I just received this from Dr William Tighe and his permission to publish it here.
* * *
I wrote the piece [Can the Thirty-Nine Articles Function As a Confessional Standard for Anglicans Today?] more with Continuing Anglicanism in mind than “Canterbury Communion Anglicanism,” which has reduced the articles to, at best, one selection from an a la carte menu. Specifically, I had my one-time friend (and I suppose we are still friends, although we have had no contact for a couple of years) Fr. Robert Hart in mind, and his various shiftings-of-position since I first met him around 2001. (Then, he occupied a theological position quite similar to what I discern to be your own, although with a more “mythological” view of the English Reformation; he once actually told me that “Anglicanism, as I see it, begins only with Lancelot Andrewes; everything earlier after 1559 I ignore.” Subsequently, though, he has moved to a “Reformed Catholic” position, I suspect under the influence of Lawrence Wells and Peter Robinson, in which the 39 Articles and an essentially Protestant-but-with-real-bishops ecclesiology are the palladium of “Anglicanism.” At the same time, he moved from the tiny and, after 2002, isolated “Diocese of the Chesapeake” [in which he was one of the clergy involved in vain discussions with the Polish National Catholic Church aimed at bringing that diocese into the PNCC as an “Anglican Rite” diocese] into the Anglican Catholic Church, in which he, together with Fr. Wells, form part of a small, but loud, group that wish to represent the Articles as just as authoritative for “Anglican identity” as “the King’s Book” of 1543, which the ACC seems to regard as the most authoritative statement of its doctrinal position; and they are certainly opposed to the ACC becoming a kind of “Anglican Old Catholic Church,” such as you, and Mr. Hailstone, seem to favour in your recent posting “Comprehensiveness, on whose terms?”). If I were to rewrite the article with the ACC in mind, I might devote some space to “the King’s Book,” and question how coherent a doctrinal position it enunciates (not to mention its thumping defense of obligatory clerical celibacy; although Bp. Haverland himself once wrote somewhere that the ACC regards the KB as authoritative in the doctrine it teaches, but not the discipline).
* * *
Naturally, I don’t want to re-ignite old fires with Fr Hart, who is a respected member of the clergy in the Diocese of the South under Archbishop Haverland.
When I entered the English diocese of the ACC, I was made aware of Archbishop Haverland’s book, Anglican Catholic faith & practice, which is recommended for all incoming clerics and laity. The Affirmation of Saint Louis is the foundational document of most Anglican Catholics in the ACC, the TAC and most other Continuing Churches.
The King’s Book of 1543 (the Use of Sarum in Latin was still the official liturgy in England) is a source that bears looking at in the perspective of defining ourselves as Anglicans as opposed to independent Catholics. I have yet to read this historical work together with the earlier Bishops’ Book of 1537. Like any other formulary, these are historical documents of comparative interest, and need to be read in the light of historical knowledge and more recent theological developments.
I am indeed careful not to want to identify the ACC with the Dutch or Germanic Old Catholic positions of the late nineteenth century, but rather with a much earlier reference, namely the time of Henry VIII and before. The idea is not an exact reproduction is all aspects, but a general reference from which our identity is established. Indeed, we are Anglicans and not Old Catholics, but the Old Catholics have one thing in common with us – the Conciliar ecclesiology of the Council of Constance and the priority of the Episcopate over the Roman Curia and the Pope. The difference is subtle but real.
We obviously tolerate Protestant opinions in our midst without allowing them authority to dominate our whole Church at the expense of Anglican Catholic doctrine and praxis.