The news is out. The Anglican Ordinariate will be established in the USA on January 1. Read more about it here and from Rocco Palmo here. As I predicted, there are more priests coming over than congregations for them to serve. They will, no doubt, serve in local Latin Rite parishes while they build up an ordinariate congregation. Goody Goody! I'm pretty excited by this. I know I'm biased, but they're going to bring in some good stuff to the Catholic Church. It's called "the Anglican Patrimony."
Here are a few of the good things:
1. Good hymns
2. Good education
3. Good sense of self deprecating humor
4. Good taste in dry sherry
5. Good understanding of the importance of lace and incense
6. Good literary sense
7. Good boost to the Western tradition
8. Words like "vouchsafe"
9. Good Choral evensong
10. Good knowledge of architecture
11. Good Englishness
12. Good sense of the need for Evangelization.
13. Good missionary spirit.
14. Good hats
15. Good down to earth spirituality.
At the same time as I read of this, I also read that it is not true that Anglicans do not have doctrine. Maybe you can decide which is more accurate.
Contrary to Maurice Wiles’ opinion that Anglicanism has no identifiable content, Philip Turner states that, “the doctrinal content Anglicans share is embedded primarily in liturgical practices the purpose of which is to form the character of a communion of believers. Its liturgical and formational setting means that the doctrinal content of Anglicanism is, as it were, scattered through a complex of practices rather than focused in a specifically theological document.”
Turner is careful here, noting that if one says that the primary focus of Anglicanism is “liturgical practices,” then one is also saying in the same breathe that the heart of Anglican theology is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. For at the center of the Book of Common Prayer is the “prayer to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.”
Now as you probably know from reading this blog, I am firmly in the camp of re-establishing the office of bishop and giving the bishop some authority and some teeth. Of course, there are those who whine like babies about the lack of authority or teeth among those who do have bishops -- and more than this, the lack of orthodoxy as some would suppose an episcopal structure should encourage. I make no such argument that an episcopacy either encourages or discourages orthodoxy. I just believe it is the more Scriptural and churchly form of governance for the Church.
It surely does strike me as odd, however, that a church body with such great respect and ceremony for the office of bishop is also home to so many who seem intent upon ignoring the content of their own creedal and liturgical heritage in order to keep and pass on simply the outward forms and ceremonial of that identity. On the one hand it surely should be enough to say that the doctrine of the liturgy and inherent in that liturgy is the confession of the church and the faithful. On the other hand, the doctrine in that liturgy and of that liturgy is neither sufficient for or complete in its confession. There are hosts of issues not directly addressed or even tangential to the liturgy or the creed and yet they require the Church to speak, confess, and bear witness to the truth. Lutherans with their big heavy book of faith in the Concordia never claim that every issue or dogma is contained within its pages and that the Church must continue to confess and bear witness to that which is not directly referenced in her written confessions or liturgical tradition (abortion, for example).
The liturgy is a good start for those who hear and heed with utter seriousness and piety what is confessed there in prayer form but it begs for more. It is this that Anglicans seem to have forgotten. So they hold to a book as a form without doctrinal content that has teeth, ceremonial which is catholic in nearly every aspect except the faith that accompanies such ritual and tradition, and to a structure which is ancient and Biblical yet entirely incapable of speaking pointedly when false teaching and false teachers arise.
Back to the main point... at the very same time some are trying to insist that Anglicans have enough doctrine in the liturgy and prayer book there are Anglicans who are seeking union with Rome (with an identifiable Anglican piety) because they cannot express or hold to that piety in their own tradition. Rome will gain the best of Anglicanism and Anglicans while the ECA will be left with those whose Gospel has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus, whose mission is social justice, and whose identity is synonymous with the most radical of political, theological, and cultural agendas. But they will do a nice job of celebrating the liturgy whose content they have abandoned and they will head toward apostasy with miter, staff, cope, purple trimmed cassock, mosetta, and zuchetto leading the way...