The Anglican Communion currently finds itself at an inflection point as it weighs its future prospects in light of discordant social, political, ecclesiological, and theological commitments. In this intellectual and political history of Anglicanism, Gary Dorrien shows that the Communion’s present challenges are the upshot of a centuries-old clash of Anglican identities. Tracing the narrative of Anglicanism from its ancient and medieval origins through the English Reformation and up to the last quarter of the twentieth century, Dorrien argues that Anglican Christianity is at once an ecumenical project, residing at the halfway point between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, a theological movement informed by a brand of idealism centered in the incarnational faith of Logos theology, and an imperial enterprise complicit in the racist sickness of Western civilization.
A book long in the making, Anglican Identities offers a comprehensive, informative, and sobering account of the story of Anglicanism. Dorrien covers the key figures, periods, movements, and theological concerns from the Communion’s history, framing them in an interpretation of Anglican Christianity informed by decades in the classroom and his unique liberal-liberationist and activist reading of theology, ethics, and philosophy of religion.
Dorrien contends that Anglicanism has been sort-of ecumenical from the beginning, with a radical ecumenical aspirational vision, and in its liturgies and teachings has embodied and enacted an idealist approach to the claims of the Christian theological tradition. But Dorrien urges that these features of the Anglican story are deeply at odds with English Anglicanism’s entanglement with white colonialism. Indeed, in Dorrien’s telling, this antinomy between its identity as an ecumenically-generous religion of the incarnate Logos and its willing involvement in white supremacy is at the very heart of Anglican Christianity.
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: The Anglican Idea
2. English Christianity and English Reformation
3. Proto-Anglican Reason and Empire
4. Caroline Divinity and Lockean Liberalism
5. Enlightenment Reason and Romantic Idealism
6. Catholic Visions and Liberal Crises
7. Renewing Christian Socialism, Anglo-Catholic Style
8. Modernizing the Anglican Mainstream
9. Gospel Catholicism and Process Theology
10. Beyond Colonial Anglicanism
In Anglican Identities, Gary Dorrien narrates a sweeping account of the origins and development of Anglicanism, from its pre-Reformation antecedents to its post-colonial present. As he always does, Dorrien provides much more than an intellectual genealogy of his subject. By attending carefully to the ambivalences of the Anglican heritage, Dorrien displays how the Anglican theological imagination both bolsters and contests imperialism, supports and denounces white supremacy, and colludes with and conspires against a host of philosophical positions, economic systems, political projects, and theological agendas. Dorrien’s lucid tracing of these trajectories suggests the potential futures inherent in Anglicanism’s still-unfolding story—and the urgency of choosing carefully which of them to pursue.~Scott MacDougall, Associate Professor of Theology, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
With clarity, detail, and breathtaking scholarship, Dorrien reconciles Anglicanism's complex intellectual history, theology, and ethics with our church’s struggles with imperialism, colonialism, and white supremacy. Anglican Identities is an antidote to efforts that try to distill the ‘essence’ of Anglicanism in a way that avoids or forgets this history. Church leaders at every level will benefit from Dorrien’s work, which will help us remember our past and recognize our present as we imagine a better future.~William J. Danaher, Jr, Rector, Christ Church Cranbrook