Sunday, July 6, 2008

Anglican Ecclesiology

In an essay published at Anglicans Online, the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon (Bishop in charge of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe) makes the case that while Anglicanism has never formally defined a specifically Anglican ecclesiology, there are nevertheless five enduring features of a distinctively Anglican understanding of what it means to be the Church. These five features are:
  1. The yearning for unity

  2. Comprehensiveness

  3. The patristic principle lex orandi lex credendi

  4. The simultaneous appeal to antiquity (the early Church) and to contemporary scholarship

  5. Viewing one's Church as the Church of the nation
"These perennial features of Anglican ecclesiology," Bishop Whalon writes, "arguably result from the attempts of Anglicans to wrestle with the absurdity of being a fragment of the Church that should be whole and yet is not. It could be said that the overarching biblical metaphor for the way Anglicans live this is found in the parable of the wheat and the tares." And he continues by noting: "These various elements of Anglican ecclesiology are being sorely tried today. People from all sides, driven by their own agendas, want to prematurely separate the wheat from the weeds. The future work of the Communion, hopefully enabled by a consensus of bishops at Lambeth, will be to re-commit to, re-assert, re-work, re-define this Anglican ecclesiology in their own contexts."

Read all of Bishop Whalon's essay here.

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