Monday, February 28, 2005

Wrong use of the Quadrilateral condoned by the Primates' Meeting!

In their Communiqué of February 24 the Primates summarized their discussion of The Windsor Report. Paragraph 9 is a summary of part of this discussion, dealing with the need for a Covenant to bind the Provinces of the Anglican Family together for the future in a basic agreed statement of Faith and Conduct, Liturgy and Polity.

9. We welcome the proposals in Section C for the future development of the Instruments of Unity (viii), although we recognize that serious questions about the content of the proposal for an Anglican Covenant (ix) and the practicalities of its implementation mean that this is a longer term process. We were glad to be reminded of the extensive precedents for covenants that many Anglican churches have established with ecumenical partners, and that even within our Communion the Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral has already been effectively operating as a form of covenant that secures our basic commitment to scripture, the Nicene Creed, the two Sacraments of the Gospel and the Historic Episcopate. We therefore commend this proposal as a project that should be given further consideration in the Provinces of the Communion between now and the Lambeth Conference 2008. In addition, we ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to explore ways of implementing this.


Until the advent in recent times of the multitude of new forms of services and liturgies, along with translations and paraphrases of the Bible, there was absolutely no need of a covenant to bind Anglican provinces together. The commitment to the Formularies (the classic BCP, Ordinal and Articles of Religion) was very adequate. Setting aside of the Formularies in law or in practice in the latter half of the 20th century has been the underlying cause of much of the apostasy and error in Anglicanism since the 1960s.

In fact, the excellent Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral was set forth as a guide to relations with other Churches from the Anglican Churches, which were wholly committed to the reformed Catholic Faith through the Formularies, in which are found the four basics of the Quadrilateral (Bible, Creeds, Sacraments & Episcopate). The Quadrilateral was seen the minimum basis upon which re-union or union with other Churches could take place. Never for a moment was it envisaged that it would serve as the basis of communion between fellow Anglican Churches!

It is most interesting to note that the majority of the lively, orthodox branches of Anglicanism in Africa either use a form of the classic Book of Common Prayer (1662) in translation or in English.

Perhaps the severe encounter with modernity and post-modernity, which has so rattled and disturbed the Anglican Churches of the West/North, will serve as a clarion call to them to "dig again the wells of Abraham" and return to their roots, to the doctrine, discipline and worship of their historic Formularies!

Peter Toon

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