Document Type




Publication Date

Fall 1996


Temple University Press

Source Publication

Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Source ISSN



The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral has served as the primary reference point and working document of the Anglican Communion for ecumenical Christian reunion. It identifies four essential elements for Christian unity in terms of scriptures, creeds, sacraments, and the Historic Episcopate. The Quadrilateral is based on the ecumenical thought and leadership of William Reed Huntington, an Episcopal priest who proposed the Quadrilateral in his book The Church.Idea:/In Essay toward Unity (1870) and who was the moving force behind approval of the Quadrilateral by the House of Bishops of the 1886 General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church. It was subsequently approved with modifications by the Lambeth Conference of 1888 and finally reaffirmed in its Lambeth form by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1895. The Quadrilateral has been at the heart of Anglican ecumenical discussions and relationships since its approval Interpretation of the meaning of the Quadrilateral has undergone considerable development in its more than 100-year history. This essay considers the unfolding and development of the Quadrilateral in terms of official church statements and the writings of other Anglican theologians. Particular attention is given to the meaning of the Historic Episcopate, which has required and received the most attention. Both the future ecumenical relationships of the churches of the Anglican Communion and the cause of church unity with respect to Anglicanism will hinge on the Quadrilateral as developed and applied.


Accepted version. Journal of Ecumenical Studies,Vol. 33, No. 4 (Fall 1996). Publisher link. © 1996 University of Pennsylvania Press. Used with permission.

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