authentic Anglican belief and practice and as correctives to doctrinal abuses.

Proposed Covenant Declaration of the Common Cause Partners
We intend by God’s grace:
• to partner together in a renewed missionary effort in North America and beyond, driven by our passion for Jesus and His Gospel.
• to ensure an orthodox Anglican Province in North America that remains connected to a faithful global Communion.
• to create a unity in the essentials of our Anglican faith that respects our varied styles and expressions.
• to build trusting relationships marked by effective coordination, collaboration, and communication.
In general, I'm a big fan of this Common Cause partnership. The only thing that makes me wonder is the bit about the prayer books -- changes in prayer books between 1549 to 1662 were so radical, it sounds strange to affirm all of them at once. Seeing as there's not a consistent theology among all those revisions, I'm not sure they are capable of acting as a 'standard for doctrine and discpline'; hence this sentence is historical in nature, or a matter of liturgical policy; it doesn't really belong in a purely theological statement.
I also wonder just a bit why they have to qualify the affirmation of the Ecumenical councils. Is this confirmation of the fear, recently voiced on Whitehall, that Evangelicals among the Network or their Common Cause Partners are simply not Catholic enough? Makes the entire statement seem very Protestant to me -- in keeping, though, with authentic Anglican tradition ala the 1662 BCP.


texanglican said...

Perhaps the effort to include the books from 1549 (a more Catholic leaning book) to 1559 (a more Reformed leaning book) to 1662 (the most commonly "reference" book world-wide) was an intentional effort to incorporate all the streams represented in the Network. The 39 Articles business already runs real risks for Anglo-Catholics. At least the 1549 book is something.

father wb said...

Hmmm.... yes.

In general, this is a bit too close to confessionalism for my comfort. What does "essential for membership" mean exactly?

What does "canonical" mean in the first clause? Does it mean to exclude the "Apocrypha"? Is it meant ot be ambiguous?

And, indeed, why qualify faith in the teaching of the Seven Eccumenical Councils? What parts of them are NOT "agreeable to the Holy Scriptures"? Wouldn't this mean that we, the Network and Common Cause Partners, sit in judgment on the fathers of the councils? Isn't this backward?

And does this means we are going to abandon episcopal elections, as we should have done a long time ago? Canon 4 of the Council of Nicaea, after all, enjoins the appointment of a bishop by all the bishops of the province.

And what about Canon 44 of Nicaea which reads "Women may not go to the altar"? It would be difficult to make a priest who "may not go to the altar." Or will it be argued somehow that this canon "is not agreeable to the Holy Scriptures" or that it has not "been held by all, everywhere, at all times" because some Anglicans have rejected it for the last few years?

And if this Canon will be rejected on these grounds, then that pretty much lays open the rejection of ANY canon of ANY council, including the great trinitarian and (especially) christological ones.

With regard to (4): this doesn't exclude lay presidency. Ought it? OR is lay presidencey excluded by something else that is explicitly embraced herein.

(5) I like, except that certain of those books / ordinals might have mutually exclusive elements. They certainly seem to have mutually exclusive tendancies (1549 and 1552), but then, so does Anglicanism itself. Will the rites of these books be authorized for use? I think that would be good. Or at least the authorization of 1662.

(6) I quite like. It goes further in a catholic direction than the C/L Quadrilateral in its use of the phrase "full being of the Church."

(7) is pretty slippery as it merely puts the Articles forward as "foundational" (which I would happily grant), and it doesn't specify what "doctrinal abuses" the Articles correct.

In contrast to IRNS's comment in a previous post about Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, I very much appreciate these devotions and hope they gain wider currency in Anglicanism. I therefore prefer a strict, gramatical reading of Article 28, whereby the full wait of the phrase "by Christ's ordinance" is allowed, thus:

"The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not BY CHRIST'S ORDINANCE reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped" [though it is to godly effect very often reserved, carried about, lifted up, and worshipped].

In short, I will continue to recognize the foundatinal aspect of the Articles for authentic Anglican piety and faith, but will interpret them along the lines of Tract 90.

I'd rather not say said...

I suspect the qualification on the Councils comes from fear of requiring acceptance of the 7th Council a la Peter Toon.

I'd rather not say said...

I should also say that I have no objection to adoration of the sacrament when it is reserved, as in genuflection; I only object to reservation of the sacrament for the purpose of adoration (as opposed to, say, ministry to the sick), as in Benediction.

The young fogey said...

Or 'the Protestant Elizabethan settlement fell apart once, when state coercion was removed, so let's try it again, without state coercion from the start, so it can fall apart again but even faster'.

I should also say that I have no objection to adoration of the sacrament when it is reserved, as in genuflection; I only object to reservation of the sacrament for the purpose of adoration (as opposed to, say, ministry to the sick), as in Benediction.

That's a strawman. The Sacrament, whether it is used for adoration including Benediction or not, always ends up eaten.

I'd rather not say said...

I may be wrong; but my point, I think, is not a "strawman." The sacrament in Benediction ends up being eaten (eventually), but the sacrament in Benediction is not. It is a specifically non-communicating eucharistic rite, something that runs counter to eucharistic logic, so to speak.

texanglican said...

A priest in the diocese of Fort Worth (Christopher+) has left a comment on my blog indicating that the draft of no. 7 from the Theological Statement now reads: “We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as the normative expression of the fundamental principles of the Anglican Way, and of its response to particular doctrinal issues controverted at that time.”

This should take care of most of my concerns, since reading in the "literal and grammatical sense" is the Tract 90 way of handling the anti-Catholic articles. And the final wording places them in their sixteenth century historical context, highlighting the fact that they are intended to be read today more for their principles than for the specific issues they addressed "way back when." If the final version reads as Christopher+ predicts, the Theological Statement could not become a club to attack Anglo-Catholics with. I hope the wiser heads prevail at the meeting next week, and they stand strong for REAL inclusivity of both Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics within the future orthodox province.