Friday, August 28, 2009

Adrian Squeaks

At Daily Episcopalian Adrian Worsfold has written a piece called "Anglican no longer." That title is intended to signify that he, Adrian, is no longer an Anglican or a Christian, which is fair enough. Adrian is a clever guy, and on his blog, Pluralist Speaks, has written several clever commentaries on things Anglican, especially taking on Archbishop Rowan Williams and Bishop Tom Wright. He has also had cogent things to say about the proposed covenant and about the apparent drive for uniformity within the Anglican Communion. But in the end, he does not know enough and so he sometimes talks (or squeaks) through his hat.

I refer especially to this statement: The latest development is still worthy of comment: having an office for Unity, Faith and Order - a UFO very alien to Anglicanism. In fact, the office for Unity, Faith and Order is not, as Adrian thinks, part of a "drive towards unity of process" in the Anglican Communion. In the first place, it is not new -- it is the result of the consolidation of two long standing Inter-Anglican Commissions. In the second place, Unity and Faith and Order are both terms that refer to aspects of the ecumenical movement -- aspects indeed that have deep Anglican roots. Two minutes or less on Google, or my favorite, Goodsearch, would have brought these facts to light.

To be sure, the average Anglican layperson, and even clergy, are not very well informed about the ecumenical movement and thus might be forgiven for missing the significance of the rather unfortunately named position, Director of Unity, Faith and Order. It is also true that the August 14 post by the Anglican Communion News Services Appointment of new Director for Unity, Faith and Order is not terribly informative. For example, it does not refer to the July 1 post Inter-Anglican Standing Committee for Unity, Faith and Order - IASCUFO in which two important points are made -- first, that the new commission replaces two earlier commissions, The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations and the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, and second, that the Secretary for the Commission will be the Director for Unity, Faith and Order, Anglican Communion Office.
It was at the third meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Trinidad in 1976 that the idea was conceived of a representative commission to consider theological and doctrinal questions which concern the Anglican Communion as a whole. The proposal was endorsed by the 1978 Lambeth Conference, and the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission was subsequently established. -- For the Sake of the Kingdom - 1986
Following Lambeth 1988, the second Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission was formed and in 1997 produced the Virginia Report. Following Lambeth 1998, the third Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission was formed and in 2008 issued the report "Communion, Conflict and Hope."

The Inter-Anglican Commission on Ecumenical Affairs is relatively recent. It was established following Lambeth 1998. Before that was something called the Ecumenical Advisory Group of the Anglican Communion which issued the Agros Report to the Anglican Consultative Council at ACC-1o in 1996 and then to the Lambeth Conference.

It is true that both of these commissions have dealt with issues which touch on coherence within Anglicanism, but these are old issues and there is really nothing new here.

In part II, I shall discuss the Anglican and Episcopal roots of the terms Faith and Order and Unity.

Note: I inadvertently posted an incomplete version of this on Thursday, August 27.

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