At the Continuum blog the Reverend Robert Hart believes the 39 Articles has implicit authority inside the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) by way of the 1893 Solemn Declaration, found in the 1962 Canadian BCP. Though the ACC approves use of the Canadian prayer book, where contradictions arise the ACC’s highly adapted Solemn Declaration (see below) and unusual C&C trump. Nonetheless, Fathers Hart and Wells have based their up-coming manuscript (The Laymen’s Guide) upon the very existence of the 1893 declaration at the front of the 1962 BCP. While this is a questionable interpretation, Hart and Wells are both correct to focus upon Solemn Declarations as markers of Anglican orthodoxy.
Solemn Declarations (SD) are peculiar to North America. They are not only found within the 1962 BCP, but also in the Constitution and Canons (C&C) of numerous Anglican churches. Most North American Declarations have been modified to answer certain modernist heresies, expanding upon the original 1893, and provide ready hallmarks for conservative churchmanship. Without getting mired in any particular interpretation of ACC canon, an overview of North American Solemn Declarations is useful since their adoption has resisted harm caused by century-long latitudinarian policies.
Usually more liberal Anglicans dislike Declarations forth right, believing public vows antithetical to the”broadness” normally considered essential for “catholic” Anglicanism. But is it “catholic” for churches to treat historic doctrine and worship as local options? For North American provinces that adopted Declarations, the SD’s are usually found in their C&C, often in modified form. In addition to the SD found in the 1962 BCP, the largest conservative jurisdiction in North America– the Anglican Church– has modeled their statement of faith on the 1893 archetype. Thus, SD’s have a wide-range of frequency among Realignment and Continuing churches.
The Archetype: The 1893 Solemn Declaration began with the Most Reverend Machray’s proposal for a Canadian provincial church. In 1890 Machray assured Canadian Anglicans their jurisdiction would not abandon the distinctive tenets of the Mother Church in England. He also made clear Canada’s desire to be part of the Lambeth Communion. Consequently, the 1893 Declaration was composed in two parts. The first portion was a summary of Anglicanism’s catholic nature, namely, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. The second half dealt with historic formulae more peculiar to Reformation in England– e.g., the 39 Articles, BCP, and Ordinal. If we take the Quadrilateral as a sufficient statement of catholicity while the historic formulae speaks of the Settlement’s distinct Protestant basis, then Solemn Declarations invoke catholic and national principles.The words of the 1893 SD followed:
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
We, the Bishops, together with the Delegates from the Clergy and Laity of the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada, now assembled in the first General Synod, hereby make the following Solemn Declaration:
We declare this Church to be, and desire that it shall continue, in full communion with the Church of England throughout the world, as an integral portion of the one Body of Christ composed of Churches which, united under the One Divine Head and in the fellowship of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, hold the one Faith revealed in Holy Writ, and defined in the Creeds as maintained by the undivided primitive Church in the undisputed Ecumenical Councils; receive the same Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as containing all things necessary to salvation; teach the same Word of God; partake of the same Divinely ordained Sacraments, through the ministry of the same Apostolic Orders, and worship one God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ by the same Holy and Divine Spirit Who is given to them that believe to guide them into all truth.
And we are determined by the help of God to hold and maintain the Doctrine, Sacraments and Discipline of Christ as the Lord hath commanded in His Holy Word, and as the Church of England hath received and set forth the same in “The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the Use of the Church of England; together with the Psalter or Psalms of David pointed as they are to be sung or said in churches; and the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests and Deacons;” and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion; and to transmit the same unimpaired to our posterity.
Usually Anglicans have no problem affirming the Quadrilateral. However, the second half is more testy, especially with the last two clauses. The first clause begins at the last paragraph, saying, “to hold and maintain”. This ends with the second clause, “to transmit the same unimpaired to our posterity”. Otherwise straightforward, most Solemn Declarations following 1893 would omit or weaken these two critical phrases. So, keeping an eye out for the original terminology– e.g., ‘tansmit unimpaired to our posterity’ or ‘hold and maintain’– is therefore important.
Realignment Churches: ACNA is a case in point of some watered down terminology. The Fundamental Principles of the new ACNA are fashioned according to the 1893 Declaration. Points #1-5 are basically from the Quadrilateral, and the last two points are those ‘distinct tenets’ belonging to historical Anglicanism. The term “receive” for the 39 Articles and BCP denotes their lower status to Scripture, Creed, Ecumencial Councils, etc.. yet, “to hold and maintain” does appear at the end of the last paragraph. Nonetheless, the 39 articles are described as “expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time”, raising the relevant question if this means such issues are no longer controverted today? Also recall ACNA Principles omit the earlier posterity clause, making the solemn vow less serious. ACNA’s Principles are seven:
“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 Anglican Church in North America identifies the following seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way, and essential for membership:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Anglican Church in North America 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.”
Compared to GAFCON’s prolix Jerusalem Declaration, the SD format of ACNA’s Fundamental Principles make it better organized and clean. Though it contains the points belonging to the Quadrilateral and Anglican formulae, the GAFCON statement is more a laundry-list of disagreement mostly against modernist methods of interpretation, stressing the literalness of scripture and the Creed.
The ACNA’s statement reads in a succession of similar North American Declarations. But, its weak language is really an appeal to broad church rather than a reaffirmation of historical Anglican identity. However, it leaves partners within ACNA (such as REC, FiFna, or other non-geographic dioceses) to tighten the Declaration as they see fit. This would include AMiA who withdrew late-2010 but upheld stronger language with the 39 Articles despite charismatic recidivism. FiFna lacks a full solemn declaration, limiting mutual profession to the Quadrilateral in their Declaration of Common Faith. This distancing from a full SD was a reason the ACNA’s SD
Though the REC’s Fundamental Declaration was written twenty years before Machray’s Solemn Declaration(SD), Cummin’s declaration contains the same elements and basic structure as later SD’s. In fact, the REC’s principles may have been what Machray was looking at to alleviate evangelical concerns with Lambeth. Although the Declaration’s approval of the 1785 BCP plus a categorically calvinist view of sacraments represents a specific narrowing of Anglican theology as found in 39 Articles, the 1873 is typical of the genre. We might consider the fourth section an elaboration on the first three points which would be the Solemn Declaration proper:
“1. The Reformed Episcopal Church, holding “the faith once delivered unto the saints,” declares its belief in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God, as the sole rule of Faith and Practice; in the Creed “commonly called the Apostles’ Creed;” in the Divine institution of the Sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and in the doctrines of grace substantially as they are set forth in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.
2. This Church recognizes and adheres to Episcopacy, not as of Divine right, but as a very ancient and desirable form of Church polity.
3. This Church, retaining a liturgy which shall not be imperative or repressive of freedom in prayer, accepts The Book of Common Prayer, as it was revised, proposed, and recommended for use by the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, A.D. 1785, reserving full liberty to alter, abridge, enlarge, and amend the same, as may seem most conducive to the edification of the people, “provided that the substance of the faith be kept entire.”
4. This Church condemns and rejects the following erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God’s Word: First, that the Church of Christ exists only in one order or form of ecclesiastical polity: Second, that Christian Ministers are “priests” in another sense than that in which all believers are a “royal priesthood:” Third, that the Lord’s Table is an altar on which the oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ is offered anew to the Father: Fourth, that the Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine: Fifth, that regeneration is inseparably connected with Baptism.”
Since 2001, the REC has began a process of clarifying point four (above) to a more catholic understanding of the 39 Articles. This was leveraged through APA ecumenical statements (Anglican Province of America– see below), especially their Joint Affirmation. In 2005, the REC and APA then launched a process for relation with Lambeth through the global south, making a bridge between realignment and continuing churhes as explained in the REC-APA’s statement on Anglican unity:
“The Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America are part of the new alignment. It has taken initial shape for us by means of the Church of Nigeria of the Anglican Communion… FACA therefore also helps form a subordinate structure to the Common Cause Partners promoting greater bilateral union among the fragments of continuing Anglicanism. We ask for your prayers and supports of FACA. It offers a way forward between the REC and the APA as well as among many other Anglican jurisdictions. By the grace of God, it will play a role in the larger realignment of Anglicanism.” (p. 2, 14, ‘True Unity’).
Continuing Churches: As suggested elsewhere– not only by Fr. Hart but by an earlier post on the St. Louis Affirmation– Solemn Declarations provide a way for Continuing churches to clarify sometimes tense relations with historic formulae. At the 2011 Reaffirmation Congress held recently in Victoria, Canada a little known church– a self-professed adherent to the St. Louis Affirmation–, the Christian Episcopal Church (XnEC), headed by Bp. Redmile, called for visible unity between St. Louis jurisdictions. The XnEC is a rather small continuing jurisdiciton, but at their website a version of the old Solemn Declaration can be found. This SD was introduced by their first Bishop, Donald Davies, in 2003. XnEC calls it “The Fort Worth Declaration” which reads:
“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. We, the Most Reverend Archibald Donald Davies, and those Bishops who have hereunto subscribed their names, hereby make the following Solemn Declaration: We declare ourselves to be in communion one with another, as members of the One Body of Christ, united under the One Divine Head and in the fellowship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, holding the One Faith revealed in Holy Writ, and defined in the Creeds as maintained by the undivided primitive Church in the undisputed Oecumenical Councils: receiving the same Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as containing all things necessary to salvation; teaching the same Word of God; partaking of the same Divinely ordained Sacraments, through the ministry of the same Apostolic Orders, and worshipping One God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ, by the same Holy and Divine Spirit Who is given to them that believe to guide them into all truth.
And we are determined by the help of God to hold and maintain the Doctrine, Sacraments, and Discipline of Christ as the Lord hath commanded in His holy Word, and as the Church of England hath received and set forth the same in the Book of Common Prayer of 1662; and the Articles of Religion of 1562; and to transmit the same unimpaired to our posterity.”
This is a rare example of an SD that Continuing and Realignment Anglicans might both agree. Most curiously, it makes no mention of the Lambeth Communion, though it has a very clear-cut statement on Anglican formulae with very little alteration from the original 1893. Apparently, whatever was judged disagreeable simply was removed, and so we have something that’s basically identical to the original.
Among St. Louis churches, the largest is the ACC which is now its virtual flagship. The ACC preceded both XnEC and TAC (see below) having primarily drafted the St. Louis as well as a founding member of the Deerfield Beach congress whereupon TAC was borne. When ACC split over the formation of TAC/ACA, the ACC adopted the following epigram, “–original province”, to differentiate itself from those ACC bishops who merged with the Anglican Episcopal Church (AEC). The ACC nonetheless has its own Solemn Declaration which supersedes the one found in the 1962 BCP. It’s perhaps the most modified version in existence, being carefully worded to amplify primacy of the St. Louis. There’s no mention of the 39 articles in this modification. Male orders are specified, the bishopric is elaborated as “divinely instituted”, and the numeration of sacraments and ecumenical councils are enshrined as ‘seven’. This SD gives a real stress on the authority of the Bishop. The intention to remain in communion with other Anglicans is probably wisely qualified as those who remain “faithful to Apostolic Order”. Following a brief preamble regarding the necessity to ‘re-order godly discipline’ in America, the ACC’s SD begins:
“We declare this church to be, and desire that it shall continue, in full communion with all Anglicans throughout the world who remain faithful to Apostolic Order (including the male Episcopate, Priesthood, and Diaconate), as an integral portion of the one Body of Christ composed of Churches which, united under the One Divine Head and in fellowship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, hold the one Faith revealed in Holy Writ, and defined in the Creeds as maintained by the undivided Primitive Catholic Church in the Seven Ecumenical Councils; receive the same Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New testaments, as containing all things necessary to salvation; teach the same Word of God; partake of the same Divinely ordained Sacraments through the Ministry of the same Divinely instituted Apostolic Orders; and worship one God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ, by the same Holy and Divine Spirit Who is given to them that believe to guide them into all truth.
And we are determined by the help of God to hold and maintain the Doctrine, the Seven Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ as the Lord has commanded in His Holy Word and as this Church hath received and set forth the same in the Book of Common Prayer; to maintain the Scriptural and Apostolical Form of Episcopal Church Government; and to transmit the same sacred trust unimpaired to our posterity.”
Another example of a St. Louis church using solemn declarations is the UK province of TAC (TTAC). It’s SD surprisingly makes wide use of the 39 articles. As a member of TAC, the UK province is free to “adopt its own Fundamental or Solemn Declarations consistent with the Affirmation of St. Louis” (Concordant cc. 3.4). The UK Province conservatively adopted a Fundamental Declaration much like the 1893, composed along the same symbolic structure– the councils, creeds, bible, and settlement formulae:
FUNDAMENTAL DECLARATIONS. 2.1 The Traditional Anglican Church, being a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church of Christ from primitive times and in particular as set forth by the Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church and embodied in the Creeds known as the Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed.
2.2 This Church receives all the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as defined in Article VI of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as being the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by inspiration of God and containing all things necessary to salvation.
2.3 This Church will ever obey the commands of Christ, teach His doctrine, administer His sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, follow and uphold His discipline and preserve the three orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in the sacred ministry, which orders in accordance with the example of Christ and the Apostles shall ever be reserved to adult males.
2.4 This Church retains and affirms the traditional orthodox doctrine and principles of the Church of England as embodied in the Book of Common Prayer (1662) together with the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, and in the Articles of Religion sometimes called the Thirty-nine Articles as being agreeable to the Word of God.
The UK-TTAC Declaration is one of the few Continuing churches that uses the 39 articles as a framework for the remainder of its Constitution, proof-texting C&C points by the doctrine of the Articles. This probably caters to unsuspect evangelicals in the CoE. Note also 2.3 which inserts a special clause for male orders– a feature that Realignment churches might benefit from in the future. Despite the high prominence of the 39 articles, a part of TTAC nevertheless signed onto Benedict XVI’s Ordinariate. Obviously, declarations aren’t fool-proof solutions to orthodoxy as they deserve evaluation with the rest of the affixed C&C. In this instance, the recusancy common with TTAC (and ACA) might be blamed upon their 1990 Concordant that relocates sovereignty of provinces to the TAC College of Bishops.
My favorite Solemn Declaration is the Anglican Province of America’s (APA) rendition. The APA version is close to the 1893 prototype, but it admits the St. Louis Affirmation and 1801 articles. However, the explicit mention of the St. Louis Affirmation is mollified by a “spirit of” clause. This is a fortuitous phrase given the Affirmation contains problematic vocabulary, namely, the formula for seven sacraments and councils (sometimes referred to as ‘7/7’). What is meant by “spirit of” might be many things, but given the APA’s early continuity with low-church AEC, it’s a safe bet early-APA intended (at most) a modest anglo-catholicism or ‘middle of the road’ churchmanship. The spirit-clause gives generous leeway, but the Affirmation’s poor theological language might find improvement, doctrinally speaking, by inclusion of an asterisk , much like ACC clarified Section V. Otherwise, the Affirmation is a good document that appeals to catholic tradition for primarily for the sake of keeping male holy orders. An abbreviated form of the Affirmation, provided by ACA-DNE, highlights those ideas which should be taken as central to the St. Louis accord, otherwise leaving aside questionable language. Thus, the abbreviated form is likely the best interpretation of what the “spirit-of-clause” actually means.
Detractors might point out the APA-DEUS is now largely anglo-catholic despite its Fundamental Declaration. However, this is not the fault of the declaration per se. Instead, blame is better given to the larger C&C which tolerates advanced ritualist practice. The instability of broad church when confronted with theological problems ultimately leads to single-party domination. With ACA-APA reunion looming on the horizon, the APA might adopt an SD that is narrowed to make both the St. Louis Affirmation and Tractarianism prescriptive. Anyway, the APA’s Declaration reads:
“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. We, the Bishops, together with the Depuites from the Clergy and Laity of the Anglican Province of America, assembled in Provincial Synod, make the following Solemn Declaration:
We declare this Church to be, and desire that it shall continue in full communion with all traditional Anglicans throughout the world, as an integral portion of the One Body of Christ composed of Churches which, united under the One Divine Head and in fellowship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, hold the One Faith revealed in Holy Writ, and defined in the Creeds as maintained by the undivided primitive Church in the undisputed Ecumenical Councils; receive the same Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testametns, as containing all things necessary to salvation; teach the same Word of God; partake of the same Divinely ordained Sacraments , through the ministry of the same Apostolic Orders; and worship One God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ, by the same Holy and Divine Spirit who is given to them that believe to guide them into all truth.
And We are determined by the help of God to hold and maintain the Doctrine, Sacraments, and Discipline of Christ as the Lord hath commanded in His Holy Word, and as the traditional Anglican movement hath received and set forth the same in the Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung, or said in Churches, and the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of 1801; and in the spirit of the Affirmation of St. Louis of 1977; and to transmit the same unimpaired to our posterity.”
Though the APA moved in the protestant direction of the REC immediately after leaving the ACA, the ACA possessed the earlier SD. As a member of TAC, Anglican standards are required to be interpreted through the St. Louis Affirmation, making Tract 90 the best exposition on the 39 articles. The 1990 Concordant seems the most likely culprit for the institution of anglo-Romanism in ACA, culminating with the 2007 Portsmouth Petition.
In 2010 the APA Diocese of the West refused to cut ties with Common Cause churches, and, as a consequence, APA-DoW joined ACNA through membership in REC. Evidently, the 2001 Joint Affirmation was deemed sufficient for merger, exempting DoW from the REC’s 1873 Declaration, and apparently allowing it to keep its APA C&C. This means the REC strangely contains within itself a church that now believes: 1. episcopacy is an essential mark of the true church; and, 2. the real objective presence of Christ is found inside the consecrated bread. In this case, DoW is the only jurisdiction inside ACNA to formally accept the St. Louis Affirmation, making it the first church to join ACNA from the Continuum, perhaps setting an example.
Some Thoughts: Both Continuing and Realignment jurisdictions have Solemn Declarations (SD). Some are closer to the original 1893 than others. Where they’ve been adapted to address modern innovations like women’s ordination, the St. Louis is sometimes adds the importance of male orders by insertion into the SD. The UK-TAC ‘ s is probably the best example of such. Meanwhile, APA’s DoW stitches together both the St. Louis and 39 articles through the REC’s Joint Affirmation, demonstrating how Continuing churches might be part of a dialectic toward a greater old high church divinity. Sadly, WO and 39 articles will remain divisive issues not only within the ACNA but also for the ACC since the 39 articles remains a touchy subject for the Continuers. Nonetheless, Solemn Declarations, like those belonging to UK-TAC and APA, remain excellent examples by which some St. Louis churchman as well as 2003 Episcopalians can re-embrace classical Anglicanism. At the very least, SD’s provide a reliable marker for conservative churchmanship, especially at a time when scattered Anglicans want to regather and cooperate. The Continuum may prove the last factor to tip the scales in favor of ending WO and/or preserving the historic Prayer book in North America. As Bp. Paul Hewett (Diocese of the Holy Cross) noted in his 2007 report , “backdoor” connections exist that someday could link the Continuum to ACNA through FACA (FACA is a ministry partner of ACNA):
“The three major jurisdictions that are not in FACA are the Anglican Catholic Church, the Anglican Province of Christ the King, and the United Episcopal Church. They are moving toward an informal federation which is actually quite dynamically linked through back doors with ours. I believe that this grouping and the FACA are on converging paths, and there are many who labor to make this so.”