Farewell to Babel:

Rowan Cantuar as servant of unity for the one, holy, catholic & apostolic Communion

Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, Singapore
Director, Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia

Canterbury’s statement and its context

Archbishop Rowan Williams’ careful crafted statement “Church’s Hope only in Christ” delivered in the Third South to South Encounter engaged the Communion on two fronts: leaders of churches outside of North America and Britain, and - completely unexpected and perhaps of more enduring importance - his colleagues in the West who are increasingly shaping the Communion along ideological lines. For strange reasons, Anglicans in the West have hitherto ignored his subtle statement in their discussions on the Communion. The purpose of this essay is to highlight the importance of Rowan Cantuar’s remarkable statement for self-understanding the Communion and its mission. Archbishop Williams penned these extraordinary words:

“I mentioned in passing ‘the instruments of Unity of the Anglican Communion’. I would be much happier, I have to say, if we spoke of the ‘servants of Unity in the Anglican Communion’, because whatever the instruments of unity are, I don’t think that they are in any sense conditions to be met for Christian faithfulness. They are human institutions which seek to serve the unity of Christ’s body and I would put all those instruments of unity, not least the Archbishop of Canterbury, under the rubric of St Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3; ‘it is not ourselves that we preach, but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake’. Whether it is the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ACC, the Primates, or the Lambeth Conference, that must be what they hold in front of them. I think someone recently said that ‘the path to heaven doesn’t necessarily lie through Lambeth’. I agree entirely. The path to heaven lies solely through Jesus Christ our Saviour and the unity he gives, and the only use and integrity of the instruments of unity is when they serve that.”

Canterbury here was not simply responding to the issue of Nigeria’s constitutional revision. He did not oppose the changes at all. Rather he used this occasion to develop a fresh understanding of Canterbury’s role in today’s world.

Compare Canterbury’s understanding of his office with the respective discussion on Canterbury’s role in the Windsor Report, the Primates at Dromantine, and the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham.

(a) Windsor Report. Windsor Report conferred an enhanced role for Canterbury to solve the ills of the Communion. Let him be the ‘central focus of both unity and mission within the Communion’, rather than simply one of the instruments of unity. The Report explained:

“The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in relation to each of the other Instruments of Unity is pivotal. The Archbishop convenes both the Lambeth Conference and the Primates’s Meeting, and is ex officio the President of the Anglican Consultative Council. This places the Archbishop at the centre [my emphasis] of each of the Instruments, and as the one factor common to all. If the Archbishop is to be enabled to play a critical role at the heart of the Communion, there are obvious implications for those who establish priorities in terms of the international ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He must be free to exercise his role fully in each of the Instruments of Unity. The Commission believes therefore that the historic position of the Archbishopric of Canterbury must not be regarded as a figurehead, but as the central focus of both unity and mission within the Communion [my emphasis]. This office has a very significant teaching role. As the significant focus of unity, mission and teaching [my emphasis], the Communion looks to the office of the Archbishop to articulate the mind of the Communion especially in areas of controversy. The Communion should be able to look to the holder of this office to speak directly to any provincial situation on behalf of the Communion where this is deemed advisable. Such action should not be viewed as outside interference in the exercise of autonomy by any province.”  [1] 

(b) Dromantine Communiqué. In February 2005, the Primates deliberated this proposal on Canterbury’s role in Dromantine. They eventually expressed their caution against this move:

“We also have further questions concerning the development of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and of a Council of Advice. While we welcome the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury as that of one who can speak to us as primus inter pares about the realities we face as a Communion, we are cautious of any development which would seem to imply the creation of an international jurisdiction which could override our proper provincial autonomy. We ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to explore ways of consulting further on these matters.”  [2] 

(c) Nottingham ACC-13. The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-13) that met shortly afterwards in Nottingham in June however endorsed Windsor Report’s new understanding. They resolved:

“The Anglican Consultative Council:

i. notes with approval the suggestion of the Windsor Report that the Archbishop of Canterbury be regarded as the focus for unity and that the Primates’ Meeting, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council be regarded more appropriately as the “Instruments of Communion”;

ii. resolves that henceforth it will use this terminology for those bodies currently known as “the Instruments of Unity”.” [3] 

(d) Anglican understanding in Lambeth 1948. The changes from ‘instrument’ to ‘focus’, and ‘unity’ to ‘Communion’ represent a fundamental paradigmatic change in the self-understanding of the Communion over the sixty years. The Anglican Communion has indeed come-of-age as a denomination church! The understanding on authority that was proposed Lambeth 1948 seems no longer able to meet the present challenges. Windsor Report suggested:

“It is because we have not always fully articulated how authority works within Anglicanism, and because recent decisions have not taken into account, and/or worked through and explained, such authority as we all in theory acknowledge, that we have reached the point where urgent fresh thought and action have become necessary.” [4]

Lambeth 1948 had understood authority in the Communion in these terms:

“The question is asked, "Is Anglicanism based on a sufficiently coherent form of authority to form the nucleus of a world-wide fellowship of Churches, or does its comprehensiveness conceal internal divisions which may cause its disruption?" Former Lambeth Conferences have wisely rejected proposals for a formal primacy of Canterbury, for an Appellate Tribunal, and for giving the Conference the status of a legislative synod. The Lambeth Conference remains advisory, and its continuation committee consultative. These decisions have led to a repudiation of centralized government, and a refusal of a legal basis of union. The positive nature of the authority which binds the Anglican Communion together is therefore seen to be moral and spiritual, resting on the truth of the Gospel, and on a charity which is patient and willing to defer to the common mind.”  [5] 

Windsor Report and ACC-13 reversed this earlier understanding, and seeks to create new infrastructures (e.g. Council of Advice, Communion Law, Anglican Communion Liaison Officer) that order the Communion like a global confessional church. Hitherto, the lines of authority are for good reasons unclear; now Canterbury is thrust to become the focus of unity. The rationale of the continuing existence of the Communion was for the unity of the Christian churches. The instruments of unity were missional and ecumenical in their intent, to connect the Anglican missionary initiatives and churches in far-flung places with the emerging church unions, that Christian communities would be more able to confess Christ in their young nations. The instruments are now turned inward. They now serve the unity of the Communion instead of that of all Christians. This is indeed a far cry from what the Lambeth Fathers envisaged in their Appeal to all Christian People in 1920.   [6]

It is intriguing that the Anglican Communion website hastily embraces this new understanding of ACC-13. Canterbury is now declared as the ‘Focus of Unity’ (check the sidebar). The other three—Lambeth Conference, Primates’ Meeting, and the Anglican Consultative Council—are designated as Instruments of Communion.

I leave aside the intriguing question of who is now running the Communion. By what authority can the Anglican Communion Office make this fundamental change to the Communion self-understanding? Certainly their hands are not tied in virtual space! Can ACC, which just ‘demoted’ itself to be only one of the three remaining instruments, able to redefine the Communion, without endorsement from Canterbury, who is by its reckoning the focus of unity? I leave this for the Primates, Lambeth Conference, and the Provincial Synods to decide. Rowan Williams’ stance on the matter however is clear.

It is inconceivable that Williams had not reflected on the deliberations on Canterbury’s role in Dromantine and Nottingham that happened only a few months ago. However, the Archbishop continued to regard his office as one of the instruments of unity. More than this, he proposed a fresh understanding to Communion processes by abandoning the structural understanding of ‘instruments’, re-situate them in terms of service and thus restored a humbler role for Canterbury and the Communion as understood in 1948. Canterbury could not have forgotten what Nottingham just conferred upon him. However, he rejected this set of new clothes. His statement constituted a rebuke to the ideologues of the Communion in the strongest possible terms. Canterbury could have added: ‘It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:43-45)’.

Canterbury Pilgrim

What does it mean for Canterbury to be a servant of unity in these ‘changing, unpredictable and bewildering’ times?   [7]

To understand the challenges facing Canterbury today and how Primates especially in the non-Western world can cooperate with him, we need to retrace the developments in the Communion over the past sixty years. I have elsewhere sketched this development, with special reference to the ascendancy of Canterbury, in an earlier article.   [8]

I shall confine myself to elaborate this development in the context of two major undercurrents in our immediate past.

I refer first to the emergence of the confessional movement alongside the establishing of World Council of Churches in the post war period in late 1940s.Even up to the end of the World War II and the consequent political re-ordering of the world, the Lambeth Fathers insisted that the Communion ‘not the fellowship of independent Churches within a denomination, but of independent provinces within a Church’.  [9] 

In other words, instead of organising itself along the lines of a confessional or denominational church, the Communion saw itself working towards a ‘larger episcopal unity’.  [10] 

Hence, in the famous words of the Encyclical Letter of 1948, Anglican bishops were ready to accept the disappearance of their Communion for the sake of the emergence of ‘a much larger Communion of National or Regional Churches’. The continuing justification of the Communion’s existence was to translate this vision to reality:

“As Anglicans we believe that God has entrusted to us in our Communion not only the Catholic faith, but a special service to render to the whole Church. Reunion of any part of our Communion with other denominations in its own area must make the resulting Church no longer simply Anglican, but something more comprehensive. There would be, in every country where there now exist the Anglican Church and others separated from it, a united Church, Catholic and Evangelical, but no longer in the limiting sense of the word Anglican. The Anglican Communion would be merged in a much larger Communion of National or Regional Churches, in full communion with one another, united in all the terms of what is known as the Lambeth Quadrilateral.”

It is well to keep this vision before us; but we are still far from its attainment, and until this larger Communion begins to take firmer shape, it would be only a weakening of the present strength and service of the Anglican Communion if parts of it were severed from it prematurely. If we were slow to advance the larger cause, it would be a betrayal of what we believe to be our special calling. It would be equally a betrayal of our trust before God if the Anglican Communion were to allow itself to be dispersed before its particular work was done. (See An Excerpt: Encyclical Letter from Geoffrey Cantuar to the Faithful in Jesus Christ, Lambeth 1948 ) [11]

The establishing of World Council of Churches in 1948 however was instrumental in shaping the Communion along confessional lines. As W A Visser ‘T Hooft observed, the ecumenical movement brought about development in confessional consciousness:

“The new unprecedented ecumenical situation obliged each confession to consider naturally to a new reflection on the significance of the common confessional heritage. All has to ask: What can our confessional family contribute to the wider ecumenical family? What is the basic truth for which it must stand at all cost?”  [12]

When the World Council of Churches first convened in Amsterdam in 1948, its membership consisted of geographical and national groups as well as confessional bodies.  [13] 

Opinion may differ on whether the rise of world-wide confessional bodies was in fact a ploy devised by ‘parent’ churches and missionary agencies in the West to assert their continuing influence in their former mission fields, and to gain credence in the ecumenical movement. After all, confessional groups could provide the desperately needed material and personnel resources for the survival of young churches. It is worth noting that the Anglicans did not develop—in Harold Fey’s words—a ‘continuing organization’ until after 1958. All along it refused to regard itself as a confessional church.  [14] 

Indeed, it was in Lambeth 1958 when Canterbury was first asked by the bishops of the Communion to convey a Lambeth resolution on their behalf to the World Council of Churches.  [15] 

The rest of the story was aptly summarised in Owen Chadwick’s account of the ascendancy of Canterbury. [16] 

Young churches in East and South Asia were among the most vocal critics of the confessional movements. The East Asian Christian Conference (EACC) questioned whether the rising strength of confessional bodies would violate the integrity of the younger churches and their quest for ‘unity in truth’. Harold Fey gave this account of deliberations in the EACC Conference in Bangkok 1964:

“Affirming their belief that "the Church is One Body, the Body of Christ", the Asian Churches pointed out that they are moving toward autonomy, not merely to achieve organizational independence, but also so that each Church will "find its own selfhood, being able under God to make its own response to its Lord in the specific situation it has been called to mission". . . . The East Asia churchmen asked confessional organizations to work within the ecumenical movement to help people within their respective families to understand how the Asian Churches see and are trying to interpret the Christian faith. An informational role which each confessional body should undertake ought also to be carried out concerning the experiences of Christians in other confessional families "so that they can take courage and pray intelligently for each other". Before these organizations carry out these essentially theological functions, their Asian colleagues asked them to face three hard questions: 1. Do the world confessional organizations rest on a theological principle or do they simply gather together Churches because of a common history and tradition? 2. Even where world confessional organizations are seeking to preserve for the universal Church some fundamental insight into an aspect of Christian truth, is this best done by an organization built around that truth? 3. Are the confessions and doctrines which are the historical basis of these world confessional organizations living realities among the people in these confessional families?”  [17] 

C H Hwang noted in his paper in a ‘Confessing the Faith in Asia Today’ Conference in 1966:

“The sad thing is that, before becoming first a confessing Church in the missionary situation, the younger churches were prematurely projected into a "confessional" situation which was not their own, that is, before they knew and became a Community of Christ they were told to become a Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist or Anglican Church. They were divided without even being able to know why. I believe that the way to recover the unity of the Church on the road is to return to the confessing church first, and only secondly to become a confessional church, and hold steadfastly the second within the context of the first. Finally, I believe that God has once again put not only the younger churches but also the older churches and the ancient churches in a new missionary situation - not only in Asia today but also in the world today - so that we may learn our way back to the unity of the confessio viatorum.[18]

This set of concerns tabled in the early years in the founding of World Council of Churches assumes a fresh relevance today. Why is the Anglican Communion in such deep crisis today? Windsor Report reasoned that the Communion has not ‘fully articulated how authority works within Anglicanism’. [19] Is it something that is regrettable, as if it was an oversight of former Anglican leaders? Windsor Report then sought to remedy the situation by first, overlaying the Communion with more superstructures and thus bringing the development of the Communion along confessional lines to its logical conclusion, and secondly—to which I shall return presently—fabricating an ideological history for the Communion. However, the Report did not ask the more fundamental question on whether the Communion was meant to last through the lifetime of those who congregated in Lambeth 1948 in the first place? Indeed, if the Communion is indeed a confessional church (e.g. like the Presbyterians and Methodists), the office of Canterbury should indeed be de-established and be open to election within the whole Communion (as is the case for other confessional churches).  [20] 

The three hard questions that EACC raised in the sixties become especially relevant for Anglicans today. Should Anglican churches (in truth, the Holy Catholic churches - Sheng Kung Hui churches) continue to expend their energy in propping up a Communion that has abandoned its original vision? Are the newly devised Communion mechanisms isolating the Anglican churches around the world from other churches and prevent them from growing together with churches of each local area, as EACC explicitly asked the Anglican Communion fifty years ago in Bangkok 1964?  [21] 

Could the limited resources be better devoted in times like these to the building up mature confessing churches in our own nations and geographical regions, and to creating new networks with all who confess Christ? In Barrett’s analysis, world Christianity is fast becoming increasingly less defined along denominational lines.  [22] 

The irony is that fast-growing independent Christians have the better prospects of being the ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic’ society of Jesus Christ in the lands they reside, because they no longer define themselves along denominational lines. Churches in Asia, Africa, and Latin America would do well to engage these Christians and work with them to build up mature confessing churches world-wide. Indeed, Owen Chadwick’s analysis on the ascendancy of Canterbury because of his patriarchal role vis-à-vis the younger churches can be extended to ECUSA. While Canterbury provided the historical link, ECUSA supplied the financial resources! Yet both depend on churches in Asia, Africa, and Latin America for their continuing international stature as global leaders of a 70-million world-wide Communion.

Alongside the confessional movement we also discern ideological movements at work in building new empires and creating new social identities, whether in the name of nation-building, globalisation or otherwise.[23] Our Communion is also in danger of conforming itself to such movements.

The instruments of unity of the Communion are increasingly dependent on information technology and air travel. Elsewhere I have point out how the Windsor Report offered a historically untrue account on decision-making processes in the Communion.  [25]  The emergence of the Anglican churches in Asia, Latin America, and Africa were not understood in their particular missionary, geographical, cultural and political contexts.  [26]  They still remain as ideological projections in the mind of the West.  [27] 

Indeed, it was a former Canterbury in the eighteenth century who naively believed the story of George Psalmanazar, an imposter who enchanted Church of England clergy with his fabricated story and invented language of the distant land of Formosa in the Far East. [28]  Anglican theologians in the West who purportedly write and make proposals for the Communion are perhaps no better. Hardly would any historical sources and theological contributions in Asia, Latin America and Africa appear in their writings. Thus it is intriguing that in the recent uproar over the Nigerian revision, no one questioned whether the constitutions of the Church in Wales, Church of Ireland, Scottish Episcopal Church, and indeed that of the Church of England should be brought in line with the requirements of the newly redefined globalised Communion. No one in the West questioned why the Anglican Communion Office can declare Canterbury to be the focus of unity without undergoing due process.

The reference to the Communion Office leads to a major concern on Communion processes. ‘Global South’ Primates have voiced their alarm over this in January 2005. [29]  Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, Primates’ Meeting and ACC are the formal instruments of unity. There are however more powerful instruments at work that just ‘come out’ of the fire of globalisation as impatient leaders crave for something to unite and lead the organisation forward (Exodus 32:24). Over the past decade, the Anglican World Magazine, the Anglican Communion website, and the Anglican Communion News Service become powerful instruments that are shaping public opinion. They too can succumb to the dangers of globalisation and make the Communion ‘globalised’ rather than ‘catholic’, thus undermining reception processes in the Communion. Canterbury himself pointed out:

”A catholic church is not a church that seeks a uniform global culture. The unity of the church is not cultural; it is in Christ - one Lord, one faith, one baptism - and any number of languages and costumes. It’s been said recently by one theologian that the catholicity of the church is really a kind of great protest against globalisation; the really catholic is the opposite of the globalised, because the catholic is about wholeness, about the wholeness of the person, the wholeness of local culture and language, therefore it’s not simply opening the same fast-food shop in every village on the globe, and it’s not like the global economy, in which people are drawn into somebody’s story and somebody’s interests which in fact makes others poor and excluded. The catholic is the opposite of the globalised because the catholic is about everyone’s welfare, everyone’s growth and justice.”  [30] 

I suggest that editorial policies of the media deployed by the Communion Office can be more transparent. For example, I find it puzzling why a fund raising agency that is not officially part of the Communion can be featured prominently on the Home Page of the Anglican Communion website, appearing alongside the Anglican Centre in Rome as the only two institutions listed as ‘Related Organisation’ of the Communion? Are there not many other ‘related organisations’? Why are the hundreds of mission organisations identified in the 76-page Directory of Mission Organisations: Mission, Development and Funding (2003) published by the Communion Office not also given such prominence? Why this special treatment for a voluntary fund-raising agency that is not accountable to any Provincial Synod or to the formal Instruments of Unity, whose membership primarily come only from USA and (recently with flurry of new membership) from Hong Kong? Would not ‘everyone’s welfare, everyone’s growth and justice’ undermined by those who happen to possess the IT expertise and financial clout? Canterbury’s progress

The challenges outlined above are related to those from the late liberal society and the political realignment in today’s world. I recognise Rowan Cantuar as one of the most sensitive theologians that God has gifted us for this hour is more able to articulate the issues himself. He deserves the full cooperation and support from the world-wide Communion to tackle these fundamental issues in Lambeth 2008.One agenda is paramount to Lambeth 2008: the recovery of its original vision in the service for mission.

In this connection we can evaluate IASCOME’s recent proposal of a Covenant for Communion in Mission in a better light. It began with a late liberal and individualistic definition of covenant:

”Covenants are fundamentally about relationships to which one gives oneself voluntarily, while contracts can be seen as a legally binding document under a body of governing principles. Covenants are free-will voluntary offerings from one to another while contracts are binding entities whose locus of authority is externally to oneself.”

Then it proceeded to offer a nine-point Covenant that seeks to unite the Communion in mission and steer it away from institutional considerations. The nine points are:

(1) Recognising Jesus in each other contexts and lives; (2) Support one another in our participation in God’s mission; (3) Encourage expressions of our new life in Christ; (4) Meet to share common purpose and explore differences and disagreements; (5) Be willing to change in response to critique and challenge from others; (6) Celebrate our strengths and mourn our faiths; (7) Share equitably our God-given resources; (8) Work together for the sustainability of God’s creation; (9) Live in the promise of God’s reconciliation for ourselves and for the world.

IASCOME’s solution is attractive on the surface.‘ Forget the quarrel and get busy!’, so it pleads. It however succumbed to the same problem as the Windsor Report. Cardinal Walter Kasper’s response to Windsor Report is relevant:

“The first point concerns the text’s ecclesiological approach itself. While the Report stresses that Anglican provinces have a responsibility towards each other and towards the maintenance of communion, a communion rooted in the Scriptures, considerably little attention is given to the importance of being in communion with the faith of the Church through the ages. In addressing the exercise of authority in the Church, “The Gift of Authority” speaks not only of the necessity of a synchronic communion of churches but also of a diachronic consensus; in fundamental matters of faith and discipline, the decisions of a local or regional church must not only foster communion in the present context, but must also be in agreement with the Church of the past, and in a particular way, with the apostolic Church as witnessed in the Scriptures, the early councils and the patristic tradition. While the Windsor Report stresses the catholicity of the Church, we believe that in the discussion that will follow, it might be helpful for the Anglican Communion to place more stress on the Church’s apostolicity. This aspect also has important ecumenical ramifications, since we share a common tradition of one and a half millennia. This common patrimony - what Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey called our ‘ancient common traditions’ - is worth being appealed to and preserved.

The second area we would hope to see more directly addressed in discussions of the Report and its implementation concern the moral questions at the heart of the current controversy. The Report stresses that it was not its mandate to deal with disputed questions concerning homosexuality. We have noted that the problematic character of decisions taken in the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada is addressed from an ecclesiological perspective but not a moral one. While the Windsor Report calls for a moratorium on same-sex blessings and episcopal appointments of those in same-sex relationships, this in itself is open to different interpretations. We would ask whether the traditional Christian understanding of marriage and human sexuality doesn’t need to be reasserted more clearly. As you know, the position of the Catholic Church in this matter, as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church ( nn. 2357-59), is clear, and for us, remains binding. We believe that on these matters, we appeal to a shared apostolic patrimony which includes the Scriptures, but also includes a common tradition - grounded in a common interpretation of the Bible - of over 1900 years.”[31] 

I cite this statement in some length because we have not engaged the importance of this Roman Catholic response at the Communion level. The Roman Catholics reminded Canterbury of the common understanding in ARCIC processes and then pointed out two troubling developments in the Anglican church: the emphasis of synchronic communion of churches over diachronic consensus, and deviation from the common tradition on interpretation of the Bible over moral issues. Here, Rome concurs with the ‘Global South’ Primates. IASCOME and ECUSA have brushed aside the common tradition that provides the conceptual framework in all discerning processes. It is thus very puzzling how IASCOME can suggest the Communion to ‘recognise’, ‘share’, and ‘work together’ without first articulating the basis of authority in the Communion and mission. Orthodox belief vanishes into thin air. This makes nonsense of Saint John’s insistences in 1 John on orthodox belief as foundational to communion. The Lambeth Fathers in 1948 were wiser in their Encyclical Letter to discuss marriage discipline under the section ‘God in his Church’:

“The Church can only fulfil its mission to mankind if every member of it is a faithful, disciplined, and instructed servant of Christ. Again and again, in our Resolutions and Reports, we recall our people to the obligations to which they are committed by their faith.”  [32] 

Canterbury’s role is indeed pivotal to the Communion. As servant for unity, he has the grave responsibility to lead all under-shepherds of the Communion to discuss these matters in the coming months of preparation leading to Lambeth 2008. May Canterbury’s pilgrimage lead the Communion to be re-connected with the ancient common traditions for the sake of the Kingdom, that ‘with a hope against hope, that all of us, we once were so united, and so happy in our union, may even be brought at length, by the Power of the Divine Will, into One Fold and under One Shepherd’.  [33]  Candlemas 2006, Singapore Tenth Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia Appendixes Appendix I: Lambeth 1920 Appeal to all Christian People (Resolution 9) - Reunion of Christendom Appendix II: An Excerpt: Encyclical Letter from Geoffrey Cantuar to the Faithful in Jesus Christ, Lambeth 1948 ————————————————— Notes [1]  Windsor Report, 108-109. [2]  Primates’  Meeting February 2005, Communiqué, 10. [3]  ACC-13, Resolution   2. [4]  Windsor Report,  42. [5]  ‘The   Meaning and Unity of the Anglican Communion’ in Lambeth Conference 1948, Part II: Report of Committees (London, SPCK, 1948), 84. [6]  Resolution 9. See Lambeth 1920 Appeal to all Christian People (Resolution 9) - Reunion of Christendom (Appendix I) for the full text. [7]  This description   and the heading of this section are from Michael Ramsey’s book Canterbury   Pilgrim.Note Ramsey’s reflection on his ministry: ‘For while my office   has been that of a teacher of the Christian faith I have found myself a   learner amidst the changing and unpredictable scenes of the 1960s and after.  . . . Through these bewildering years I have tried to learn, as only a   learning Church can be a Church which guides.’ Canterbury Pilgrim (London: SPCK, 1974), ix.  [8]  See my ‘Deliver us from ‘Corporate Perversion’: A Conversation with Ephraim Radner and Graham Kings on the State of our Communion’, Global South Anglicans. [9]  Ruth Rouse   and Stephen Charles Neill, eds. A History of the Ecumenical Movement   1517-1948. Second Edition (London: SPCK 1967), 617. [10]  Thus in Lambeth Conference 1948, Resolution 74 on ‘A Larger Episcopal Unity’: ‘The Conference, welcoming the fact that some of the Churches of the Anglican Communion are already in   intercommunion with the Old Catholic Churches, looking forward to the time   when they will enter into communion with other parts of the Catholic Church not definable as Anglican [my emphasis], and desiring that Churches thus   linked together should express their common relationship in common   counsel and mutual aid [my emphasis], recommends that bishops of the   Anglican Communion and bishops of other Churches which are, or may be, in   communion with them should meet together from time to time as an episcopal conference, advisory in character, for brotherly counsel and encouragement.’ [11] See Lambeth Conference 1948, Part I (London, SPCK, 1948), 22. See An Excerpt: Encyclical Letter from Geoffrey Cantuar to the Faithful in Jesus Christ, Lambeth 1948 (Appendix   II) for the full text of the section ‘God in his Church’ in the Encyclical Letter. [12]  ‘The   General Ecumenical Development since 1948’ in The Ecumenical Advance. A History of the Ecumenical Movement, Volume Two:1948-1968, edited   by Harold E Fey (London: SPCK, 1970), 17. [13]  See Harold Fey’s   fascinating account of the emergence of confessional movement after the   Second World War: ‘Confessional families and the Ecumenical Movement’, in The Ecumenical Advance, 117-142. [14]  The   Ecumenical Advance, 117. [15]  See Resolution 15.Referring to Resolution 14 on the definition of the terms ‘full communion’ and ‘intercommunion’, Lambeth resolved: ‘The Conference   therefore requests the Archbishop of Canterbury to communicate this   Resolution to the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of   Churches for its information.’ [16]  See his   ‘Introduction’ in Resolutions of the Twelve Lambeth   Conferences 1867-1988, edited by Roger Coleman   (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1992), xiii-xv.  See also my ‘Delivery from   “Corporate Perversion’. [17]  The   Ecumenical Advance, 125. [18]  The   South East Asia Journal of Theology, 8.1-2 (1967): 77f. Quoted in Hans   Ruedi Weber, ‘Out of all Continents and Nations’ in The Ecumenical   Advance, 72-73. [19]  Windsor Report,  42. [20]  Stephen Noll, ‘The Global Anglican Communion: A Blueprint’. [21]  See The   Ecumenical Advance, 124. [22]  See my discussion in ‘Deliver us from Corporate Perversion.’ [23] Oliver O’Donovan’s critique of late liberalism and ideological shaping in the   contemporary world deserves wider readership among Christians in the non-Western world. See for our present purposes especially ‘A Multitude of Rational Beings United’ in Common Objects of Love. Moral Reflection and the Shaping of Community (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 45-72; ‘Freedom   and its Loss’ in The Ways of Judgment (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005),  67-83.See also E J Hobsbawn, Nations and Nationalism since 1780:  Programme, Myth and Reality. Second Edition (Cambridge: UP, 1992),  141-143, 163-192; Ina Merdjanova, ‘In Search of Identity: Nationalism and   Religion in Eastern Europe’, Religion, State and Society 28 (2000):  233-262; D Densil Morgan, ‘Christianity and National Identity in Twentieth   Century Wales’,Religion, State and Society 27 (1999): 327-342. [25]  ‘Maintaining the Bonds of Affection and Discovering Common Objects of Love: An East Asian Response to the Windsor Report 2004’, Fulcrum . [26]  East Asian   churches are only beginning to reflect on their own histories. For example, see the Documentation of Christianity in Asia Programme . See also Oliver   O’Donovan’s remark: ‘Communications are sustained by tradition and tradition   is a continuity of practices learned, repeated, and developed. . . . . But   what kind of practice forms the tradition of a whole society . . . .  Supremely, the practice of recounting. History sustains the identity of   societies, not only the history of the distant past, but that of the   immediate past, too. . . . The subject of histories are places. But because   places are materially different from one another, so are their histories. .  . . Societies cannot be free if they cannot sustain their historical   identities. . . . That a society is free is not merely a matter of its being   situated in its place, but of having a tradition of communications shaped by   the place, handed on from generation to generation.’ (The Ways of   Judgment, 69-70.) [27]  See my   article ‘Reflections on the Identity of the Church in Asia: An Ecumenical   Conversation’, Trinity Theological Journal, 13 (2005): 1-26.     [28]  See   Lambeth Palace Papers, Cod. Miscell. MS 954.25-27.See also A Catalogue   of the Archiepiscopal Manuscripts in the Library of Lambeth Palace,  compiled by Henry J Todd (London: Law and Gilbert, 1812), 241; Frederic J   Forley, The Great Formosan Imposter (Saint Louis: Jesuit Historical   Institute, 1968). [29]  Note in this   connection the Statement from Global South Primates meeting in Nairobi   (January 27th/28th, 2005): ‘We are encouraged by the   suggestions offered for restructuring the various instruments of unity to   strengthen our common life in Christ. We are, however, aggrieved and   disappointed that the contributions and resources of the majority of the   Anglican Communion are not adequately recognized and represented in these   instruments. We are convinced that there must be a more regionally and   provincially representative procedure in appointments to commissions and   task forces established to serve the whole Communion. (Section 11)’ [30]  Church’s Hope only in Christ. [31]  Letter of his Eminence Cardinal Walter   Kasper to his Grace Dr Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury (17 December   2004). The Holy See. . [32]  See An Excerpt: Encyclical Letter from Geoffrey Cantuar to the Faithful in Jesus Christ, Lambeth 1948 (Appendix   II) [33]  The ending prayer of John Henry Newman, Apologia pro vita sua, as he bid his sad   farewell to the Church of England and submitted himself to the ancient   common traditions of the apostolic church. ———————

2 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. mccabe Says:

    Another beautifully written and well developed article. There are so many points to discuss. I would love to see an analysis of the Orthodox Churches and their approach (both historically and contemporary) regarding the concept of a common ‘communion’. They also maintain the tradition of ‘first among peers’ with regard to the Patriarch of Constantinople. I think that Canterbury is very wise to decline the role of primary jurisdictional authority within the Global Anglican Communion.

    As the artcle states: “Canterbury himself pointed out:

    A catholic church is not a church that seeks a uniform global culture. The unity of the church is not cultural; it is in Christ - one Lord, one faith, one baptism - and any number of languages and costumes.” This needs to be central to the discussion of an Anglical Communion.

    I loved the discussion of the term ‘catholic’. It was wonderful. I think that the comments by Cardinal Walter Kasper’s in his response to Windsor Report worth reading.

    I also found the references to the East Asian Churches in the 50’ and 60’s very interesting. And I would like to hear more about “we are cautious of any development which would seem to imply the creation of an international jurisdiction which could override our proper provincial autonomy.”

    This article is worthy of discussion.

  2. mccabe Says:

    In ECUSA we have this as part of our Baptism Service:

    “Let us welcome the newly baptized.

    Celebrant and People

    We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood.”

    If we are all indeed part of ‘his eternal priesthood’ then when there is a great need we should all be enpowered to consecrate the elements. The apostolic church didn’t have priests to perform a ‘mass’ and consecrate the elements. These are historical developments.

    I would say YES to independent provinces. Our communion should be peer churches free to bring Christ to heal our broken world as best meets the needs of the province it serves.

    Provinces that are free and independent would be able to develope forms of worship, canon laws and understandings of Christ untainted by outside cultural coercion.

    Historical intrusions by a former dominant power into other peoples cultural domains could be rectified. Contemporary intrusions by one province into the internal affairs of another province should be rebuked by all as a coercive act unworthy of a true hier of Christ. Coercion in any form is a direct violation of Christ’s own commandment “to love one another as I have loved you.”

    We should/would then be free to meet at the Lord’s Table as unique but equal and sovereign hiers of Christ the King.