This chapter traces the Anglican commitment to, and involvement in, the ecumenical movement from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, particularly as reflected in resolutions of successive Lambeth Conferences from 1867 to 2008. It highlights the classic statement of the Anglican ecumenical vision given by the 1920 Lambeth Conference, centred on the Lambeth Quadrilateral, and the Appeal to All Christian People that the Conference issued. It considers various ecumenical developments with Anglican participation in the 1940s and 1950s and records major doctrinal agreements reached in bilateral and multilateral dialogues particularly from the 1970s onwards, as well as new stages of closer communion entered into with a number of ecumenical partners at regional levels. Increasingly, a commitment to an ecumenism of action is becoming a dominant feature of today’s ecumenical movement, although doctrinal conversations continue to search for the agreement in faith that is required and sufficient for visible unity.
This chapter considers the future of Anglicanism especially in the light of the interpretation of Scripture. It considers a recent instance of impasse and suggests a possible way forward. It goes on to discuss the contemporary issues concerning Anglican interpretations of scripture by looking at treatment of sexuality and violence. It considers hermeneutical differences among societies. The second half of the chapter questions whether the approach of scriptural reasoning that has been modelled by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars, in which Anglicans have played a prominent part, could assist different religions and different cultural contexts in hearing one another and learning to reason about the Bible together.
By virtue of its historical origins as well as its commitment to fundamental doctrines such as the Trinity, and the transformation of perspective as a result of ecumenism and the continuation of the Anglican Communion worldwide, Anglicans draw on an extraordinary range of resources both old and new. Reflection on scripture, saints both pre- and post-Reformation, and the willingness of present-day Christians to lay bare their own engagement with God result in a rich and demanding range of possibilities. The impact of liturgical reforms and revisions post Vatican II have resulting in the reordering of places and spaces for worship, increased sensitivity to ‘sacramentalism’ very broadly construed, attention to the arts in all their complexity, and in some cases in serious re-engagement with political and social life.
In the light of recent Anglican practice, initiated by the Anglican Primates’ taskforce, Theological Education for the Anglican Communion, to speak of ‘the Anglican Way’ rather than Anglicanism, this chapter explores whether the notion of a single ‘Anglican Way’ is feasible, given the theological diversity of Anglican history and the Anglican Communion. The chapter maintains that there are historically at least ten different ‘Anglican ways’ from the time of the Elizabethan Settlement (such as Puritanism, Latitudinarianism, Evangelicalism, Tractarianism), and describes them briefly, arguing that, interacting historically and in the present, they can be seen as contributing to a single Anglican Way. However, recognizing the tensions among these ten Anglican ways and the single Anglican Way, the chapter makes seven suggestions for resolving tensions. It then describes the new global Anglican Way that is emerging against a very narrow Anglican Way that discredits history and Anglican diversity.
The chapter focuses on the nature and character of Anglican wisdom, exploring this in the context of church structures, tradition, and truth. Drawing on a variety of different examples and contrasting wisdom with folly, it argues that, historically and in the present time, Anglican wisdom is rooted in its capacity, in the presence of God, to acknowledge and hold the complexity and contradictions of human life in all its fullness. Lacking the authority structures required to give a single definitive Anglican view on any given subject, wisdom in the churches of the Anglican Communion continues to emerge through an ongoing, collective, often fraught act of listening to God.
This chapter considers the emergence of the complex relationship between Anglicanism and a broader evangelical movement (often known as ‘pan-evangelicalism’) which transcends denominational boundaries. The origins of this relationship goes back to the sixteenth century, but became especially important from the eighteenth century onwards as a result of the ‘evangelical revival’ in England, and its extended influence. The expansion of British colonial power was an important factor in consolidating and extending an evangelical influence within Anglicanism, especially on account of the role of entrepreneurial individuals and mission societies in propagating the Christian faith. The chapter concludes with reflections on the future of this relationship, given contemporary developments within both Anglicanism and evangelicalism.
Anglicanism from the time of the Reformation has been characterized by a persistent interest in the Fathers of the church which joins authorities as diverse in date and disposition as Cranmer and Pusey or Jewel and Newman. While both the methods of reading and the conclusions drawn from considering patristic sources have varied greatly, Anglicans of different tendencies have tended to value the Fathers such as Augustine both as representing a Catholic consensus opposed to Roman and Puritan extremes, and as uniquely useful sources for theological discourse, constructive or controversial. Even where the authority of the Fathers is not regarded as theologically unique, the characteristics identified as necessary in a Church both catholic and reformed have tended to be drawn from the practice and belief of ancient Christianity, as in the Quadrilateral. Anglicanism is less a tradition characterized by confessional adherence to the Fathers as by consistent acknowledgement of its historical basis in the early Church in terms of both doctrine and dogma.
This chapter explores questions of power and authority under the headings of identity, orthodoxy and ministry. Written from a (South African) postcolonial context, and employing the method of theologies of liberation, the chapter interrogates the shifting positions of insider/ outsider identities and how these relate to who exercises power in the churches of the Anglican Communion. In turn this opens the question of who is recognized as holding the authority to define contemporary orthodoxy. Finally, in considering the relationship of leadership to authority and power, some reflections on the question of the churches’ mission to draw in those on the margins are offered.
Steven R. Harmon
While the Baptist tradition has not always been associated with ecumenical engagement in the minds of its observers or of Baptists themselves, this chapter highlights the overt and implicit ecumenical commitments that historically have marked this free church tradition. These include the congregational interdependence that is a dimension of Baptist ecclesiology, Baptist participation in the institutions of the modern ecumenical movement, Baptist participation in formal ecumenical dialogue, Baptist involvement in church union discussions, and the manner in which the Baptist tradition has received various aspects of other Christian traditions. The chapter proposes that the paradigm of receptive ecumenism reframes Baptist identity as being more ecumenically open than previously appreciated and has the potential to encourage new forms of Baptist contribution to ecumenical convergence.
From the time of the Reformation, the Bible has always been among the primary sources for Anglicanism. Through a close study of biblical hermeneutics, this chapter reflects on how ‘scripture’ has been located among the other primary sources, tradition, and reason, at various stages and in different places within Anglican history. The chapter then goes on to argue that context ought to be considered a fourth primary source for Anglicanism. Drawing on postcolonial Anglican biblical interpretation and the experience of various stages of imperial expansion, particularly from a Southern African Anglican context, the chapter analyses how context reconfigures the other three primary sources.