Anglican Formulae in the ACC

While Anglican Rose is typically preoccupied with questions of Anglican worship, I felt cluing friends on a recent week-long internet debate important.  As North American Anglicans grope to find a conservative orthodox center vis-a-vis TEC, two poles emerge: those belonging to the 1977  St. Louis Affirmation and those from the 2008 GAFCON conference. My interest is seing one of these two poles become not only a safe ‘harbor’  but a core of gravity that upholds classical formulas of worship, faith, and order– namely, the Prayer Book, Articles, and canons (/ordinal). While much is problematic regarding ACNA#2, the Continuing (St. Louis) churches also remain elusive– the flagship of which is the ACC.

In a recent essay by AB Haverland, the Archbishop verified something I wrote a month ago (or so) regarding apparent rejection by the ACC of the Elizabethan Settlement (Days of Orthodoxy).  ACC canons evidently are forged upon late-Tractarian prejudices against the English Reformation. The extreme marginalization of the historic Settlement was a rather shocking admission on the part of AB Haverland. Not all agree. Fr. Hart at the Continuum blog remains proverbially optimistic, hoping historic Anglicanism can thrive as an ‘ethos’ within a broad Catholic church. But the problem is an ‘ethos’ can be very subjective, as it is ultimately left to private minds to uphold. Somewhere down the road ethos must meet ‘subscription’ if a resurgent Anglicanism is to ever achieve coherence, accountability, and transparency. Otherwise,  ‘Anglicanism’ becomes a kind of sponge word much like the often abused ‘catholic’.

Here is a great debate:

Humility of an Un-magisterium by the Rev. Hart

What are the Formularies of the Anglican Catholic Church by the Most Rev. Haverland

More Thoughts on the Affirmation of St. Louis by Death Brendon

Thoughts on St. Louis by the Rt. Rev. Robinson

The Anglican Way and Authority by Mark Talley

Fending off the School-Yard Bully by the Rev. Hart

More on Anglican Catholic Church Formulae by the Most Rev. Haverland

Re: Thirty-nine Articles and Ordinariate commentary by the Rev. Hart

Another Reply respecting Henry VIII  by the Most Rev. Haverland

The Affirmation is Where We Begin, by the Most Rev. Haverland

It must be said the ACC contains many priests and lay people of protestant mindset. However, justification for Settlement Anglicanism cannot be based upon ACC C&C’s. Rather, it is found in the ACC’s 1981 synodal resolution that recognized and permitted the continuation of  de facto central churchmanship, characterized later by the Bp. Charles Doren and early UECNA members. It would be fantastic if someone dug up this “lost” resolution. That said, while the ACC might tolerate a strict apprehension of the prayer book, there is nothing in the C&C to stop an ACC priest from teaching the physical eating of the body of Christ, distributing the sacrament in one kind, celebrating a Tridentine High Mass, processing in church with monstrance in hand, or teaching articles from the RCC catechism, etc..   This is the real short-sightedness, if not tragedy, of the C&C in attempt to be pan-catholic rather than specifically Anglican.

For more on this debate, see all posts on the “St. Louis Affirmation

16 responses to “Anglican Formulae in the ACC

  1. The problem for the ACC at the moment is that too many of their clergy and not a few of their laity appear more to be playing Church than being The Church. The priest who said “We have the Church WE want” forgot to question if it was the Church which God wanted. One of the major problems with Anglicanism in the Continuum is that is is extemely fragile because no real discipline of priests is possible. If he has the backing of his congregation against the bishop or bishops he can pick them up and deliver them to another jurisdiction and there is nothing which can be done about it. This gives them as they came to be given in the Episcopal Church and the Church of England great power to do as they want and to pretend that that they are doing is actually Anglicanism.

    This bit about the state of the Church of England under Henry in the year of our Lord 1543 is at point. That is the year of the King’s Book in which under Henry’s direction a few things were supposedly settled. And what were they? Clerical celibacy was to be retained (albeit Archbishop Cranmer was married), communion was to be given in one kind with the cup denied to the laity and only those of gentle birth were to be allowed to read the Bible. The Liturgy was yet in Latin although the Epistle and Gospel were sometimes read in English. If the ACC were to attempt to require any of these things they would have major rebellion on their hands even among their very cowed laity. So what is the point of it all?

    Probably without knowing who inserted those provisions into the Constitution and Canons not even a good guess can be made, but the very fact that they are still being defended seems indicative to me that many of the priests and bishops have on some level, conscious or unconscious, a deep personal psychological antagonism to classical Anglicanism. Somehow it is not good enough, not Catholic enough so they are unable to accept the Elizabethan and prayer book appeal to the Church of the “earliest bishops and Catholic fathers,” but must find some way to justify their continued identification and copying of the very worst of post-Tridentine Rome.


  2. As best I can sum up, Fr. Hart (ACC) argues that because the 1928 BCP is a liturgical standard identified in the Affirmation of St. Louis and specified in the ACC’s Constitution and Canons, it follows that the 39 Articles of Religion, which are printed in the back of the BCP, also have authority in the ACC, just not authority as “independent” formulary. This argument, however, appears as strained as it is ingenious, as Archbishop Haverland (ACC) implies in his piece that the Articles of Religion do not consitute “actually formulary” in the ACC, and are only useful for their poetic language when it gibes with the King’s Book (1543), as modified by the ACC’s Constitution and Canons, which, along with the Affirmation of St. Louis are the exclusive three formularies of the ACC.

    Consequently, it would appear that ACC clergy have divergent views whether the Articles of Religion are a constitutive formulary in the ACC or not. Fr. Hart seems to think they have some weight of their own, but with an unclear degree of qualification. In contrast, it is simply not possible to read Archbishop Haverland’s essay without concluding that he feels that the Articles have utterly no force in and of themselves. In either case, however, it would not appear that neither ++Haverland nor Hart+ would give the Articles anything like its traditional or classical status as a constituent Anglican formulary. As a traditional and classically minded Anglican, I can only hope that neither of the these views represents the considered view of the ACC as a whole.


  3. James Pressley

    The Articles are written about a specific Anabaptist and Radical Protestant heresy. They fought for and won in a distinct period in history. They are historical documents but like the Westminster Confession of Faith and the multitude of Baptist confessions, the 39 Articles do not and should not hold the status of Creed or ancient confessions of the undivided Church.

    AB Haverland has maintained a consistent point on this since his book Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice. It is clearly represented there. To bring in the tractarian movement is at best sad.

    BTW- I attend the Pro-Cathedral of St. Stephen’s and am proud to be a part of AB Haverland’s weekly Bible study group. As a former Totally Reformed Pres… I find much more comfort, outreach, love and caring and theologically sound people in our parish than any other church I have been to.


  4. First, James, let me say that I am sure that your experience in St Stephen’s is precisely what you say. Good Anglican parishes are like that. There is something about the Anglican liturgy – even when it is abused – that has a very powerful effect upon all of us. However, and this is a big one, Archbishop Haverland and the ACC Constitution and Canons are decidedly in the wrong about the place of Articles in anything which is truly Anglicanism.

    Now let me step back a moment. The one thing in all of Christianity which has anything approaching “independent authority” is Holy Scripture and even here it must be the Bible as interpreted by the Catholic (according to the whole) Church. We start that process in the words of Elizabeth I by looking to the writings of “the earliest bishops and Catholic fathers,” and then the liturgies, the creeds and the Councils. St Peter makes it clear that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation which is why anyone attempting to teach in the name of the Church has to constantly look backwards to make sure that what he is both saying and doing is consistent and in the spirit of the consensus of the fathers. And here I use the word “fathers” as meaning the totality of the above.

    The problem with dissing the Articles which the ACC and APCK as well as the general run of Anglo-Papalists of the last hundred years is that they have allowed themselves to be snookered by that class of low churchmen who have claimed that the Articles represent the high tide of continental Calvinism and Zwinglism in the English Church. But strangely, at least from that position, neither of those parties at the time liked or accepted the Articles. Hence the Westminister Confession written after the English Church and the Book of Common Prayer was outlawed.

    I actually think that Archbishop Haverland knows that but is watching his back in terms of having to deal with a continuing collection of priests and bishops whom he refers to as “partisan Anglo-Catholics” but who in reality are the same old Anglo-Papist crowd who actions continue to show that they believe real Anglicanism to be second best to the glories of the Counter-Reformation and Tridentine Romanism. The recent actions of certain of his suffragans in their inability to tolerate questioning of the “high-camp” status of their liturgics and lack of theological depth would seem to prove same.


    • James Pressley

      You are making the first and primary mistake of all the “reformed and totally reformed” movement. Ascribing to someone whom you do not know motivations.

      The Articles are great. They are fine. They are not and I repeat not authority. No matter how much you radical protestants (not just protestants but radical reformers) want them to be.

      The conclusion must be that you are dealing with untold numbers of anabaptists in your congregations if this is to be your stand. Personally I have never met one. But I guess we will take your word for their march on Christianity in today’s time.

      If you take a minute to not only step back but quit making accusations maybe just maybe the air might clear and you would have clear eyes and a clear mind to think this thru.

      Instead of calling everyone who disagrees with you Anglo Papalists. Yeah… That helps.


      • Hello James,

        I felt somewhat “conned” when I left Presbyterianism, angered by the Scottish precipitation of war against the English Church and all its consequences. The rebellion was wrong simply because RPW was wrong. What brought me to Anglicanism was the catholicity and scriptural-faithfulness of the Prayer Book.

        However, a new problem raised its head. If I was going to become an ‘Anglican’, then where could I find a safe, conservative Anglican church that wasn’t ECUSA? I visited a couple Episcopalian churches, and I definitely didn’t want to worship the Mother-Goddess (the service I went to praised Mother Earth for the gift of “life”, speculated about celtic spirituality, and called the Holy Ghost “her”).

        When I found the ACC (or at least a particular parish in the ACC), I thought the problem solved. I went through a period where I was very hostile to anything ‘protestant’. But after some study, prayer, and much thought, I had to stick with my initial reasons for wanting to become ‘Anglican’, and this was the Prayer Book and English Reformation which produced it. I also had to ask, “What is Anglicanism? And, why am I not in a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Church?”.

        I really can’t tell anyone what is Anglicanism, nor explain why I am not Lutheran, RC, or Orthodox without reference to these very important Reformation formulas (Prayer Book, 39 Articles, and Canons). They are essential not only for apologetics but mission. In the end, I left the ACC simply because I could not give my full assent to what I saw on the ‘ground’ in terms of discipline nor the authoritative teaching of the Church. And, while the ACC feels the Henrician definitions are sufficient, there is no consistent enforcement of them. Worst, the Protestant Settlement is left as a local option (meaning priests are allowed, depending on how far one goes with Elizabethan standards, to teach contrary to ACC doctrine). I think this poses a number of problems for a denomination (local options w/ respect to doctrine are usually bad ideas), and if the ACC intends to have a future, she needs to enforce the standards she acclaims (whether they represent Reformed Anglicanism or not). To fail to do so misleads both clergy and laity. Clergy tending to protestant views may risk breaking their clerical oaths. Laity looking for a ‘classically Anglican’ church may spend quite some time in a church before they find out what are official standards. If you think this ‘harsh’, let me assure you I know ACC cleric(s) who have vowed falsely. I also am a lay person who attended an ACC parish for two years before I discovered what was and wasn’t ‘officially’ doctrinal. I do not think this is healthy no matter what a denomination believes– Protestant or not.

        When I finally understood and grew to appreciate the uniqueness of the Anglican Reformation, it actually allowed me to grow from my Presbyterian roots. There is much from Presbyterianism that I benefited, and, since there is no sense in scrapping what is good, then why not keep the good and toss the bad? This has also been true of the ACC parish I attended which indeed used the Missal, venerated Papish saints and feast days, and was especially hostile to the Reformation. Even there, many good things were taught and done, and there’s much I miss. But in the end, I wanted to be Anglican– not RC, Eastern Orthodox, or Presbyterian. I think as a person of like background, James, you may go through a similar story? Maybe not?

        But to escape private judgment, we ought to choose some kind of historical standard. By embracing the Anglican reformation, at least I can point to what I believe, thus explaining where I stand in relation to roman catholicism and radical protestantism. If the formulas are wrong, then why waste time in a tiny Anglican jurisdiction when Rome and Orthodoxy are much bigger and wealthier? If I am Anglican for non-substantive reasons– say the “beauty of holiness”, the “Shakespearean language”, or a “married priesthood”– then why not be WRO which possess the above (and is canonically recognized by the East)? These were the kinds of questions I struggled with. In the end, the pureness of Anglican-Reformation theology (as perfectly expressed in the prayer book) kept me in the Continuing Church.


      • H Lee Poteet


        I am the farthest thing from a radical protestant. Indeed I have never quite been anything by my own choice but an Anglican and a Catholic. However, I was baptized in the Orthodox Church (Russian) and raised close enough to the Roman to have served mass for the first American cardinal called to Rome. But that was before I discovered the prayer book.

        When someone who has taken the regular vows taken by Anglican clerics since the Restoration decides that on their own authority they can substitute Roman ornaments and Roman ceremonial for those of the prayer book tradition, as much as they would like to be called mere “Anglo-Catholics” or even “partisan Anglo-Catholics” they have earned a somewhat different title. That is not to say that they are not good men nor good priests, but they are paying the classical prayer book Anglican tradition not quite the obedience which it and the laity deserve. I might wish it to be otherwise, but I will not pretend it to be so when it is not. There is this little, or not so little, issue of truth.


  5. Benton H Marder

    Whether we like it or not, the position of the ACC-OP as defined by +Haverland is a logical developement of the Affirmation of St Louis. I cannot say for certain about certain other jurisdictions in the Continuing Church but, I gather, their positions may well be the same even if not spelled out as by the ACC-OP.
    The problematic points of the Affirmation (Councils, Sacraments, allowing of the missals, the section anent formularies) are precisely why I caanot ex animo subscibe to the Affirmation—much less be a member of the ACC-OP or the certain other jurisdictions.
    The position of the ACC-OP as defined by +Haverland is essentially a moral bankruptcy, an intellectual fantasy, a profound sectarianism, an enormous delusion. As I said, it is a logical developement of the Affirmation itself. It is also why +Robert Crawley of the Canadian Continuers could describe the situation in the USA as a ‘Brigadoon Church’—he said this in 1980 or thereabouts.
    For the last several weeks, I have been re-reading Arthur Lowndes’ great work, ‘Vindication of Anglican Orders’. I have had to review this subject several times over the years for appropriate reasons each time. The reading saddened me greatly. Dr Lowndes could never possibly have imagined that a major part of the Lambeth Communion would have committed spiritual and moral suicide a century after he wrote this definitive work of solid scholarship. The Continuum is now the inheritor of that truly Apostolic, truly Catholic, truly Anglican ethos. However, as he wrote, the imitation of any other branch of the Church Catholic is a sign of immaturity or a weak mind. Perhaps, a form of senility?
    As a result of the suicides, the imitation, the defective understandings of the ‘modern secession’, there are not all that many solidly convinced Anglicans left. Too many of us have become infected with the various spirits of our times (I do not refer to the Zeitgeist here.) and hardly know what we really are. We think we do, but a careful examination of our formularies should easily remind us that we do not know what we are or what we are called to be.
    Our martyred archbishops, bishops, clergy, layfolk were willing to lay down their lives for what is truly Apostolic, truly Catholic, truly Anglican. Are we to cast it all aside for a mess of pottage, as some of our brethren seem willing to do, strawing it in one direction or other? Have our forebears striven and died in vain? What will we say when we hear that most dreadful voice, “Where are My sheep? My beautiful sheep”?

    May Heaven guide and protect us all.

    In +.


    • Dear Benton,

      It’s a fearful thing to contemplate. How much is our own fault? I don’t think anyone, not even the laity, escapes culpability in the matter. My prayers are a conservative-Anglican center is soon found, and we begin to rally around it. The canons and St. Louis Affirmation essentially eliminates the ACC from the list of possible candidate churches that might provide gravity. That leaves the REC and FACA-related bodies. My hope is a new alignment will emerge there, with perhaps the UECNA joining. Whatever arises, Anglican central churchmanship will be needed to assume the orthodox center so inevitable centrifugal tendencies won’t rip the majority apart. But again, this comes down to understanding our own history and embracing such with self-confidence. You say it well. The crime of Anglicanism was to waste the great talent which God gave us. Like Dearmer mentions, we might have been the means by which christendom was restored, not only in northern protestant countries, but universally. All it required was sticking to our formulas, using the prayer book as the method of revival, and guarding jewels expressed therein.


  6. Benton H Marder

    A recent comment (just now in my box) by Brother Lee reminds me of two old sayings or anecdotes.
    Back in the 19th c, a common remark was that Anglo-Catholics would honour their bishops in every way possible—-except by obedience.
    Then, there’s the story about Dr Fisher (+Geoffrey Cantuar). He visited St Magnus Martyr in London for the service. We all know St Magnus Martyr in those days—that wondrous confection of Travers Baroque, and the near Roman service (I hear that they used the Latin Missal then.). When asked about his thoughts on the service he remarked that he never did favour this ‘Presbyterial Congregationalism’. Well, we’ve all seen entirely too much of this sort of thing in all schools of churchmansip. We all need to remember that the layfolk never asked for all this. We like the BCP just like it is. We wish that our clergy would understand this and give us what we want, and not their idea of what we should want. This attitude goes back a long way, in all schools of churchmansip.
    I will be plain about it to the clergy. Give us what we have always wanted: the BCP itself. There is no need whatsoever of any variations or substitutions other than what the rubrics provide—which is plenty. Reverend Fathers, stop butchering the BCP. Stop driving us out because you’re too busy doing your own thing. We have an excellent liturgy. We have our other formularies that pleased us for centuries. We are not ignorant people out here. When we read the tale of the centurion who came to Jesus on behalf of his sick servant. He said that he was a man under authority; he gave orders to his men and took orders from his tribunes. To expect obedience, one has to obey. When one does one’s own thing, one does not obey the authority of the Church. How can one then expect obedience from his people. Simple. He can’t—precisely because he himself refuses to obey the Church he serves. This pattern of disobedience has lasted long enough. I add that, just because the missals got into the Affirmation by the back door, it does not mean that the situation is any better. The missals are the fruit of an evil tree, the tree of disobedience. This back-door legitimisation does not take away the reality of the evil fruit and the evil tree.

    Heaven protect us all.

    In +,


    • Benton,

      The true Anglo-Catholics in the 19th century were only too frequently caught between obeying their bishops and obeying the Book of Common Prayer. If there is a choice that must be made, I would prefer them to obey first, Holy Scripture and then the prayer book before obeying a bishop who was telling them to disobey the first two.

      I don’t believe that St Magnus Martyr used the Latin missal but there were more than enough English priests and even an occasional bishop who did. And that should never have happened and should have resulted in swift and sure deposition. But it didn’t had hasn’t because too frequently the same bishop who might have done it would then have had to depose Evangelicals and other low churchmen for like disobedience. The tolerance of the one protected the other. But no one protected the people or the Church.


  7. Benton H Marder

    Dear Brother Lee,

    That is precisely the point. In all the mutual backscratching over liturgical practice, no-one really gave a tinkers dm about the Church or the layfolk.
    I am reminded of an old story about the Church in southern Africa many years ago. The bishop came to a parish on visitation. The Wardens (black) asked the Bishop, “Why does not your priest obey the Prayer Book?” Bishop asked what they meant. “He does not kneel for the Confession or Humble Access; he takes Ablutions in the wrong place.” Bishop tried to explain the priest’s understanding of priestlt practice. Wardens said, “If he does not obey the Church (as in the BCP), why should we obey him?” Bishop woke up. He moved the priest. He’d realised that this disobedience overthrew the authority of the Church.
    Truly, this fruit of disobedience came from the evil tree of arrogance. A priest that sets the rubrics at naught because of his attitude cannot expect any better attitude from his layfolk. The Church suffers for this. As Bishop Mercer said to me many years ago, “The Church has always had ‘servant problems'”. The Church loses by this, souls are lost.
    “Where are My sheep? My beautiful sheep!
    In +,


    • And I could not agree more with you. This is and has been precisely the point from the early Puritans to . . . . well, almost everybody. Among all of us, just how many priests and parishes recite the office daily in the Church or even many any effort to see it so said? And in those places where the Holy Communion achieves the place it is supposed to have on a Sunday is it appropriately and obediently preceded by Morning Prayer and the Litany?

      Instead we have places in which rather extreme Anglo-Tridentines do Morning Prayer and sermon on one Sunday and a missal service on the next, but never, no, never what the prayer book contemplates and orders. Is it any wonder that the laity have so little respect for either the clergy or the Church?


  8. You write, ‘In addition to the SD given for use in the ACC through the 1962 BCP’….
    A point of clarification: the Anglican Catholic Church has its own Solemn Declaration, quite apart from the Affirmation of Saint Louis. The ACC’s Solemn Declaration precedes the preamble to our Constitution. In the ACC the Solemn Declaration in the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book is not rejected b, but is supplemented and to some degree superseded, by the later formulary.


    • Thank you for posting Archbishop Mark! I was following the argument of Fr. Hart, and it did not occur to me to check ACC C&C for an SD. Indeed, the ACC has an SD that resonates very strongly with the St. Louis Affirmation, more so than the APA and even ACA. However, it has been very modified in terms of the specifics from the original 1893 with nothing said about the 39 articles. Within the framework of ‘central tradition’, I suppose the 39 articles (or its points) may be either read therein or not, so the meat of the Declaration, in this instance, is broadly “catholic” w/ the prayer book (rather than articles per se) setting forth particulars. I will update my post on Solemn Declarations, adding the ACC’s SD accordingly.


  9. The collation on Solemn Declarations has been corrected and updated in the first couple paragraphs and in the section for ‘continuing church’ SD. Thanks for pointing this out, AB Haverland. I think I finally have a fairly complete list of SD’s?


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