Thursday, April 04, 2019

APEST and Anglicans, part 2

The Lambeth Quadrilateral (building on the Chicago Quadrilateral) is recognised as the common basis of Anglican ecclesiology, defined by:

(a) The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as “containing all things necessary to salvation,” and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
(b) The Apostles’ Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
(c) The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself—Baptism and the Supper of the Lord—ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.
(d) The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.

How does APEST relate to this? Here are some initial thoughts.

(a) APEST function (corporate behaviour, presence, or manifestation) and vocation (personal calling, profile) are found throughout Old and New Testaments, and as such where any dimension is missing, the Church has fallen away from the scriptural rule and standard of faith. But is this ‘necessary to salvation’ or adiaphora—things permitted but not essential? Firstly, it is hard to describe the unfolding drama of salvation history without drawing on all five functions. Salvation is wrought in the person of Jesus by his being sent (and sending) (A), his covenant faithfulness (and drawing others into this) (P), his embodiment of good news (E), his laying down of his life as the Good Shepherd (S), and his instruction as the Way, the Truth and the Life (T). Moreover, if salvation is something to be lived-into, it cannot be fully embraced and inhabited without all five functions.

(b) The Creeds are historic statements that address particular issues facing the Church at the time of their formulation. While we affirm, in particular, the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed, they are first words (sufficient) rather than last words. The Apostles’ Creed is the baptismal declaration, by which we offer ourselves to the Lord (to use the gift receiving-and-giving language of Psalm 68, in which Paul anchors the gifts of Christ). Both Creeds begin with God and the created order (see my earlier post on APEST cosmology). Both Creeds affirm the ascension, the act from which Jesus gives APEST to the Church. Both, especially the Nicene, emphasise the apostolic sentness of both Jesus and the Church. Prophets are recognised, in relation to the Holy Spirit, and also the call of the Church to holiness. Unity is recognised in the call on the Church to be one; diversity recognised in the insistence that the Church is catholic (i.e. we recognise one another, in our difference). The Jesus event is proclaimed as good news for humanity. The forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the dead are profoundly pastoral, shepherding emphases. The systematising of faith into a creed that can be taught, a teaching impulse.

(c) Baptism is the event in which people—apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers—are liberated, through the waters, from death to life, and presented as gift by the Lord to his Church. The Supper of the Lord (or, Holy Communion, or the Eucharist) is the regular event in which our unity and diversity are held together; in which we recognise one another, and Christ re-members his Body.

(d) The Historic Episcopate is apostolic in that it guards the deposit of the faith (through time) and its spread (through space). (Not every bishop is primarily an apostle by gift, though all must attend to that aspect of their APEST profile.) The call to attend to the varying needs of nations and peoples called into Unity requires attending to all five ‘intelligences’ or biases, in order that the Body be built up: what needs to step back, in this or that context, in order that another might step forward?

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