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Ancient Wisdom- Anglican Futures? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Thursday, 22 January 2009 17:08

Trinity School for Ministry (once the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, TESM is now known as an “evangelical Seminary in the Anglican tradition“) recently ran an article in its school magazine, Seed & Harvest (January-February 2009) entitled “Ancient Wisdom-Anglican Futures“.  The Protestant or Reformed Church of England began with a Vision expressed here by Thomas Cranmer [no it did not begin with the desire for a divorce by Henry the 8th].

We are desirous of setting forth in our churches
the true doctrine of God, and have no wish to
adapt it to all tastes, or to deal in ambiguities;
but, laying aside all carnal considerations, to
transmit to posterity a true and explicit form of
doctrine agreeable to the rule of the sacred writings;
so that there may not only be set forth
among all nations an illustrious testimony respecting
our doctrine, delivered by the grave
authority of learned and godly men, but that all
posterity may have a pattern to imitate.

         ~Thomas Cranmer, 4 July 1548

These are difficult days for Anglicanism in America and the School is concerned with its renewal and future.  It calls for a return to the true doctrine of God and to a form of doctrine agreeable to the rule of the sacred writings.  Amen

Eventually, traditional Anglican resources included the famous list by Lancelot Andrewes, “One canon…, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period.”  The School calls for a return to these.  Amen.

We would add, the article states, the Book of Common Prayer and its associated formularies, including the Thirty-Nine Articles, [as] necessary ingredients.  So far, so good.  

Next, the Article foresees that the “future of Anglicanism includes a significant influx of younger evangelicals, post-evangelicals, and Emergents …  This may at first seem a bit unsettling, even risky, but if this “remixing” occurs for the sake of wider mission to North America and in accord with the Scriptures and the classic Anglican formularies, then it seems prudent to explore the possibilities.”  Unsettling and risky, indeed!

And third, the writer, a Professor of Church History at TSM, fore sees the combination of the first two components reworked in the contexts of today’s world and many cultures around the globe, especially with a new focus on outreach and mission.  Maybe.

To aid in the fulfillment of this renewal of Anglicanism in America, the School is hosting a Conference in June, entitled “Ancient Wisdom-Anglican Future”.  My initial reaction to this article is puzzlement.  In light of what I understand about the “Emergents”, younger evangelicals and post-evangelicals, I do not see how they “mix” with the original essentials mentioned by Andrewes and the additional essentials of the BCP, its formularies and the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion.  To pin hopes for the renewal of historic Anglicanism upon members of these groups seems ill-advised and unrealistic to say the least.  

But then I read the list of Speakers at the coming Conference.  More puzzlement!  They are, for the most part, professional Academics and Theologians with marvelous credentials.  I do not recognize them from any list of Leaders of the so-called Emergent Conversation or Movement in the United States that I am familiar with.  I am missing the connection between the aims laid out in the Article and those of the Conference as planned.  Furthermore, these Speakers are expert in Philosophical Theology, Liturgical Theology, Spiritual Theology (Mysticism), Ecumenical/Inter-Faith Theology and Theology and Culture (Sociology of Religion)  No, these Speakers do not sound like the “Emergents” or young evangelicals I am familiar with (and most of them are not even Anglicans). If the School is looking for the renewal of Historic Anglicanism, with its deep roots in Reformed Doctrine, I think someone is barking up the wrong tree.  I hope I am wrong.  I really do, but I doubt it.  This article and this Conference are unsettling to say the least.  We support the School with our prayers and money.  I hope it is not getting sidetracked from Classic, Historic Anglicanism


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