Monday, December 03, 2007

Streetwise: Rowan Williams on Anglicanism

Archbishop Rowan Williams has provided, in his estimable book Anglican Identities, a working summary of Anglicanism, which I believe is worth noting:

"I have simply taken it [i.e. Anglicanism] as referring to the sort of Reformed Christian thinking that was done by those (in Britain first, then far more widely) who were content to settle with a church order grounded in the historic ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, and the classical early Christian formulations of doctrine about God and Jesus Christ -- the Nicene Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon. It is certainly Reformed thinking, and we should not let the deep and pervasive echoes of the Midle Ages mislead us: it assumes the governing authority of the Bible, made available in the vernacular, and repudiates the necessity of a central executive authority in the Church's hierarchy. It is committed to a radical criticism of any theology that sanctions the hope that human activity can contribute to the winning of God's favour, and so is suspicious of organised asceticism (as opposed to the free expression of devotion to God which may indeed be profoundly ascetic in its form) and of a theology of the sacraments which appears to bind God too closely to material transactions (as opposed to seeing the free activity of God sustaining and transforming certain human actions done in Christ's name).

-Rowan Williams, Anglican Identities, p. 2 (italics original)

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