slippery slopeI am concerned about theological education, study, and formation within the Anglican Communion; especially of ordinands – and this ongoing in the life of the ordained; especially within my province; and also of all the People of God. My primary ministry is about this amongst young people.

I pick up with interest the reports from the recent meeting of TEAC (theological education in the Anglican Communion). Good stuff. And then we get to…

TEAC members … sharing insights from the four-fold shape of the Anglican Way of being formed by Scripture, shaped by worship, ordered for Communion and directed by God’s mission.

Excuse me?

[And I’m not talking about the shocking absence of the Oxford comma].

I’m fascinated by the Anglican Way suddenly having a “four-fold shape”: “formed by Scripture, shaped by worship, ordered for Communion and directed by God’s mission”.

I agree with Mark Harris’ warning: “We need to take a long and careful look at this business of a Four Fold Anglican Way before it sneaks in under the wire and becomes yet another phrase that gets set in stone as part of the Anglican ethos.”

We’ve seen this happen a lot already.

The three-legged stool. The Instruments of Communion. The Windsor Report. The Lambeth Decision. The five-fold mission statement… the four-fold shape…

Our province (the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia) does not formally recognise the Lambeth Conference, for example. That conference is a meeting of bishops and any motion that is passed there (with whatever large or slim majority) affects us locally through respect, and through the the leadership of our bishops who have met there.

Similarly for the Primates’ Meeting. We have three primates – so thrice the weight. But, nonetheless, there’s no formal recognition of that meeting in our church’s life.

We do not formally recognise “The Instruments of Communion”.

The Windsor report is just that – a report.

The three-legged stool (scripture, tradition, reason) is a nice mnemonic but I don’t think there’s any official status for it?

The five-fold mission statement is sorely lacking by omitting worship as central to our mission. And I’m convinced I’m not heretical just because I publicly challenge it.

I’ve seen our General Synod’s approving “in principle the provisions of Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed Covenant” (my emphasis) be declared as our church’s acceptance of those sections in practice.

So this new “four-fold Anglican Way” might also be a nice mnemonic – but let’s be cautious that we don’t start bandying it about as if it is doctrine.

H/T Mark Harris
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