|dc.description.abstract||The Anglican Church of Australia agreed to a national constitution in 1962. Yet at a national level it is hardly a cohesive body with a sense of unity and common purpose. Historically, Australian Anglicanism developed along regional lines, with the result that diocesan separateness rather than national unity became enshrined as a foundational principle of Anglicanism in Australia. This study questions this fundamental premise of the Anglican tradition in Australia. It argues (1) that it is not a true reflection of the Anglican ethos, both in its English origins and worldwide, and (2) that it prevents Anglicanism in Australia from embracing its national vocation.
An alternative tradition has been present, in fact, within Australian Anglicanism from the beginning, although it has not been considered to be part of the mainstream. Bishop Broughton, the first Anglican bishop in Australia, was deeply sensitive to the colonial context in which the Anglican tradition was being planted, and he adapted it accordingly. So too, a century later, Bishop Burgmann of Canberra and Goulburn argued for Anglicanism to embrace its national vocation. The views of both these pioneering bishops were consistent with the national principle that lay at the heart of the Anglican ethos from as far back as the English Reformation. The central part of this study explores this national emphasis in Anglican thought, which is present in the thought of Richard Hooker and received renewed emphasis in the writings of Broad Church Anglicans like Coleridge, Arnold and Maurice in nineteenth century England. The national principle did not disappear with the birth of global Anglicanism. The principle of inculturation, always implicit in the Anglican tradition in England, now became an Anglican imperative. The American Revolution indicated that the vocation of each cultural expression of Anglicanism is intricately bound up with the life of the particular society to which it belongs. A study of Lambeth documents demonstrates this growing cultural awareness within global Anglicanism. The present crisis of authority in the Anglican Communion should not be allowed to divert attention away from the national vocation of each particular or national church, in keeping with one of the central tenets of the English Reformation.
Important theological and ecclesial issues are at stake. It is very easy for Anglicanism to lapse into an in-house conversation, forgetting that doctrine is part of a human and not just an ecclesiastical conversation. At the heart of the Anglican ethos is a ‘reconciling method’. In a fragmented world, Anglicanism is called to be a mediating presence, engaging with the differences that threaten to divide nations and communities. The Anglican via media needs to be released from ecclesiastical confinement to do its proper work within national life. So too, the notion of ‘comprehensiveness’, long considered to be a central aspect of the Anglican ethos, needs to be placed at the service of the national and international community, especially in a post-colonial world. Conversation and community need to take precedence over fragmentation and hostility. The Anglican tradition was made for such a time, and needs to apply its theological and ecclesial resources to broader issues than its own survival. Ultimately it is a question of integrity: whether Anglicanism is prepared to embody its vision of unity within its own life, and to share it with the wider human community; whether it is willing to live with the risks of engagement, accepting that the ongoing tension between gospel and culture is part of its vocation.
The final section of the study will seek to apply these insights to the Australian context. Anglicanism has, in fact, been part of the Australian story from the beginning of European settlement. It must not retreat into a private religious world, or assume a comfortable establishment status as it tended to do in the decades after Federation. It needs to be part of the ongoing debate about Australia – what Australia is and what it stands for. The Anglican tradition must both engage in the conversation about Australia and act as a prophetic and mediating presence, especially at the points of tension which cause fractures in national life. Particular attention will be paid to three key themes in Australian life: the Anzac tradition, race, and land. Each of these presents Anglicanism with both a challenge and an opportunity. Australia needs the insights and resources that the Anglican tradition brings, and Anglicanism needs to grasp that it is both Anglican and Australian. It must therefore get its own house in order for the sake of the nation.||