Anglican Samizdat

May 25, 2009

An Anglican Professor of Church History has noticed that the Anglican church is falling apart

Filed under: Anglican Angst,Diocese of Niagara — David Jenkins @ 2:09 pm
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Alan Hayes is Professor of Church History at Wycliffe, University of Toronto, and he has this to say about the plight of the Anglican Church of Canada (Page 3):

And now, in 2009, the Anglican Communion gives a very good impression of falling to pieces. Some of this gets blamed on debates about sexuality, but, if you’ve followed me so far, you’ll know that I see deeper and more enduring causes than that.

What’s the way forward? If our problem is what I suspect – that we’re depending on a Vatican II theology which was never really ours to begin with and which is now showing signs of age—then the way forward is theological too. We need to rediscover, together, the faith of our Church. We need to agree on what we stand for, and we need to discern our distinctive theologically grounded mission.

I doubt that techniques of church growth or strategies of relevance will move us ahead until we’ve had our own Anglican Vatican II, and that will mean prayer, self-criticism, ressourcement, and aggiornamento.

This is the first time I have seen Alan openly admit that the ACoC is imitating something that is falling to pieces. Of course, for many of us, it is quite clear that the ACoC isn’t doing an imitation, but actually is falling to pieces: just as Bob Dylan observed you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, you don’t need a professor of church history to tell you what the rotten smell is in the ACoC.

His point that we adopted something that isn’t ours – Vatican II – and that we need our own version is interesting but impossible: we don’t have a Vatican. It has become transparently apparent that there is absolutely no working authority structure in the worldwide Anglican communion; someone other than Rowan Williams might have had the guts to impose order, but it is quite clearly beyond Rowan.

When we see this sort of thing:

the Roman Catholic Church’s new and totally unexpected spirit of self-criticism, its re-thinking of Christian basics, its ressourcement (its return to essential sources, especially Scripture), and its aggiornamento (its passion to come to faithful terms with the modern world).

We may persuade ourselves that in this there is a glimmer of hope, in phrases like return to essential sources, especially Scripture; the glimmer is dimmed when we read: passion to come to faithful terms with the modern world. Rather than plainly say that the ACoC has departed from historic orthodox Christianity, we have something sufficiently slippery that it can used by liberals whose view of coming to faithful terms with the culture is to capitulate to it.

Liberals like Michael Burslem, whose article by a stroke of fortuitous irony, appears on the same page:

In Anglicanism we have neither an infallible pope nor an infallible Bible. The Word of God is our supreme authority, not exclusively the Bible. This is the Logos of St. John’s prologue, which he defines as Jesus Christ. However, since his Ascension he is no longer with us in person, but he did promise to send his Holy Spirit, who is the Logos in the world today. The Spirit certainly speaks to us through Holy Scripture, but also through other means, such as our culture and traditions, other people, (especially our spouses) through visions, dreams, through music, poetry, drama and literature; through the wonders of science; yes, and through common sense. He deals with us individually. There is no ‘one size fits all’ which would be if the Bible alone were our supreme authority.

Here we have entered the realm of sanctified subjectivity: contemporary cultural prejudice justified by the rubber stamp of a bogus holy spirit.

Alan’s way forward, We need to rediscover, together, the faith of our Church, is more of a way sideways:  with nothing explicit in mind, it would be used by liberals to conform the church to contemporary preoccupations while making the claim of returning to the church’s roots.



  1. One of the problems liberals have is that they still haven’t identified the problem: they are no longer practicing Christianity. They may well be “blown” to some kind of new religious experience, but it won’t be Christian.
    If they want to find a Christian way forward, look back. There’s a two thousand year legacy of guidance and an infallible road map called the Bible.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — May 25, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

  2. I think the Anglican church needs alot of help and one day its going to get it

    Comment by seneca — October 13, 2009 @ 9:29 am

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