The problem with a “Doctrine of the Church” is in determining how “the People of God” may be identified when there exists, as there has virtually always existed, a division within Christianity. This is compounded by the insistence of some Protestants, in the last five centuries, that no Church is possessed of an indefectible body of teaching, anyway, and that the commission of Christ is in reality distributed to a number of different traditions, some of which, though entirely national and local—as the Church of England was before its replication overseas—claim to be self-sufficient in Christian understanding. Christian believers in this condition have sought to establish their authenticity by reference to Scripture. The difficulty here is that the authority of Scripture derives from the body which selected and canonized it: the Church. A further difficulty is that nineteenth-century scholarship (historical and anthropological as much as theological) has rather compromised the reliability and integrity of Scripture as an infallible resource. It is also awkward for Protestants to argue consistency of teaching since they do not agree among themselves over an impressively wide range of points, and in the case of the Church of England these disagreements extend internally across the whole experience of its adherents. Most of these disagreements, it is true, are over matters of order, discipline and liturgical practice, rather than doctrine; and over the Doctrine of the Church itself there is little disagreement since Protestantism is recognized by the imprecision of the language and images currently used in substitution of having a coherent Doctrine of the Church at all.
Und das ist nur der Anfang. Hier der Schluss:
For the expansion of ecumenical courtesies in the second half of the twentieth century has allowed Anglicanism the illusion of seeing itself as part of a wider context of Christian unity. The reality is actually that the participant Churches in such arrangements each retain their differences, including decisively different understandings of the nature of authority itself, and therefore of the Doctrine of the Church. These measures of inter-communion are not moves towards Christian unity, especially since the historic Churches, who do have distinct ecclesiologies, are largely outside them; they are moves towards a sort of loose federalism in which spiritual camaraderie is mistaken for structural agreement about identifying who the People of God are.