Anglicans in Canada: Controversies and Identity in Historical Perspective

By Harrison, William H. | Anglican Theological Review, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview
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Anglicans in Canada: Controversies and Identity in Historical Perspective


Harrison, William H., Anglican Theological Review


Anglicans in Canada: Controversies and Identity in Historical Perspective. By Alan L. Hayes. Studies in Anglican History Series. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2004. xiii + 323 pp. $30.00 (cloth).

This is not the book which Canadians are hoping that Alan Hayes will write. It is, however, a very good and helpful book, which every Canadian Anglican (and many other people in the Anglican Communion) ought to read.

The Anglican Church of Canada does not have a current survey history. As Hayes notes, the most recent such volume came from Philip Carrington in 1963. That book has numerous shortcomings and is hardly suitable for contemporary use. Hayes hopes that Anglicans in Canada "will provisionally fill the need for a short survey history of the Anglican Church of Canada until something better comes along, something that looks at social history, worship, music, art and architecture, finance, models of pastoral care, the diversity of ministry, and so on" (p. xii).

In this volume, Hayes ably demonstrates that Canadian Anglicanism is both diverse in character and unwilling-and, at least some of the time, unable-to make firm and irreversible pronouncements which might disturb its diversity. He investigates this thesis through discussion of six foci of debate which have an enduring presence in Canadian Anglicanism: missions; church in society; church governance; church style (what has been called "churchmanship"); church in modernity; and gender in Anglican life. Each question is allotted a chapter, with differing views presented and many of the relevant organizations and associations identified.

This volume concludes with a tremendously useful selection of documents, some excerpted and others complete, which have been significant in the history of Canadian Anglicanism. These documents are footnoted in the chapters, enabling a coordinated reading of Hayes's text with the primary texts. Especially for classroom use, but also for anyone who likes to know what words were spoken, this is one of the most helpful aspects of the book.

Hayes manages a remarkably even-handed approach. His insistence upon careful historical work and inclusion of relevant texts mean that historical characters have an unusually good opportunity to speak on their own behalf.

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