An outline of PEAR USA’s theology is coming into focus. The Rev. Steve Breedlove’s letter of March 30th offers some more reflections on what, if anything, is distinctive about the new Missionary District. What is encouraging about this letter is that it very clearly stands on the shoulders of the Jerusalem Declaration – something that has featured in all the PEAR communications. Why does this matter? Well, the Jerusalem Declaration says:
3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
The essentially Reformed nature of the Anglican Church is thus maintained via the Jerusalem Declaration. Breedlove goes on to say:
We bring a distinct, complementary reformational Anglican theology.
- Rooted in the robust work of the English Reformers, we stand firmly on the great Reformation doctrines of sola gratia, sola fides and sola scriptura.
- We acknowledge the unique breadth of theological understanding within biblical, faithful Anglicans, and we are committed to honor and serve joyfully alongside those with whom we honestly differ. In that collegial context we bring a united voice for historic reformational Anglican theology.
- We also hold firmly to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England as the standard for both faith and worship, believing that it rightly clarifies aspects of doctrine and worship and unites them in the liturgical practices of the Church.
- We also hold to the conviction that mission requires unshakable convictions concerning doctrine but flexibility and freedom in liturgical practices. We are heirs of worship that has been culturally adapted while remaining fully orthodox, and we believe that is missionally essential.
I regard this as a home run for Classical Anglicans who want to move forward via the past. It does not tie us to sociological models of the past, but it firmly grounds us in the theology of the Reformers (and St. Augustine). The one open issue that I have not seen addressed to date is women’s ordination. If it is properly dealt with, then we could have the possibility of a Missionary District that is committed to being Anglican, has moved on from ordination errors, and is a safe harbor tied to ACNA for those of a like mind. Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I hope so!
Update: Father Shane Copeland writes: Steve addressed the WO issue in his reflection on Anglican1000.
To be more specific, we are committed to the 1662 Prayer Book as the standard of both doctrine and worship. At the same time, our charter will establish the liturgical flexibility that seeks to make word and worship accessible to people. We also affirm an ecclesiology reflective of the historic understanding of the church concerning women’s ordination to the priesthood.