Common Cause for Christ

Given Saint Paul’s evangelical catholic character, as well as its affiliation with both Forward in Faith and the Anglican Mission in America, Bishop Allison was asked to address its members and guests on the ground for convergence between the two positions for the cause of Christ and the mission of his Church. It was delivered as keynote address at the Festival of Faith, November 10, 2002

The faith of the Book of Common Prayer is what has forged and held together our Anglican Communion.

It has brought more people to Anglicanism, and nurtured them in faith, than any other factor. On the one hand, due to its compiler, Thomas Cranmer, it is a product of deep catholic self-effacement.

Sadly, evangelical concern for individual conversion and salvation in the 18th century sometimes obscured proper catholic concern dogma and doctrine. Equally regrettable, however, 19th century high churchmen elevated polity over piety – the power of bishops over the authority of scripture!

Twentieth century evangelical scholar Philip Hughes has been instrumental in bridging the unfortunate gap between Catholics and evangelicals. With deep appreciation of the catholic dogmas of Christ and the Trinity, he has shown that they are complimented by proper evangelical understanding of the Atonement, i.e. that believers are justified, saved, made whole before God by his mercy in Christ. Hughes’ effort gained the support of Michael Ramsey, former catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, in his classic work, The Gospel and the Catholic Church.

Practically speaking, without biblical teaching on salvation there has been and will not be an authentic mission. And without that mission branches of the Church are pruned. Suggested is a convergence of evangelical and catholic distinctives that will guard and advance the mission.

Crucial to such convergence is an understanding and appreciation of the nouminous as distinct from mere phenomena, that is knowledge of an underlying reality beneath or beyond the senses, as seen in the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Failure to grasp such distinction characterized both 19th century evangelicals and modernists, affecting their view of the Bible, the Church, the Sacraments, and the ministry, hence shutting down circuits of grace from the reality beyond. Evangelicals and Catholics alike share the desperate need to recover this nouminous, this [mystical reality].

In sum, in the Scriptures we have both been given the images to perceive and know what otherwise remains unknown and unknowable.