In ABC Religion and Ethics:
Are Sydney Anglicans actually Anglicans? If an Anglican from another part of Australia, or from the United Kingdom, walked into an ordinary Sydney Anglican parish on a Sunday morning would they recognise what they saw as being Anglican?
The building may have a shape that echoes the distinctive shape of countless English parish churches. You are, however, unlikely to find a robed or collared clergyman leading the service – unless you come perhaps to the early morning service. While the structure and outline of the prayer book service will be in evidence, it will be used flexibly. The music will most likely be modern in style and the words projected on a large screen. The pipe organ and the pulpit will not be used. The prayers may well be ex tempore.
For Melbourne journalist Muriel Porter, there is no way in which what I have just described could be called “Anglican.” Her notion of Anglicanism relates to a particular liturgical style. Without this particular style, in their mind there is no Anglican identity.
The assumption of course is that the particular style of liturgy that she has in mind is normative for Anglican worship throughout history and in every place – and that Anglicanism itself permits little or no variation in that form. This point of view reflects the almost complete supremacy in most Western countries of the liberal-Catholic paradigm of Anglicanism, with its emphasis on liturgy over doctrine.
Evangelical Anglicans, however, have a commitment to Anglicanism as a theological entity. That is, they recognise that even if Anglicanism is not as strictly confessional as some other churches, it still has doctrinal parameters.
There is for Anglicans a core of orthodoxy around which all manner of stylistic variations are permitted and even welcomed. The needs of mission and local custom make liturgical flexibility desirable – a practicality that the Anglican formularies of the sixteenth century themselves recognise.
What is consistent as far as evangelical Anglicans are concerned is a common faith. They are Anglicans not merely by convenience but by conviction.
Sydney’s Anglicans are the inheritors of an Anglicanism that has a long and deeply established heritage in the Church of England and they share in an expression of Anglicanism that is, in global terms, widespread. Far from being an aberration caused by a quirk of history or a narrow ultra-Protestant sect, they can trace their way of being Anglican in continuous line back to the Reformation and even somewhat before.
Moreover, the classic Anglican description of the supreme authority of Scripture resonates deeply with the evangelicalism that is found in most parishes in Sydney.
So what is an “Anglican”?
Find out more here.
Also of interest and related to the above is Dr Muriel Porter’s article: Sydney Anglicans and the threat to world Anglicanism.
… These days, it is quite rare to find Anglican church services in Sydney that follow an authorised prayer book or lectionary of the national church. Just as rare are robes. In fact, it is rare to find the services called “services” or even “worship”; they are usually now “meetings” or “gatherings.”
A radical congregationalism, coupled with a hardline conservative neo-Calvinist Evangelicalism more akin to North American Protestantism, has taken hold in most Sydney parishes.
Sydney diocesan leaders seriously began their public involvement with the wider Anglican world in the lead-up to the 1998 Lambeth Conference. At that time, they joined forces with conservative American Episcopalians (Anglicans) to draw African and Asian conservatives into a coalition designed to defeat what they saw as liberalizing tendencies in the Anglican Church, particularly in North America…
It is in full here.
And also, do read Dr Michael Bird, who takes issue with Porter’s article:
… Over at ABC Religion and Ethics, Muriel Porter has a tirade against the greatest evil facing world Anglicanism, viz., Sydney Anglicans. Now I might have a more inclusive view of women in ministry than some of my Sydney Anglican friends, but I would point out that (i) There is a lot more diversity in Sydney Anglicanism than Porter admits; and (ii) The Diocese of Sydney employs more women in ministry than any other Anglican Diocese in the world (even if not in ordained priesthood ministry). I have no intention of defending the Sydney Anglicans (they are more than equipped to do that themselves). But in my mind Porter’s attack is not just on Sydney Anglicans, but on all Anglicans all over the world who hold to the Creeds, Prayerbook, and 39 Articles, i.e., the orthodox. The irony is that her purportedly inclusive brand of Anglicanism is anything but inclusive of anyone who disagrees with her. What is more, she treats African Anglicans as little more than puppets controlled by Sydney Anglicans. Porter is so blatantly condescending towards Anglicans in the global south that it is almost unbelievable that anyone could be that arrogant. I mean, it is borderline racism, and I wonder if an African Anglican would agree with me here? Her rant is indicative of the liberal Anglicans who are absolutely livid that African and Asian Anglicans refuse to comply with their theological revisionism. The mere fact that Global South Anglicans have any voice or vote in the communion and dare speak against their former colonial masters is positively outrageous for Porter. They must have been coaxed, cajoled, and coached into orthodoxy by Peter Jensen – I mean, really, who actually believes this non-sense? For a response to Porter, see Mark Thompson’s review of her book at the Anglican Church League.