April 27, 2009

Thought for 04.27.09

"Constituent member of the Anglican Communion" in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church doesn't mean, "TEC ceases to be Anglican (or itself!) if it leaves or is expelled from the Anglican Communion." Rather it means that the Anglican Communion will cease to be what it was if one of its primary constituents is forcibly removed. The Preamble, added to the Constitution in 1967, affirmed a historical fact: TEC is among the first entities to stand as an autonomous church apart from the Church of England, a process that gave rise to the Anglican Communion itself. That is, the Episcopal Church was among the first bodies to be "in communion with the See of Canterbury" and autonomously governed — that is, not under the governance of the See of Canterbury (or, more precisely, the Church of England).

What McCall & Co. mistakenly claim for the dioceses of TEC is actually true of TEC in relation to the Communion.

—Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

4 comments:

WSJM said...

Tobias, I believe your point is precisely correct and very well taken. The Episcopal Church is clearly and historically a "founding member" of the Anglican Communion. The first autonomous church of Anglican origin was of course the Scottish Episcopal Church, but I'm not sure whether their relationship with the Church of England in the late eighteenth century would really qualify as "being in communion." Only a generation after Culloden, the English still weren't inclined to give the Scots much of anything, including food or clothing. (Just look how quickly Canterbury got the needed enabling act from Parliament when it became clear that if the Church of England wouldn't consecrate American bishops, the Scottish Church would!)

My recollection is that the American bishops, as well as the Canadians, had been pushing Canterbury for something like the Lambeth Conference for many years before 1867, although in the event the proximate occasion was the Colenso controversy.

So, yes, as far as the Anglican Communion is concerned, The Episcopal Church was "there at the creation."

susan s. said...

I thought I remembered this opinion given as an aside during my confirmation classes in 1967. We were there at the start of the communion. Now I guess we are no longer _that_ Episcopal Church, and ACNA is? Lord have mercy.

Fred Schwartz said...

According to Manross the Chicago-Lambeth Declaration of 1892 brought us all together. The four key recognizable elements were/are Holy Scripture as the Word of God, The Apostles and Nicene Creeds as the rule of Faith, the two sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and the episcopate as the keystone of governmental unity.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

W and Susan, your recollections are correct as near as I can see.

Fred, the LQ, though originally conceived as a tool for ecumenism, eventually came to be seen as a defining limit for inter-Anglican identity as well. It has not proven to be enough for some folks, apparently, who, for example, not only want (rightly) to give pride of place to the Scriptures, but the their specific understanding of the Scriptures. They also want to add to the credenda items in the past uniformly held to be questions of pastoral theology, not dogmatic or systematic theology. They want to place extra emphasis on two of the sacramental rites (marriage and ordination) rather than focusing on the two Dominical sacraments. And finally, they do not want to respect any kind of local adaptation in the office of bishop to meet the needs of particular communities.

(Thanks for inspiring a thought for today!)