Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The See of Canterbury & Anglicans

Watch for regrets soon by those who may be moving too fast to think clearly

May I make a prediction concerning the present enthusiastic American Anglicans, who have placed themselves, while living in the USA, under the authority of the Provinces of Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Southern Cone of S.A.?

It is this: That within a comparatively short time they will begin to regret that their expression of “Anglicanism” has effectively split itself off from communion with the ancient See of Canterbury and the ancient Church of England—and from all that this implies in history, religion and culture.

True enough, there will be all kinds of exciting and innovative aspects to this new imported “Anglicanism” fuelled and propelled by African faith, hope, love, mission courage and even rhythm. Yet the ancient traditions and links of the original Protestant Episcopal Church of the U S A (from the 1790s to the 1960s) will begin to come to mind and a desire will be kindled to renew the ancient connections with the Church of England—as these were so clearly understood and desired in the 1780s even in a republic that had recently broken away from a monarchy.

True enough the various networks, churches, dioceses, convocations and groupings of this new movement will have a definite African flavor, and this will in part distinguish them within the vast array of denominations in the U S A.; and, further, to strengthen their identity, they will seek to present a common front where possible via Common Cause. Yet, from time to time, they will recall what made them unique in the USA in previous generations, that is their claim to be through communion with the Church of England a genuine part of a legitimate jurisdiction of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, whose symbol is the See of Canterbury and whose religion is Reformed Catholicism.

In closing, what also will become clearer as the days go by is that the See and the Archbishop are not the same thing, though clearly related. Much of the moving away from the See of Canterbury by African Provinces in recent months has been fuelled by a growing lack of confidence in the faith, morals and leadership of the present Archbishop. However, this ought not to have turned Bishops away from the See itself (which was there before the present Archbishop took office and will be there when he quits) and through the See from the Ecclesia Anglicana! The confusion of the Incumbent with the See has been one of the great mistakes of so many in the last year or so.

My concern is that when many American Anglicans—and a growing number of Canadians—settle down after the present euphoria of secession, re-ordering and re-routing are over, they will find it impossible to find a way to be restored to the See of Canterbury, and to all that this ancient connection means for Anglican ecclesiology! And they will be deeply disappointed. Feb 18th

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