The Anglican Ecumenical Society started as an initiative of the Anglican Ecumenical Bible Study in Second Life. We grew, and started holding activities which were also aimed at a wider audience than just the members of the Bible study itself.
[ Note: we are not currently active, nor have we been for a number of years. The posts on this site remain important and relevant, thus the site remains online; there also may be a few additions to the content from time to time. ]
We are focused primarily on online ministry in a context of working together with people from diverse church backgrounds, who support the ecumenical principles of the Anglican Communion: obedient faith in scripture and the creeds. We see enormous ecumenical potential in cooperative online ministry.
We have noticed that many have questions about what “ecumenical” means, and some are even quite skeptical about this word. This is understandable; some “ecumenical” efforts have been held in the past which seem to be rather “watering down” the beliefs that we hold in Christ.
Anglicans are a non-confessional church. This doesn’t mean we don’t have beliefs; it means that we hold to the beliefs common to all other Trinitarian Churches – belief in the authority of Scriptures, and teachings which are summed up in the creeds – the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicean Creed, and the Creed of Athanasius (though, as C.S. Lewis remarked, this last one is neither really a creed, nor was it penned by Athanasius).
Anglicans uphold Holy Scripture as the “rule and ultimate standard of faith” – as stated in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886-1888, the most important founding document of the Anglican Communion. Officially” we have a very, very high notion of the authority of Scriptures. We recognize that the Anglican Communion is currently in turbulent times, and in this we pray that God’s will might be done. Reform can be a long and arduous process.
As faithful Anglicans, we uphold high, as does the Communion, the authority of Scriptures; and we call upon all Anglican churches and provinces who do not hold to Christ’s teachings, to reform themselves, and to heed the witness of the other churches which do uphold the Christ’s teachings and the primacy of Scriptures – to observe the witness of Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Pentecostalist, Baptist, Anabaptist, Orthodox churches around you – to be inspired by Christians in our sister churches – and to consider what it is that Christ wants you to do.
We urge all therefore, in considering church membership, to “be as shrewd as a serpent and innocent as a dove.” Get to know the parish you consider joining – do they worship the resurrected Christ, or do they prefer to search for a “deeper meaning” regarding the resurrection, without attaching importance to the event itself, or even denying that it happened? Do they hold high their regard for Scripture, honoring the centuries of care Christians have taken in the art of hermeneutics, or do they paint a black and white picture of interpretation of Scripture by labeling Christians as “literalists,” without much regard to respect of Scripture, or even of hermeneutics? Do the church leaders hold to a high view of scripture and believe in the creeds, or do they treat these things rather as “mystical” and brush over the plain meanings of what Christ, and the Church, teach? Indeed, almost all provinces of the Anglican Communion hold Scripture in very high regard and take the task of interpreting Scripture very seriously.
We are not out to find converts for Anglican churches or for the Anglican Communion – there is no better place for us to be than in God’s will. We can, and do, encourage all within their own churches to be more faithful witnesses to Christ; and, as possible, to help our own Communion, with your own gifts – as churches, and as individuals. Churches in the reformed tradition – Presbyterians, Baptists, and others – tend to be excellent in exposition of Scripture, and in evangelism; we have a great deal to learn from all of you in reformed churches. The Roman Catholic Church has a great deal to teach us Anglicans about devoted, beautiful, serious worship of God and the discipline of prayer; and about the use of reason and tradition in interpretation of Scripture and in church life as a whole – so we also have a great deal to learn from Catholics. Pentecostalists have an enormous wealth of knowledge and practice regarding worship and the Holy Spirit; we must learn from you as well. And there are innumerable things we should be learning from Lutherans, Anabaptists, Orthodox Christians, Methodists, and all the other Trinitarian churches who uphold Scripture, the faith we have received from Christ and from the apostles.
The Anglican Communion is very large Communion – one of the largest of the world churches, second only to the Roman Catholic Church in numbers. What goes on in our Communion is being watched closely by leaders in other denominations which have similar problems, albeit in less advanced turbulence. How our Communion comes through this crisis will have an enormous impact on Christianity in the world at large.
Many of our provinces are flourishing and growing – some of them very rapidly – with a very warm and uncompromised commitment to Christ – especially in some areas of Africa, Asia, and Australia. And even in our most compromised provinces, there are still some dioceses, and many parishes, with a profound love and commitment to Christ. Theologians from our Communion – including C.S. Lewis, John Stott, J.I. Packer, and N.T. Wright – have had an enormous influence in calling Christians all over the world to a more faithful reading of Scripture and dedication to God. The Anglican Communion is also the original home of the Alpha Course, which has reached millions as an evangelization program, and has contributed to the church growth of parishes in Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostalist, non-denominational churches, and churches from many other denominations.
We hope that we will aid some in becoming more faithful Christians in their own churches and glorifying God in thought, word and deed. And we do hope that with the help and faithful witness of other Churches, the Anglican Communion will do likewise.
So with the word “Ecumenical,” we do not call upon you to diminish your own Church’s teachings or “water them down.” Rather we call upon you to uphold your own church’s teachings, and in acknowledging Christ as our Saviour, and our unity in the body of Christ, to come together with others and share the unique gifts which God has given you, and those gifts with which He has blessed your church.