A fifth edition of The Glastonbury Confession has just been issued by the British Orthodox Press, some sixty-five years after it was first published by the late Metropolitan Georgius (1905-1979).
In 1994, when the British Orthodox Church united with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Protocol determining our relations simply stated that the British Orthodox Church “confesses the same faith as the Coptic Orthodox Church and rejects all that the Coptic Orthodox Church rejects.” Although the late Pope Shenouda III accepted the Confession as a sound exposition of our Orthodoxy, it was no longer deemed necessary to have a distinctive statement of faith, and it was accordingly withdrawn from circulation. However, in 2015, when the British Orthodox Church returned to its status as an autocephalous jurisdiction, the need to express our faith clearly and unambiguously necessitated the re-adoption of The Glastonbury Confession as the Dogmatic Constitution of the British Orthodox Church.
In publishing a fifth edition the only change made from the fourth edition is in Article 3 of Chapter VI, where previously seven councils were recognised as ecumenical, a tradition derived from Bishop Julius of Iona in 1866, despite the church’s original Apostolic Succession deriving from the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. Without impugning the integrity of the faith of those Orthodox Churches recognising seven councils as ecumenical, the British Orthodox Church professes only three, desiring to continue as a jurisdiction faithfully adhering to the Oriental Orthodox tradition and venerating her predecessors and fathers among the saints who rejected the Council of Chalcedon of A.D. 451. Indeed, the church’s understanding of these differences fully accords with the Second Agreed Statements and Recommendations agreed by the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, held at Chambésy, Switzerland, 23-28 September 1990; whereby both families accept the first three Oecumenical Councils and, in relation to the four later Councils of the Orthodox Church, the interpretations provided by the Orthodox Church in the Second Agreed Statement are ones which the Oriental Orthodox tradition can respond to positively.
The Confession contains some ninety-one articles, divided into ten chapters dealing with God and His Creation; Divine Revelation; the Person and Work of Christ; the Person and Work of the Holy Ghost and Grace; the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; the Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition; Charism of Office in the Church; Divine Worship and the Sacramental Life; Life in Christ and Eschatology. It is a valuable exposition of the Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Faith of Undivided Christendom which can be useful for catechesis among enquirers, wishing to learn more about Orthodoxy.
The Glastonbury Confession is a 106-page paperback. Copies can be ordered either directly from the British Orthodox Church Secretariat, 10 Heathwood Gardens, Charlton, London, SE7 8EP for £9.95 plus £2.99 postage (U.K. only) or online from Lulu.com for £9.95 plus postage (UK and abroad).