Chris Sugden: Not schism but revolution

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Revolution in common parlance is an overthrow of the existing order. But when a wheel has completed one revolution, a point on its circumference has returned to its point of origin. And a revolution is a return to the beginning, a restoration.

What we are in the middle of now in the Anglican Communion is not schism or separation, but a revolution. In the last decades, the Communion has been increasingly under the dominance of leadership which is over-influenced by the assumptions of western intellectual culture through the dominant role of the Church of England and ECUSA. People are now saying publicly that this unrepresentative dominance must end.

Archbishop Orombi of Uganda has said “However we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

“The reason there is a global Anglicanism today is that Anglicans were compelled by the Word of God to share the gospel throughout the expanding British Empire and beyond. In the absence today of such a convenient infrastructure, the future of the Anglican Communion is found in embracing the key Reformation and evangelical princip les that have had such an impact in Uganda. Without a commitment to the authority of the Word of God, a confidence in a God who acts in the world, and a conviction of the necessity of repentance and of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be hard-pressed as a communion to revive and advance our apostolic and missionary calling as a church." [read here]


In other words, the future is to be found in returning to the key Reformation and evangelical principles that are the strength and core of the Anglican expression of Christian faith.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates

10 Comments
Posted August 31, 2007 at 7:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Connecticutian wrote:

“But when a wheel has completed one revolution, a point on its circumference has returned to its point of origin.”

Good analogy.  And, if there is any foreign material stuck to the wheel, and if the wheel revolves fast enough, the material may be dislodged by centrifugal force.  The momentum of the foreign material, which tends to carry it along on its current path, becomes too great for the centripetal and adhesion forces, which can no longer hold onto it, and away it goes.

Or, to put it scripturally, sometimes God shakes the world, and not everything sticks.

August 31, 8:03 am | [comment link]
2. dmitri wrote:

Whatever you call it, the momentum for some significant change in the communion seems unstoppable now. When the wheel finally comes to rest we may all feel diminished and disoriented.  I do not share Chris Sugden’s view that the Bible-focussed Evangelicals are the only “real” Anglicans.  They represent a radical departure from the Anglicanism I have been part of for the last 40 years.  I think we will have a separation of African Evangelical Anglicans and their friends and Canterbury and at least half the other provinces will go on being the “Anglican” Anglican Communion. Lambeth will be sadly smaller but more full of hope and brotherly love without the confrontation of the separatists.  I hope the recent provincial secretary meeting may prove a model for cooperation from both sides of the divide in the future and I share the reasserters’ hopes that the law suits may cease soon too.

August 31, 8:23 am | [comment link]
3. Sherri wrote:

There is a close quote missing above. Is the last paragraph part of Orombi’s quote or the words of Chris Sugden?

August 31, 9:07 am | [comment link]
4. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

It gives one pause to reflect on the lack of mission activity in the Anglican CoE in centuries past by the latitudinarians to SEE and HEAR that the evangelical party may have been held under in the CoE and yet the latitudinarians have LOST the battle for the Anglican Communion.  It is manifestly evident that the MAJORITY of Anglicans in the world are, in fact, evangelical.  That the poorer amongst us have not experienced that bracing reality of God’s work does not make us the measure of Anglicanism.  This is the great lesson that is NOT being attended to by the rump Global North hierarchs and heresiarchs and their adherents.  The myth of western superiority’s balloon has been punctured and it is descending to ground. Alas, dmitri, your experience of Anglicanism, as mine, has been defective.  Persistence in the error of our immediate experiences, and especially the trajectory of the ECUSA/TEC and its current errors will not, nor has it ever been, the Truth proclaimed in the Bible, Church, or Prayer Book.  We are the deciduous leaves of a tree in fall.  But Spring is coming and all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the wind of the Holy Spirit that all shall be made new.  (Apologies to CS Lewis.)

August 31, 9:52 am | [comment link]
5. The_Elves wrote:

#3, Sherri, we’ve fixed the quote.  Thanks.

August 31, 10:00 am | [comment link]
6. Br. Michael wrote:

“They represent a radical departure from the Anglicanism I have been part of for the last 40 years.”  Which itself is a radical departure form the Anglicanism of the past 300 years.  The past 40 years or so saw the rise of liberlal catholic modernity, represented by Pike, Spong et al.  They may have retained a High Church liturgy and “smell and bells” from the Oxford movement, but everything else went.

August 31, 10:26 am | [comment link]
7. wamark wrote:

Br. Michael is right on target.  The Anglican Church was always solidly evangelical until the aberration of the Oxford Movement in the mid to late 19th century.  And, I think it could be forcefully argued that the Episcopal Church in the US never really understood the original intent of the Oxford Movement anyway.  Keble was simply trying to restore usages from the first Edwardian Prayer Book which was far less Calvinistic then the second Edwardian Prayer Book that was the basis for the Caroline 1662 Prayer Book.  The first Prayer Book was more “catholic” because the influences came from Wittenburg the second was more Calvinistic because the influences came from Geneva.  People should remember that there were riots in the 19th century England over replacing the black geneva gown worn by priests most everywhere in England with a simple white surplice worn over a black gown.  This innovation was widely controversial and was called “papist.”  The Bishop of Exeter in the mid-19th century who was old high and dry high church permitted the use of the surplice in his diocese although he would not wear one himself.  Wesley who was also a “high churchman” never wore a surplice.  Indeed, until the excesses of the late Oxford Movement,  “high church” had nothing to do with externals of worship but was rather rooted in theology.

August 31, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
8. Lapinbizarre wrote:

Too many misconceptions (“the Anglican Church was always solidly evangelical until the aberration of the Oxford Movement” for starters - if so, from what tradition did the above-cited bishop of Exeter spring?) to go into in detail, Wamark, but on just one - the surplice - a couple of points.  The surplice was the REQUIRED garment for the celebration of Holy Communion in the Church of England from the Elizabethan Settlement onwards (clergy were deprived if they refused to wear it under Elizabeth, James I and Charles I, and at the Restoration).  The only exception to this was the wearing of the cope over the surplice at celebrations in cathedrals and collegiate churches, a practice that had virtually ceased by 1800 - last use that I am aware of being at Durham during the second half of the 18th c - except during the coronation service, where the cope has been worn.  The problem with the surplice during the 1840’s and 50’s was that Puseyite (early “Oxford Movement”) clergy adopted the wearing of the surplice, rather than the traditional preaching gown, at morning and evening prayer.  Bishop Philpotts would not have worn the surplice in any case, since it is not an episcopal garment, though he would have worn the rochet at celebrations of Holy Communion

September 1, 11:56 am | [comment link]
9. libraryjim wrote:

Revolution or reformation?

September 1, 9:32 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.




Next entry (above): Andrew Carey: Anglican chaos

Previous entry (below): Michael Regan on What People in Connecticut Believe

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)