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"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Common Cause Federation Formed

The next important step in the formation of a new, orthodox Anglican province in North America has been taken in Pittsburgh. It is interesting that CANA, the Nigerian missionary convocation in the US whose first bishop (Bishop Martyn Minns) was consecrated last weekend in Nigeria, has been included in the new Federation. This is a very encouraging sign.

From the Anglican Communion Network's web site:

The Common Cause Roundtable which represents nine orthodox Anglican jurisdictions and organizations in North America met in Pittsburgh August 16–18, 2006 to continue its unifying work. The Common Cause Roundtable Partners accomplished three major tasks:
  • affirmed their Covenant Declaration;
  • amended and approved the Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partnership; and,
  • recommended the formation of the Common Cause Federation (CCF).

The Roundtable drafted and approved proposed articles to create the Common Cause Federation which would formalize the relationship of the partners and allow for other orthodox Anglican groups to apply for membership. The representatives at the meeting will now take the three above-mentioned documents back to their constituent bodies for approval and adoption. The approval process is likely to extend over the next 18 months. The texts of the Covenant Declaration and the Theological Statement are contained below and are available on the website of the Anglican Communion Network at www.acn-us.org. The text of the Articles of the Common Cause Federation will be available in mid-October.

One of the actions of the Common Cause Partners’ meeting was to include the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) as the ninth roundtable partner. In addition, the retired Archbishop of Southeast Asia, the Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung was the Bible teacher for the Roundtable meetings over the three day period. Bible teaching took a central place in shaping the work of the Common Cause Roundtable.

COVENANT DECLARATION OF THE COMMON CAUSE PARTNERS

We intend by God’s grace:

  • to partner together in a renewed missionary effort in North America and beyond, driven by our passion for Jesus and His Gospel.
  • to ensure an orthodox Anglican Province in North America that remains connected to a faithful global Communion.
  • to create a unity in the essentials of our Anglican faith that respects our varied styles and expressions.
  • to build trusting relationships marked by effective coordination, collaboration, and communication.

THEOLOGICAL STATEMENT OF THE COMMON CAUSE PARTNERS

We believe and confess Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by Him. Therefore, the Common Cause Partnership identifies the following seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way, and essential for membership:

  1. We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
  2. We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
  3. We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.
  4. We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian.
  5. Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.
  6. We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.
  7. We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.

In all these things, the Common Cause Partnership is determined by the help of God to hold and maintain as the Anglican Way has received them the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ.

“The Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher wrote, “has no peculiar thought, practice, creed or confession of its own. It has only the Catholic Faith of the ancient Catholic Church, as preserved in the Catholic Creeds and maintained in the Catholic and Apostolic constitution of Christ’s Church from the beginning.” It may licitly teach as necessary for salvation nothing but what is read in the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word written or may be proved thereby. It therefore embraces and affirms such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the Scriptures, and thus to be counted apostolic. The Church has no authority to innovate: it is obliged continually, and particularly in times of renewal or reformation, to return to “the faith once delivered to the saints.”

To be an Anglican, then, is not to embrace a distinct version of Christianity, but a distinct way of being a “Mere Christian,” at the same time evangelical, apostolic, catholic, reformed, and Spirit-filled.

Proposed to the Partners
August 18th, 2006

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Randall,

The manner of reception of the seven ecumenical councils seems rather important to one's ecclesiology, so I was happy to see the passage about them in the Theological Statement. But its qualifying remarks leave me a bit confused.

It is of course entirely right to accept the councils "in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures" - but the bishops who comprised the councils would have taken it as a matter of course that they were agreeable to Scripture. Likewise, the latter three councils can reasonably be described as "Christological clarifications" - but so too was the fourth council, which is instead grouped with the first three.

What is intended by these qualifications? Could you offer some comment or clarification?

Thanks,
Ian

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I just had the clever idea of finishing the rest of your post, and I suppose Archbishop Fisher's comments do address my concerns somewhat.

But it leads to an even more difficult problem (at least, from the Roman Catholic perspective), which is that the Councils were intended to resolve disputed issues in theology - i.e., to indicate the correct way of reading Scripture. How can Scripture then be used to judge the Councils?

Ok. That's enough out of me.

Ian

11:57 AM  
Blogger Julian said...

Way too much prayer book stuff, and what else does it say that shouldn't already be obvious...

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Fr. Richard Cantrell said...

"Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures."

With such a qualification, the 5th, 6th, & 7th councils are stripped of authority and rendered pointless, because it is left to private judgment to decide wherein they are agreeable to Holy Scripture. But the very purpose of these, and all, councils' teaching is to remove certain matters from private judgment.

It is my understanding that by the time of the Reformation all seven councils had been "received" by the Church east and west, and thus they are of "Catholic Consent." How can we refuse to receive them and still claim to hold the Catholic Faith?

With regard to the 7th Council's requirement that all churches should contain holy images [assuming Fr. Peter Toon is accurate] in a world in which we are bombarded 24/7 by the grossest secular images how salutary it would be for our church buildings to be richly appointed with images of the various aspects of the Word-made-flesh!

The more I reflect on the 7th Council the better its teaching seems.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Julian said...

It doesn't mean that one is *against* the seventh council. But unlike the earlier councils, it does not deal with something that is an absolute requirement for Christians. What is important here is how we define the Faith itself, which is mandatory for all, as opposed to those things not essential to salvation such as the status of Christian tradition concerning holy images. Also, I doubt that there is anything truly essential to the Faith that cannot be reliably judged as "agreeable to Scripture" by human judgement - otherwise, what good is revelation if it doesn't define our judgement? If Scripture has been taken seriously, then the councils will as a matter of course be agreeable to them. Those things that are contentious are such things as the canons forbidding kneeling on Sundays - a case in which either position is aguably "agreeable" and should be allowed. Nothing essential is lost by not enforcing this. I think it is in keeping with the ideals of Anglicanism to refrain from making holy images mandatory. A person can still be a fully faithful Christian without believing as a article of faith that images must be required in all churches.

6:04 PM  
Blogger wyclif said...

Randall,

Getting back to the topic of this thread: I'll be frank. I'm unimpressed by Common Cause. It seems to contain the same germ that you criticized earlier about the meeting between ACN and Canterbury. Except that I believe CC has even less chance of flying. Why?

Because despite the first point of their theological affirmation, which states that Holy Scripture is the rule of faith and catholic order, many influential members of CC continue to ordain women priests and deacons, and do all sorts of other things that will eventually make groups like the REC and AMiA blanch.

A priest in AMiA just published a pamphlet/paper that questions the recent AMiA decision to continue ordaining women deacons, over against the AMiA Primatial study and recommendations.

So, exactly how that oft-bandied "evangelical, catholic, charismatic" thingy is going to work on the ground still remains to be seen.

6:58 PM  

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