Affirmation of St Louis
In 1977 an international congress of nearly 2,000 Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people met in St. Louis, Missouri, united in opposition to the theological liberalisation that was taking place in the Episcopal Church. Many Anglicans saw that the mainline church was heading in a direction that was not biblical, and which ultimately “departed from Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
Text of the Affirmation of St. Louis
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY GHOST. AMEN.
The Continuation of Anglicanism
We affirm that the Church of our fathers, sustained by the most Holy Trinity, lives yet, and that we, being moved by the Holy Spirit to walk only in that way, are determined to continue in the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Anglican Church, doing all things necessary for the continuance of the same. We are upheld and strengthened in this determination by the knowledge that many provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion have continued steadfast in the same Faith, Order, Worship and Witness, and that they continue to confine ordination to the priesthood and the episcopate to males. We rejoice in these facts and we affirm our solidarity with these provinces and dioceses.
The Need to Continue Order in the Church
We affirm that all former ecclesiastical governments, being fundamentally impaired by the schismatic acts of lawless Councils, are of no effect among us, and that we must now reorder such godly discipline as we strengthen us in the continuation of our common life and witness.
The Invalidity of Schismatic Authority
We affirm that the claim of any such schismatic person or body to act against any Church member, clerical or lay, for his witness to the whole Faith is with no authority of Christ’s true Church, and any such inhibition, deposition or discipline is without effect and is absolutely null and void.
The Need for Principles and a Constitution
We affirm that fundamental principles (doctrinal, moral, and constitutional) are necessary for the present, and that a Constitution (redressing the defects and abuses of our former governments) should be adopted, whereby the Church may be soundly continued.
WHEREFORE, with a firm trust in Divine Providence, and before Almighty God and all the company of heaven, we solemnly affirm, covenant and declare that we, lawful and faithful members of the Anglican and Episcopal Churches, shall now and hereafter continue and be the unified continuing Anglican Church in North America, in true and valid succession thereto.
In order to carry out these declarations, we set forth these fundamental Principles for our continued life and witness.
In the firm conviction that “we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” and that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” and acknowledging our duty to proclaim Christ’s saving Truth to all peoples, nations and tongues, we declare our intention to hold fast the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith of God.
We acknowledge that rule of faith laid down by St. Vincent of Lerins: “Let us hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all, for that is truly and properly Catholic.”
I. PRINCIPLES OF DOCTRINE
1. The Nature of the Church
We gather as people called by God to be faithful and obedient to Him. As the Royal Priestly People of God, the Church is called to be, in fact, the manifestation of Christ in and to the world. True religion is revealed to man by God. We cannot decide what is truth, but rather (in obedience) ought to receive, accept, cherish, defend and teach what God has given us. The Church is created by God, and is beyond the ultimate control of man.
The Church is the Body of Christ at work in the world. She is the society of the baptised called out from the world: In it, but not of it. As Christ’s faithful Bride, she is different from the world and must not be influenced by it.
2. The Essentials of Truth and Order
We repudiate all deviation of departure from the Faith, in whole or in part, and bear witness to these essential principles of evangelical Truth and apostolic Order:
The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and the authentic record of God’s revelation of Himself, His saving activity, and moral demands — a revelation valid for all men and all time.
The Nicene Creed as the authoritative summary of the chief articles of the Christian Faith, together with the Apostles’ Creed, and that known as the Creed of St. Athanasius to be thoroughly received and believed in the sense they have had always in the Catholic Church.
The received Tradition of the Church and its teachings as set forth by “the ancient catholic bishops and doctors,” and especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, to the exclusion of all errors, ancient and modern.
The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance and Unction of the Sick, as objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and as His covenanted means for conveying His grace. In particular, we affirm the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (where they may be had) — Baptism as incorporating us into Christ (with its completion in Confirmation as the “seal of the Holy Spirit”), and the Eucharist as the sacrifice which unites us to the all-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood.
The Holy Orders of bishops, priests and deacons as the perpetuation of Christ’s gift of apostolic ministry to His Church, asserting the necessity of a bishop of apostolic succession (or priest ordained by such) as the celebrant of the Eucharist — these Orders consisting exclusively of men in accordance with Christ’s Will and institution (as evidenced by the Scriptures), and the universal practice of the Catholic Church.
The ancient office and ministry of Deaconesses as a lay vocation for women, affirming the need for proper encouragement of that office.
Duty of Bishops
Bishops as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers, as well as their duty (together with other clergy and the laity) to guard and defend the purity and integrity of the Church’s Faith and Moral Teaching.
The Use of Other Formulae
In affirming these principles, we recognise that all Anglican statements of faith and liturgical formulae must be interpreted in accordance with them.
Incompetence of Church Bodies to Alter Truth
We disclaim any right or competence to suppress, alter or amend any of the ancient Ecumenical Creeds and definitions of Faith, to set aside or depart from Holy Scripture, or to alter or deviate from the essential pre-requisites of any Sacrament.
Unity with Other Believers
We declare our firm intention to seek and achieve full sacramental communion and visible unity with other Christians who “worship the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity,” and who hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith in accordance with the foregoing principles.
II. PRINCIPLES OF MORALITY
The conscience, as the inherent knowledge of right and wrong, cannot stand alone as a sovereign arbiter of morals. Every Christian is obligated to form his conscience by the Divine Moral Law and the Mind of Christ as revealed in Holy Scriptures, and by the teaching and Tradition of the Church. We hold that when the Christian conscience is thus properly informed and ruled, it must affirm the following moral principles:
All people, individually and collectively, are responsible to their Creator for their acts, motives, thoughts and words, since “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ . . .”
Sanctity of Human Life
Every human being, from the time of his conception, is a creature and child of God, made in His image and likeness, an infinitely precious soul; and that the unjustifiable or inexcusable taking of life is always sinful.
Man’s Duty to God
All people are bound by the dictates of the Natural Law and by the revealed Will of God, insofar as they can discern them.
The God-given sacramental bond in marriage between one man and one woman is God’s loving provision for procreation and family life, and sexual activity is to be practised only within the bonds of Holy Matrimony.
Man as Sinner
We recognise that man, as inheritor of original sin, is “very far gone from original righteousness” and as a rebel against God’s authority is liable to His righteous judgement.
Man and God’s Grace
We recognise, too, that God loves His children and particularly has shown it forth in the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that man cannot be saved by any effort of his own, but by the Grace of God, through repentance and acceptance of God’s forgiveness.
Christian’s Duty to be Moral
We believe, therefore, it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world.
III. CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES
In the constitutional revision which must be undertaken, we recommend, for the consideration of continuing Anglicans, the following:
Selection of Bishops
That a non-political means for selection of bishops be devised.
That the Church be generally governed by a Holy Synod of three branches (episcopal, clerical and lay), under the presidency of the Primate of the Church.
Scriptural Standards for the Ministry
That the apostolic and scriptural standards for the sacred Ministry be used for all orders of Ministers.
Concurrence of all Orders for Decisions
That the Constitution acknowledges the necessity of the concurrence of all branches of the Synod for decisions in all matters, and that extraordinary majorities be required for the favourable consideration of all matters of importance.
Re-establishment of Discipline
That the Church re-establishes an effective permanent system of ecclesiastical courts for the defence of the Faith and the maintenance of discipline over all her members.
In the meantime, trusting in the everlasting strength of God to carry us through all our trials, we commend all questions for decision to the proper authorities in each case: Episcopal, diocesan,and parochial, encouraging all the faithful to support our witness as subscribers to this Affirmation, and inviting all so doing to share our fellowship and the work of the Church.
IV. PRINCIPLES OF WORSHIP
Prayer Book — The Standard of Worship
In the continuing Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer is (and remains) one work in two editions: The Book of Common Prayer 1662 and the Prayer Book of 1928. Each is fully and equally authoritative. No other standard for worship exists.
Certain Variances Permitted
For liturgical use, only the Book of Common Prayer and service books conforming to and incorporating it shall be used.
V. PRINCIPLES OF ACTION
Intercommunion with other Apostolic Churches
The continuing Anglicans remain in full communion with all other faithful parts of the Continuing Anglican Communion, and should actively seek similar relations with all other Apostolic and Catholic Churches, provided that agreement in the essentials of Faith and Order first be reached.
Need for Sound Theological Training
Re-establishment of spiritual, orthodox and scholarly theological education under episcopal supervision is imperative, and should be encouraged and promoted by all in authority; and learned and godly bishops, other clergy and lay people should undertake and carry on that work without delay.
The right of congregations to control of their temporalities should be firmly and constitutionally recognised and protected.
Administration should, we believe, be limited to the most simple and necessary acts, so that emphasis may be centred on worship, pastoral care, spiritual and moral soundness, personal good works, and missionary outreach, in response to God’s love for us.
The Church as Witness to Truth
We recognise also that, as keepers of God’s will and truth for man, we can and ought to witness to that will and truth against all manifest evils, remembering that we are as servants in the world, but God’s servants first.
Continuation, Not Innovation
In this gathering witness of Anglicans and Episcopalians, we continue to be what we are. We do nothing new. We form no new body, but continue as Anglicans and Episcopalians.
NOW, THEREFORE, deeply aware of our duty to all who love and believe the Faith of our Fathers, of our duty to God, who alone shall judge what we do, we make this Affirmation. Before God, we claim our Anglican/Episcopal inheritance, and proclaim the same to the whole Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.