I recently submitted my Honours Thesis proposal to the English department here at the University of Regina. My paper is somewhat interdisciplinary in nature, looking at the literary, historical, and theological implications of the 1547 edition of Certayne Sermons, or Homilies (what would become the first volume of what is now frequently referred to as the Anglican Book of Homilies). This book, along with the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles (there were originally 42), would become foundational texts of the Church of England (COE). But unlike the latter two works, the Book of Homilies is seldom spoken about these days – a pity, if you ask me. Perhaps if the COE had continued to stress the book’s importance as official doctrine, world Anglicanism might be in a bit better state these days.

Currently, there is a major split between liberal and orthodox Anglicans across the globe. In North America, orthodox congregations continue to separate from their liberal national churches and align themselves with more conservative church bodies in Africa and South America in an attempt to preserve their biblical Anglican beliefs. Talks are well underway for the creation of a new North American Anglican province, a province that will affirm orthodox Anglican theology. On a global scale, we see the same sentiments expressed by the 2008 GAFCON in Jerusalem (seen by many as an alternative to the Lambeth Conference). And just a few days ago, Bishop of Rochester the Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali announced he is stepping down from his post – one of the most prominent positions in the Church of England – to encourage and aid persecuted Christians elsewhere. Bishop Nazir-Ali, the only bishop from England to boycott the Lambeth Conference last year (he was joined by many bishops from other nations), has been severely critical of the liberalism growing within Anglicanism. His departure is being seen as an affront to the prevailing COE hierarchy.

Anglicanism, it appears, is in the midst of a new Reformation.

It seems inevitable that these orthodox Anglican groups will eventually make a final break from the Anglican Communion. Like many more before them, they are finding out just how to difficult it is to “re-form” a church that has lost its way. And like those before them, they are finding out that “cutting off the hand that causes you to sin” is perhaps the best (though by no means easiest) approach when confronting doctrinal error and unrepentance in church hierarchy.

Let’s grant our prayers to their efforts.