ACC Makeover

The other day I ran across the updated website of the ACC. I was very surprised, especially by FAQ links that staked out the ACC’s position on the English Reformation and therefore Anglican formularies. At first glance, it appeared to defend the Elizabethan Settlement, even calling the ACC a “reformed Catholic church”. Nonetheless, I kept myself fastened to the ground and asked if the new webpages represented a retraction of the ACC’s Athens Statement; in other words, was ACC finally approving the the basic theology of the Settlement period? What follows is a comparison of the content of the new website to the older Athens Statement, and maybe from there a sober evaluation can be had.  Readers will find the ACC’s identity hinges upon a theory of doctrinal development between the Settlement and Tractarianism, ultimately justifying the ACC’s current theological position (which we will call ‘Stahlism’). 

A brief review of the Athens Statement is due. According to Douglas Bess, the Athens Statement was largely of the authorship of canonist Andrew Stahl. It’s mostly a defense of the “Original Province” against Falk’s ACA and later Grundorf’s APA– but it also might apply to any continuing body that is not a the direct product of the St. Louis Congress. The Statement attacks such jurisdictions on two levels: first, by criticizing any identification of Anglicanism with historical standards (like the 39 articles); and, second, rejecting other claims of apostolic succession which are outside the Chamber’s line.

Returning to the earlier point, the Athen’s Statement says of the Elizabethan Settlement, “The fundamental cause has been a crisis of authority within Anglicanism, having its origins in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century and the tensions of the Elizabethan “Church Settlement.”  Though the Settlement maintained essentials of ‘catholic faith and apostolic order’, the Statement concludes the historical formulae are untenable since they were  founded upon democratic principles of “comprehension”, so to unite “all the Queen’s subjects within it, whether Catholic or Protestant, or both”.  Thus, the Athens Statement reasons against Elizabethan standards, admitting at the end of the Statement’s historical summary, “the Church Settlement did not really work in England even under Elizabeth, and it certainly does not work in England or anywhere else today”. In other words, it was deficient until influenced by Newmanisque Tractarianism.

Doctrinal Development: If we compare quotations from Athens Statement to the ACC’s improved website (despite many laudable quotes borrowed from Bishops Bramhall, Hammond, Jewel, King James, et al.), the ACC has said nothing new.  Under ‘strands of continuity’ (see Protestantism & Anglican Origins), a somewhat pyrrhic admission that Anglicanism under the Tudors preserved a minimum of doctrine to cut the mustard as a catholic church, saying, “the Church of England emerged from the Protestant Reformation as a “Continuing Catholic” Church, not as a Protestant sect.” Though the website doesn’t go so far as the Athen’s Statement, explicitly calling the alleged mixture of Protestant and Catholic belief as ‘untenable’, it still holds the catholicity of the Settlement was partial and incomplete– evidently, leaving the nuts and bolts of historical reform to Stahlist Anglo-Catholics.

“So, even if the Caroline Divines are seen as advancing beyond the Elizabethan Divines and the Anglo-Catholics beyond the Caroline Divines in certain areas, this is irrelevant if their position is a logical development of the basic Catholic principles of these earlier Anglicans. The fact that distance from the polemical (and emotionally and politically charged) atmosphere of immediate post-Reformation times may have led to more consistent and sometimes superior conclusions from these principles by the Anglo-Catholics should be seen as a matter for joy…”

This leads to an idea of doctrinal development, culminating in an anglo-catholicism that identifies with modern Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy. We can suppose “anglo-catholics” would include not only 19th century Tractarians but especially 20th century Papists like Andrew Stahl. The ACC’s apologetic is less an approval of the Elizabethan standards than it is a vindication of recusancy, making the Affirmation something of a confessional or eschatological end point.

While it’s true the CoE’s 17th century divinity re-appropriated certain catholic practice, Caroline divines nonetheless energetically upheld the ‘reformed’ faith of Tudor Protestantism. More particularly, Carolinian’s maintained Elizabethan sacramentology, keeping a division of greater from lesser sacraments by reason of their nature,  in other words, what remits sin. This is  a critical point which has been discussed earlier, especially in relation to the Affirmation’s speculative language regarding seven sacraments, specifically those of unction and marriage, as being “efficient and objective” means of conveying grace.  Such a claim is enough to make oil and rings a theological gateway for church sacramentals (like beads and ashes) to acquire salvific qualities and thus dogmatic importance  This tends to undermine Tudor divinity, and it’s not a development of doctrine so much as a break from Settlement theology.

It is well known (and admitted by the website) that Anglican formularies richly draw upon the most reliable centuries of antiquity, sometimes referred to as the Vincentian canon, and therefore have a strong patristic and concilar basis.  However, what’s at stake is how far that canon of tradition deserves stretching.  Under Prayer Book Liturgy, the website says, “The ACC does not believe in disparaging medieval things or in rejecting well-established traditions. ” While Anglican divinity might tolerate a limited restoration of medieval practice,  it normally doesn’t start, as the ACC website does, with the presupposition that Settlement theology is lacking or anemic, “the theological meaning of the Prayer Books, which was in flux for earlier Anglicans, has been firmly settled by other ACC formularies, most notably, The Affirmation of St. Louis.” Referring back to the FAQ respecting Protestantism:

“We can happily admit that many of the early Reformers taught or held as individuals material heresy in various areas. But their errors never bound the Church of England as a whole. And, just as importantly, underlying their mixed success in understanding Holy Tradition there was at least a formal and official commitment to that Tradition”

What actually constitutes this ‘tradition’? The website is in general agreement about doctrinal reception and the authority ecumenical councils, but Anglicans have been hesitant about saying what parts of tradition are divinely inspired, “the Church of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem have erred, so hath the Church of Rome”. It would be kind to say ACC is far more optimistic, but this is probably where Anglican Catholics (Stahlists) and classical Anglicanism diverge. The next statement is axle upon which the wheel spins since it suggests any approval of antiquity hypothetically includes the breadth of modern opinion,

“the Anglican appeal to Tradition and Catholic consensus noted above are temporally unlimited in principle. That is, may refer to perpetual consent and…not to one particular age only”.

However, Rome and the East each have organized their own counter-reformation against magisterial Anglicanism, and this bedevils the ACC’s search for modern consensus. Any engagement with Rome without the benefit of a unified Protestant church would leave Anglicans in a lopsided position, pulling the carpet from the feet of their main moral and theological grounds behind the Reformation. Though the website falls short of granting doctrinal substance to such superstitions like the immaculate conception, invocation of saints, the bodily assumption, etc..,  it nonetheless lays the methodology for such by extending reliable centuries or “tradition”  into the modern era. The website calls these modern practices and belief, if not already ‘settled by the ACC’, as “eminently fitting and godly”. Elsewhere (see the epilogue below), it has been said the rejection of such doctrine (e.g., adoration, physical change of sacraments, bodily assumption, invocation of saints, etc..)  is a rejection the methodology implicit in ACC standards, and therefore an obstacle to ACC membership. 

Haverland’s Judgement: Recently, the Retro-Church blog posted an epistle by Archbishop Haverland, likely issued to alleviate fears that the ACC was formally endorsing “protestantism”.  The letter reaffirms the basic positioned outlined in the Athens Statement as well as expounds certain points from the new website.  Haverland says Anglican formula are insufficient for making doctrinal articles, and they must be read in the context of the St. Louis Affirmation. Allegedly, the crisis provoked by women’s ordination caused the making of the Affirmation, but if this is so then why not simply assert the divine institution of Holy Orders rather include provocative terminology for all seven sacraments?

But Haverland credits the seven/seven terminology for ‘clarifying’ Settlement doctrine. We might ask if Tract 90 succeeded making any clarification, especially when Newman himself ultimately rejected it  (p.5 in link)? Haverland finally says the 39 articles and 1662 prayer book are no more than historical curiosities without the Affirmation. However, what’s fore with the Affirmation is the language of seven sacraments and decrees of the seventh ecumenical council, so Haverland concludes:

Well, it is impossible within the Anglican Catholic Church legitimately to deny the authority of the Seven Ecumenical Councils or to deny that there are seven Sacraments.

This corroborates with Haverland’s earlier case for seven sacraments in 20011:

“If asserting ‘seven and seven’ is in some sense an Anglican novelty, we are, again, not concerned”

Hence, the core-theology of the Reformation is tossed out. While Haverland says there is no explicit repudiation of the Reformation, the language of seven sacraments is essentially in implicit rejection. There is no honest way to harmonize the two sacramentologies existing between the Affirmation and classical standards unless one of the two ‘settlements’ are treated nominally. This self-evisceration has been the ACC’s unwavering position ever since the adoption of its 1978 canons, and it has not only generated relative isolation but repeated controversy against broad church overtures in the Continuum. I leave a quote by Dr. Toon on the Affirmation:

“Many of those who left The Episcopal Church in 1977 to form what it was hoped would be The [one and true] Continuing Anglican Church in North America met in St Louis in 1977 and eventually signed “The Affirmation of St Louis.” Those who drafted this (and they included the English priest Dr Truman) clearly intended that it be not a generally acceptable Anglican Statement which traditional evangelicals and traditional anglo-catholics with others could ALL sign. They intended that it be clearly only an anglo-catholic statement and at the same time prepare the way for possible union of this emerging Continuing Church with either Rome or Orthodoxy.”

What’s Neglected:
Though the ACC has lambasted Protestantism on many occasion, it has yet to historically define the term. On a positive note, the new website does mention “catholic humanism”, but it gives no intelligence about humanism on the continent nor anything about the CoE’s greatest intercourse with Protestancy during the 1530-40’s. Ironically, this is something Tractarians documented (see Pusey’s _Real Presence). But, in this early period catholic humanism had direct impact upon the Henrician church, transmitted through early Lutheran exchange. It is also a time when Protestancy reached a relative consensus through confessions like the Wittenberg Concord and Altered Augsburg, potentially unifying Swiss and German churches. Cranmer and Parker both anticipated this Protestant unity, so by the same consensus the 39 articles were framed and understood.  Both Browne and Harwick recommend this manner of historical interpretation to standards. Instead, the ACC’s website myopically limits catholic humanism to England, and probably ultimately identifies it with subterranean, old catholic elements like Tunstall or Gardiner.

While the ACC has not altered any of its material positions, a person might think a half-hearted attempt has been made to identify with part of the Reformation. That might be a start; however, clergy do not render solemn vows to websites.  Clergy give vows to constitution and canons. With the ACC entering the gap left behind by ACA, the ACC presently enjoys the status of flagship for the continuum. As flagship, the ACC can influence the theological and ecumenical direction of other continuing churches, especially those attracted to anglo-catholicism. From the stand point of North American Anglicanism, this is  unfortunate given the ACC’s push for staunch ecclesiastical isolation, leaving us to wonder why loyal Anglicans would create a continuing church that wants nothing to do with the larger Anglican universe?

Kirby’s Confessionalism: The primary author behind the content of the new website was Fr. Matthew Kirby. Kirby has recently been made Haverland’s Assistant for Ecumenical Relations, seen at the bottom of this page.  Many of Fr. Kirby’s writings can be read here. Kirby has been quite honest where he stands with respect to the Settlement, saying (in a reply to Bp. Robinson’s post on Why was Cranmer Burnt?),

 So, while non-Catholic theological positions may have been commonly held by Anglicans at various times, since these oppose the Catholic consensus, they have no authority whatever in Anglicanism, no matter who held them. In other words, finding examples of Anglican hierarchs who held certain positions does nothing whatever to prove that these positions can or should be held legitimately.

Kirby then goes own to provide eight points where the Settlement rubs raw against modern EO and RC belief.  Kirby gives special attention to four points especially common to ‘classical anglicans’ yet unacceptable to both Rome and the East. Points especially true of Protestant Anglicans were enboldened:

5. All prayer for the dead is pointless and based on theological error or ignorance.
6. All forms of the invocation of Saints are forbidden, heretical and sinful.
7. The Bread and Wine in the Eucharist do not become, according to a spiritual mode, the true (crucified and arisen) Body and Blood of Christ, but only symbols of them.
8. The Eucharist is not a sacrifice that can be offered as intercession for the benefit of the quick and the dead.

Kirby then says something amazing, saying if Anglicans believe or teach “any” or “all” of the above (5-8 points), they cannot nor should they become a member of the ACC! This is incredible since at no time in Anglican history have lay people been held to such opinion as a condition for altar-communion. From the mouth of the horse:

“what I am saying is that a person affirming any or all of propositions 5 to 8 in the list of 8 above, for example, is certainly within the range of what has been believed and taught by Anglicans outwardly in good standing, and may thus be termed a “classical Anglican”. At the same time, such a person is not a Catholic, has implicitly rejected a basic epistemological premise of Anglican doctrine and of the ACC’s Formularies, and so cannot and should not be a member of the ACC unless he or she rejects these doctrinal errors.”

This ought to be a  sober reminder for clergy and/or postulants inside the ACC. Another ACC internet author, Fr. Chadwick, follows the same line of thought as Kirby, concluding, “we either have to discard Protestantism and base ourselves on a form of pre-Reformation Catholicism, or on post-Tridentine or post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism.” That pretty much sums the range of official comprehension in ACC.  In the final analysis, the ACC thinks itself a ‘confessional church’– albeit anti-protestant– where “classical” or Settlement Anglicanism is objectively rejected in standards and especially methodology.

While the new ACC website appears to give room for Protestant opinion, it’s only by the degree protestants make-way for Holy Tradition as known through the modern East and Rome.  This is not a new position for the ACC, and, if anything, it is a hardened version of Stahlism, especially since a number of Kirby’s points (#5-8) press beyond the St. Louis Affirmation’s plain language, and not even the Athens Statement requires double shunning.

More can be read about ACC standards here, and since this posting a study on “Continuing Futures” has been written at Anglican Rose called  Post-Brockton. In particular, Post-Brockton urges the ACC-UEC accord to expire while a Federation based upon (a modified) APA-ACA solemn declaration be pursued. 

23 responses to “ACC Makeover

  1. Excellent article.


  2. Continuing Anglicans must come to grip with the fact that the ACC is not a continuation of traditional Anglicanism but rather a continuation of a fairly narrow school of thought, or “party” as it is usually put in Anglican parlance, that has came into existence in the post-Tractarian era. On the other hand, Continuing Anglicans also need to come to grips with the fact that, while the Elizabethan Settlement permanently steered the Church of England towards an episcopal polity, minus Papal Claims, it did not really settle Anglicanism in a theological. Indeed, moderate Catholics, broadly Lutheran churchmen, moderate Calvinists, and, in an attenuated sense, even Puritans were comprehended by the Established Church and eventually the Puritans and Churchmen literally went to war. And, while the Restoration effectively eliminated the Puritan party from Anglicanism, the subsequent Glorious Revolution set a course of limited theological comprehension–bounded by the Anglican formularies of Scripture, Creed, Prayerbook, Ordinal, and Articles of Religion. And this limited comprehension held up until the rise a the innovative, Liberal party in the mid-20th century. Indeed, the whole point of the Affirmation of St. Louis was to continue and defend traditional, limited comprehension against the onslaught of Liberalism’s “unlimited compression.”

    In sum, then, the path forward for Continuing Anglicans must be one that respects Anglicanism’s traditional theological viewpoints and spiritualities: moderate Evangelicals, moderate High or Central Churchmen, moderate Anglo-Catholics, and moderate Phil-Orthodox, while excluding only innovative approaches that contravene the historical Anglican Formularies. Hence, the Continuum’s future must lie in an alliance of the Anglican jurisdictions that confirm traditional, limited comprehension–such as the Anglican Province in America (APA), the Anglican Church in America (ACA), the United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA). In contrast, jurisdictions that either formally, or in practice, embrace only a narrow, partisan form of Anglicanism, need to change or to be read out of the Continuum altogether.


  3. hello Death and Christopher,
    I agree with your analysis– especially the APA, ACA, and UEC comprising a genuine and historical center for the continuing movement. The ACC’s rise of influence has been partially aided by misinformation as to ‘how’ or ‘where’ the Continuum started. Ever since St. Louis, there has been disagreement over “what” traditional Anglicans ought to preserve. Do they continue the Middle-of-the-Road (MOTR) churchmanship owing to PECUSA circa 1950, or are they the nucleus of some sort of Anglican Rite uniate movement with either Rome or the East?

    Douglas Bess suggests, prior to the St. Louis Congress, continuing anglicanism was already planted and growing, represented by escapees from Dee’s Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC). Pre-1977 continuers like Clavier’s old-AEC or Adam’s AECNA wanted a continuing anglicanism broad enough to comprehend both Protestant and Catholics episcopalians leaving PECUSA. They therefore departed from the stricter evangelical churchmanship of James P. Dees to form their own middle-of-the-road jurisdictions. Of the AEC and AECNA, Bess says,

    “By Sept. 1976, when PECUSA finally voted to legalize women’s ordination, the American Episcopal Church [AEC] and Anglican Episcopal Church North America [AECNA] were, relatively speaking, the strongest bodies in the initial phase of the Continuing Anglican movement…Little noticed at the time by many PECUSA traditionalists, who were contemplating their own possible schismatic actions, was the fact that this initial phase of the Continuing Anglican movement was overwhelmingly dominated by low and broad church theology and liturgical practice.”

    On the the eve of St. Louis Congress, traditionalists inside PECUSA held to one of three strategies regarding resistance to Women’s Ordination (WO). Either they planned to stay and fight inside ECUSA, thereby forming the Evangelical and Catholic Movement (ECM). The ECM, later known as FiFNA, would demand a non-geographic province for traditionalists remaining within PECUSA, sometimes called province 9. Other traditionalists had less leeway and felt it was necessary to break communion with ECUSA altogether. Among the later, there was further disagreement whether oversight from certain sister catholic churches (like the East or Rome) was desirable or not. From canon Du Bois’ group which ran the Church Union, the WRO/AR view spread. Meanwhile, the FCC championed a conservative-broad episcopalianism as it stood in PECUSA at about 1967, well-before the Minneapolis Convention (Divided, p. 91). When the Affirmation was written by these parties, it was intended to frame the three views. That plurality of opinion has since been lost.

    The remainder of the story is probably too well known to us. Sadly, the coalition that originated from St. Louis broke down by 1978, but this was largely due to the content of ACC C&C. Andrew Stahl was the author of the ACC’s canons, and he was backed of by Otis Mote. This fact was attested by Fr. Strippy in the June 1986 issue of the Christian Challenge. Strippy identified the ACC canons as the root problem of the Continuing movement. Stahl wrote the canons to narrow the reading of the Affirmation, excluding both low and middle parties. Bishop Charles Doren protested this limitation of (official) churchmanship by taking six parishes out of ACC to create the UECNA. Meanwhile, the leaders of the FCC (most of whom were founders of the St. Louis Congress, btw.) followed Doren’s lead, and within five years St. Louis founders, like the Faber, Simcox, Traycik, and Laukhoff, left ACC for the AEC, which better represented continuing episcopalianism. This mostly occurred after a ‘second Congress of Concerned Churchmen’ held in Spartanburg. By the mid-eighties, the AEC had become the largest continuing church, and it was a center of ecumenical activity with not only other continuers but traditionalists in the Anglican communion. So, from 1968 to 1987, we can easily attest to the contiuum’s leading churches as being officially MOTR.

    By the late 1980’s the ACC’s Archbishop, Louis Falk, was willing to cooperate with AEC, mostly in anticipation of the Anglican Communion centered around Canterbury breaking down. Deerfield Beach was basically the third FCC Congress. Again, a broad church “settlement” was framed in order to wed the AEC and ACC into a single church (aka. the ACA) with two provinces, each having their individual canons. This two province arrangement might have fixed some of the problems between broad and high church interpretations of the Affirmation. However, a substantial portion of the ACC, wryly calling itself “Original Province”, refused to join the ACA. The ACC rump adopted a hardened position against AEC’s ecumenicism, enshrined by the Athens Statement. There is no reason to suppose the ACC has reversed its position respecting the Athens Statement, especially since it has included the Statement in the website’s apologetic section.

    What has been proposed since the World Consultation (2011) is a benedictine model of unity (like Bartonville) between the largest continuing bodies, namely, the ACA-APA and ACC-OP, composing about 90% of continuing membership. However, intercommunion agreements have different levels of unity, and a confederation is not the same as full-merger, so a benedictine model represents no theological retreat by ACC. Indeed, the Athens Statement says, “this does not preclude us from the duty of such constant prayer, scholarly research, local cooperation and other endeavors as may enable us to offer our mite.”

    The rubber hits the road, however, if ACC was asked to approve, say, federative canons that materially differed from its own. Therefore, a merger similar to Deerfield Beach would have to be proposed . Otherwise, we can only go by the Archbishop’s statements respecting the C&C, and suppose the ACC wants the Affirmation to eventually become “confessional”. Furthermore, the ACC has is not discussing unity with traditionalists in either ACNA or the Anglican Communion. Unity is only being considered between churches that either have direct lines to the Chamber’s succession or have since enjoyed sub-conditional consecration. Either way, Stahl’s basic position has not been comprised, especially since the website republishes it:

    “…the Anglican Catholic Church (with its related jurisdictions, namely the Province of Christ the King and the United Episcopal Church of North America) to be the sole legitimate successor to the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the USA, and to similarly apostate Churches in other countries where its jurisdiction has been sought and accepted…. We agree with the dictum of Archbishop Robert Morse of the Province of Christ the King: “There is no ‘Continuing Church’ outside the ‘Chambers Succession’.” That principle was endorsed by a resolution of the X Provincial Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church at Kansas City in 1993.”

    We should consider Haverland’s own words which are true to the “ACC Settlement”, namely, a correct interpretation of canons and synodal statements:

    “It is not enough for us to ask for a positive statement of faith from each other under current circumstances. We may accept the Affirmation of Saint Louis nominally while undermining its substance by treating some of its vital points as inessential…The ACC is quite clear on this point. While we are happy to talk with anyone, full communion with our interlocutors will require acceptance of a hard-line similar to the one we have adopted, lest bad theology drive out the good that we have embraced. That is what I mean by theological integrity on the basis of the Affirmation of Saint Louis. For us this issue will quickly come forward in all of our ecumenical conversations ””

    as well as…

    “The Affirmation of Saint Louis explicitly asserts that its principles are to be determinative in interpreting all Anglican formularies. The Affirmation therefore is not open to the use of Anglican formularies as a limiting principle in its own interpretation.”


    “Well, it is impossible within the Anglican Catholic Church legitimately to deny the authority of the Seven Ecumenical Councils or to deny that there are seven Sacraments.”


    “If asserting ‘seven and seven’ is in some sense an Anglican novelty, we are, again, not concerned”


    Meanwhile, the ACC pushes a very strict non-involvement policy vis-a-vis ACNA #2, including non-involvement with sub-jurisdictions like FiFNA and REC. Such a policy goes beyond anything laid out in the Affirmation (Section V), mostly being derivative of the ACC’s Solemn Declaration and Canons. This position was also pressed at the World Consultation, and to the extent it is received by other continuing bodies, mainly through ACC intercommunion pacts, it signals a relative expansion of “Stahlism”. Again, the pre-1977 continuing church was not based upon extreme views of apostolic succession, opening it too often to vagante consecrations. Moreover, the pre-1977 church was broad, rejecting the narrowness of both Dee’s evangelical AOC and, later, Lewis’ staunchly anglo-catholic ACC-op. The rise of the ACC’s theology in directing the terms of unity for continuing Anglicans represents a novelty in terms of this history.

    While the new ACC website is indeed nuanced, there is no change of position with either Protestantcy or the Settlement. The fact Protestant clergy serve within the ACC means very little since as far back as 1979 the ACC has recognized this by act of resolution, noting the presence of protestant churchmen does not alter the ACC’s docrinal position. Even the website (under Anglican Apologetics, see here, toward the bottom) accurately repeats the Stahlism inside the Athens Statement:

    “If leaders of such bodies are genuine in their claims to adhere to the same Faith and Order, sufficiently to seek a relationship of communio in sacris with the Anglican Catholic Church, then the question arises as to why they established separate jurisdictions in the first place, contrary to that Faith and Order. In the absence of any satisfactory response to that question, there is little point in proceeding further. We cannot see any justification for asking our synods to furnish funds, nor our scholars to sacrifice the huge allocations of time and energy required, to establish formal negotiations with any body of demonstrably illicit jurisdiction, congregationalist polity, and/or doubtful Orders and Sacraments…

    Our position is that, in North America at least, and elsewhere where its jurisdiction is available, there is not, nor can there be, any legitimate “Continuing Anglican Church” beyond that formed pursuant to the determinations of the Congress of St. Louis, endowed with the Apostolic episcopate of Bishop Chambers and others in 1978, and which subsists today in the tripartite communion of the Anglican Catholic Church, the Province of Christ the King and the United Episcopal Church of North America. No Church beyond these three has any legitimate claim to be derived from the Congress of St. Louis, or to possess episcopal jurisdiction (as distinct from mere episcopal Orders) extending from the 1978 Denver consecrations. We agree with the dictum of Archbishop Robert Morse of the Province of Christ the King: “There is no ‘Continuing Church’ outside the ‘Chambers Succession’.” That principle was endorsed by a resolution of the X Provincial Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church at Kansas City in 1993.”

    What would constitute a material change? If ACC was willing to take a diminutive role in Federation (not a benedictine confederation), accepting a broad Solemn Declaration that leaves a other readings of the Affirmation to respective sub-provinces. Another sign would be if the sub-provinces of this proposed Federation were allowed to continue or deepen their ministry partnerships with traditional episcopalians, either inside ACNA #2 or the Anglican Communion.

    Until then, the a lot of inconsequential apologies can be made for the ACC, but the fact is nothing has changed, and presently the winds are blowing in the ACC’s direction. For the larger Continuum, this will result in ecclesiastical isolation, given the ACC will use its new intercommunion pacts to prevent engagement with traditionalists in ACNA#2 or the Anglican Communion. Anglicanism is experiencing something of a reformation, and it should to be asked why St. Louis aspired to “continue” a particular faith and order without any intention of eventually re-engaging North American Anglicanism?”?


  4. IOW the ACC has departed from the Anglican Faith and invented its own religion. It is not Anglican, except by way of being descended from real Anglican Churches.


  5. This seven councils and seven sacraments nonsense is a total rejection of the Reformation, and therefore a rejection of Anglicanism.

    There is a legal precedent in South Africa. The Anglican parishes there got an AC Bishop by name of Grey in 1848 whose aim was to destroy the “chains and shackles of the Reformation” by creating an AC church there. The result was the formation of the Church of the Province of South Africa, which was as intolerant of actual BCP 1662 Anglicanism as the ACC seems to be, and openly persecuted the few parishes that chose to continue with their ancestral religion.

    After many court battles, the High Court in London ruled that the CPSA had separated itself “root and branch” from the CoE as by law established, IOW, it had separated itself from the Anglican religion established by Act of Parliament.

    The outcome was two churches calling themselves Anglican, the Church of England in South Africa, and the anti-Protestant CPSA. The root of the difference is that the religion of the CPSA is whatever the bishops of that church say it is, whereas the CESA is rooted in the 1662 BCP and Articles.

    If I understand Charles aright, the ACC has supplanted the historical formularies with the St. Louis Affirmation, thereby inventing a new religion for themselves, while misleadingly calling itself Anglican.

    There is one sense in which a church man call itself Anglican, which depends upon having an historical connection, but not a theological connection, with the original Church of England. In this sense every body that descends from the CoE is Anglican, whatever their actual theology may be. In my opinion it is deceptive. New religions should take new names for themselves.


  6. I would love to join this discussion with all of you in light of the post that Fr. Hart currently has on the Continuum blog. Fr. Hart is no Anglo-catholic, and yet is perfectly comfortable in the ACC. His post on the Article on the Sacraments is, from all I can tell, classically Anglican, and also demonstrates an orthodox catholic understanding of sacramental theology. However, and more important for this discussion, he also understands that the work of those generally called the English Reformers has a context, and their vision and priorities, and the weight of their arguments in interpreting our formularies have to be received and examined in the light of that context (especially since several of their lesser known and less contentious writings show a more traditional and catholic perspective) – anything else would tend towards a kind of idolizing of humanist neo-Augustinian epistemology; something that has served God’s people no better than scholastic neo-Augustinian Aristotelianism. Sacrament is not a biblical term or concept, and in fact, is a term that appears fairly late in church history. Therefore, any attempt to force a two sacrament doctrine on biblical grounds alone is quite silly. But to properly enshrine the patristic emphasis on the two dominical sacraments while humbly respecting the tradition of the universal Church and accepting the other five sacramental mysteries as normative and central to the life of God’s people is both wise and circumspect. The proximity in time of the English Reformers’ doctrinal and ecclesiological battles to the great theological struggles of the pre-eminent voices of the Continental Reformation does not establish their perspective as being any more normative for the Anglican tradition than that of subsequent or previous generations (and the English Reformation began long before and ended long after the social, intellectual and political upheavals of the 16th century). Calling the ACC’s form of Anglicanism a “new religion” is just another unfortunate moment of intellectual arrogance that is all too common in circles where Reformed ideologies make it impossible for people to reassess a period in church history that is merely one of many significant periods.

    The Anglican Way is first and foremost a spiritual and liturgical path grounded in a traditional, biblically orthodox, creedal and conciliar vision and process. In our tradition (thanks be to God), we have been able to make these kinds of discussions fruitful precisely because the work of the spiritual leaders of the ecclesia anglicana immediately following the break with Rome and again during the early period of Elizabeth’s reign, was, as Charles has pointed out on many occasions, a beautifully pastoral effort that was generally short on words (and short on forcing conformity on specific language regarding secondary doctrinal questions) and long on action intended to preserve the spiritual community of the English faithful. I think it’s important to observe that the authorities of the English church at the outset of the ecclesiastical reformation post-1532 did not allow themselves to become their own sources of spiritual authority. They refused to be carried along by the many waves of the torrent of anti-Romanism and its nonsensical corollary of selective anti-traditionalism. It was the subsequent group of ecclesiastical authorities under Edward VI who were willing to burden the minds and consciences of the English laity with a plethora of trendy biblically-derived, but often extra-biblical (and certainly extra-patristic) articles, radical revisions of prayers, restrictions on prayers and other expressions of orthodox Christian faith, long written sermons and homilies, treatises, primers and catechisms. They rushed to put these many new official teachings in place, mind you, while they claimed to believe in a doctrinal authority that resided in Scripture alone. If you are looking for something to criticize as a “new religion”…. Elizabeth I certainly came close when in establishing the direction of the work of settlement, she proclaimed “the tide of innovation must cease”.

    Where in the established principles of the English Reformation do we find it taught that the Reformation cannot itself be reformed?


  7. The English Reformation is set in stone by Act of Parliament. There is no possibility of a private interpretation of the religion, and no possibility of a pick and choose approach. The religion is what the BCP 1662 says it is. Anything else is a living lie.

    The English Church is a Reformed Church – and that means that it is hostile to Rome in its official stance. Cranmer’s last words were, ” I refuse the Pope and all his works”, as he burned to death, which he had been condemned to by the Pope’s followers. The BCP 1662 takes the same line.

    Just Joe can be as Roman as he likes, but in doing so he departs from the Anglican faith. I have just taken a close look at the 1928 (England) and Common Worship. In those two liturgies the alleged real presence is re-introduced in open defiance of the established religion.

    The English martyrs were murdered precisely for refusing the alleged real presence and eucharistic sacrifice. The ACC has transubstantiation at the heart of their worship. Thus they are no longer Anglican.


  8. I wonder what Just Joe means by the “idolizing of humanist neo-Augustinian epistemology”, because, by my lights, this struggle in Anglicanism between Anglo-Catholicism and classical Anglicanism is largely over whether the Pauline-Augustinian trajectory or the Semipelagianizing trajectory in the church will be victorious. For me, if the Pauline-Augustinian trajectory loses, then the Gospel loses, and what we are left with in such increasingly isolated enclaves as ACC and APCK is a sub-Christian religion that centers around voluntarism, sacramental mechanics and aestheticism. And to be such is not to be “biblically orthodox.”

    The Gospel is most fully articulated in St. Paul in the Epistle to the Romans. It was understood most fully in the patristic age by St. Augustine. The Reformation was largely a return to SS Paul and Augustine. Or rather, as Roman Catholic theologian (and Augustinian) George Tavard argued, the Augustinian trajectory found its fullest development in the soteriology of Luther, whom Tavard believed should be named a Doctor of the Church, especially now that Rome has cozied up so to the German Reformer’s views. I don’t see what’s so “humanist” about returning to a soteriology that stresses the majesty and sovereignty of God. It think Just Joe may be engaging in a bit of equivocation here, as 16th-centry humanism isn’t 21st-century humanism. Sure, the Continental Reformers’ tweaks of St. Augustine in the areas of ecclesiology and sacramentology may have been too radical, but those are correctable by an appeal to the English Reformation. The *English Reformation*, I say, and not to the medieval Church, which for all intents and purposes is the appeal being made in the ACC’s new website. It seems clear to me that the ACC is intent on washing the English Reformation out of Anglicanism, and if this is so, perhaps it should consider dropping “Anglican” from its name altogether.

    By the way, Fr. Hart is indeed a member of the ACC. How “comfortable” he is, or should be, especially now that the ACC is so clearly tipping its hand regarding the medievalist direction it wants to go, is another issue.


  9. Hello Curate, Just-Joe, and Embryo Parson,
    I agree with nearly everything said above with the exception that the ACC has kept direct continuity with the doctrines of the Tudor Church. There are two ways to take the Affirmation. In its essential form, the Affirmation is a fine document. It clarifies the importance of tradition to resolve contested sections of scripture, especially the nature of holy orders as exclusively male.

    However, where the Affirmation unfortunately goes derails from its otherwise laudable parts is when it uses questionable language to describe the grace of seven sacraments, e.g., “effective and objective”. I don’t think any loyal Anglican would object to seven sacraments per se… or for that matter nine, twelve, or twenty-four sacraments, if desired. It depends upon the definition of the term. But, when speculative language like “effective and objective” is used to describe the manner of grace offered by each of the alleged seven, then we have something of a theological problem.

    Fr. Hart’s recent essay deserves better commentary than I can provide here, but, aside from a brief mention of Hooker, Hart fails to engage Anglican divinity of the period. Moreover, Hart leaves us to wonder what exactly is promised through the exchange of marriage vows and/or the giving of unction oil– as if these sacramentals have a promise attached similar to baptism and holy communion. Worst, Hart does not systematically tackle what is meant by “generally necessary”, instead adopting rhetorical devices similar to Tract 90 which ultimately avoid distinguishing justification from good works. This opens a door to Tridentine theology, or what Haverland calls, “the ACC Settlement”.

    If Fr. Hart had taken a more critical approach, starting with a theology of prayer, he might have better distinguished the uniqueness of the gospel sacraments against those normally considered sacramentals. For example, the origin of charism oil was to visibly represent the prayer of the absent bishop. Consequently, if early sacramentals were visible prayers, we might want to know how the prayers of the Church are indeed ‘effective and objective’? Can particular churches, like Rome or the East, claim their rites (such as drawing a circle by incense) have a power and virtue like Baptism?

    When the church militant has the same powers to institute terms of salvation like Christ, then a confusion between man and God is introduced where the church pretends to offer salvific sacraments not found in scripture. This ultimately upsets the economy of the Trinity, supplanting the church for the Son, and, in the final analysis, engenders a kind of occult, medieval-kabbalism that makes good works, even prayer, the cause of grace. I’m afraid this kind of Jewish sorcery, also called priestcraft, was what the Protestant Reformation originally tried to cleanse from the church. What’s at stake is the whole reason for the English Settlement of Religion. Without that, we might as well sign the RC catechism. Anyway, this topic deserves more discussion, and perhaps I’ll flesh it further out through future posts.

    Sadly, things are winding down at Anglican Rose. I’d like to deepen this critique of 7/7, but it will be very slow in coming. For now, let me finish by saying there was a window of opportunity between the years of 2002-2008 where the Continuum might have transformed the landscape of North American Anglicanism through either FACA or the CCP., However, I now believe that time has passed. The ACC’s views of apostolic succession, enshriend into C&C and synodal statements by former canonist Andrew Stahl, has succeeded in neutralizing concord with traditionalists inside the Anglican Communion. Without a greater Kingdom Vision for Anglicanism, I do not expect the Continuum to provide any catalyst for a larger church. Instead, it will remain a destructive spoiler jurisdiction competitive with FiFNA-REC and wishing the worst for ACNA.

    I have one more essay planned about the Continuum’s ecumenicism. After that, there’s really nothing left to say until perhaps mid-2014. By then, we might have a clearer picture about the success of the FiFNA-REC coalition as well as GAFCON’s future commitments to Lambeth. This is where the real Reformation for Anglicanism is happening. The Continuum might eventually turn around, but it’s a very long time off. For now, the CC is determined to go its own way.


  10. Charles, your site is excellent, so I am sorry to hear that you are winding down. Between you and EP I have learned a great deal.

    I too found the Rev. Hart’s blog about the sacraments very poor. He is capable of very good work, so his failed attempt to reconcile the Article with the ACC stance is regrettable. If I were a school teacher marking a comprehension test I would be compelled to fail him.

    EP, your comment about grace and voluntarism hits the nail on the head.


  11. Thanks, Charles, for yet another incisive post. I hope you’ll reconsider not allowing Anglican Rose to “wind down”, but if you don’t relent I pray you’ll at leave the blog site up. I’d even help pay to ensure you do. The essays you’ve posted here are invaluable.

    Just so you’ll know, you’ve made at least one convert, as your post over on Facebook re: sodality vs. modality and Anglicanism resonated with me, and I intend to proceed similarly. And in connection therewith, I will almost certainly leave the ACC with a view towards involvement with the FiFNA-REC coalition.


    • I feel a bit guilty about this. Things are in tremendous flux. Don’t be hasty. While I’m pretty certain the ACC has an inert if not reactionary influence on the rest of the CC, I also believe it important to remain open for surprises. The ACC has been very consistent about applying its primary standards in such a way to create an ecumenical vector that retards engagement with traditional epsicopalians, denying the possibility that lesser degrees of communion might be had without surrendering to novelty.

      However, ACA and APA still retain something of their broad church DNA, and either jurisdiction may move in an unexpected or surprising direction. Therefore, if the Continuum is to change, I believe it will be from the ACA-APA side. For example, once the ACC-PCK stalls on so-called federation or unity talks, it might be very likely the ACA or APA would make an ‘about face’, moving back to ex-FACA or REC. So, keep an open mind about the CC’s long term future. However, the short-term prognosis, I believe, is that the CC is determined to gain ACC’s blessing by adopting a rigid non-involvement policy. That would be evidenced at the World Consultation 2011.

      If you can’t find a decent FiFNA-RE church, then I believe the next best option is any church that has a history with traditionalists inside CCP or FACA. Also, if you’re serious about acquiring a Parsonage, take church C&C seriously. Church canons are not to be causally dismissed. They can have a lot of compact theology inside them. Sadly, too many Anglican clerics ignore C&C or assume their Bishop’s negligence of such allows them liberty to do as they will. This is about keeping solemn vows, not betting on the leeks and melons of indifference and neglect. Let me know how this turns out, and I can share info about my experience with Andrewes Hall/RE Seminary.


  12. That should be “at least leave the blog site up.”


    • Thanks Embryo Parson (EP) and Curate. Not at all. By ‘winding down’, I only mean to slightly relaxing of posting activity w/ less ‘news’ focus. I’m currently matriculated at Cranmer’s Theological House, plus I have a baby little girl. I just need more time on formation and catechism in my family as well as personal studies, etc.. Here’s a peak of what I’m planning: a Prochapel (still in progress). Nonetheless, I have about a half-dozen posts stewing for the next year or two. I hope to resume more regular posting by mid-2014. I believe the year 2014 will prove very important for North American Anglicanism, much of it centered upon the work of the REC-FiFNA coalition. I’ll provide a fuller picture soon. Thank you both for the extremely kind words, EP & Curate.


  13. Well, don’t feel guilty Charles. Our move has been in the works for a while now; it isn’t just due to your influence. There are several reasons for it, but I won’t go into that just now. And I don’t actually mean to rule out further involvement with the Continuum when I speak of involvement with FiFNA-REC. Right now, I’m just feeling my way around the non-ACC jurisdictions. I am looking with more interest now at both UECNA and APA-ACA. For quite some time, St. Mary’s in Denver was the only Continuing presence in the Denver-metro area, which is the main reason I ended up in the ACC. However, I’ve recently learned that there are now APA missions afoot relatively close by. I will be contacting these folks shortly. No UEC missions here at the moment. The only REC parishes in Colorado are in Durango and on the Western slope.

    Thanks again for all the info you post here, and for your advice. Glad to hear AR will still be here for us.


    • I really think the jurisdictions you named (UECNA, APA, ACA) offer the best future for the Continuum. I might add the DHC, ACUSA, and AECUSA to the list of notable churches (see continuum links to the right). One point I want to repeat is that churches descending from the pre-1977 consecrations have an equal claim to the Continuum as does ACC. Their lines of succession (Bishops like Frank Benning, Walter Adams, and j. Littlewood) were pioneering.


  14. Dear Charles,
    The only comment of substance I wish to make is that I find the exclusiveness of the ACC and PCK obnoxious and Catharist. Such is really symptomatic of what Bishop Crawley used to refer to as a
    ‘Brigadoon Church’.
    We have not corresponded for a while. I now know why this has been so. You do have a very large plate that is very full. My love to Mama Manda and Miss Abby.


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