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Vol II No. 5

A SWORD THAT CUTS TWO WAYS The Place Of Tradition in Anglican Theology

by
Bradford Littlejohn

The Goldilocks Option?

In the search for an Anglican theology, we cannot get far without tackling the question of tradition. Ironically, even as many churches in the Anglican Communion, especially here in America, have left tradition further and further behind, ‘tradition’ has loomed larger and larger in the self-consciousness of many Anglicans or Anglican wannabes. For evangelicals fleeing their non-denominational wasteland for Anglicanism’s denominational wasteland, one of the most attractive features is the sense of connection with ‘tradition’ that they find in Anglicanism. And to be sure, in a world that has resolutely turned its back on the past (except to occasionally turn and spit over its shoulder at despised ancestors), a church that seems to cultivate a living past, and respect for that past, cannot but seem like a shelter in a storm. But of course, if it is such a shelter you are looking for, Rome may seem the safer among safe havens – less so in the age of Francis than of Benedict, to be sure, but there is no question that if it is tradition that you are after, Rome has got more traditions than it knows what to do with. Anglicanism, then, has to sell itself (on this as on so many other points) as the Goldilocks option: Anglicanism offers to serve up a portion of tradition that is not too big, not too small, but just

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