Friday, January 4, 2008

Bishop Allison on Anglicanism

The Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, the former bishop of South Carolina, and former professor at three Episcopal seminaries:

"The apparently willful reluctance to face the issue of faith as the indispensable ground for Anglican unity is finally broken. The fatal flaw of the Windsor Report was substituting the breaking of "bonds of affection" for the reality of broken bonds of faith. 'Instruments of unity' have their integrity only so far as they represent the Anglican faith."

The evangelical bishop. who holds a doctorate in theology from Oxford University, said that "to object to this much needed opportunity on the grounds of its lacking precedents is fatuous. Necessity must always be allowed to trump precedence. There were no precedents for bishops in the United States after the American Revolution. There were no precedents for Seabury's consecration. Both Archbishops of York and Canterbury opposed Seabury's going to Scotland and the latter objected to Seabury's inclusion in Claggett's consecration (an objection that Bishop White ignored). There were no English precedents for missionary bishops in the 19th century. The integrity of the present Archbishop of Canterbury's role as an instrument of unity depends on his faithfulness not to the alleged 'bonds of affection' or to the genealogy of his precedents but to his adherence to the Anglican faith. The integrity of Anglicanism cannot hang merely on the thread of appointments by the prime minister of a state that is itself in an accelerating secular departure from its Anglican roots.

"To put individuals or ad hoc groups in the now inevitable position of making theological judgments on their own regarding submission to or acquiescing in what may seem to be unfaithful or apostate leadership is, in the long run, chaos. To have reputable theologians representing much, if not most, of world wide Anglicanism draw up some simple guidelines around the essentials of the Anglican faith (something the Archbishop of Canterbury has declared Lambeth will not do) and present them as a confessional movement within the Anglican Communion (not a departure from it) would be of utmost reassurance and essential to any effective unity in Anglicanism. It could be a creative contribution to the Lambeth Conference giving them something the Conference could use or amend leading to a wider and more enduring unity."

The scholarly bishop concluded with this, "Our historic unity has been founded on the faith expressed in the Prayer Book and official formularies and faithfulness to the vows to guard them. But gradually that foundation has been replaced by who gets invited to Lambeth and by exhortations not to break bonds of affection. I thank God for those leaders who have committed themselves to this endeavor to under gird our Communion with the faith that gave it birth."

From VirtueOnline

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