Agreeing on a common accountability: What can the Anglican communion learn from Ernst Troeltsch?

Thomas Frame

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In the light of recent theological controversies, the Anglican Communion urgently needs what Archbishop Rowan Williams has described as an 'agreement over a common accountability'. Such an agreement must differentiate the things that define the essence of the Anglican Church from those that merely imparta distinctive cultural flavour. It will be built on a nuanced theological debate involving questions of self-definition that recognize the social, economic, political and cultural contexts enveloping the Communion's various national churches. In the same way that social structures and economic conditions bear directly upon the shape of religious organizations, it will become apparent that political pressures and cultural mores influence doctrinal commitments. The church-sect-mystic group typology developed by Ernst Troeltsch has the potential to help the Anglican Communion understand the origins of its theological diversity as part of a larger project that seeks to maintain corporate identity and to preserve organizational unity. His attempts to define the 'essence of Christianity' in the context of what might otherwise seem random, chaotic and possibly irreconcilable responses to Christ's teaching offers some interpretative insights that will assist Anglicans achieve a consensus on which 'agreement over a common accountability' might be based.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-120
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Anglican Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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