Monday, February 05, 2007

The Vexed Question of Authority

This is the text of a paper from which I will be speaking at the March 2007 meeting of the Organization of American Historians in Minneapolis. Questions and comments are welcome. I should stress that this is only a point of departure for me and I hope to explore these ideas in greater depth at a later date.

National Denomination or Worldwide Communion?
Ecclesial Authority, Anglican Identity
and the American Episcopal Church, 1953-2003

In the early years of the twenty-first century, with controversy and rumors of schism running rampant within the American Protestant mainline, the Episcopal Church, for so much of its history the embodiment of establishment values and good taste, has finally been forced directly to grapple with the hitherto unresolved nature of the authority by which it determines doctrine. The Church’s evasion of this issue for much of the twentieth century owes much to its eschewal of strict confessional statements and to the singular way in which Episcopalians have understood their status within the American denominational setup. During the fundamentalist-modernist debate of the 1920s, for example, Episcopal Church leaders finessed the issue of Scriptural authority by appealing to the authority of the historic creeds of the Church as the litmus test of orthodoxy, even though this merely postponed the crisis over authority. [1] Though active in ecumenical dialogue, moreover, the Episcopal Church for most of its history has refused to define Christian reunion in exclusively catholic or protestant terms, favoring the notion of itself as the “bridge-church,” resolving the disagreements of the Reformation era.

The changing nature of the debate in the years since the Second World War can be attributed to three main causes. The first relates to the shifting character of the American episcopate. Despite significant theological conflict during the nineteenth century, Episcopal bishops generally constituted a united front in their relations with the outside world. Following the model established by John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York from 1811 to 1830, most eschewed active engagement in the political controversies of the day, whether in matters of economic justice or moral regulation, which helped sustain a sense of unity in the episcopal college. [2] The ecclesiastical authority implicit in the House of Bishops began to fall away during the 1960s, however, as a number of articulate and controversial bishops sought to substitute their prophetic witness for the corporate authority of the Church. Whatever the merits of individual actions (and not all were equally meritorious), together they weakened the ability of the House to affirm a doctrinal standard of any sort and strengthened the belief that doctrine was ultimately determined solely by the legislative fiat of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.

A second contribution to the crisis of authority has been the rise of an Evangelical subculture within American Anglicanism. Although a minority within the Church as a whole, Anglican Evangelicals achieved spectacular successes in a number of parishes during the 1970s, which helped propel a process of denominational renewal that led to the creation of a new seminary and a number of influential missionary and evangelistic agencies. [3] In the process, they developed close ties with Evangelical Anglicans in other parts of the world, instilling in them a much greater appreciation for the catholic nature of the Church. Even as a majority within the Episcopal Church began to question the value of a relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion, Evangelicals sought further to promote it.

The Evangelical commitment to the wider Anglican family demonstrated a commonality of theological outlook and an appreciation of the numerical concentration of the Anglican Diaspora within the nations of the Global South. The spectacular growth of this portion of the Church has evoked a new sense of responsibility on the part of Third World bishops for the doctrinal health of the Anglican Communion and sympathy for those in the United States whom they perceive as persecuted for adhering to traditional teaching. As the theological divide has widened, so the dissenting American minority has increasingly looked for leadership outside the boundaries of the United States, a complete disruption of the American paradigm of denominational conflict in which disputes tend to be resolved by the creation of a new sect. Episcopal congregations that have fled their Church in recent years have sought refuge under the oversight of foreign bishops in other provinces of the Anglican Communion. From the former’s perspective they remain Anglicans submitting to the duly constituted authority of the Church; from the perspective of their opponents, they have defied the only legitimately constituted authority permitted within the United States. Ironically, both cases can be made with a degree of plausibility, given the currently undefined status of authority within the Anglican Communion in general.

Holding Firm to the Sure Word:
Bishops in the postwar Episcopal Church [4]

The years immediately following the Second World War represented the high tide of what Ian Douglas has called the corporatist phase of the Episcopal Church. Under Presiding Bishop Henry Sherrill (1947-1958), the Church consolidated a national ecclesiastical apparatus instituted in 1919, opening branch offices in Connecticut and Chicago in the 1950s and moving to resplendent new offices at 815 Second Avenue in New York City in 1960.[5] The sense of connection between the religious and political establishment was perhaps the strongest that it ever been in the Church’s history, with future radical Paul Moore, elected Suffragan Bishop of Washington in 1963, attesting to the sense of kinship and trust that he felt towards those members of the Kennedy administration “who had had the same upbringing as I, who had attended the same kind of private Church schools and gone on to Harvard and Yale.” [6]

The corporatist mentality was not confined to the national scene and the pastoral component of many bishops’ lives was increasingly compromised by, in the words of one observer, “the exacting routine that governs the hours of a busy executive’s life.” [7] Professional staffs and commissions isolated bishops from the warp and woof of diocesan life, thrusting them ever more and more into circles of like-minded acquaintances. Compounding this problem was a significant theological shift within the Episcopal Church that owed much to the influence of New York’s Union Theological Seminary (UTS), which trained many of the faculty who went on to serve at Episcopal seminaries throughout the country. The most notorious UTS graduate of the era was James Pike, the charismatic dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City (a popular radio broadcaster), elected Bishop of California in 1958. Pike’s subsequent proclaimed unhappiness with classical Christian understanding of such doctrines as the Trinity and the Virgin Birth signaled a new phase in Anglican theology in America and one initiated by a bishop. Taken in conjunction with the emerging social witness of some of his episcopal brethren, it presaged a disintegration of the existing church order. [8]

Though Pike offered the first challenge to the status quo, it fell to John Hines Bishop of Texas from 1945 to 1964, to bring about the formal shift to prophetic leadership. A bishop with a marked distaste for administration, he was the dark horse candidate for Presiding Bishop in 1964, defeating the more establishmentarian Stephen Bayne. Known as a Southern bishop committed to racial reconciliation, Hines caught the imagination of those in the Episcopal Church desirous of breaking down the barriers of race and class. Challenging the episcopal principle of broad local autonomy, Hines pressed for a prophetic and Gospel-centered response to the challenges pose by Southern segregation and working class poverty in the urban North. [9]

If there was a flaw in Hines’ approach, it was that the structures needed to bring about such an all-encompassing transformation had either never existed or were in a process of disintegration. As early as 1958, critics were lamenting the absence of mediating institutions between the diocesan bishop and the national headquarters and that situation only worsened as the 1960s wore on. [10] Conservative and even moderate Episcopal opinion lamented the absence of oversight mechanisms that characterized such racial initiatives as the General Convention Special Project of 1967. [11] Collegiality of the House of Bishops was further undermined by the impulsive activism of such bishops as Paul Moore and by the conflict arising over the pronouncements of Bishop Pike, which culminated in his trial for heresy in 1966. The inconclusive resolution of the latter (the House of Bishops merely censured Pike) did nothing to reconcile Pike’s admirers (including his theological heir John Spong) with his detractors, and only served further to divide the House of Bishops into warring camps. [12]

The precedents established during the Hines’ years (1964-1973) generally informed the actions of the Church over the next thirty years. Although his successor, John Allin – a conservative Southerner opposed to the ordination of women – represented a step back in the eyes of progressives, [13] the overall mood of the House of Bishops favored a continuation of the struggle for full inclusion of those groups perceived as excluded. In the words of Paul Moore, “If a movement of justice or a trend, such as the feminist movement, is of God, the Church should become part of it . . . This is true not only of feminism, but of the peace movement, the ecological movement, and even the demands for gay rights.” [14]

The decision of three retired bishops to anticipate the decision of the General Convention by irregularly ordaining eleven women in Philadelphia in 1974 spoke volumes about the weakness of the Church’s authority although, as with Pike, the House of Bishops censured their brethren’s actions and deemed the ordinations null and void. In 1976, when the General Convention approved the ordination of women, the House of Bishops insisted upon a conscience clause that would protect those who, for theological reasons, felt unable to recognize the validity of female ordination. While for some Anglo-Catholics even this compromise was inadequate, it prevented a wholesale exodus of the more catholic-minded from the Episcopal Church, but it testified to the increasingly polarized understanding of authority that underpinned the ecclesial apparatus. [15]

With the retirement of John Allin in 1985, the stage was set for an increasingly bitter confrontation between the progressive majority in the House of Bishops and a vocal and talented minority of Evangelical bishops who in 1987 founded the Irenaeus Fellowship to uphold the primacy of Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. [16] Theological debates during the late 1980s and early 1990s became increasingly bitter and at the General Convention of 1991 these tensions spilled over into internecine strife. Writing of a 1992 meeting of the House of Bishops, Bishop Alden Hathaway of Pittsburgh prophetically commented: “Unless the bishops honestly and directly face the root issues that divide us, as they divide the church, no amount of process management or interpersonal management can establish working relationships that will provide the pastoral leadership our church desperately needs.” In 1995, ten conservative bishops brought charges against Walter Righter, retired Bishop of Iowa, who had ordained a non-celibate homosexual. The determination of a church court that Righter had violated no doctrine or discipline of the Episcopal Church convinced many conservatives that no appeal to Anglican tradition could now be counted on to sustain their theological beliefs. The stage was thus set for a complete breakdown of collegiality in the House of Bishops.[17]

Making Disciples of All Nations:
The Evangelical Challenge to Authority [18]

Complementing the erosion of institutional authority within the Episcopal Church was the emergence of an Evangelical Anglican community within the Church. The paradigmatic Evangelical event of the nineteenth century had been the departure of a vocal minority of Evangelicals to form the Reformed Episcopal Church and American Evangelicalism had been virtually eradicated by the 1880s. [19] Its subsequent revival owed much to the development of transatlantic relationships with Evangelicals in the Church of England. [20] The most profound influence was English Evangelical John Stott who, in contrast with the historic Anglican emphasis on the Creeds and the Prayer Book, emphasized the vesting of ultimate authority in Scripture. In contrast with much postwar theological debate that stressed the role of early Christian communities in the construction of the Gospel narratives, Stott laid stress on the revelatory and inspirational qualities of the New Testament. Significantly, he set much less store by denominational integrity than was generally the case in Episcopal circles. “[Evangelicals] deplore the proliferation of churches and sects,” Stott declared in 1967, “but at the same time we would point to the impressive unity of evangelical proclamation which exists in spite of it, and which is often overlooked.” [21]

With the encouragement of Stott, Peter Moore and Philip Edgcumbe Hughes organized an American branch of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion in the early 1960s. In response to the Keele Conference of 1967, which helped elevate the status of Evangelicals within the Church of England, the American branch was renamed the Fellowship of Witness in 1968 and based at St. Stephen’s Church in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, whose rector, John Guest, was a born-again English Evangelical. The Fellowship sought to offer Evangelicalism to the wider Church as a model for conversion and renewal, [22] with Philip Hughes maintaining that the Church should be a missionary church, since “genuine authority [is found in] the energy of evangelical witness throughout the whole world,” and indicting bureaucratic structures and centralizing tendencies within the Church as a threat to the autonomy of independent mission societies and newspapers. “One of the greatest threats to the Church’s spirituality today,” Hughes concluded, “is the pursuit of over-organization as a means to the achievement of unity.” [23]

Hostility to centralization in no way presupposed an aversion to institutions. In response to the increasing theological chaos within the Episcopal Church, which had prompted the emergence of a movement for general renewal of the Church, [24] Evangelicals promoted the establishment of the Church’s first new seminary in decades: Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry (TESM). Based in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, TESM’s goal was the preparation of candidates for Holy Orders faithful to classical Anglican teaching and committed to congregational renewal. [25] That same year witnessed the establishment of an American affiliate of the South American Missionary Society, which sent its first missionaries to Peru in 1978. [26]

The localization of the renewal movement to southwestern Pennsylvania was enhanced by the election of Alden Hathaway, then president of the Fellowship of Witness, as Bishop of Pittsburgh in 1979. Hathaway offered moral support to the fledgling seminary, even as he championed the renewal movement at the national level, but many bishops proved reluctant to sponsor candidates for ordination to TESM and few staunch Evangelicals were elected to bishoprics during the 1980s. [27] While opportunities for TESM graduates broadened considerably during the 1990s, the seminary’s counter-cultural message and its close ties to Anglican dioceses in Africa and South America, many of whose bishops held advanced degrees from TESM, proclaimed its ambivalent relationship with the already compromised authority of the national Church.

By the early 1990s, many Evangelicals viewed the long-term prospects for renewal of the Church as increasingly unlikely. Unwilling to countenance many of the programs of the national Church, some called for withholding of funds to national agencies. Typifying this view was Father James Simons (a TESM graduate) who in 1993 denounced the failure of the Church to play an active role in mission work of any kind. Simons further added that his active parochial ministry (including social programs) was doing a far more positive work than any initiative planned from New York. “The ministry of 815 Second Avenue may be viable,” he went on, “but who knows? . . . I have never seen a report that shows a correlation between what we send to New York and how lives are being changed.” [28] The same theme was proclaimed by Bishop Fitzsimmons Allison of South Carolina, when he complained that the national Church always placed a low priority on programs devoted to education, evangelism and mission. “Projects of transferred enlightenment or ingenuous claims to hear the innate goodness of another culture are poor substitutes for the good news,” the bishop warned. [29]

If such pronouncements revealed a separatist impulse, the deliberations of the 1998 Lambeth Conference pushed American Evangelicals toward solidarity with the overwhelming majority of Bishops from the Third World. [30] The Conference established benchmarks for Anglican witness that had not previously been enunciated in any coherent fashion and Evangelical Episcopalians could with credibility maintain that the views they held were now far more in harmony with the Communion-wide consensus that the majority view in the Episcopal Church. The late 1990s also witnessed the emergence of a number of renewal organizations determined to confront what they viewed as the erosion of the Biblical foundations of the Faith, most notably the American Anglican Council (1996). [31] Solidarity with like-minded Anglicans worldwide would increasingly come to define the Evangelical modus operandi.

No Other Foundation?
The Anglican Communion and Christian Unity [32]

The divisions that have driven the Episcopal Church to the position that it now occupies must also be viewed from the perspective of the shifting character of the Anglican Communion. In 1953, the Communion was very much a British affair, with most Third World bishops selected by the Church of England or the provinces of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. With the coming of political independence, an indigenous leadership took charge of the provinces of Africa and Asia. Most of the Third World provinces adhered to the same criteria for Christian ministry popular among American Evangelicals and expressed disquiet about the changes that were occurring within the Episcopal Church. [33]

During the 1950s and early 1960s, American Anglicans grew more appreciative of the new potential of their global family as a result of the Anglican Congresses that met in Minneapolis in 1954 and Toronto in 1963 and the appointment of an American bishop, Stephen Bayne, as the first Executive Officer of the Anglican Communion. A believer in the potential of a more united Communion, Bayne repudiated the idea of synodical authority inhering in the Lambeth Conference. “The authority of this meeting, while considerable as expressive of the common mind of the Anglican episcopate, is not coercive or synodical,” he declared in 1963, “A Conference may point the way to desired action; but the essential dynamics of the Anglican Communion remain in the several churches; and the conference retains its character as the central but informal occasion of common counsel among the bishops.” Bayne nevertheless promoted the concept that came to be known as “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ” (MRI) and a number of American dioceses cultivated companion relationships with Third World dioceses that sought to come closer to meeting these goals. [34]

While the emerging ecclesial entities of the Anglican Communion necessarily reflected a great diversity in constitutional structures and understanding of the nature of the Faith by Anglicans worldwide, they generally shared a belief in the Biblical nature of the Catholic faith, the importance of the ecumenical councils of the Early Church to the shaping of Anglican theology, and value of worship according to the forms prescribed by the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. [35] Progressive observers like Ian Douglas argue that the search for new ways for Anglicans to relate to one another provoked a reaction within established power structures that disdained any effort to adapt Anglicanism to local cultural realities. “Pluralities and multiple ways of seeing the world are an anathema to modernity,” he writes, “and thus to many who have been in control of the Anglican Communion for most of its history.” [36]

What is debatable about such a proposition is that it assumes the submission of Third World church leaders to an amorphous privileged power structure in the developed world. Since 1988, the Global South has made it very clear that it has an understanding of authority that is universal and prescriptive. [37] While clearly unwelcome to many progressive leaders in the United States, it cannot be dismissed as an attempt by wealthy conservatives in the United States to undermine duly constituted authority structures in the Episcopal Church. [38] The steady collapse of Episcopal Church authority has only accelerated since Lambeth 1998, with the consecration of missionary bishops from the United States by foreign archbishops in 2000 [39] and the decision of the 2003 General Convention to confirm the election of Vicki Gene Robinson, a divorcee who had living openly in a homosexual relationship, as Bishop of New Hampshire,. By approving Robinson, the Episcopal Church publicly committed itself to a course that would dramatically widen the gulf between a majority of Anglicans in the United States and Canada and their co-religionists in Africa and Asia. It would lead to the commissioning of The Windsor Report – a concerted effort to come to grips with the problem of inter-provincial relations regarding disputed theological issues within the Anglican Communion – by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the increasingly vocal assertion by the metropolitans of the Third World provinces for a greater say in Communion-wide affairs.

At first glance, the Episcopalian contention over the boundaries of sexual expression (and the related issue of women in Holy Orders) would seem to be no different from that affecting most mainline American Protestant churches. In the case of the Episcopal Church, however, the debate over authority is not one that can be resolved solely at the national level, given the exterior relationship with other national churches sharing a common Anglican heritage. While many American Protestant denominations adhere to worldwide federations, member churches exert only moral authority over one other. [40] By contrast, the historic Anglican inclination toward conciliarism presents a considerable challenge to those who feel that the authority of the national church must not be compromised by any exterior relationship. [41]

For half a century the Episcopal Church has been moving toward a confrontation over the nature of authority. At issue is not simply a debate over theological interpretation but a widely diverging understanding of ecclesial practice. On the one side stands a largely progressive constituency whose views may be described as autonomist. For them, American Anglicanism is simply a subset of mainstream American Protestantism, adhering to democratic norms of participation and resolving theological controversy through consensus, if possible, but by parliamentary action if necessary. Bishops are viewed, first and foremost, as executive officers charged with the efficient management of an ecclesiastical enterprise. Fraternal bonds with the wider Anglican family are seen as of great importance, but always with the understanding that national church is final arbiter of what is proper Anglican behavior in its locality.

A minority – many of them Evangelicals – favor a confessionalist approach. Confessionalists understand Anglicanism (wherever located) as an expression of Western Christianity. While they do not reject the idea of church democracy, they have serious reservations about leaving determination of doctrine to the mercy of ephemeral parliamentary majorities and accord much greater priority than autonomists to the selection of bishops on the basis of their pastoral and, above all, theological gifts. For confessionalists, the Lambeth Conference takes on a particular significance because it is composed solely of bishops (progressive critics frequently indict the Lambeth Conference precisely because it has no clerical or lay representation). While there is room for diversity on such matters as liturgy, there is no such discretion when it comes to matters of doctrine. Seeking the approval of the other provinces for dramatic departures from the existing church order is less a courtesy than a necessity. While a process of “reception” can be constituted for ecclesiastical innovations that do not raise immediate objections, this cannot be entered into unilaterally. [42] Autonomy, for the confessionalist, remains heavily circumscribed in the areas of faith and morals.


[1] Robert W. Prichard, “The Place of Doctrine in the Episcopal Church,” in Ephraim Radner and George R. Sumner, eds., Reclaiming Faith: Essays on Orthodoxy in the Episcopal Church and the Baltimore Declaration (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 28-35; William H. Katerberg, “William T. Manning: Apostolic Order and Evangelical Truth,” in Modernity and the Dilemma of North American Anglican Identities, 1880-1950 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001), 107-134.
[2] On Hobart’s philosophy and influence on the polity of the Episcopal Church, see Robert B. Mullin, Episcopal Vision / American Reality: High Church Theology and Social Thought in Evangelical America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986). Such episcopal detachment frequently drove their more socially aware clergy to distraction. See Jeremy Bonner, “‘An Account of My Stewardship’: Mercer Green Johnston, the Episcopal Church and the Social Gospel in Newark, N.J., 1912-1916.” Anglican and Episcopal History 72:3 (September 2003): 298-321.
[3] It is interesting to compare this process with Joel Carpenter’s account of the shift from separatism to cultural engagement by American fundamentalists from the 1920s to the 1940s. See Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

[4] [A bishop] must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it. Titus 1:9.
[5] Ian T. Douglas, “Whither the National Church? Reconsidering the Mission Structure of the Episcopal Church,” in Robert B. Slocum, ed., A New Conversation: Essays on the Future of Theology and the Episcopal Church (New York: Church Publishing, 1999), 60-78; Henry Knox Sherrill, Among Friends (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1962), 225-234; Robert Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1999), 229-234.
[6] Paul Moore, Presences: A Bishop’s Life in the City (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997), 207.
[7] Powel M. Dawley, The Episcopal Church and Its Work (Greenwich, CT: Seabury Press, 1955), 129.
[8] Robert W. Prichard, “The Place of Doctrine in the Episcopal Church,” 35-43; William Stringfellow and Anthony Towne, The Bishop Pike Affair: Scandals of Conscience and Heresy, Relevance and Solemnity in the Contemporary Church (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 5-20.
[9] Kenneth Kesselus, John E. Hines, Granite on Fire (Austin, Texas: Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, 1995), 202-206, 232-3, 240-271. On Episcopal attitudes to civil rights, see Gardiner H. Shattuck, Jr., Episcopalians and Race: Civil War to Civil Rights (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000).
[10] “The bishop who is a tyrant and the one who is weak and indecisive, are in the American Church deprived of . . . that moderating influence that in Canada and the other parts of the Anglican Communion come from the metropolitan and other bishops of the province.” Revd. Canon Albert duBois, “The Provinces: Groupings of Weakness Under a Canon of Straw,” Living Church, June 15, 1958. On institutional decline during the 1960s, see Douglas, “Whither the National Church?”
[11] Kesselus, John E. Hines, 272-286, 303-345.
[12] Moore, Presences, 173-91; Stringfellow and Towne, The Bishop Pike Affair, 57-2, 140-159.
[13] As John Spong charmingly put it: “John Maury Allin would succeed John Elbridge Hines. It was like having George Wallace succeed Abraham Lincoln.” John S. Spong, Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1999), 232.
[14] Moore, Presences, 258.
[15] Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, 255-257; Spong, Here I Stand, 235-236. “Allin’s brand of leadership, concerned as it was with reconciling and placating, turned the House of Bishops into the Hall of Compromise,’ writes Walter Righter, “Efforts to compromise produced more tension than reconciliation.” See A Pilgrim’s Way (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), 90.
[16] These included William Frey of Colorado, FitzSimmons Allison of South Carolina and Alden Hathaway of Pittsburgh.
[17] Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, 283-293; Spong, Here I Stand, 310-312, 388-390, 401-409; Righter, A Pilgrim’s Way, 35-37, 55-84, 100-114, 128-131. Hathaway is quoted in the newspaper of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. See Trinity, March 1992.
[18] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19.
[19] On nineteenth century Evangelicalism, see Allen C. Guelzo, “Ritual, Romanism and Rebellion: The Disappearance of the Evangelical Episcopalians, 1853-1873.” Anglican and Episcopal History 62:4 (December 1993): 551-577; Ibid., For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994); Diana H. Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind: Evangelical Episcopalians in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).
[20] This relationship worked both ways. English Evangelicalism was at low ebb prior to the revivals led by Billy Graham in the early 1950s. One of the products of these revivals was John Guest, who later came to the United States and became a leading voice in Anglican Evangelicalism. See Randle Manwaring, From Controversy to Co-Existence: Evangelicals in the Church of England, 1914-1980 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 87-95.
[21] John R. W. Stott, “Jesus Christ Our Teacher and Lord: Towards Solving the Problem of Authority,” in J. I. Packer, ed., Guidelines: Anglican Evangelicals Face the Future (London: Falcon Books, 1967), 39-66. For a profile of Stott, see Roger Steer, Church on Fire: The Story of Anglican Evangelicals (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1998), 268-76.
[22] See On the Keele Conference see Manwaring, From Controversy to Co-Existence, 174-90.
[23] Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, “The Credibility of the Church: Understanding the Church in an Ecumenical Age,” in Packer, Guidelines, 147-79 (quotes on 151 and 157).
[24] Alistair E. McGrath, The Renewal of Anglicanism (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1993), 49-64. Renewal took both charismatic and non-charismatic forms. On the former, see Dennis and Rita Bennett, The Holy Spirit and You: A Study-Guide to the Spirit-Filled Life (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1971). One of the popular texts for non-charismatics was Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979).
[25] TESM was founded in 1976 and moved to Ambridge in 1978. Despite the Evangelical ethos that motivated its founders, a decision was made early in the seminary’s existence that mutual respect would be shown to the three ‘streams’ of Anglican liturgical practice: the Evangelical; the Anglo-Catholic; and the Charismatic. Thus, while TESM undertook to prepare women for Holy Orders, it also guaranteed that the consciences of Anglo-Catholic seminarians – who opposed the ordination of women – would be respected. See Steer, Church on Fire, 348-361 and Janet Leighton, Lift High the Cross: A History of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1995).
[27] The exceptions were Terrence Kelshaw, a former TESM professor, and John Howe, rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, who were both elevated to the episcopate in 1989.
[28] Simons’ article, entitled “Parish-Eye View of Ministry and Structure,” first appeared in the newsletter Anglican Opinion. It was reproduced in the diocesan newspaper. See Trinity, September 1993.
[29] Fitzsimmons Allison, “Evangelism: The Transformation of Trivialisation,” in Timothy Bradshaw, ed., Grace and Truth in the Secular Age (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 119-27 (quote on 125).
[30] See the essays in After Lambeth in Mission and Ministry 11:2 (Spring 2000).

[32] According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:10-11.
[33] On the origins of the Communion, see Stephen Platten, Augustine’s Legacy: Authority and Leadership in the Anglican Communion (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1997), 57-72. The implications of the rise of Christianity in the Global South are discussed by Philip Jenkins in The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
[34] John Booty, An American Apostle: The Life of Stephen Fielding Bayne, Jr. (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997), 96-119. The memorandum is quoted on 98.
[35] Philip H. Thomas, “A Family Affair: The Pattern of Constitutional Authority in the Anglican Communion,” in Stephen W. Sykes, ed., Authority in the Anglican Communion: Essays Presented to Bishop John Howe (Toronto, Canada: Anglican Book Centre, 1987), 119-143; David Hammid, “The Nature and Shape of the Contemporary Anglican Communion,” in Ian T. Douglas and Kwok Pui-Lan, eds., Beyond Colonial Anglicanism: The Anglican Communion in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Church Publishing Inc., 2001), 71-98.
[36] Ian. T. Douglas, “The Exigency of Times and Occasions: Power and Identity in the Anglican Communion,” in Douglas and Pui-Lan, Beyond Colonial Anglicanism, 25-46 (quote on 30).
[37] See for some examples. Some centralization of function has also taken place within the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. See Platten, Augustine’s Legacy, 133-148.
[38] This is the subtext of James Solheim’s Diversity or Disunity? Reflections on Lambeth 1998 (New York: Church Publishing, 1999).
[39] One of those bishops was John Rodgers, retired dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry.
[40] Some American denominations also have members in other nations. In the United Methodist Church, for example, 25 percent of the bishops, 20 percent of the laity and 15 percent of the clergy belong to jurisdictions outside the United States (which are also among the fastest growing). American-born leaders continue to exercise denominational authority, however. For statistics on the United Methodists, see
[41] See The Windsor Report, Section C, Paragraphs 97-104, and the discussion of the nature of Anglican conciliarism in Frederick H. Shriver, “Councils, Conferences and Synods,” in Stephen Sykes, John Booty and Jonathan Knight, eds., The Study of Anglicanism (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), 202-216.
[42] Note the discussion of the process by which women’s ordination was accorded reception status within the Anglican Communion in The Windsor Report, Section A, Paragraphs 12-21.


Anonymous said...

You might want to look at Bob Bosher's article on the origins of the Lambeth Conference. I'm forgotten where it was published--probably in the Historical Magazine. Lambeth is a late bloomer--the national (or nationalistic) character of Anglicanism is a powerful motif--consider the relations between the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of Scotland.

Charles Henery's unpublished doctoral dissertation (GTS) on 19th century bishops will put some flesh on the "common authority" of the House of Bishops.

An excellent article--authority has been the big issue since Elizabeth I. I think you are correct that the big issue is not women or gays but authority.The main weakness of your paper: a stronger ending is needed. Historians hate to go out on a limb, but do it. What options lie ahead? Don Armentrott (sp, sorry) study of the many schisms in the Episcopal Church may offer some guidance.
Guy Foster

Jeremy Bonner said...


Thanks for your comments and references.

The last section definitely needs much more detail than I have provided. Recognizing that many in the audience may find the nuances of American Anglicanism confusing enough, I deliberately truncated my discussion.

As regards your final suggestion, our panel intended to ‘teach’ rather than read our papers so I will have a little more freedom in my presentation. My first draft spoke to some of the events of the last three years where they illustrated the authority question, but I quickly realized that this would result in a paper that exceeded the limits upon which we had agreed.

As you say, historians hate to go out on a limb, especially when they have their own dog in the fight. I’ll see if I can find a formula which I am happy sharing with a wider audience.


Jeremy Bonner said...


For reasons that entirely escape me, I addressed you as Don. My appreciation for your comments is no less.