The “Three Streams” Fallacy

As we continue our conversation about the identity theft of the words “Christian” and “Anglican” we have to consider some of the postmodern groups that use the name “Anglican” and how they like to talk about “three streams.” I’m afraid using the “three streams” approach is both misleading and inaccurate. The historic three “streams” in Anglicanism were loosely labeled “high,” “low,” and “broad” church, terms that actually did not well describe the positions of each school. The old broad churchmen, or latitudinarians, have faded into the mainstream of today’s C of E, P/ECUSA/TEC (or whatever 815 calls itself this week), AC of Canada, etc., the folk for whom what one believes, teaches, or practices is not nearly so important as being seen to be in the mainstream of today’s western civilization’s decline. The graciousness and broad-mindedness of Anglicanism, once one of our hallmarks, morphed into a total abandonment of morality now capped by a viciousness enforcing their new standards. This decline is no secret or surprise to any reader here.

With the abandonment of the Catholic and Apostolic faith and discipline, and, one could argue, a total abandonment of Christianity altogether, there was a gap in terminology that some thought needed filling. The Catholic and Evangelical schools of Anglicanism had found their natural affinity when the non-Christians began tinkering with the liturgy and discarding Apostolic order so that the revisionist agenda could be achieved in Anglicanism. The resultant two-sided coin is the natural state of Christianity, the mutual interdependence of Word and Sacrament that is Anglicanism at its best. I disapprove of using the labels “evangelical” and “catholic” as both apply to the Anglican way, each without diminution of the other. But what about that so-called “third stream?”

When the enthusiast movement began at the turn of the twentieth century, it found a ready home among the protestant fringes, but Christianity, especially Anglicanism withstood its attacks for decades, until the erosion of the practice of weighing faith and practice by the Vincentian Canon—that which has been found in the Church everywhere, always, and by all. As some Anglicans fell victim to the attacks of the enthusiast movement, they believed and taught, falsely, that they were exhibiting the gifts (charismata) of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the phenomena seen at Pentecost, thus they labelled their movement as “charismatic” or “pentecostal,”  even though the hallmark of their movement is glossolalia and ecstatic utterances, practices from paganism that are sometimes seen in mental illness but that have never been part of historic Christianity.

Real Anglicanism. The fullness of the Christian faith in Word and Sacrament, where you don’t have to check your brain at the door.

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