An extract from the 2008 Morpeth Lecture.
While the first Lambeth Conference was taking place and William Tyrrell was working to establish and expand his flock in Newcastle, American Episcopal priest William Reed Huntington was writing a book.
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church as a whole had endorsed the Quadrilateral in 1886, and the Lambeth Conference of 1888 did the same, putting its own stamp on it in the mind of most Anglicans outside the
My purpose in recounting this narrative involves three things. First I do intend this story specifically to enjoin the Quadrilateral as a sufficient basis for Christian and by implication Anglican unity today, over against current attempts to recycle the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as a sort of Anglican ‘confession’ comparable to those of the continental protestant Churches. But the second and more fundamental point I wish to make would apply to the Articles as well.
No really significant movement for renewal within Anglicanism has begun, or is likely to begin, with attempts to define Anglicanism itself. The key moments and movement for various Anglicans, ‘high’, ‘low’ and other, all stemmed from attempts to identify and enact what was adequately and necessarily Christian. The Articles of Religion and the Quadrilateral, and for that matter the Reformation and the Oxford Movement themselves, all have this in common – that they were not attempts to establish distinctly Anglican groups or practices, let alone protestant or Anglo-Catholic ones, but to assert the fundamental and universal meaning and demands of Christian faith.
My third reason for invoking the Quadrilateral then is this. I do not believe that core practices or beliefs held for the sake of Anglicanism, rather than for the sake of the Gospel itself, are likely to inspire the necessary confidence or commitment that will provide a future vision for Anglicanism. The Quadrilateral will not serve Anglicans simply as a way of passively marking boundaries which the willing or the curious may cross if they choose. If its elements are worthy of defence they are worthy of advocacy as well. The paradox it offers and demands is that Anglicanism must look beyond itself to renew itself, and therefore be open to a diverse future or futures.
 Robert Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church (Harrisburg: Morehouse, 1991), 187-90.
 Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), 10.
 First published in
 John Woolverton, "
 Notably through the work of Charles Brent, Episcopal missionary bishop in the