Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Aspects of Anglican Identity

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Aspects of Anglican Identity

Article excerpt

Aspects of Anglican Identity. By Colin Podmore. London: Church House Publishing, 2005. v-xi +196 pp. $28.86 (paper).

Anglican life is going through a period of tremendous change with the ordination of women in the Church of England and Gene Robinson's election as bishop in ECUSA. However, as we learn from Colin Podmore's Aspects of Anglican Identity, the challenge posed by change is anything but extraordinary. The church always lives in a time of change, and the same aspects of Anglican life become points of contention with each new controversy. In this work, Podmore frames recent developments not merely as social but as ecclesiological issues, urging readers to consider their response to these events in light of catholicity and continuity.

A historical approach predominates in this text, and essays focus mainly on the Church of England. Podmore acutely analyses its unfolding history as he contextualizes changes in the church through the ages and pinpoints how diversity of opinion is or is not accommodated throughout. He justifies this historical approach through his appreciation of the link between history and ecclesiology. "The fact that much is reflected in practice that is not necessarily reduced to a theoretical foundation . . . makes the consulting of history essential when writing ecclesiology" (p. 160).

The readership which would derive the most from this book includes those with a vested interest in the Church of England. However, it is intended as an offering for Anglicans worldwide. The history of the Church of England, after all, outlines the development of the first Anglican church. Hence, it is part of the collective history of Anglicans everywhere.

The themes Podmore highlights are significant in the life of all Anglican churches. Examples include the relationship between liturgy and doctrine, procedural change versus doctrinal upheaval, change from within and without given institutional structures, the extent to which geographic location defines a church's identity, how interchangeability of ministry makes for communion relationships, and the process of electing bishops. …

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