An interesting article by one of our brightest theologians, Dr Colin Podmore, in Ecclesiology 6 (2010) 8-38. It traces the development in an organisation called The Episcopal Church (I think this is something to do with what most of us call PECUSA) of a 'theology' which is based upon taking Baptism to be the whole of Christian Initiation.
We all know what Gregory Dix would have thought of this abolition of the Seal of the Spirit (which we call Confirmation or Consignation) In his delightfully provocative way, realising what a cat it would put among the ecumaniac pigeons, he once opined that Confirmation as the gift of the Spirit was more important than the water-bit of Initiation; which inspired a liberal evangelical called Lampe to devote a whole book to trying, unsuccessfully, to demolish Dix.
This new Yankee heresy goes on see all Christian Ministry as simply a diversified set of applications of the Spirit bestowed on all alike at Baptism. Thus Lay, Diaconal, Presbyteral, and Episcoal ministries all sit together as outworkings of that one charisma. This, of course, has implications for the question of the presbyteral ordination of women; indeed, given their premises, it is easy to understand how Pecusans feel that 'denying' priesthood to women is a pretty radical error.
The whole question is very interesting and Colin deals with it in his usual lucid, and painstaking, way. I will mention only one aspect of the matter. As Colin points out, this new foundational dogma runs up against the agreement of ARCIC in 1973 that the ministry of the ordained "is not an extension of the common Christian priesthood but belongs to another realm of the gifts of the Spirit". I think I am right in saying that this ARCIC agreement received the approval of Lambeth Conference and of most Anglican provinces, including PECUSA. In other words, the new American heresy has been introduced and made structural within the canons, liturgy, and life of PECUSA in despite of an ecumenical agreement.
There is nothing particularly unnatural about such a thing happening. It is a plan fact that ecclesial bodies, and their thinking, move ever onward. As a community progresses to embrace what it sees an an exciting clarification of the Christian Faith, it doesn't very often stop to say "Oops! That would contradict such-and-such a dusty old Ecumenical Agreement! We can't go down that path! What a shame!"
But, in our present 'ecumenical winter' some people, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and (CMOC) Westminster, have argued that the ARCIC agrrements have not been rendered useless; they are there, in the bank, as it were, waiting for the time when they will be able to bear fruit.
I find it hard to believe that Archbishop Rowan is stupid enough actually to believe this. He knows perfectly well that Theology moves on, and very often does so quite radically (the ARCIC document on Justification, for example, had already been rendered obsolete when it was published by the 'New Look in Pauline Studies' associated with the name of E P Sanders). Even a very good book (or ecumenical document) is extremely lucky if it doesn't look quaintly dated thirty years after its composition. The idea that, when the 'winter' thaws, the ARCIC accords will look like anything other than old-fashioned period pieces, is so silly that Archbishop Rowan's attitude can only be a mark of the extent to which his hopes (and those of many good men like him) have been bankrupted by the divergent course taken by worldwide Anglicanism as it steers definitively away from the Great Tradition. How great his despair clearly is, that he can only think of something as dotty as that to say.