A discussion and prayerful consideration starter
Common Cause Partnership is held together by a Theological Statement, by “bonds of affection.” by common opposition to a common enemy—Episcopal revisionism and infidelity, and by other practical things.
Importantly it does not have now, and will not have as a movement and potential Province for a long time to come, any canon law (although each of its autonomous members presumably has its own canon law).
Within the Theological Statement of CCP is a commitment to the classic 1662 Formularies of the Church of England (and also of many other Provinces founded from the C of E). Now one of the received Formularies, dating back to 1550, is what is commonly called “The Ordinal,” in which are the appointed services for the making of deacons, ordaining of priests and consecrating of bishops. In this Book of three Services is found the Anglican Doctrine of the Ministry and this is complemented by what is stated in The Articles of Religion and in The Book of Common Prayer.
In this brief paper, I want only to point to one clear fact that is both presupposed and presented in the Formularies. It is this. Only men who are duly called and examined are to be candidates for the three offices of Deacon, Presbyter and Bishop. Throughout the Formularies the doctrine of male headship is everywhere assumed, and is made most explicit in the text of the marriage service. In the rubrics and in the language of the Three Ordination Services it is assumed that only male persons are the candidate for examination, prayer and laying on of hands. The Articles of Religion confirm this.
When a majority in the Church of England’s Synod desired to see the ordination of women as deacons and then priests, the way around the clear teaching of the BCP, Articles and Ordinal was through canonical change, which itself caused the possibility of either a novel way of reading and interpreting the texts of the BCP, Ordinal and Formularies or a way of discounting their content.
But in 2007 in North America the Common Cause Partnership has no canon law.
And the Common Cause Partnership is thus bound to the Formularies pure and simple, and will have to amend them to change them and their authority.
Thus there should not be, and ought not to be, in what will become a Province the presence of any “ordained women” (ordained under the innovatory 1979 TEC prayer book provisions or the like).
Now, if this most important fact is recognized and adhered to, then a very MAJOR barrier keeping away from CCP the major Continuing Anglican Churches (ACA, PCK, ACC & UEC etc.) and traditional Anglicans elsewhere will have been removed. As Continuers they claim to seek to continue the Anglican Way as it existed before the arrival of the innovatory ordinal within the 1976/1979 TEC prayer book. A CCP in which ordained women have no part will be difficult for them to say “no” to and stay outside, for it will moving towards being really Anglican!
Further, if the teaching of the 1662 Formularies are obeyed, then CCP will be able to claim to be honest in its adoption of these classic standards of Anglican Faith and Practice. Right now it seems to many observers that the 1979 innovatory TEC prayer book is the real doctrinal authority!
In closing, may I say that I recognize that I suggest major changes in the CCP as it is now, in order—as I see it— for it to be truly theologically honest and to be truly inclusive (of the major Continuers etc.) on classic Anglican principles. It is well known that CCP has decided to accommodate ordained women, and both its present Moderator, and a chief sponsor, the Archbishop of Uganda, are prominent for their zealous support of this innovation in the Church’s ministry, having ordained women and using them as their “right hand men.”)
For the CCP to become a viable Province, including within itself the whole of the groups which have seceded from TEC in search of true Anglicanism, it will need to ask some of its members to give up their commitment to women priests and to accept humbly the clear teaching of the classic Formularies, and we may add of Scripture itself, when read within the guidance of the Patristic and the Reformed Catholic Anglican Ways.
The Revd Dr Peter Toon
President of the Prayer Book Society 2007