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Can Classical Anglican Comprehensiveness Be Reconstructed?

Christopher R. Seitz

This essay takes seriously the theme of comprehensiveness, examining the different contexts of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of the United States. It argues that the term "comprehensiveness" has had a specific meaning as used in Britain, which translated only with difficulty into the context of the United States. In recent years, comprehensiveness has disappeared altogether. Moreover, as a term used in the context of English Anglicanism, it was an acknowledgement of the existence of certain fundamentals that held various parties together in spite of their differences, which were classified as matters inessential or indifferent (adiaphora). As such, comprehensiveness was never constructed or reconstructed; it was identified over against extremes at the outer fringes. Within the American context, a better example of comprehensiveness is the way certain evangelical and catholic groupings have identified areas of commonality that unite them. So the answer to the question posed in the title of this paper is, "No, not in the ECUSA," but "Yes, within the landscape of ecumenical Christianity in the United States."

 
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