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The Anglican Covenant and the ‘Puritan’ Temptation

  • Timothy F. Sedgwick

Abstract

As ecumenical understanding of the formation and development of episkopé has emphasized, there are different ways of structuring episkopé collegially, synodically and personally, each with its own theological basis, strength and weakness. This article argues that the proposed Anglican Covenant assumes a normative understanding of the nature and role of the bishop which carries the danger of a kind of ‘puritanism’ in which the focus and energy of the churches in the Anglican Communion are narrowly focused, creating a bureaucratic form of governance that vitiates the mission of the church.

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Footnotes

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1.

Timothy F. Sedgwick is Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Clinton S. Quin Professor of Christian Ethics, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA 22304, USA.

Footnotes

References

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2.Episkopé is an ecumenical neologism [derived from the Greek noun, épiskopus, translated as one who has oversight or as supervisor, and] introduced in order to discuss the problem of oversight independently of the controversial question of who is invested with it.’ See Kasper, Walter, Harvesting the Fruits: Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue (New York: Continuum, 2009), p. 156, n. 28. In the ecumenical dialogues (Anglican-Roman Catholic, Lutheran-Catholic, Reformed-Catholic, and Methodist-Catholic), see pp. 119–34.

3. Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission, Life in Christ: Morals, Communion and the Church (1993; London: Church House/Catholic Truth Society, 1994, and available online), para. 38.

4. Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission, Life in Christ, para. 39.

5. On the history of the development of episkopéand the office of the bishop, see des Dombes, Le Groupe, ‘One Teacher’: Doctrinal Authority in the Church (trans. Catherine E. Clifford; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 2010), pp. 1–28; Sullivan, Francis A., SJ, From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church (New York: Newman Press, 2001); Richard A. Norris, The Business of All Believers: Reflections on Leadership (ed. Timothy F. Sedgwick; New York: Seabury Press, 2009), pp. 6774.

6. Norris, The Business of All Believers, pp. 98–104.

7. Irenaeus, , St. Irenaeus of Lyons against the Heresies (trans. Dominic J. Unger; (New York: Paulist Press, 1992).

8. Le Groupe des Dombes, ‘One Teacher’, pp. 12–13.

9. Norris, The Business of All Believers, pp. 74–80. On the history that results in the ‘monarchical episcopate’, see Sullivan, , From Apostles to Bishops and his concluding summary and theological assessment arguing for such an ordering of episkopé, pp. 217–230.

10. Norris, The Business of All Believers, pp. 71–74.

11. Le Groupe des Dombes, ‘One Teacher’, pp. 13–34.

12. See Rohls, Jan, ‘Ápostolicity, Episkope, and Succession: The Lutheran, Reformed and United Tradition’, Visible Unity and the Ministry of Oversight, The Second Theological Conference held under the Meissen Agreement between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church in Germany (London: Church Publishing, 1996), pp. 93107.

13. See Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits, pp. 119–25.

14. Le Groupe des Dombes, ‘One Teacher’, pp. 104–109, 117–22, 141–56.

15. On Acts 10–15, in response to the question of the tension between the universal and the local that gave rise to the Anglican Covenant, see To Set Our Hope in Christ: A Response to the Invitation of the Windsor Report Para. 135 (New York: Office of Communications, Episcopal Church Center, 2005), section 2.10–2.13, pp. 13–17.

16. See nn. 2 and 5 above.

17. Le Groupe des Dombes, ‘One Teacher’, p. 109.

18. Tanner, Mary, ‘The Anglican Position on Apostolic Continuity and Apostolic Succession in the Porvoo Common Statement’, in Visible Unity and the Ministry of Oversight, pp. 108119.

19. See Findon, John, ‘Developments in the Understanding and Practice of Episcopacy in the Church of England’, in Visible Unity and the Ministry of Oversight, pp. 7992.

20. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Constitution and Canons (New York: Church Publishing, 2006), article II, section 1; available online.

21. Constitution and Canons, Article II, sections 1, 3, 8; Title III, Canon 11, sections 1–6.

22. Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral in The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, The Book of Common Prayer (New York: Church Publishing, 1979), pp. 877–78; text from the adopted text of Lambeth 1888, resolution 11. See The Anglican Covenant, 1.1.6, quoting the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral.

23. The proposed Anglican Communion Covenant, considered at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in May 2009, posted at the Anglican Communion official website, http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/final/text.cfm, 3.1.2.

24. Anglican Communion Covenant, 3.1.2.

25. See especially Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), The Gift of Authority (London: General Synod for the Church of England, 2004); Church as Communion (London: Anglican Consultative Council, 1991); Salvation and the Church (London: General Synod of the Church of England, 1989); Authority in the Church: A Statement on the Question of Authority, its Nature, Exercise, and Implications (London: SPCK, 1977). All are available online. See also Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits, pp. 102–10, 119–20, 123–24, 126, 129–34, 138–41.

26. See the Anglican Communion website, Anglican Consultative Council – Standing Committee.

27. Anglican Communion Covenant, 4.2.6.

28. See Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2007), pp. 541542.

29. Jeremy Taylor: Selected Works, The Classics of Western Spirituality (ed. Thomas K. Carroll; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1990), p. 355.

1. Timothy F. Sedgwick is Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Clinton S. Quin Professor of Christian Ethics, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA 22304, USA.

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Journal of Anglican Studies
  • ISSN: 1740-3553
  • EISSN: 1745-5278
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-anglican-studies
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