A 21st Century Anglican Catechism: A Response to the Post-Christian Age - Revd Kevin Francis Donlon

by Revd Kevin Francis Donlan
Rector, Church of the Resurrection, Tampa, Florida

You can also download the paper in PDF format here

There is a set of 10 study questions (see the end of this page) to help clergy or groups to reflect on the issues raised in this paper.

If a new mythic consciousness is to undergird Anglican formation approaches, it seems clear that Anglicans must ask some difficult questions in the face of the witness offered by the Global South. The leadership of the Global South has called for the Communion to fundamentally reflect on some difficult questions:

The Global South Anglican witness has embraced the ideal that the role of the community in Christian formation is fundamental to the common life ( i.e., The Baptismal Covenant, p. 304-305 in the American Book of Common Prayer). In that context,  each time the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is celebrated, the people of God are asked; “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?” Invariably every parish both large and small offers a resounding yes to this question. Effectively, all are saying yes to a political activity that calls for promoting a vision of Christ and his kingdom whereby we pledge to form, educate and nurture these brothers and sisters. This notion of the “polis” accepting this call resonates the primitive tribal notion that “it takes a village to rear a child.” This metaphor suggests that the parish is the village, and we must be willing to live out this promise each time there is a baptism because “it takes a faithful community to make disciples.”

  Two dimensions in the work of forming people in a mythic consciousness must be addressed when one approaches the work of Christian Formation from the perspective of religious anthropology, namely the cognitive and affective components. These two dimensions of the cognitive (intellectual) and the affective (nurture), when integrated in a balanced way, offer an approach to rendering an authentic religious mythic consciousness that shapes and forms the individual and the community.

The Cognitive dimension

The process of coming to a faith posture includes a certain awareness and knowledge of how one apprehends religious meaning in a non-religious world. This process is usually consigned to the process of education (from the Latin educare-to fertilize). The thrust of this process of coming to faith is both personal and communal, as it is an invitation from the church to people to know about and give assent to particular beliefs and traditions so as to offer meaning on the journey. Christian Education is the means to stimulate growth in the seeds of the Gospel already planted through pre-evangelization and evangelization. It allows members of the community who have a particular ministry of instruction to provide opportunities for learning the fundamental elements of the Christian faith to the fellowship. As Anglicans, the cognitive aspect of the formation experience should offer a pathway for individuals to identify and affirm components of the scriptures, liturgy, creeds and tradition as a wellspring of our religious experience. Such an approach demands a focus upon the radical nature of the story of God and His community as it has unfolded from the time of the Hebrews through the mythic story we now call Anglican Christendom. The transmission of this story provides information on the facts and characters that is complemented by incorporating the thinking, feeling and willing one wishes to offer in response. This component should enable and empower young and old alike to speak convincingly and knowingly about Christ, his Kingdom vision and how that may be lived out in the world as Anglican Christians.

Is the cognitive dimension ultimately about doctrine? If the answer is yes, some would suggest that Anglicanism cannot adequately form Christians in a cognitive way because it has never been clear about whether it even has doctrine. This would be unfair since it continues first and foremost to uphold, as a church (though some individuals may dissent), the central tenets of classical Christology as articulated in the Creeds. Moreover, the catechism (as we will see), along with the writings of the Caroline Divines and the Tractarians, do offer a systematic approach to the “substance” of what Anglicans believe. However, when the question arises as to what Anglican Christendom holds true about its mythic self in the world today, some would say there is a loss to accurately express what the belief and mission is. Bishop Stephen Sykes of the Diocese of Ely maintains that Anglicans are not at a loss, providing one understands why Anglicans even would engage in a quest for doctrinal development. “The purpose of an Anglican doctrine would be to raise the consciousness of those aspects of the Church’s life which are worthy, justifiable, Christian and true. It would provide Anglicans, with a clear, even if controversial, rationale for comparing and unifying traditions with different histories.” 1

To that end he offers three ideas:

If cognitive insight and formation through catechesis homiletics and apologetics cannot be developed to articulate these basics than it will be impossible to intelligently discuss more specific points affirmed by the entire Communion as contained in the Lambeth Quadrilateral. This document articulates the essentials of the mythic consciousness, and, even though it is often used as the springboard for ecumenical dialogue, serves the Anglican tradition well as a resource to be utilized as part of the cognitive element in catechesis and formation that will help reclaim a specific mythic consciousness or Anglican ethos.

1.       The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the revealed Word of God.
  2.       The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith.
  3.       The two Sacraments—Baptism and the Supper of the Lord—ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
  4.       The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called by God into the unity of His Church. 2

  The Quadrilateral seeks to affirm the strengths of Anglican identity, calling upon the standards of the ancient faith and recalling the customary method of establishing the cognitive dimension. This summary formula for cognitive emphasis can be seen through the use of a catechism. In this emphasis,  catechesis had a connotation of personal instruction seeking a personal response from the seeker. Prior to the age of printing, this type of instruction mirrored the Socratic method of auditory question and response as evidenced in the catechetical schools of Alexandria and Jerusalem.  The success of this formula to state with clarity was very attractive to the sixteenth century reformers, as this methodology became adapted by many on both sides of the Reformation split. It was an effective tool to promote both Christian fundamentals and behavior or civility.4

Ultimately, the goal of these catechisms was to facilitate a real knowledge of what it meant to live as a baptized person in a particular religious tradition, particularly as one sought the sacrament of confirmation. Since the post-enlightenment, these resources fell into disuse,  or at best were given lip service. The recent success of the Universal Catechism, produced by the Roman tradition, should give Anglicans cause to reexamine the place such a resource can have in the efforts to reclaim an Anglican mythic religious consciousness.  Most versions of The Book of Common Prayer offer an outline of the faith and which utilizes a question and answer format addressing various topics in systematic theology. In the remainder of this book, the outline augmented with a point by point commentary from an Anglican perspective on the essence of the Christian faith,  for “the basic concept and approach of the catechism is still to point to the authentic Christian responses to be made in our own kind of language and contemporary situation.”5

As the Anglican tradition struggles to find its identity globally and over and against in the culture, a 21st century catechism from the Global South can incorporate the diverse richness and clarity on matters of the Christian faith that can only help Anglicanism reclaim its identity and form a new generation of disciples.

The Affective dimension

St. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians that if one can speak the languages of men and have the wisdom of the world but fails to have love, it is of little account. Paul accentuates the need for the cognitive and the affective to work conjointly in the life of human persons. The affective dimension to catechesis is a vehicle for the cognitive dimension to bear fruit in the lives of people who are being formed by Christ and the Gospel. This affective dimension we call nurture. This process of Christian nurture should seek to foster spiritual growth through a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. The ministry of Christian nurture is to offer people in Christian formation an opportunity to experience the grace which we say is evident in the liturgy, the scriptures and the whole of God’s creation. In the affective domain sign and symbol gives rise to thought and insight. 6 It is in the experience that one apprehends with the heart, as well as the mind, that one can be shaped and formed. This leads to a whole new vista in the religious realm, culminating in a careful examination of one’s lifestyle. The most significant compliment to this aspect of formation are the Rites of Christian Initiation.

The Rites in the Book of Common Prayer are an invitation to Christian Initiation the community of faith to celebrate the Christian life, which is abundant in mythic symbol and power. Anglican Christians, like others branches of the liturgical tradition live in and through symbols, as they are the theophanies of God’s presence. At times a window is required to see them more clearly, so when an individual experiences the Rites of the Church should offer a connection between what has been heard and what has been seen by the individual. It is in these sacramental acts complimented by the truths of the ages that, people come to know, in an affective way, what it means to live in God. They begin to understand with their heart that fullness in the church is not about membership but fellowship and discipleship. “The aim is to provide an opportunity for the inquirer to experience what it means to be part of a community where the love of God is expressed in the love of neighbor.” 7 Slowly individuals come to understand that the Church does not control these symbols but, in fact, is brought into being by them and is accountable to and for them.  It becomes clear through the mythic symbols and narratives of the liturgy that the experience is not attending to self-perpetuation but salvation. While the scope of the Prayer Book, along with instruction and fellowship, are not the only places that the process of a religious mythic consciousness can evolve, they are the places where, as Bishop Stephen Sykes points out, “doctrine, ethics,  myth, community, rituals and inward experience are integrally related.” 8

  If Anglicanism can accept the vocation of catechesis, what the entire Communion does as its particular mission will be an extension of Christian Formation,  Stewardship, Outreach and Evangelism and not locally driven versions of the Gospel. In the vocation of being educators and nurturers one to each other, the Communion from its bishops to its laity would embrace the biblical concept of koinonia/koinonia. A Communion committed to the formation process seeks to build a community of nurture and support, a community where the love of God is taught, proclaimed and experienced and the liturgy truly is the principal locus of this proclamation and experience, for this is where the polis gathers to express its story.

A Change in Paradigms
 If the entire communion recognizes that a catechetical need and accepts the global south vocation whereby all are called to be catechists and articulate a faith story that incarnates the mythic story through Scripture, Sacraments and Ethics, the Anglican paradigm can change and a bridge between Global South and West can be constructed. As John Shea points out, “the religious mission of the church might be characterized as providing the resources and structures for the ongoing inter-relating of personal and communal stories with the larger Christian stories for the purposes of redemption.”9 Has the Communion been faithful to this religious mission as specified by Shea? The loss of mythic consciousness would suggest not. If we are to recapture the Anglican mythic consciousness as part of the Christian story, there should be a covenant established by both council and canon that seeks to establish a formative community adapting the lost principles.

Such a commitment (as evidenced in the Communiqué from the Global South Primates) emphasizes that the responsibility for catechesis is not just upon the Primates, but upon the entire community of faith. “Only when the church has developed to some extent the kind of ministry and structural form described, will it be able to minister … to the growing needs of the parish and society at large.”10

  The Global South Primates in calling for a catechism seek to recapture the Anglican story using the gifts of Scripture, Reason and Tradition. However, one cannot just throw out that Anglican formula and expect it to provide the formation desired.  Scripture must be implemented through the use of modern scholarship. Tradition must always be re-examined through the eyes of Historical Theology and Reason must be seen as more than logical input; it must be forged as a dialogue whereby the Gospel responds to the culture. When framed within a holistic approach, the use of the catechism in formation can serve the church well. In this shift, the challenge is to discover the connection between the liturgy (Tradition) that forms us and the mission of the church, which must be made explicit through teaching (Reason), preaching (Scripture), and action.
  As a people of Common Prayer, Anglicans suggest to the world that, in the liturgy, there is a common purpose and language for the assembled, faith-filled people rooted in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The deacon reminds all in the dismissal of the liturgy to go forth to love and serve the Lord (and each other). This mythic story should empower and engage the community and individuals to demonstrate discipleship and servanthood for “these efforts are not mere matters of the charity of individuals or of the parish but are the everyday expressions of the faith of every Christian.” 11

  In the anthology Handbook of Faith, there is a chapter that superbly details the living out of Jesus mandate as part of the formative faith process.  Randolph A. Nelson, Professor of Contextual Education at Luther Northwestern Seminary suggests that service “prevents a too narrow conception of faith, as well as calling attention to its communal dimension. Because the human being is a social being, faith is never a simple relationship with God. The person of faith is a person in relationship with other persons, with a social world, and with creation, as well as with God.  Involvement in social ministry reminds us of faith’s comprehensive scope and provides expression for the expansive reach of faith by bringing all reality to its purview.”12

  Whether one reflects upon the Baptismal Covenant’s the five questions of commitment,  ponders the nature of God as outlined in the catechism, or leads a discussion on the implications of the account of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46); the corporate demands of being formed in faith cannot be separated from the personal/individual call that is given. The life of faith is a balance of living individual and corporate disciplines.

  A life of discipline and service flows from a life of prayer and worship. The Primates in calling for a 21st Century catechism   seek recover a mythic consciousness for Anglicanism, the entire faith community must be aware of the need for a connection between liturgical practice, catechetical instruction and lived experience if the identity is going to renewed and reclaimed.13

Signposts on the journey
  Many doomsayers suggest that Anglicanism cannot rebound and reclaim its mythic consciousness because A) it never had one B) it doesn’t even know what the questions it needs to ask itself and C) it has aligned itself for too long with the culture. A clear reading of the evolution of this tradition, however, suggests that we have had a mythic consciousness, and that it has weighed heavily in the formation of many souls. Secondly, the Global South leadership has demonstrated that there are Anglican leaders who do know what the essential questions are and can be posed as follows:

In that last point, we are reminded by the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey that we must always be in tune with the culture if we are to address it in an adequate way that will transform people. To that point, he offers a charter for Anglicanism in the 21st Century that can assist in this reclamation project of re-establishing our mythic consciousness.

The reasons for re-establishing an Anglican Catechism is found in the promise that Anglicanism has something rich to offer the church in its particular expression of the catholic faith. However, the church in the west, must at the same time realize that the real dynamic behind the Anglican celebration of the Gospel Faith is not how the church appears, i.e., whether the image, inclusive or exclusive, broad or narrow. The real dynamic is in the witness and faithfulness to the truth, which the Global South leaders are pledged to when all are initiated into the Body of Christ. It is this realization the Primates of the Global South assert that the Communion’s identity should be grounded upon and that is where the greatest challenge lies. Anglicans must cherish and take possession of the deposit of faith and traditions that has been handed on,  mindful of the awesomeness of what is shared in. St. John Chrysostom tried to inculcate this in his people in the fourth century, and it is well worth consideration as Anglicans ponder the tradition’s vocation and identity.

“You are not only free but also holy. Not only holy,  but also just. Not only just, but also sons and daughters. Not only sons and daughters, but also heirs. Not only heirs but brothers and sisters of Christ.  Not only brothers and sisters of Christ, but also joint heirs. Not only joint heirs, but also members. Not only members, but also a temple. Not only a temple, but also instruments of the Spirit. Blessed Be God who alone does wonderful things” 15

  A 21st Century Anglican Catechism is intended to be an instrument of the Spirit which offers a temple to the Communion from the Global South, forming others as brothers and sisters who are heirs and who live in justice and holiness.

The Primates of the Global South have suggested that the Anglican expression of the Gospel imparts of the Communion has lost its moorings, and believes that as a particularity of the Christian Church, Anglicanism shares in the common vocation of the church to be the bearer of the Good News of God in Christ Jesus and spread it throughout the world (Matthew 28:16-20). The vocation of the Christian church is to call men and women to undergo a change of heart (metanoia) from the powers of this world to the power of a gracious,  loving and saving God. This change of heart seeks that persons be shaped and empowered by grace in such a way that they serve as agents of God’s reign in the world. As stated previously, this is not something that comes innately to the human person, and it is a thematic that runs contrary to most of western culture. The church claims to live a life the reflects “The Way, The Truth and The Life,” while most people live in a culture that suggests one go one’s own way, that one may find some truth, and that one may or may not get a life. I think it is fair to say that this attitude has formed the self-absorbed,  individualistic, consumer society we live in. Some think this worldview is problematic, some are unsure, and some think the key is to blend the secular and the sacred to get a “nice balance.”

  The problem with this last type of approach is to find the rudiments of Christianity, or what C.S. Lewis called “mere Christianity.” While this secular/sacred dialogue captured the heart and mind of the church in the last forty years, the church did not form a clear mythic consciousness, or to “put it another way, any definition of mere Christianity was welcome except one that suggested there was a normative content to Christianity.” 16   While the church in the West may have learned to adapt to this style, the Global South Bishops maintain that the Anglican articulation of the Gospel has been weakened by teaching and practices, which undermine the authority of the Scriptures. “The Anglican Communion is severely wounded by the witness of errant principles of faith and practice which in many parts of our Communion have adversely affected our efforts to take the Gospel to those in need of God’s redeeming and saving love. The Global South members of the Anglican Communion are seeking to reclaim a vocation and that has not changed since the apostolic age. They seem to understand fundamental difference between the modern and the apostolic is similar to that between the Global South and the West is that many of the people in the modern/western church who are in need of metanoia are people who already belong to the community of faith by virtue of the pedagogy of assimilation.  This pedagogy of assimilation of culture cannot assist in communicating the Gospel with or to the world. In fact, the Primates of the Global South in the meetings known as the South to South Encounter have maintain with a clear voice that for the Communion to be authentic in its witness it must transformed into a communion that who can use the language of faith to describe the response to the brokenness of the world. If the world is basically Christian, then one need not worry about the church; conversion and transformation are not needed.”17 The clear evidence is that they are needed, however, and the communion must undergo a transformation if it is to serve as an instrument of Grace that is to transform the world.

  This is the fundamental challenge to Anglicanism: can it transform itself so as to fulfill its vocation and responsibility in a pluralistic church culture that it has already compromised itself with? It must be admitted that Anglicanism has historically been an expression of catholic pluralism and St. Augustine struggled with this in his early days upon arriving on English shores 1400 years ago. There were always,  however, understood parameters and lines of authority. Anglicanism, in particular, is understood as a religious tradition that was, and is,  comprehensive. At one time it was comprehensive for the sake of truly implementing formation principles; however, the fast criticism of American Anglicanism is that it is comprehensive for the sake of compromise, innovation or appeasement. The approach that includes the assimilation concept of formation is the principal challenge to providing effective catechetical formation. The pluralism advocated in this context has divested itself of the parameters and lines of authority that Anglicanism was established upon. The power of the church’s teaching does not rest in “how radical or politically correct its conclusions might be, but by the caliber of its scholarship, the judiciousness of its reasoning and its rootedness in Christian tradition.”18
  The failure to pursue such goals on a theological level have an adverse effect on the community of faith on the local level; members may not see the challenges of Christian Formation as a pathway to faith that colors all that we say, think,  are and do, but they are able to recognize that in “failing to equip the saints,” there is little reason to pursue the commitment. The challenges for the Communion is to demonstrate that there is a difference in the one who claims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as opposed to the one who does not.  There is a difference as to how one values the world, acts in the world and thinks about the world. Cozying up to the culture will not provide that, and Anglican Christendom must face this reality with expediency. It is difficult to engage in a ministry of formation within a particular tradition that has lost sight of its own vocation and identity. There is a universal call to authentic formation that the church possesses. Karl Barth summed up the vocation by stating that “it belongs to the Church to witness to the Dominion of Christ clearly, explicitly and consciously.”19 This intention of vocation has become somewhat hazy in many religious traditions,  and Anglicanism is no exception. It is suggested in a number of contemporary Anglican resources that the beauty of Anglicanism is not that it is clear, but that it is ambiguous; not that it is explicit, but vague. Stanley Hauerwas suggests that this is not the essence of Anglicanism at all, but rather we see that Christian theology (articulating the Christian story)  “begins in ecclesiology and church practice. Theology begins in church and works its way out.” 20 If Anglican Christendom is to speak credibly to the world it resides in, it must do so with the conviction and comprehension of its own language and customs, and not seek to modify these elements to the standards of the world. If formation flows from ecclesiology, the ecclesial community must be moored in the ways of discipleship and the language of discipleship. These languages and methods are not innate to us or the world we live in, and the evolution comes from within the community of faith and is brought out to the world which is not part of that community. In the vocation of Christian Formation, it is unreasonable and counter-productive to translate the beliefs, doctrines, traditions and disciplines into categories and opportunities that reflect a worldview of the “un-faithed” or unformed. Seeking to be more relevant and acceptable by coalescing the stories and traditions of the faith community with the traditions of the unformed population is not user-friendly. Being formed in the faith is not primarily about being accessible,  but about being disciplined in the story and norms of the faith which we claim to be holy, catholic and apostolic. There is no category in the secular that will make that dynamic familiar and accessible. It can only become such by being formed in the ecclesial community. Thus, the first challenge to the ecclesial community is to forgo the sacred-secular partnership to formation, and,  secondly, to abdicate the notion that Anglicanism is vague about what it holds to be true. Instead Anglicanism needs to reclaim its identity and its vocation as part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

  As Anglicanism has failed miserably in the mission of Formation, two propositions must be clarified so that feasible methods can be suggested for the ecclesial community to be clear, explicit and intentional. Of course, these propositions are not new terrain for Anglicans but they have been difficult to resolve. The Tractarians of the 19th Century wrestled with them to the point that John Newman felt that such notions would never be accepted. If Hauerwas is correct about our vocation rising from our ecclesiology, then we must face again the questions raised by Newman and his contemporaries, for the significance of the questions have not changed

1. Does Anglicanism have an appreciation of catholic identity by which to form people in as the 21st Century dawns?

2. How does its vocation flow from this identity given the present model of cultural assimilation versus the evangelical renewal?

The catholic identity inherent to Anglicanism is critical to ecclesiology and formation. There can be little doubt that the sacramental character of the church depends heavily on a catholic understanding. However, this has always been a struggle in the evolution of Anglicanism from the Tudor Reformation to the present.

  Canon Vincent Strudwick, in examining the catholicity of Anglicanism, recognizes that it has taken many shapes and turns given the role and posture the evangelical movement had on Anglicanism in England after the death of Henry VIII. The point of departure for catholic identity has rested in the prominence and influence of the Roman tradition. Even Richard Hooker understood that that was a premise that had to be admitted, and suggested that the Church of England was, at best, only part of the catholic church, as it shared a common heritage and mystery while, at the same time, was distinct from that tradition. “The catholicity of the Church is found by those who are attentive to the Gospel and its message and are attempting to be formed in the image of the Church of which it speaks. This formation is the ‘tradition’,  which with Scripture and reason forms a “threefold cord, not quickly broken.”  Catholicity is experienced in the dynamic of this threefold cord, in communion—albeit impaired—with the visible Church in other places, and by the way in which, through its local expression in life and worship, it bears the marks of the Gospel.” 21

  Some critics may suggest that Anglicanism has focused on the impaired aspect of this dynamic over and above any other dimension.   There can be little question that the imperfection of the catholic ethos has at times not caused a strain within Anglican self-perception. For Evangelicals of the 16th Century, the catholic ethos was bereft of authentic witness to the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.22 It was believed that most aspects associated with medieval practice were obstacles to coming to faith and had to be removed if the church was to reclaim its roots. Emphasis moved from the experiential in faith formation to the didactic which led to an explosion of catechisms and primers by the turn of the 17th Century in “the hope of providing mores skillful or effective instruction through improved techniques of catechizing . . . - perhaps shorter answers or simpler words . . .  or inserting short revisions tests from time to time”.23
After the Elizabethan Settlement and the development of balance of power amongst the dominant church parties (High Church, Broad and Evangelical), The Tractarians of the 19th century, felt a closer definition of catholic identity was necessary as the fervor of the evangelical revival was in decline and the spirit of the Anglican tradition lay fallow. The Oxford Movement leaders did not set out to refurbish but to reestablish the church as they understood it. “It was not enough simply to accept traditional doctrines as things always taught;  rather their truth was to be felt, to be taken to the heart…On their lips the term catholic acquired a fresh almost revolutionary significance. The doctrine of apostolic succession reappeared as a principle to be striven for and with full recognition of its practical implications.”24

  The condition of Anglicanism, in general, and the episcopate in particular, caused Newman much anxiety. The bishop for Newman was the “centre of unity” and the hander on of the faith, yet this visible ministry and hallmark of catholic identity had lost much of its luster, and this in turn affected the entire church. The Tractarians, like the Caroline Divines and some of the Reformers before them, made great appeals to the Patristic Church in reclaiming Anglican identity as that which is authentically catholic. From that starting point, Anglicanism can only be called catholic “because it teaches fully and unfailingly all the doctrines which ought to be brought to men’s knowledge whether concerned with visible or invisible things, with the realities of heaven or the things of the earth.”25 For Newman, and many other Oxford Reformers,  the visible part expressed through the Church of England was so much in shadow that he found it difficult to believe it had company with the real thing—the mystical body.

“with the circumstance or condition of unity in those who receive them; the image of Christ and token of their acceptance being stamped upon them then, at that moment, when they are considered as one, so that henceforth the whole multitude, no longer viewed as mere individuals, become portions or members of the indivisible Body of Christ Mystical, so knit together in Him by Divine Grace, that all have what He has and each ash what all have.”26

  Such an observation put into motion a challenge to the Bishops of the church to reclaim the fullness of catholic identity, which had been eroding since the English Reformation. Thus the Oxford Tractarians reasserted the necessity of the apostolic paradigm for the teaching ministry and the over all work of the church to continue which when combined with the moral authority of Evangelicals such as William Wilberforce reclaimed a powerful image for Anglicanism which can best be described as “evangelical catholicism” which was and is at the heart of the Christian Church.27

  This evangelical-catholic experience has always been a mark of Anglican Christendom and must be the hallmark in the future. It was the framework for the very missionary work to and from Great   Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries and no less should it be so for Anglican Communion today if it wishes to be a viable expression of the faith. The time has come for the Communion to recognize this as its charism, just as Rome and Constantinople have particular charisms that contribute to the character of evangelical-catholic witness in the world. In certain corners of the world, such as Africa, this charism is understood and embraced, while in the West, there is a willingness to shed the charism for a closer secular dialogue. Some might ask: are there only two categories? Well, they are the only categories that are part of the historic unfolding of the life of the church as put forward in the Great Commission in Matthew’s Gospel. They are categories that can be adapted from age to age, but whose principles and theological casings are constant. This is an essential component to the notion of possessing a genuine identity. Without this identity there can be no vocation, and if we do not have a vocation, then we will not be about the work of forming disciples.

  This struggle for identity is not new. In every age in the evolving story of Anglicanism there has been a desire to affirm a genuine identity. Augustine of Canterbury sought the development of a genuine identity, as did the Venerable Bede,  Archbishop Stephen Langton, Henry VIII, Richard Hooker, John Jewel, Bishop William White, William Augustus Muhlenberg, William Reed Huntington, The Baltimore Declaration, the Common Cause Agreement and the Global South Primates Communiqué from Kigali.  This identity of being evangelical and catholic is the essence of our heritage, which is why it has occupied the thinking of the church. However, because of factionalism and politics, this blended vision never quite captured the church’s vision for itself. The posture of some church leaders, who call for a revisionist approach to being the church in the 21st Century so that the Anglicanism can be more relevant,  misses the whole point about vocation. The Anglican expression of Christendom needs to engage with the identity that serves as its core value. If the Anglican tradition is going to be the church, it needs to be reminded constantly of how and why it came into being. The charism of being evangelical and catholic has been our identity since the dawn of Christendom. Christ is to be remembered by the breaking of the bread and the prayers. The church is sent to bring the Good News to the end of the earth and to bring all to Christ through Holy Baptism. If American Anglicanism fails to affirm these values that give flesh to the identity of being evangelical and catholic, it is doubtful that we will have much to say to the world that will be worth listening to.
  To read the rest of the paper, you can download it in PDF format here __________________________ The following questions can stir up the hearts and minds of parish priest to see the catechism in a new way and as a resource to renew the ministry fo evangelism and catechesis. 10 STUDY QUESTIONS 1. What is the role of the faith community in Christian formation, and is it central to the mission of the church? 2. How is the vocation of forming Christians a “political activity” in the life of the church ( from local to global?) 3. What Three Dimensions of Anglican Thought illustrate the idea of the Cognitive Dimension of Faith? 4. If the Church is a visible sign of God’s activity in human history, what resources can be utilized to demonstrate this to a peoples and cultures who do not know Christ? 5. How Does the Anglican story of faith when viewed in a catechetical formulae empower and engage the community and individuals to demonstrate discipleship and servanthood? 6. How are 21st Century Anglicans being shaped and formed at the local level and do they empower those who are being formed to be authentic men and women of God? 7. What Dimensions of Anglican Spirituality illustrate the idea of the Affective Dimension of Faith? 8. Is it possible for an authentic vocation of Church to flow from a model of acquiescence to the culture as opposed to embracing the counter cultural call to evangelical renewal? 9. How does the following statement illustrate the need for a new catechism: “If Scripture is to be a tool to rouse faith, Tradition a way to experience that faith through Christian living and worship and reason the examination and integration of our beliefs” 10. How does an renewed Anglican catechism call the faithful to a continuity and responsibility of the evangelical and catholic faith?