As we enter into a period of radical change, equal to the Reformation of the 16th century, Anglicans are being asked to consider, to study and to adopt various statements or declarations defining Anglicanism. Documents such as the Common Cause Theological Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration have been proposed and adopted by the reforming orthodox in order to secure the foundations of our faith and common life.
The danger inherent in any Anglican statement or federation is the great original sin of Anglicanism: disobedience to authority. The Jerusalem Declaration addresses this problem in article 13: "We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord." Inherent in the rejection of the authority of the heterodox is the acceptance of the authority of the orthodox.
With these foundational statements and articles being written and promoted, our strongest temptation will be to promote and publish these declarations with no intention of actually following them.
This temptation is the strongest for me in the puzzling omission of the last three Ecumenical Councils and in the wholesale acceptance of the 39 Articles. The rejection of the Ancient, undivided church and the acceptance of a Reformation era statement of a local council is highly problematic for a church that yearns to be universal and apostolic.
From the Jerusalem Declaration:
4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
From the Common Cause Theological Statement:
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.
From article thirty-four of the 39 Articles: "Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren."
At this point in the life of Anglicanism, the only way forward that I can imagine that will lead to unity and that will prevent disintegration is radical submission to authority. For my part, this would mean the end of reserving the Holy Sacrament. I would have to travel to our new preaching station every Sunday rather than consecrating enough bread and wine for several Sundays.
Also, since I believe that the unwritten reason that the Reformers could not accept Nicaea II and the end of Iconoclasm was that they were Iconoclasts, this would mean that we would have to remove or drape our icons and cease the Benediction and the elevation of the Blessed Sacrament. Without the clear statements on veneration and the place of Holy Objects that led to the Triumph of Orthodoxy in Nicaea II, our services would be impoverished but in true submission to the authorities that have adopted the CC Theological Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration.
I believe that the clergy and laity in churches and dioceses should submit to this authority while petitioning the Primates to include all Seven Ecumenical Councils and to reconsider the wholesale adoption of the 39 Articles, specifically in light of the articles dealing with Predestination and the Holy Sacraments (17, 35 and 38). The voluntary submission of those who yearn for a more catholic and apostolic expression of Anglicanism will only be able to effectively unite and defend an Anglicanism that is rooted in the submission to authority. While I believe that this is also true for women's ordination, that we should suspend all ordinations until the mind of the Communion is united, that is for another article and author.