How has Anglicanism in America become so divided?
“IN ESSENTIALS UNITY, IN NON-ESSENTIALS LIBERTY, IN ALL THINGS CHARITY.”
Anglicanism is not only divided and disoriented in America, it is also confused and conflicted in Canada and even in England itself. Most theologians see the collapse of Western Anglicanism as a failure to respond to the theological liberalism of the twentieth century. Yet the religious existentialism of theological liberalism has swept through all the main-line, Western Churches without exception – Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Baptist they have all been decimated. As J. Gresham Machen argued in his landmark thesis, Christianity and Liberalism, Liberalism is really a different religion. Much of the form of historic Christianity has been retained, but the substance has entirely changed. And the ecclesiastical leadership structures themselves have progressively come to a theological position which no longer reflects the Apostolic religion of its foundational documents.
Fotunately, Anglican faithfulness to the Apostolic witness remains strong in many churches outside the West – in Africa, in India, in the Far East and in the Southern Cone, for example. And this is a great encouragement to the faithful remnant that are still trapped in the seemingly inexorable collapse of leadership in America and Britain. You will see this encouragement reflected in the many intercommunion agreements which exist between the “Continuing Anglican” Churches in America and their third world counterparts. And you will also see this in the gradual evolution of alternative leadership structures, such as GAFCON (The Global Anglican Future Conference), and in the constantly changing partnering configurations in America as confessing Anglicans attempt to reconfigure themselves with various intercommunion and cooperation agreements which seek to regain long-lost intellectual territories and to agressively preach the Gospel within an increasingly secular environment.