William Reed Huntington – A man of our time?

Centrists / Religion

David Simmons over on has posted a piece of the writing of William Reed Huntington (whose Feast is celebrated today). In this passage Huntington, who was one of the primary movers behind the adoption of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (a key action of the first Lambeth Conferences), writes about his understanding of what is essential in Anglicanism:

“What are the essential, the absolutely essential features of the Anglican position? When it is proposed to make Anglicanism the basis of a Church of the Reconciliation, it is above all things necessary to determine what Anglicanism pure and simple is. The word brings up before the eyes of some a flutter of surplices, a vision of village spires and cathedral towers, a somewhat stiff and stately company of deans, prebendaries, and choristers, and that is about all. But we greatly mistake if we imagine that the Anglican principle has no substantial existence apart from these accessories. Indeed, it is only when we have stripped Anglicanism of the picturesque costume which English life has thrown around it, that we can fairly study its anatomy, or understand its possibilities of power and adaptation.”

Huntington goes on later to state:

The true Anglican position, like the City of God in the Apocalypse, may be said to lie foursquare. Honestly to accept that position is to accept,

  • 1st. The Holy Scriptures as the Word of God.
  • 2d. The Primitive Creeds as the Rule of Faith.
  • 3d. The two Sacraments ordained by Christ himself.
  • 4th. The Episcopate as the key-stone of Governmental Unity.

    These four points, like the four famous fortresses of Lombardy, make “the Quadrilateral” of pure Anglicanism. Within them the Church of the Reconciliation may stand secure.

  • David goes on to point out the contrast between Huntington’s thought and those in the Communion today who are pushing for the adoption of a version of the 39 articles, certain editions of the Prayerbook and other things as core teaching in new and confessional expression of Anglicanism.

    Do go and read the rest here: William Reed Huntington – A man of our time?

    The Author

    Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

    1 Comment

    1. I found this to be a fine article and says a lot about what I would consider an Anglican catholicity that has always allowed for agreement to disagree on non-essentials and a rich reflection on essentials. By essentials, of course, I mean Incarnation, Trinity, Sanctification.
      All of this stuff about sexuality is an anthropological concern, not of course divorced from these matters, but a third order (ethics) of how we respond to the first order matters. That’s why I’m still finding it hard to understand those who would wish that sexual matters are alongside the Trinity–often conflating heterosexuality and the Holy Trinity in an error St. Gregory Nazianzus would call Valentinianism, or with those who on sexuality and really homosexuality alone (not divorce, contraception, etc.), we want consensus–seemingly meaning unanimity. We don’t even have that on the Eucharist or Holy Orders.
      I wish someone would define the term consensus rather than asking for the space to agree to disagree.
      I wish someone could explain when we became a hieros gamos faith. Eros of course is at the heart of worshipping God, but our sexual expression of that can never be conflated to that worship, even if we see shadows.

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