The Rev’d Dick Kim
Detroit. October 13, 2006
My dear Dick,
I want to share something with you so that you can share it with others.
You and I spend a lot of time watching the Anglican Tribe and especially its Patriarchs and “movers and shakers.” We have observed how inconsistent most members (including ourselves) of this Family are—that is they/we can see the problems in others but they/we cannot see them in their/our own stance. (e.g., the Global South Primates accuse the ECUSA of not being “Windsor-compliant” when they themselves seem to think that they are “above” Windsor’s recommendations in everything except sexual ethics!).
What I am focusing much upon now is IDENTITY. The present “crisis” in the Anglican Tribe (which of course was there before Gene Robinson was ever heard of, but in a smoldering form) is raising severely the question of Who are Anglicans? and What are they? The answers to these questions are varied and usually sincere but their multitude is the very outward and real form of the crisis of identity we are all facing.
The answer from The Virginia Report of 1998 and The Windsor Report of 2004 is essentially to strengthen the Instruments of Unity (including elevating the powers of the Archbishop of C) and to create an Anglican Covenant for all Provinces to sign. It is hoped that these measures will provide sufficient Conciliar reality as to provide self-discipline (e.g., if a province wants to innovate and does so then it breaks the covenant and puts itself out).
I can see all kinds of wisdom in developing Conciliar features slowly and thoroughly but I also want to add one important thing. It is this. That there needs to be a global attempt—and most certainly an American attempt—to examine the “birth certificate” or the “founding documents” or “the naturalization papers” of the Anglican Way and seek to conform our present doctrines and practice to the content of them.
That is, we need to discover afresh the Anglican Formularies and seek to trim our modern sails so that they takes us in the direction and spirit that is found in these irreplaceable and unique statements of what is the Anglican Way. Regrettably so many Anglicans, both formerly in the ECUSA and still in it, have never looked at their Birth Certificate for it was effectively destroyed in 1976-1979 and a new one written, which also seems to be the very Certificate with which The Network in the ECUSA identifies for all practical purposes (and this is tragic!).
Let us all go back to the Bible (in a sound translation!) and to the Three Formularies—the classic BCP, Ordinal & Articles, as printed in the BCP 1662 or Canadian 1962 or American 1928—and start again our attempt to define our IDENTITY through engagement with these..
Empirically right now the depressing evidence from the USA is that the Anglican Way has many faces and many manifestations from generic evangelical-charismatic to imitative pre-Vatican II Roman, with all kinds of peculiarities in between. Very few in contemporary USA Anglicanism are the bishops, priests and parishes which seek to be conformed to the original identity in a suitably restrained and dignified modern form. (As with so much in our lives as westerners we are always desirous of the latest gadget or thing and we discard so much that is good- in the case of religion, our Formularies.)
If all the groups sought to move towards the original shape and content of the Anglican way from their varied positions out on some far perimeter, then may be the ability to talk, to appreciate one another and see the need for a minimal Conciliar polity. Let us earnestly work for unity from the Holy Spirit in the truth of Christ Jesus, as we look together at our “birth certificate” or “founding documents” or “naturalization documents” (or whatever else we choose to call them). Let us be willing to shed some or most of our idiosyncrasies and seek to dress in the same basic school uniform—the uniform of the school of Christ as it exists in the historic Anglican Way. Right now we come to school dressed in everything but a basically common uniform.
Right now the acute pain of being an Anglican in North America is greater than its occasional joys! Let us hope that you and I live long enough to see a distinct improvement, to which with God’s gracious help and guidance, we all are enabled to contribute.
P.S. I do think that the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. and that of Canada each has a renewed vocation right now, which is, to help as many people as possible in North America find a smooth route to the appreciation of the genuine Anglican Formularies—encourage them please to visit www.pbsusa.org and www.anglicansatprayer.org and www.anglicanmarketplace.com as a starter, but chiefly to make a sincere attempt to engage prayerfully with the Formularies.