and indeed of the whole Anglican Communion has been the individualism of its members. They have been a law unto themselves; and yet this individualism has seldom had the justification of originality: sometimes it has been Geneva that was copied, and sometimes Rome. The result has been that our Church has failed to make herself recognizable: foreigners know almost nothing about her, have no idea what she is like, would not recognize her when they saw her."
Percy Dearmer, The Present Opportunity
The above quotation from the works of Percy Dearmer may have been written some time ago but is yet particularly appropriate to the situation of the Anglican Continuum and the controversies of the moment. We should all be aware of the struggles with the Church since the Accession of Elizabeth I between those who were willing to obey the Church's rules and those who wished to substitute for them those of Geneva. These latter folk were joined in the late nineteenth century by a new party, growing out of the Church revival generally known as the Oxford Movement which wished to substitute the rules of the Church of Rome for those of historic Anglicanism and Churches of the British Isles. The result was the mass confusion satirized by the saying: "High and crazy, Broad and hazy, Low and lazy" used to characterize the three parties which the Church seemed to contain in an abnormal tension.
But there were not three prayer books or three sets of rules to be followed so which of them represented real obedience to the rules of the Church to be found in the Book of Common Prayer, the Canons and the Thirty-Nine Articles? Each party, of course, insisted that it was itself. And how do we find the answer? They cannot all be right.
The answer is right in front of us. Indeed, right in our hands for it is the Book of Common Prayer itself even if it is not always immediately obvious to the questioner. A party that is at war with the prayerbook itself, either in terms of Geneva or Rome, simply cannot represent the intent of the Church which gave us the Book of Common Prayer. To be ordained deacon or priest, one must promise 'conformity to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the . . . Church: and where are they to be found if not in the prayer book itself. And not just in our 1928 American prayer book but also the English prayer book of 1662 which was used by American Anglicans before our Revolution and without which the rubrics of the American book are sometime not quite understandable.
The question then is what sort of practise recognizably conforms to what we find in the text of our prayer book and the English books which preceded it? Is it one which habitually uses language that is at variance with that of the Book of Common Prayer? Is it one which constantly provides services which are not to be found in the prayer book, i.e., Morning Prayer and Sermon, or which fails generally to provide those services ordered to be daily, i.e., "Daily Morning and Evening Prayer?" I could offer my opinion and in a way am doing so. But more importantly, the priests and deacons of the Continuum as well as the wider Anglican Communion are making their own answer in what they do day by day and week by week. The question is whether by the example of their actions they are teaching what is in the Book of Common Prayer or that which is grounded in another set of assumptions? When you "read the priest" you should find nothing but what you would find in the Book of Common Prayer and in the greater prayer book tradition.