Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Divided We Stand: A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Divided We Stand: A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement

Article excerpt

DOUGLAS BESS. Divided We Stand: A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement. Riverside, California: Tractarian Press, 2002. Pp. 311, introduction, appendices, notes. $22.00 (paper).

For its first original publication, Tractarian Press has chosen Douglas Bess's Divided We Stand: A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement, a book that deals with the formation of traditional and "orthodox" Anglican communities outside of the Episcopal Church. In doing so, the press has not only selected a solid piece of scholarship on a difficult and timely topic, but has also sent notice to scholars that this area demands more attention.

The divisive issues of prayer book revision and women's ordination which Bess chronicles are well known. What he brings to the forefront is the divisions within the traditionalist camp. For while they were unified in their opposition to the direction the Episcopal Church was headed, traditionalists lacked a united vision for the movement once they left and were outside its structure. Optimism quickly gave way to reality. The high and low-church wings of the dissenting movement began to squabble with one another almost from the moment they exited the Episcopal Church, virtually insuring their movement would largely be stillborn. Compromise, which was anathema because of the theological rift within the Episcopal Church, was nearly impossible for the dissenters. Additionally, the movement was hampered by the many traditional leaning Episcopalians who refused to leave the denomination to join the new churches which the dissenters began.

Bess himself admits that his work is a first step, in large part because of the scattering of information and the reluctance of many within the continuing movement to discuss their past with any outsider. But Bess is able to get around this problem by confining himself to what he can do. This understanding of the limits is a strength of the book, because rather than speculation, Bess gives readers a concise analysis of the myriad continuing groups. And he is to be commended for doing this. Divided by theology and leadership style, the traditional and orthodox Anglicans Bess discusses have formed over thirty different churches in the past forty years. …

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