A Glorious and Salutiferous Œconomy...? An ecclesiological enquiry into metropolitical authority and provincial polity in the Anglican Communion.
Ross, Alexander John
University of Cambridge
Faculty of Divinity
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Ross, A. J. (2018). A Glorious and Salutiferous Œconomy...? An ecclesiological enquiry into metropolitical authority and provincial polity in the Anglican Communion. (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.32277
For at least the past two decades, international Anglicanism has been gripped by a crisis of identity: what is to be the dynamic between autonomy and interdependence? Where is authority to be located? How might the local relate to the international? How are the variously diverse national churches to be held together ‘in communion’? These questions have prompted an explosion of interest in Anglican ecclesiology within both the church and academy, with particular emphasis exploring the nature of episcopacy, synodical government, liturgy and belief, and common principles of canon law. However, one aspect of Anglican ecclesiology which has received little attention is the place of provincial polity and metropolitical authority across the Communion. Yet, this is a critical area of concern for Anglican ecclesiology as it directly addresses questions of authority, interdependence and catholicity. However, since at least the twentieth century, provincial polity has largely been eclipsed by, and confused with, the emergence of a dominant ‘national church’ polity. This confusion has become so prevalent that the word ‘province’ itself is used interchangeably and imprecisely to mean both an ecclesial province in its strict sense and one of the 39 ‘member- churches’ which formally constitute the Anglican Communion, with a handful of ‘extra-provincial’ exceptions. The purpose of this research project is to untangle this confusion and to give a thorough account of the development of provincial polity and metropolitical authority within the Communion, tracing the historical origins of the contemporary status quo. The scope of this task is not in any way intended to be a comprehensive history of the emergence of international Anglicanism, but rather to narrowly chart the development of this particular unit of ecclesial polity, the province, through this broader narrative. The historical work of Part One in itself represents an important new contribution to Anglican Studies; however, the project aims to go further in Parts Two and Three to identify from this context key questions concerning the problems facing contemporary Anglican polity as the basis for further theological and ecclesiological reflection. Part Two examines how provincial polity has given way to an assumption of the ‘national church’ as the building block of the Communion. To what extent is it consonant with Anglican tradition? How is it problematic? What tensions exist with a more traditional understanding of the province? How might all this relate to wider political understandings and critiques of the ‘nation- state’ in an increasingly globalised world? Along with the emergence of a ‘national church’ ecclesiology, so too has the role of the ‘Primates’ been magnified. Part Three charts this development, culminating in a critique of the recent 2016 Primates’ Meeting. What is the nature of primacy within Anglicanism and how does it relate to metropolitical authority? What is the right balance of honour and authority as it relates to primacy? How do Anglican understandings of primacy correspond to those of the Roman and Orthodox Communions? Finally, Part Four attempts to give some concrete focus to the preceding discussion through the illustrative example of the Anglican Church of Australia, which is frequently cited as being analogous to the Communion in having a loose federal system and resolutely autonomous dioceses. The prevalence of this ‘diocesanism’ has recently been criticised by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. However, there has been a recent revival of provincial action within the Province of Victoria in response to these issues which will be evaluated to discern what the Australian example might offer toward a theologically robust and credible ecclesiology for Anglicanism into the twenty-first century.
Anglican, Ecclesiology, Anglicanism, Polity, Metropolitical, Provincial, Ecclesial, Archbishop, Primate, Primacy, National Church, Authority, Episcopacy, Synod, Synodical, Governance, Communion, Diocesanism, Australia, Applied, Theology, Royal Supremacy, Canon Law, English Reformation, Elizabethan Settlement, Letters Patent, Colenso, Broughton, Lambeth, Recognition, Hegel, Williams, Constitutions, Mutual Responsibility, Interdependence, Primatial, Prima Sedes, Consultative, Conciliarity, Collegiality, Microcosm, Unity, Holiness, Catholicity, Apostolicity, Bangorian, Covenant, Autonomy, Instruments, Canterbury
Sponsored as a Commonwealth Scholar, funded by the UK Government. Additional support made available by the C.S. Gray Fund (Emmanuel College), the Cleaver Trust and the Archbishop of Melbourne.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.32277
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