The 19th Canon of 1571, promulgated by Queen Elizabeth I, asserts very succinctly the authority of the Fathers and Councils in a general way: 'let preachers take care that they never teach anything... except what is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and what the Catholic Fathers and and ancient Bishops have collected from the same doctrine.'
This is a typical Anglican approach to the subject.
A modern version of this basic recourse to ecumenical consensus is found in the Canon Law of the Church of England and the text of the liturgy entitled Common Worship:
The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.
I, AB, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness; and in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon.
More specific references to the authority or number of the General Councils, outside of Articles XX and XXI , are of a particular and more individual kind, arising from the theological teaching of divines and theologians. It is rare to find an explicit reference in Anglicanism to the unconditional acceptance of all Seven Ecumenical Councils, dogmatically or canonically, beyond the statements of individual Anglican bishops and writers - with the sole exception of the Affirmation of Saint Louis. We indeed and absolutely believe all Seven Councils are truly ecumenical and catholic - on the basis of the received Tradition of the ancient Undivided Church of East and West, a Tradition which has never been completely comprehended by the Anglican formularies or Canons, a Tradition which was never intended to be fully explicated by the local and provincial formularies of the Catholic Church of the British Provinces. The Anglican formularies address only particular critical theological and disciplinary concerns of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and that certainly by design. Behind them, however, stands the universal authority of the Holy and Apostolic Tradition, which did not have to be rehashed or redebated by Anglican Catholics.
Conside this quote from Dr Bill Tighe: '...despite the fact that advocates of all sides to the 16th-century religious conflict, Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed alike, were given to claiming that their particular doctrinal stances and, in some cases, distinctive practices, were in accord with those of the Early Church Fathers, or at least with those of high standing (such as St. Augustine), none [but Anglicanism] were willing to require, or even permit, their confessional stances to be judged by, or subordinated to, a hypothetical ‘patristic consensus’ of the first four or five centuries of Christianity.' But Anglicanism most certainly did, and does so to this day.
Dr CB Moss' excellent study, The Church of England and the Seventh Council, is an essential read for anyone interested in this controverted area of theology.
On the matter of the reception of the General Councils in the Anglican Communion (from the days of her orthodoxy) we should say that the Church of England, as a true part of the Catholic Church, never rejected any of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and evidently felt she had no need to comment, negatively or positively, on a point of received Tradition that was certainly considered by all Catholic Churches a settled point of dogma. She is a 'Church of the Apostles and Fathers' after all! The Church of England never protested any dogma defined by the Seven Holy Councils and never brought into question the legitimacy or canonicity of any universally-received Ecumenical Synod. Article XXII is about popularly-held and practised medieval error, not ecumenically consentient teaching. The Ecumenical Councils were and are a given - and thus the dearth of commentary or reaffirmation in the Anglican formularies. Often the beauty of Anglicanism, like her cousin Eastern Orthodoxy, is that she does not feel she has to define all the minutiae of her theology or practical life, and is willing simply to allow Tradition to be Tradition: liturgical theology as systematic theology, worship and practice over definition. The question of the Seven Councils should, I think, be considered one of those areas so treated.
Ecumenical Councils are ecumenical because they are received over time by the consensus of the whole Church Catholic, and Anglicanism, pre-, mid-, and post-reformation certainly received the Councils of the Undivided Church along with the rest of Christendom. This reception has never been disputed, to my knowledge, by any synodical authority within Anglicanism. The full appreciation and application of the doctrine of all Seven Councils (especially Nicea II) required a centuries-long process in the Western Church as a whole, and certainly within Anglicanism in particular, but I do not think any one can doubt that the Councils have always been integral to the ethos, the inherited living memory, of the Anglican Church.
The God Who became Man dwells in us and in the Church by His Holy Spirit as in a temple, and certainly it is always and everywhere correct to consecrate our Churches, homes and dwelling places to Our Lord by the use of sacred Images and other sacramentals. The honour given to the Christian icon passes to its prototype, and the possession and veneration of icons communicate the fact and the graces of Incarnation of the Word of God - the God Who was once invisible became forever permanently visible in the Person of Our Lord, and thus the Holy Icons defend and teach, and what is more, confer by grace in a mystical way, the mystery of the Eternal Son of God made Man. Icons and statues are actually necessary to orthodox Christian worship, for without them the Incarnation cannot be realised in a personal and tangible manner. Saint Leo the Great teaches us that the miracles and actions of Our Lord pass, upon His Ascension, into the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church. 'And so our Redeemer's visible presence has passed into the sacraments; our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high...'
The Anglican Church has always affirmed the dogmatic value of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, if not its practical or canonical application, as stained-glass windows or Altar crosses and crucifixes demonstrate. The recovery of the actual practice mandated by Nicea II only came about in its totality in Anglicanism with the Oxford Movement and Revival, although the Caroline Divines and old High Churchmen of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries certainly employed sacred art in churches. Lancelot Andrewes used a crucifix and incense, as did William Laud. Queen Elizabeth herself had a great crucifix in her private chapel. Oxford University erected a large statue of Our Lady at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin before Cromwell's war and the Interregnum. There is a continuous tradition of iconodulism in Anglicanism - but there has been iconoclasm from the puritan element in the Church as well. That puritan and rebellious streak, mercifully, has always been alien to the mainstream Incarnational theology of orthodox Anglicanism post 1559. The early Reformation period from 1547 to 1553 was very ugly and promulgated by men influenced by the Continental religious revolt - we should consider it exceptional and anomalous, and certainly not normative for Anglican doctrine and practice; Anglicanism moderated under Elizabeth and slowly intensified in its ethos under James I, Charles I, and Charles II - and, with bumps in the road, all the way up to the Tractarian Movement. The need today is for more vigorous and lucid theological formation in teaching and preaching, which will bring about the oneness of belief that we all desire. The matter of theology for us was settled with the Affirmation of Saint Louis (1977), which affirmed the ecumenical and dogmatic status of all Seven General Councils for the Anglican Tradition. Icons are a part of our received Tradition from the whole Catholic Church.
At the heart of the matter it is vital to maintain the doctrine of worship and honour presented by Saint John of Damascus and codified at the Seventh Ecumenical Council when dealing with Saints (and their Icons and relics), which doctrine forcefully distinguishes adoration of God and the honour of the Saints. Latria, adoratio, adoration, is divine worship offered to the Godhead alone. Only God the Holy Trinity is worshipped and adored. The worship of God, the Divine Essence, is absolute, offered to God Himself because He is and the rewarder of them that seek Him. The honour given to the Saints is dulia, proskunesis, timeo, veneration, reverence, respect. It is not worship - for we do not worship the Saints, we only honour and revere them. Such honour is strictly relative and passes from the Saint to God, Who is blessed and glorified in His Saints, His human heavenly friends and children. The distinction between the Creator and His creatures is strenuously maintained and asserted. From later tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary, because she is Mother of God, has been given the highest form of relative honour and reverence, called hyperdulia or super-veneration, the highest praise rendered to a creature. Our Lady and the Saints are, after all, creatures, human beings who have become by God's grace truly and ultimately human, for that is the very reality of Sainthood, to be restored to the fullest image and likeness of God, to once again become fully man. The Saints, by becoming by grace what God is by nature, by partaking of the divine nature (II Saint Peter 1.4), fulfil the human vocation and become, through theosis or divinisation, 'God-like.'
The axiomatic principle of the Incarnation of the Word of God is operative here. In a nutshell, because God Himself was made Man for our sake and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary to redeem and divinise human nature, and because the glorified human nature of the Risen Lord communicates the Holy Ghost to the members of the redeemed human family, the communio sanctorum, and thus makes the bodies of the Saints to be temples, dwelling-places of the Holy Spirit, the bodies of those who are acknowledged to have possessed heroic sanctity in this life are honoured, venerated as holy possessions of God and dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. A sober, healthy, balanced, sane, biblical theology of the Saints and of their earthly relics is intensely incarnational and sacramental - the flesh is honoured as the vehicle of the Spirit. By honouring the bodies of the Saints, and by honouring their holy Images, we are taught to honour each other and to recognise in the human body, redeemed and sanctified in Christ, the locus of the Spirit of God.