December 13, 2011

Those Were the Days (Lambeth 1878)

from the Encyclical letter of the 1878 Lambeth Conference, section 1.5

There are certain principles of church order which, your Committee consider, ought to be distinctly recognised and set forth, as of great importance for the maintenance of union among the Churches of our Communion.

1. First, that the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches, and by their individual members.

2. Secondly, that when a diocese, or territorial sphere of administration, has been constituted by the authority of any Church or province of this Communion within its own limits, no bishop or other clergyman of any other Church should exercise his functions within that diocese without the consent of the bishop thereof.

3. Thirdly, that no bishop should authorise to officiate in his diocese a clergyman coming from another Church or province, unless such clergyman present letters testimonial, countersigned by the bishop of the diocese from which he comes; such letters to be, as nearly as possible, in the form adopted by such Church or province in the case of the transfer of a clergyman from one diocese to another.
It appears to me that most of the troubles in the present Anglican Communion stem from the failure of some provinces to observe and abide by point 1. Some of those same provinces have gone on to violate point 2, and the recent trouble in AMiA seems to reflect a bit of the mess one gets into by not observing point 3.

But point 1, in one sentence, is the key to any real Anglican unity. No further "covenant" is needed. And the one currently on offer provides a mechanism to frustrate point 1, by shifting from respecting the actions of the provinces to placating those offended by them. The proposed Covenant is  government by discontent and disrespect.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Lionel Deimel said...

These points are basically a program for saving the Anglican Communion from its present troubles. Of course, we will never get there as long as we have an Archbishop of Canterbury who thinks it is his job to fix everything and who is willing to destroy anything that gets in his way.

WSJM said...

I had not been aware of this 1878 Lambeth Encyclical. Thank you for calling it to our attention. And you are quite right, Tobias -- this really should put an end to this whole "Covenant" business.

Daniel Weir said...

It is interesting that those who make of I.10 law are more than willing to ignore this Lambeth statement. It is, of course, not law either but the best advice I have seen of how we should be together in the Communion.

Alan T Perry said...

It's significant to note the historical context of these statements, for they were made in the aftermath of the Colenso affair, which gave rise to the development of the Lambeth Conference in the first place. Just a decade after coming together to try to deal with Colenso, the bishops of the Anglican Communion clearly rethought the extent to which they ought to interfere in each others' patches.

Will cooler heads prevail over the Anlican Covenant?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Lionel. Feel free to use this at NAC! I see Ann Fontaine has posted at FB.

Thanks William and Daniel. What fascinates me is seeing just how "uniAnglican" is the Windsor Report and all to which it gave rise.

Alan, indeed so. It is also interesting that the bishops gathered in 1878 did not adopt "resolutions" but framed their thinking as an encyclical letter. I have hope that cooler heads will again prevail, and the "distress management" of the proposed Anglican Covenant will be replaced by a willingness to act as responsible "citizens" of a world-wide Communion in which disagreements actually exist and can't be merely whitewashed or suppressed.

Erika Baker said...

Tobias, apologies, I started the posting at FB without checking first!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

No problem, Erika. The more the merrier! One thing I love about knowing history is digging up the reality and exposing it to the light of day...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Over at the Café someone suggested I'm reading more into the Covenant than is there, and that we should trust Rowan. I responded,

Don't you see that by its own text the Proposed Covenant provides a mechanism to undercut and challenge the "duly certified action of every national or particular Church" with whom anyone chooses to find fault. See sections starting at 4.2.3., which provides for raising "questions" about the "actions" of churches and the "consequences" which follow from a failure to "defer" an action complained about, including "suspension from the Instruments" -- which sounds particularly painful.

I'm not making this up.