Saturday, September 12, 2009

A fine paper on Eucharisric Theology

Although I cannot endorse the new Anglican Church in North America, the following paper is simply excellent. It should be read for its educational value. I am sorry that our Continuing Church movement has lost so fine a scholar. It is here posted in its entirety, posted with permission of the author.-Fr. Hart


by Rev. Victor E. Novak

There is a great deal of confusion among Anglicans today regarding the Anglican teaching on the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Some believe in the Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation or something very similar; while others are almost Zwinglian, holding a view that differs little from the Baptists, Methodists or Presbyterians. There is a lot of talk today about “Real Presence,” “Receptionism” and “Calvinism,” without much understanding of what these terms really mean. Many who think they are orthodox Anglicans are unfamiliar with their own Anglican formularies: the historic Book of Common Prayer and its Ordinal and Catechism, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, and the two books of Homilies, and what they teach.

On July 29, 2007, I was received as a priest into the Reformed Episcopal Church. Previous to my reception, I had been a priest in the Anglican Province of Christ the King where I served as Ecumenical Officer and editor of The Province, the official publication of the APCK, as well as a pastor. I was a classical Anglican while serving in the Anglican Province of Christ the King, and I believe, teach and confess the same classical Anglicanism in the Reformed Episcopal Church. I joined the Reformed Episcopal Church because it is neither high nor low church today, but is a classical Anglican Church, and is perhaps the only truly classical Anglican jurisdiction in North America. The REC not only professes belief in the historic Anglican formularies, but studies, uses and teaches them as well. After the Reformed Episcopal Church became a founding jurisdiction of the newly gathered Anglican Church in North America, I found myself having discussions with Anglican colleagues outside of the REC regarding ACNA, and whether or not continuing Anglicans should work with it or remain outside. Many of these colleagues knew me while I was Ecumenical Officer of the APCK, and were genuinely interested in ACNA, but some seemed somewhat puzzled that my parish and I had entered the Reformed Episcopal Church. A few have even said to me, “But the REC doesnʼt believe in the Real Presence.” Comments like that have led me to write this paper in an effort to clear the air.


In the Declaration of Principles of the Reformed Episcopal Church, adopted on December 2, 1873, the same day that the Thirty-nine Articles were reaffirmed without alteration, under “erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to Godʼs Word”, the REC condemns the notion “That the Presence of Christ in the Lordʼs Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine.” It is from this principle that some of my colleagues have assumed that “the REC doesnʼt believe in the Real Presence.” However, nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is that this Principle does not address either the medieval, scholastic doctrine of Transubstantiation or the Biblical and patristic doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, but something altogether different. Transubstantiation is already rejected in Article XXVIII of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion: “Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.”

The Reformed Episcopal Church does not condemn “the Presence of Christ in the Lordʼs Supper,” - rather it affirms it. What it does condemn is the teaching “That the Presence of Christ in the Lordʼs Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine.” It is not the doctrine of the “Real Presence” that is being condemned, but an error that is centuries old and goes back at least as far as John of Paris (d. 1306), and perhaps as far as the disciples of Berengarius of Tours at the end of the eleventh century. It had already been officially condemned by Rome, and by both the Lutheran and Reformed Churches in the 16th century; and had become popularized again in the 19th century. In fact, the Vatican condemned a Roman Catholic theologian, Bayma, in 1875, for teaching it; and some High Church Anglicans caused serious controversy in the United Kingdom and the United States by teaching what sounded very much like it in an effort to profess something close to Transubstantiation without technically violating Article XXVIII. Theologians call this error “Impanation.”

Impanation is a theological term used for the teaching that the Body and Blood of Christ are mingled with the elements of bread and wine in the Eucharist. The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say about Impanation: “An heretical doctrine according to which Christ in the Eucharist through His human body substantially united with the substances of bread and wine, and thus really present as God, made bread: Deus panis factus...The doctrine of impanation agrees with the doctrine of consubstantiation [a term rejected by Lutherans] as it was taught by Luther, in these two essential points: it denies on the one hand the Transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, and on the other professes nevertheless the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Yet the doctrines differ essentially in so far as Luther asserted that the Body of Christ penetrated the unchanged substance of the bread but denied a hypostatic union. Orthodox Lutheranism expressed this so-called sacramental union between the Body of Christ and the substance of bread in the well known formula: The Body of Christ is ʻin, with and under the breadʼ - in, cum et sub pane...”

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1910 says, “The doctrine of also against reason, since a hypostatic union between the Word of God Incarnate, or the God-man Christ, and the dead substances of bread and wine is inconceivable” (Vol. 7, p. 695). Impanation has been condemned by Rome, the Lutheran Church in the Formula of Concord, and by the Reformed Episcopal Church in its Declaration of Principles, but all three of these Churches believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.


Anglicanism rejected transubstantiation for three reasons: 1). it “cannot be proven by Holy Writ,” 2). it “overthroweth the nature of a sacrament,” and 3). it “hath given occasion to many superstitions.” Transubstantiation clearly is not provable by Holy Writ, and “is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture.” It is really a medieval, scholastic explanation without Scriptural or patristic support; and no impartial student of history can doubt that it “hath given occasion to many superstitions.”

How does it overthrow the nature of a sacrament? A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. A sacrament consists of both the outward sign and the thing signified. In transubstantiation the outward sign is eliminated because the whole substance of the bread and wine are said to be changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Only the accidents, the appearance of the bread and wine, remain. This overthrows the nature of a sacrament. Zwingli erred in that he separated the sign, the consecrated Bread and Wine, from what it signified, the Body and Blood of Christ; while transubstantiation made the same mistake in the theologically opposite direction. It can be said that Zwingli taught the “real absence” of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion. According to Zwingli, communicants receive only bread and wine as a memorial of Christʼs sacrifice.

Transubstantiation teaches that communicants receive only the Body and Blood of Christ as the whole substance of the Bread and Wine have been transubstantiated into the Body and blood of Christ, leaving only the appearance, the accidents, of Bread and Wine. But Anglicanism has always taught with the Scriptures and the Fathers that the Sacrament of Holy Communion consists of both the outward and visible sign, the consecrated Bread and Wine, and the inward and spiritual grace, the Body and Blood of Christ, as the Catechism makes clear.

In the Catechism of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer we read:

What meanest thou by this word Sacrament?

I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us; ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.

How many parts are there in a Sacrament?

Two; the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace.

Why was the Sacrament of the Lordʼs Supper ordained?

For the continual remembrance of the death of Christ, and of the benefits we receive thereby.

What is the outward part or sign of the Lordʼs Supper?

Bread and Wine which the Lord commanded to be received.

What is the inward part, or thing signified?

The Body and Blood of Christ, which are spiritually taken and received by the faithful in the Lordʼs Supper.

What are the benefits whereof we are partakers thereby?

The strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the Bread and Wine.

If our bodies are strengthened and refreshed by the Bread and Wine, the substance of the Bread and Wine must remain. This is classical Anglican Sacramental Theology. The Holy Scriptures teach that communicants receive the Body and Blood of Christ and Bread and Wine in the Sacrament (I Cor. 10:16; & 11:23-29), and so does Anglican theology.

The Body and Blood of Christ is not mingled with the Bread and Wine and there is no hypostatic union (Impanation), but are Really and Truly Present in the Sacrament of Holy Communion; and the Sacrament of Holy Communion, like all Sacraments, consists of both an outward and visible sign, the Bread and Wine, and an inward spiritual grace - the thing signified - the Body and Blood of Christ. Article XXVIII says, “the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.” The kneeling rubric at the end of the Eucharistic liturgy in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer makes it clear that Anglican theology rejects the scholastic notion that the substance of the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The rubric says, “the Sacramental Bread and Wine remain still in their very natural substances...” And should anyone doubt the Catholicity of the 1662 Prayer Book, let me remind the reader that it was adopted after the Restoration and the final defeat of puritanism in England, is the product of the triumph of Caroline divinity, and marks the completion of the English Reformation that was begun in 1534.

No less an Anglican authority than the great Rev. Francis J. Hall, D.D., writes, “The assertion, that the consecrated elements have become the body and blood of Christ, is so frequently made by the ancients that it may be reckoned as a patristic commonplace. But...they perhaps represent nothing more than rhetorical emphasis upon the doctrine that the elements become the body and blood of Christ... There may be set against such language a number of clear assertions that the bread and wine continue in their proper nature after they have become the body and blood of Christ; and this appears to have been the ordinary patristic view.

“But the middle ages saw a widespread shifting of emphasis from the mystery of identification to that of conversion... In the West this development terminated in the scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation” (Dogmatic Theology, Vol. IX, originally published 1921, pp. 129-130).

Hall continues, “If the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ, can they rightly be said to retain their former nature and still be bread and wine?...the ancients clearly took for granted an affirmative answer; and with a few exceptions they held, without being conscious of inconsistency, the doctrine that the consecrated elements are and have become the body and blood of Christ without ceasing to be real bread and wine. There were giants in those days, and we are not justified in explaining their position as either careless or stupid. They were, however, more alive to the supernatural aspects of the mystery than are the majority of those who deny that such things can be...We are taught that the divine logos became flesh; but that in becoming what He was not, He remained what He was, truly divine, is also taught in Scripture, and constitutes a stereotyped formula of catholic theology” (ibid, Hall, pp. 134-135).

“The Eucharistic sacrament is said to consist of two parts; but the phrase ought not to be taken as meaning that the inward res is separate or separable from the outward elements. A distinction of aspects and relations is involved, rather than a demarkation between mutually discrete substances. The sacrament is one and indivisible, although substantially representative of two worlds. From the standpoint of this world, it is natural bread and wine to which an extraordinary thing has happened, insusceptible of verification by our senses. From the standpoint of the spiritual world, the self-same thing is the body and blood of Christ, marvelously accommodated to, and identified with, the forms and figures of bread and wine” (ibid, Hall, p. 136).

In his classic work, A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, E. J. Bicknell, D.D., writes, “The Real Presence. On this view we hold that we receive through the bread and wine the Body and Blood of Christ, because in answer to the prayers of His Church and in fulfillment of His own promise, He has brought the elements into a mysterious union with Himself. He has, at it were, taken them up into the fulness of His ascended life and made them the vehicle of imparting that life to His members. Thus He is in a real sense present not only in the devout communicant but in the consecrated elements. Of the manner of this union we affirm nothing. The Presence is spiritual, not material.

“This in some form, is the teaching of the Roman and Eastern Churches, of Luther, of the Fathers and early liturgies... It would appear to be the most consistent with Scripture and the tradition of the Church, and also to be a safeguard of certain great Christian principles” (p. 492, first published 1919, quoted from the 1936 edition). Bicknell continues, “Again, if we turn to the Church as the interpreter of Scripture, the main stream of Christian teaching is quite clear. We find a singular absence of theological controversy about the Eucharist, but the general line of thought may be exemplified by these words of Irenaeus, ʻThe bread which is of the earth receiving the invocation of God is no longer common bread but Eucharist, made up of two things, an earthly and a heavenlyʼ” (Bicknell, ibid, p. 493).

The Protestant Reformation of which classical Anglicanism is an heir, was a movement to reform the Church and to return it to its primitive Catholic faith and practice. Dr. Martin Luther described the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament “in, with and under” the consecrated Bread and Wine as a “Sacramental union” (Latin: unio sacramentalis). John Calvin, who did not believe in the “real absence” of Christ like Zwingli or in Receptionism like Bullinger, said the Body and Blood of Christ was “conjoined” with the Bread and Wine in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

In his 1528, Confession Concerning Christʼs Supper, Martin Luther said, “Why then should we not much more say in the Supper, ʻThis is my body,ʼ even though bread and body are two distinct substances, and the word ʻthisʼ indicates the bread? Here, too, out of two kinds of objects a union has taken place, which I shall call a ʻsacramental union,ʼ because Christʼs body and the bread are given to us as a sacrament.”

According to the Formula of Concord, the Consecration brings about this sacramental union whenever the Eucharist is celebrated. “Thus it is not our word or speaking but the command and ordinance of Christ that, from the beginning of the first Communion until the end of the world, make the bread the body and the wine the blood that are daily distributed through our ministry and office. Again, [Luther says] ʻHere, too, if I were to to say over all the bread there is, “This is the body of Christ,” nothing would happen, but when we follow his institution and command in the Lordʼs Supper and say, “This is my body,” then it is his body; not because of our speaking or of our efficacious word, but because of his command in which he has told us so to speak and to do and has attached his own command and deed to our speaking.ʼ”

In his mature doctrinal view, John Calvin also believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Because few contemporary Anglicans are really familiar with John Calvin or have studied his works, most Anglicans are completely unaware that much of what is called “Calvinist” sacramental theology by them is, in fact, Zwingliʼs sacramental theology rather than Calvinʼs. Indeed, much of what is called “Reformed” or “Calvinist” theology today really comes from Calvinʼs successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, and from the Synod of Dort and the Westminister Assembly later still. The truth is that the mature John Calvin did not teach the “real absence” of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion like Zwingli, or Receptionism like Bullinger. Leanne Van Dyk, Academic Dean and Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, writes, “He [Calvin] engaged in vigorous conversation with both Lutheran and Reformed leaders over the Lordʼs Supper, and in these polemical exchanges he developed his mature doctrine. There is discernible development in Calvinʼs understanding of the Lordʼs Supper from early to late in his ministry. One Calvin scholar [Thomas J. Davis] summarizes, ʻWe will see Calvin move from denying the Eucharist as an instrument of grace to affirming it as such. We will see Calvin develop a notion of substantial partaking of the true body and blood of Christ over his career; an emphasis that is practically absent, even denied, in his earliest teachingʼ” (The Lordʼs Supper, Five Views, edited by Gordon T. Smith, c. 2008, Intervarsity Press, pp. 74-75).

In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin writes [T]he Lordʼs Table should have been spread at least once a week for the Assembly of Christians,... All, like hungry men, should flock to such a bounteous repast.” And what is that “bounteous repast”? In his 1540, Short Treatise on the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ, Calvin writes, "It is a spiritual mystery which can neither be seen by the eye nor comprehended by the human understanding. It is therefore figured to us by visible signs, according as our weakness requires, in such manner, nevertheless, that it is not a bare figure but is combined with the reality and substance. It is with good reason then that the bread is called the body, since it not only represents it but also presents it to us. Hence we indeed infer that the name of the body of Jesus Christ is transferred to the bread, inasmuch as it is the sacrament and figure of it. But we likewise add, that the sacraments of the Lord should not and cannot be at all separated from their reality and substance. To distinguish, in order to guard against confounding them, is not only good and reasonable, but altogether necessary; but to divide them, so as to make them exist without the other, is absurd.”

In the same treatise Calvin continues, “We must confess, then, that if the representation which God gave us in the Supper is true, the internal substance of the sacrament is conjoined with the visible signs; and as the bread is distributed to us by the hand, so the body of Christ is communicated to us in order that we may be partakers of it. Though there should be nothing more, we have good cause to be satisfied, when we understand that Jesus Christ gives us in the supper the proper substance of his body and blood, in order that we may possess it fully, and possessing it have part in all blessings.”

Calvin signed the Augsburg Confession in 1539, and “Luther himself appreciated his theology even on his jealously guarded theory of the Sacrament of the Holy Supper” (A History of the Reformation, by Thomas M. Lindsay, D.D., LL.D.; Charles Scribnerʼs Sons; 1914; p. 112). There was, of course, disagreements among the great Reformers regarding the Eucharist, but the disagreements were primarily over how the bread and the wine became the Body and Blood of Christ. Luther emphasized ubiquity; Calvin, basing his views on the sanctus in the liturgy and the so-called “ascending epiclesis” at the end of the canon in the Roman Rite, believed that we were caught up into heaven with Christ in the Eucharistic Liturgy. Others believed that the consecration was effected by the power of the Holy Ghost descending on the elements; or by the authority and power of Christʼs Words and command in the Words of Institution. All of these theories are helpful but not fully provable by Scripture, and should not divide Christians.

Regarding the Anglican view, Bicknell has written, “Of the manner of this union we [Anglicans] affirm nothing.” Had the leaders of the Reformation from across Europe been able to freely meet in synod to discuss these issues, as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer had hoped, unity and a unified teaching may have resulted, but because of the political turmoil and Roman Catholic persecution of the time, no such synod could be held. Unfortunately, as Anglican bishop Michael Marshall has said, while Luther won the battle against Zwingli at Marburg, Zwingliism went on to win the war. The Rev. John R. Stephenson, Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catherines, Ontario, laments, “As painful though it is to concede this point, beginning in the seventeenth century, Luther increasingly lost the war for the real presence even in the Communion named after him” (ibid, The Lordʼs Supper, Five Views, p. 46).

Today, the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches do not hold Calvinist views regarding the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Like the Baptists, Methodists and other modern evangelicals, they have become completely Zwinglian in their approach, and believe that the Lordʼs Supper is a mere memorial of Christʼs sacrificial death. As Anglicans we must be careful not to describe these Zwinglian views as “Calvinism,” which thy are not. Professor Van Dyk writes, “There is little doubt that the approach to the Lordʼs Supper expressed by Ulrich Zwingli was taken up in large part by the subsequent Reformed tradition. Many generations of Reformed believers have assumed that the Lordʼs Supper is a memorial act, a way to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, an encouragement to gratitude and service” (ibid, The Lordʼs Supper, Five Views, p. 72).

In the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, Anglican theology rejects both the errors of Transubstantiation and Zwinglian mere memorialism. Zwingliʼs ideas are rejected in Article XXV, “Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian menʼs profession, but rather they be certain sure witness, and effectual signs of grace. And Article XXVIII says, “The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign but rather it is a Sacrament...a partaking of the Body of Christ.” The Articles of Religion also reject the notion of “Receptionism.” Like “Calvinism” which is often confused with Zwingliism, Receptionism is often misunderstood. The doctrine of Receptionism comes not from John Calvin, but from Heinrich Bullinger. Bullinger was Zwingliʼs successor in Zurich, and served there for forty-four years, from 1531 to 1575. Bullingerʼs sacramental views matured over time, leaving behind Zwingliʼs teaching, but stopping short of the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. For Bullinger, like his predecessor Ulrich Zwingli, the sacramental signs, the bread and the wine, are not connected to the thing signified, the Body and Blood of Christ. Heinrich Bullinger taught a sort of parallelism. The sacramental signs are not merely signs, but rather are analogies of Godʼs gracious actions. They do not confer grace. The sacramental action and the divine action are separate, but parallel. As the believer receives the bread and wine with his mouth, he receives Christ in his heart by faith. This view is called “Receptionism”, and it is rejected in the Thirty-nine Articles. Article XXVIII teaches: “The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper.”

Despite the teachings of Scripture and of Article XXVIII, Receptionism historically has had influence among Anglicans. This is for three reasons. First, many have mistakenly believed that Richard Hooker, one of Anglicanism's greatest theologians, believed in it. Second, because Anglicanism teaches that the Body and Blood of Christ are received “only after an heavenly and spiritual manner” (Article XXVIII). And finally, because of a misunderstanding of Article XXIX, Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lordʼs Supper. Richard Hooker is sometimes described as a Receptionist because he wrote in his famous Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, “The real presence of Christ is not therefore to be sought for in the Sacrament, but in the worthy receiver of the Sacrament.” But Hooker was only echoing the important point made in Article XXV, “The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon,...but we should duly use them.” The sacraments are not an end in themselves to be lifted up, carried about, and gazed upon, but a means to an end: the union of the believer with Christ, that as the Apostle Peter says, we may be partakers of the divine nature. Elsewhere, Hooker makes it very clear that he sees the sacraments as means, or vehicles, of grace. Hooker writes, “This bread hath in it more than the substance which our eyes behold”; and “The power of the ministry of blessing visible elements...maketh them invisible grace.” Likewise, some have misunderstood the words “only after an heavenly and spiritual manner” (Article XXVIII) regarding how the Body and Blood of Christ are received in Communion. “Spiritual” does not mean symbolic or representative; but rather not in a materialistic, carnal, corporeal way. This language is taken from John 6:63, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” The spiritual is anything but figurative.

Spiritual things are as real, or more so, than physical or material things. In the Catechism of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer the question is asked, “What is the inward part, or thing signified [in the Sacrament of Holy Communion]?” And answered, “The Body and Blood of Christ, which are spiritually taken and received by the faithful in the Lordʼs Supper.” Where it says “spiritually taken and received” in the 1928 Prayer Book, it says “The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily [truly] and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lordʼs Supper” in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. “Spiritually taken and received” and “verily [truly] taken and received” mean the same thing. It should also be noted that the words “taken and received” echo Article XXVIII, “The Body of Christ is “given [by the priest], taken [by the communicant], and eaten [by the communicant]”, thus ruling out Bullingerʼs Receptionism.

Finally, some Anglicans have been influenced historically by Receptionism because of a misunderstanding of Article XXIX, Of the Wicked which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lordʼs Supper. Receptionism teaches that unbelievers receive only bread and wine, but not its parallel, the Body and Blood of Christ, which are only received into the heart by faith; and that Christ is present at the Table rather than on the Table. But that is not what the Article is teaching. Bicknell writes, “This Article does not in any way deny the ʻreal presence,ʼ it only rules out any carnal view of it. To give an illustration: when our Lord was on earth He possessed healing power quite independently of the faith of men: but only those who possessed faith could get into touch with it. Many touched His garments, but only the woman who had faith was healed (Mk. 5:30). The healing power was there: the touch of faith did not create it, but faith as it were, opened the channel to the appropriate blessing. So in the Eucharist, Christ in all His saving power is present. The wicked are only capable of receiving the visible and material signs of His presence. But those who approach with faith can receive the inward grace and become partakers of Christ by feeding on His Body and Blood” (ibid, Bicknell, p. 503).

Unfortunately, in the middle to late 19th century, many Anglicans were driven toward Receptionism in reaction to the excesses of the so-called Ritualists that had grown out of, and separated from, the Oxford Movement led by Pusey and Keble, and had increasingly adopted Roman ceremonial, doctrine and devotions. But the Tractarians of the Oxford Movement were loyal churchmen devoted to the Catholic faith according to the Anglican tradition. They were classical Anglicans. Regarding the Eucharist, they held to classical Anglican theology as found in the Book of Common Prayer. The Rev. Francis J. Hall writes, “Even the Tractarians of Oxford, while seeking to take our Lordʼs words literally, usually contended themselves with the affirmation of a real presence of the body and blood of Christ in, with and under the consecrated bread and wine” (ibid, Hall, p. 112).

The influence of Receptionism seems to be a thing of the past in Anglicanism as there are no well known theologians or schools of thought within the Church that teach it today. The same cannot be said of Transubstantiation and Impanation. Those under the influence of Tridentine Roman Catholicism still hold to these unscriptural teachings or to something like them, despite the fact that Rome has been moving in the direction of Anglican Sacramental Theology in recent years. In his book, God Is Near Us (Ignatius Press, 2003), in his chapter entitled “The Presence of the Lord in the Sacrament”, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) writes, “Whenever the Body of Christ, that is the risen and bodily Christ, comes, he is greater than the bread, other, not of the same order. The transformation happens, which affects the gifts we bring by taking them up into a higher order and changes them, even if we cannot measure what happens...The Lord takes possession of the bread and wine; he lifts them up, as it were, out of the setting of their normal existence into a new order; even if, from a purely physical point of view, they remain the same, they have become profoundly different.”

In the opposite extreme there are some Anglican neo-evangelicals, late of the Episcopal Church, that have been heavily influenced by contemporary “evangelicalism” and the church growth movement, and who hold to a memorialism hardly distinguishable from that of Zwingli and of todays Baptists and Assemblies of God. God raised up Anglicanism for a purpose, has used it powerfully, and has preserved it through a generation of heresy and apostasy. Anglicanism is the one branch of the historic Church that is both thoroughly Evangelical and fully Catholic. Anglicanism confesses, as our forefathers use to say, “Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order.”

Anglicanism is not three parallel but increasingly divergent “streams” - Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic - flowing from the same original source; but a Church that is thoroughly Evangelical, fully Catholic and called to minister in the power of Pentecost. Anglicanism has so much to offer to the wider Church and to a lost and hurting world. It is to this classical and confessional Anglicanism that we must return if we are to be what God has called us to be; and to do what He has called us to do - raise up authentic disciples of Christ; reform, restore and renew the Anglican Communion; and effectively advance the work of the Great Commission.

C. 2009, by Rev. Victor E. Novak (used with permission)

The Reverend Victor E. Novak is a priest of the Diocese of Mid-America of the Reformed Episcopal Church, a jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America, and the rector of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Omaha, Nebraska.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Richard Hooker on Communion of Christ's Body and Blood

The fruit of the Eucharist is the participation of the body and blood of Christ. There is no sentence of Holy Scripture which saith that we cannot by this sacrament be made partakers of his body and blood except they be first contained in the sacrament, or the sacrament converted into them. “This is my body,” and “this is my blood,” being words of promise, sith we all agree that by the sacrament Christ doth really and truly in us perform his promise, why do we vainly trouble ourselves with so fierce contentions whether by consubstantiation, or else by transubstantiation the sacrament itself be first possessed with Christ, or no? A thing which no way can either further or hinder us howsoever it stand, because our participation of Christ in this sacrament dependeth on the co-operation of his omnipotent power which maketh it his body and blood to us, whether with change or without alteration of the element such as they imagine we need not greatly to care nor inquire. Book V.67.6

Anyone who has diligently studied Anglicanism from its own sources, is well aware that the whole idea of being a Protestant was to be a true Catholic. These things do not contradict each other, and indeed, according to the Anglican paradigm, only such a Protestant is practicing the Catholic Faith, and believing that doctrine that has been, from the earliest times, Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. Richard Hooker, a perfect example of the Catholic Protestant (or Protestant Catholic) in the Church of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and one of the finest theologians and scholars of the period, expressed the Anglican mind with clarity. His writing would not satisfy any modern day "Reasserter," and equally, would not satisfy any Anglo-Papalist. On the subject of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, he refused to be painted into a corner by any of the continental European parties of western Christendom.

The emphasis for him was the saving effect of the sacrament as a participation in the Body and Blood of Christ. In Book V of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, he approaches the subject of sacraments, specifically Baptism and the Lord's Supper (the two "generally necessary to salvation" as the Anglican Catechism says), by first clarifying that the most important fact about these sacraments is that they impart grace.

For we all admire and honour the holy Sacraments, not respecting so much the service which we do unto God in receiving them, as the dignity of that sacred and secret gift which we thereby receive from God. When Sacraments are said to be visible signs of invisible grace, we thereby conceive how grace is indeed the very end for which these heavenly mysteries were instituted, and besides sundry other properties observed in them, the matter whereof they consist is such as signifieth, figureth, and representeth their end. V.50.3

Before going directly into the subject of these two saving sacraments, he begins by laying the proper foundation. He devotes the next several chapters to the Incarnation (which of necessity requires that much be said about the Trinity). This is the necessary foundation, for as the Church is an extension of the Incarnation, these sacraments flow directly from the Hypostatic Union, and from Christ's death for us on the cross, and his resurrection. Without the risen Christ who is fully God and fully man, one Person who is Uncreated having taken the created nature of man into his eternal Being, who has overcome sin and death, and continues to live forever in both natures, the sacraments could have no real effect. Some have called the Incarnation "the Anglican heresy," perhaps with tongue in cheek, suggesting that it is possible to over-emphasize this doctrine to the neglect of others; to which we say, that is impossible.

By the time he comes back to writing directly about the sacraments, in chapter 57, he has laid the foundation by teaching that our salvation requires a participation in Christ himself.

It greatly offendeth, that some, when they labour to shew the use of the holy Sacraments, assign unto them no end but only to teach the mind, by other senses, that which the Word doth teach by hearing. V.57.1

This is therefore the necessity of sacraments. That saving grace which Christ originally is or hath for the general good of his whole Church, by sacraments he severally deriveth into every member thereof. Sacraments serve as the instruments of God to that end and purpose, moral instruments, the use whereof is in our hands, the effect in his; for the use we have his express commandment, for the effect his conditional promise: so that without our obedience to the one, there is of the other no apparent assurance, as contrariwise where the signs and sacraments of his grace are not either through contempt unreceived, or received with contempt, we are not to doubt but that they really give what they promise, and are what they signify. For we take not baptism nor the eucharist for bare resemblances or memorials of things absent, neither for naked signs and testimonies assuring us of grace received before, but (as they are indeed and in verity) for means effectual whereby God when we take the sacraments delivereth into our hands that grace available unto eternal life, which grace the sacraments represent or signify. V.57.5

This emphasis on the working of these two sacraments that are "generally necessary to salvation" occupied the minds of the Church of England's teachers. That they impart grace, and are not empty signs, was an argument they had to make against Puritans and against Zwinglians. That the purpose of the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood was not that it be "be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them." (Article XXV), had less to do with any fear of idolatry than with a failure to receive the same, and with that reception to be given the grace imparted. The Article makes this clear in what immediately follows: "...but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith." This came about from correcting a medieval abuse, namely, that many people did not, before the Enlgish Reformation, take and eat, but merely gazed on the elevated sacrament during the Latin Mass.

Hooker writes:

This was it that some did exceedingly fear, lest Zwinglius and Œcolampadius would bring to pass, that men should account of this sacrament but only as of a shadow, destitute, empty and void of Christ. V.67.2

The whole idea of Real Presence was not, in his mind, about describing what the sacrament is in terms of how it becomes the Body and Blood of Christ; but rather about emphasizing what it does. By taking and eating, by drinking the cup, a true believer with a healed and sound conscience is participating in the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

With apparent disdain for foolish debates about Divine mysteries, that come from reasoning that presumes to exceed what has been revealed, Hooker dismisses not the theories themselves as much as defense of the theories.

If we doubt what those admirable words may import, let him be our teacher for the meaning of Christ to whom Christ was himself a schoolmaster, let our Lord’s Apostle be his interpreter, content we ourselves with his explication, My body, the communion of my body, My blood, the communion of my blood. Is there any thing more expedite, clear, and easy, than that as Christ is termed our life because through him we obtain life, so the parts of this sacrament are his body and blood for that they are so to us who receiving them receive that by them which they are termed? The bread and cup are his body and blood because they are causes instrumental upon the receipt whereof the participation of his body and blood ensueth. For that which produceth any certain effect is not vainly nor improperly said to be that very effect whereunto it tendeth. Every cause is in the effect which groweth from it. Our souls and bodies quickened to eternal life are effects the cause whereof is the Person of Christ, his body and his blood are the true wellspring out of which this life floweth. So that his body and blood are in that very subject whereunto they minister life not only by effect or operation, even as the influence of the heavens is in plants, beasts, men, and in every thing which they quicken, but also by a far more divine and mystical kind of union, which maketh us one with him even as he and the Father are one. The real presence of Christ’s most blessed body and blood is not therefore to be sought for in the sacrament, but in the worthy receiver of the sacrament. V.67.5,6

The context of this passage does not allow us to charge Hooker with denying the Real Presence. Indeed, he has made it abundantly clear that Christ is present in all his saving power, giving us grace as we receive and thus participate. Hooker simply refuses to honor the speculations of ecclesiastical academics that had created disputes and erected schools of thought. At first glance he almost appears to be setting up another theory, one that assigns a time when the sacrament is fully consecrated, that is, upon being eaten and drunk (as the Lord's words, so quoted, might seem to indicate). But, this is not the case. Hooker rejects the idea that we can be sure of the moment in which the consecration has fully happened, and the idea that we could ever know how. To try to know more than what has been revealed is to try to remove the Holy Communion from the list of divine mysteries. The overall context of these chapters cleary teaches, as a chief point, that what matters most, and that upon which all Catholic believers agree, is that by properly taking the sacrament we receive the grace for which it was instituted, the purpose for which God gave it to the Church. We have in that our communion of the Lord's own Body and Blood. We participate in the risen and living Christ, and we are saved from sin and death.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. John 6:53-58

Hooker draws from the Scriptures and from the ancient Fathers of the Church, to make the case that he puts forth nothing more than what has been ever Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.

These things considered, how should that mind which loving truth and seeking comfort out of holy mysteries hath not perhaps the leisure, perhaps not the wit nor capacity to tread out so endless mazes, as the intricate disputes of this cause have led men into, how should a virtuously disposed mind better resolve with itself than thus? “Variety of judgments and opinions argueth obscurity in those things whereabout they differ. But that which all parts receive for truth, that which every one having sifted is by no one denied or doubted of, must needs be matter of infallible certainty." V.67.12

Hooker believes we can afford to admit that we are ignorant about some things, especially the works of God.

Whereas therefore there are but three expositions made of ‘this is my body,’ the first, ‘this is in itself before participation really and truly the natural substance of my body by reason of the coexistence which my omnipotent body hath with the sanctified element of bread,’ which is the Lutherans’ interpretation; the second, ‘this is itself and before participation the very true and natural substance of my body, by force of that Deity which with the words of consecration abolisheth the substance of bread and substituteth in the place thereof my Body,’1 which is the popish construction; the last, ‘this hallowed food, through concurrence of divine power, is in verity and truth, unto faithful receivers, instrumentally a cause of that mystical participation, whereby as I make myself wholly theirs, so I give them in hand an actual possession of all such saving grace as my sacrificed body can yield, and as their souls do presently need, this is to them and in them my body:’ of these three rehearsed interpretations the last hath in it nothing but what the rest do all approve and acknowledge to be most true, nothing but that which the words of Christ are on all sides confessed to enforce, nothing but that which the Church of God hath always thought necessary, nothing but that which alone is sufficient for every Christian man to believe concerning the use and force of this sacrament, finally nothing but that wherewith the writings of all antiquity are consonant and all Christian confessions agreeable. And as truth in what kind soever is by no kind of truth gainsayed, so the mind which resteth itself on this is never troubled with those perplexities which the other do both find, by means of so great contradiction between their opinions and true principles of reason grounded upon experience, nature and sense. Which albeit with boisterous courage and breath they seem oftentimes to blow away, yet whoso observeth how again they labour and sweat by subtlety of wit to make some show of agreement between their peculiar conceits and the general edicts of nature, must needs percieve they struggle with that which they cannot fully master. Besides sith of that which is proper to themselves their discourses are hungry and unpleasant, full of tedious and irksome labour, heartless and hitherto without fruit, on the other side read we them or hear we others be they of our own or of ancienter times, to what part soever they be thought to incline touching that whereof there is controversy, yet in this where they all speak but one thing their discourses are heavenly, their words sweet as the honeycomb, their tongues melodiously tuned instruments, their sentences mere consolation and joy, are we not hereby almost even with voice from heaven, admonished which we may safeliest cleave unto? V.67.12

What Hooker writes about these debates should remind us of St. Paul writing to Timothy these words: "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do." (I Tim. 1:4) Hooker's concern, stating a defense of the position of his Church, was that emphasis should be placed on receiving the grace of the sacrament, not on a quasi-scientific definition of how God works.

Where God himself doth speak those things which either for height and sublimity of matter, or else for secresy of performance we are not able to reach unto, as we may be ignorant without danger, so it can be no disgrace to confess we are ignorant. Such as love piety will as much as in them lieth know all things that God commandeth, but especially the duties of service which they owe to God. As for his dark and hidden works, they prefer as becometh them in such cases simplicity of faith before that knowledge, which curiously sifting what it should adore, and disputing too boldly of that which the wit of man cannot search, chilleth for the most part all warmth of zeal, and bringeth soundness of belief many times into great hazard. Let it therefore be sufficient for me presenting myself at the Lord’s table to know what there I receive from him, without searching or inquiring of the manner how Christ performeth his promise; let disputes and questions, enemies to piety, abatements of true devotion, and hitherto in this cause but over patiently heard, let them take their rest; let curious and sharpwitted men beat their heads about what questions themselves will, the very letter of the word of Christ giveth plain security that these mysteries do as nails fasten us to his very Cross, that by them we draw out, as touching efficacy, force, and virtue, even the blood of his gored side, in the wounds of our Redeemer we there dip our tongues, we are dyed red both within and without, our hunger is satisfied and our thirst for ever quenched; they are things wonderful which he feeleth, great which he seeth and unheard of which he uttereth, whose soul is possessed of this Paschal Lamb and made joyful in the strength of this new wine, this bread hath in it more than the substance which our eyes behold, this cup hallowed with solemn benediction availeth to the endless life and welfare both of soul and body, in that it serveth as well for a medicine to heal our infirmities and purge our sins as for a sacrifice of thanksgiving; with touching it sanctifieth, it enlighteneth with belief, it truly conformeth us unto the image of Jesus Christ; what these elements are in themselves it skilleth not, it is enough that to me which take them they are the body and blood of Christ, his promise in witness hereof sufficeth, his word he knoweth which way to accomplish; why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this, O my God thou art true, O my Soul thou art happy!” V.67.12 (emphasis in italics, mine)

Queen Elizabeth I sums up the prevailing Anglican belief in her little "poem."

Christ was the word that spake it.
He took the bread and break it;
And what his words did make it
That I believe and take it.

This refusal to presume upon a divine mystery is the Anglican position, even though few today in the official Canterbury Communion seem aware of it. Rightly understood, it should not discourage orderly Eucharistic Devotions, unless mere gazing begin to be treated as equal to actually taking and eating, and drinking. But, always remember, the greatest Eucharistic devotion, and the one consistent with the purpose of our Lord in instituting the sacrament, is to receive it in a worthy manner, and so receive the food and drink of eternal life by participating in the life of the Risen Christ, fully God and fully man.

1.Which is why Article XXV rightly says that the doctrine of Transubstantiation (as then defined, or at least as then commonly understood) "overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament." Instead of a sign that effects what it signfies, we have a complete change of physical reality that is merely disguised; no, longer a sign that effects.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mark this as a resource
In the book A Theological Introduction to The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, E.J. Bicknell took up the matter of Anglican orders when writing about Article XXXVI:
The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops and ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such consecration and ordering; neither hath it anything that of itself is superstitious or ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrate or ordered according to the rites of that book, since the second year of King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same rites, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated or ordered.
We now pick up Bicknell's work, beginning at page 339 of the third edition.

The validity of our orders has constantly been denied by theologians of the Church of Rome on various grounds. The earliest and simplest line of attack was to assert that the line of succession had been broken. An absurd story commonly known as the 'Nag's Head fable' was fabricated.1 This alleged that Archbishop Parker was not duly consecrated, but underwent a mock ceremony at the Nag's head Tavern in Cheapside. This has long been abandoned by serious Roman controversalists, though traces of it still linger among the ignorant. A second attempt was made to show that Bishop Barlow, who was the principle consecrator of Parker, was himself never rightly consecrated. This objection too has failed. Three other bishops took part in the consecration, and we are told all laid their hands on his head and said the words. The position of Barlow did not really, therefore, affect the validity of the act. But there is no reason whatever to doubt Barlow's own consecration. It may also be observed that even if the English church had lost her orders in the time of Elizabeth, she would have recovered them later through Laud. At the consecration of Laud there met not only the English but also the Irish and Italian lines of succession. All the bishops who survived in 1660 had been consecrated by Laud. As we shall see in the latest Papal pronouncement on our orders, the historical arguments are all tacitly dropped.
A second line of attack has been to argue that our orders are invalid owing either to 'insufficiency of form' or 'lack of intention'. These two arguments are closely connected, but ought to be kept distinct.
(a) As to 'insufficiency of form'. The Ordinal used in the consecration of Archbishop Parker was that of Edward VI, to which our Article refers. It has been maintained that the form of consecration and of ordination contained is invalid, on the ground that in the words that accompany the laying on of hands the archbishop was directed to say 'Take the Holy Ghost and remember that thou stir up the grace of God which is on thee by the imposition of our hands, etc.' In the revision of 1661 the words were expanded into their present form 'Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Bishop in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And remember, etc.' It has been argued that the earlier form was insufficient because the particular order was not specified, and indeed, that this insufficiency was felt by the Church of England is proved by the subsequent emendation. This argument is not very strong. The quotation from 2 Tim. 1.6 is sufficient to show that the office to which the the words refer is the same as that to which S. Timothy was himself consecrated by S. Paul, namely the Episcopate. Nor is there any real doubt throughout the service what is taking place. Further, the Latin Pontifical is equally vague in its language, 'Receive the Holy Ghost', the office for which the Holy Ghost is being given determined by the context. So, too, the form in the Ordinal of Edward VI for the ordination of priests ran originally, "Receive the Holy Ghost: whose sins thou dost forgive, etc.' In 1661 the words 'for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands' were inserted. Here, too, the quotation from Jn 20.23, 'Whose sins thou dost forgive, etc.' fixes the meaning. The insertions of 1661 were probably made in order to rule out the Presbyterian idea that bishop and priest were the same office. They must be viewed in light of contemporary Church history.
A further objection now proved to be unsound must be mentioned. In the Western rite for the ordination of priests there had been introduced a ceremony known as the the 'porrectio intrumentorum'. The bishop presented the candidates for ordination with a paten and chalice, saying, 'Receive authority to offer sacrifice to God and to celebrate Masses as well for the living as for the dead.' This was deliberately omitted in the second Prayer-Book of Edward VI. It was argued, therefore, that this omission rendered the 'form' invalid. In the seventeenth century a school of theologians had come to hold that this particular ceremony, with the words that accompany it, was the actual matter and form of ordination. In the fifteenth century Pope Eugenius IV, in his letter to this to the Armenians which was appended to the decrees of the Council of Florence, had definitely committed himself to this view. Other controversialists were content to maintain that only certain powers of the priesthood were conveyed through this ceremony. But in the seventeenth century, owing to the researches of the Roman Catholic antiquarian Morinus, it was established beyond all doubt that the ceremony had not existed during the first thousand years of the Church's life. It was purely Western and Roman. If, then, it was essential for a valid ordination, the Church had possessed no valid orders for a thousand years. The objection, therefore, in its old form, fell to the ground.
(b) The opponents of Anglican Orders have therefore fallen back on the charge of 'lack of intention'. 2 This is the argument of the Papal Bull 'Apostolicae Curae' issued in 1896, condemning our orders as null and void. The Pope maintains that the Ordinal of Edward VI and our present Ordinal are not so much absolutely and in themselves inadequate, but that the changes made in them at the Reformation are evidence of a change of intention on the part of the Church. The deliberate omission of any mention of the sacrificing power of the priesthood and of the 'porrectio intrumentorum', which was the visible sign of the conferring of that power, show that the Church of England does not intend to ordain a 'sacrificing priesthood'. Her offices betray a defective idea of the priesthood, and therefore true priests cannot be made by them.3
In reply to this charge it has been pointed out that any explicit mention of the sacrificial function of the priesthood is entirely absent from several forms that Rome acknowledges to be valid, including not only the Coptic rite, but the ancient Roman rite. But this hardly meets the objection. It is not at all the same thing never to have had any explicit mention of the sacrificing power of the priesthood, as to have cut it out after such mention has been inserted. In order to defend the the action of the Church of England we must go back to first principles. Here, as elsewhere, the Church of England desired to return to antiquity. She appealed against one-sided and perverted medieval ideas to Scripture and primitive tradition. In the later Middle Ages the function of offering the Eucharistic sacrifice had assumed such undue prominence in the popular idea of the priesthood, that there was serious danger of forgetting the ministry of the Word and the pastoral work that belong essentially to the Office. The Reformers rightly desired to recall men to a fuller and better-proportioned view of the ministry. Accordingly, in the Ordinal the comparatively late addition of the 'porrectio intrumentorum' and the singling out of the sacrificial function of the priesthood were omitted. This did not mean that the Church of England in any sense intended to institute, as it were, a new order. The preface to the Ordinal, composed in 1550 and continued in 1552, makes it as clear as human language is able to make it, that she intended to continue those orders which had been in the Church from the days of the Apostles, namely Bishops, Priests and Deacons, in the same sense as they had always existed. When we turn to Scripture we find no stress laid upon the authority given to ministers to celebrate the Eucharist. It is preposterous to suppose that our Lord chose or ordained the Apostles chiefly or primarily to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice. In S. Paul's address to the presbyter-bishops * of Ephesus, the stress is laid on the faithful preaching of the Word and the care of the flock (Acts 20.28-31). In the Pastoral Epistles, in the choice of presbyters the emphasis is laid on the possession of qualities of character which are needed for pastoral supervision and teaching (I Tim3.1-7, cp. 5.17, Tit 1.7-9). So S. Peter places in the forefront of the duty of presbyters the general oversight of the flock (I Pet. 5.1-4). In such passages as these there is no explicit mention of the Eucharist. No one can doubt that it was the centre of Christian worship on every Lord's Day, nor that any one of the presbyter-bishops had authority, if need be, to preside. But when we compare the New Testament picture of the presbyters with the modern Roman idea of the priest, we feel the centre of gravity has shifted. So, too, in the early Church, the power to celebrate the Eucharist is not the predominant mark of the presbyter.4 It is not isolated from his other functions. It is not singled out for special mention in primitive ordinals. It was only during the Middle Ages and as a result of a one-sided view of the sacrifice of the Eucharist that an equally one-sided view of the office of priesthood came to be held. At the Reformation the Church of England of set purpose returned to the primitive conception of the ministry.
Again, it is untrue to say that the Church of England denies the Eucharistic sacrifice. She only repudiates any form of corrupt teaching that makes it in any sense a repetition of the sacrifice once for all offered on Calvary. In her service the Church of England makes it abundantly clear that her intention is confer the orders which our Lord instituted and the Apostles conferred. Her purpose is shown by her use of the language of the New Testament throughout her Ordinal. She means her orders to be those of the New Testament. As such she confers upon her priests authority to 'minister the Holy Sacraments'. This includes the celebration of the Eucharist. Here again her intention is that the Eucharist shall be all that the Lord intended it to be. The sacrifice of the Eucharist is not something additional; it is the Eucharist itself in one of its chief aspects. Whatever it means, it is included in our Lord's words of institution. Hence, in conferring authority to minister the Sacraments, she confers authority to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice. Indeed, she cannot do otherwise. Even if the Church of England had denied the Eucharistic sacrifice, that would not render her orders invalid. For, it is agreed, even by Romanists, that heresy does not render sacraments invalid. But she has not done anything of the kind. It is perfectly true that our Ordinal does not make explicit mention of 'the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ', because it is unnecessary. The full meaning of the Eucharist depends on the Lord's command, not on our theology. Inasmuch as our priests receive authority to celebrate it, they receive authority to fulfil all that it means.
So, then, our real quarrel with the Church of Rome is, at bottom, about the meaning of the priesthood and of the Eucharistic sacrifice. We contend that Roman teaching on both is so out of proportion as to be almost untrue. If the Church of Rome chooses to say that we do not intend to make priests exactly in her sense of the word, we are not concerned to deny it. We are content to make priests in accordance with the ministry of the New Testament and the Primitive Church.
The Roman arguments rest upon two great assumptions. First, that Rome is at all times infallible, and therefore her teaching at any time about the meaning of the priesthood must be accepted without question. Secondly, that Rome has a divine right to implicit and universal obedience, and therefore any change in the form of service without her consent shows a contumacious spirit. Neither of these assumptions can be granted, and without them the whole argument collapses.
Bicknell's footnotes.
1. 'It is so absurd on the face of it that it has led to the suspicion of Catholic theologians not being sincere in the objections they make to Anglican orders' (Estcourt, quoted by Brightman, C.H.S. Lectures, vol i, p.147).
2. Nothing is more damaging to the Roman case than the constant shifting of arguments to which they have been driven.
3. This Bull is an official condemnation of Anglican Orders, confirming the previous practice of the Church of Rome in refusing to recognize them. Dr. Briggs, however, was assured by Pius X that this decision of his predecessor was not infallible. See Briggs, Church Unity, p.121.
4. As we have said, the English word priest by derivation simply means 'presbyter'. But it has acquired the meaning of 'sacerdos'. The Christian presbyter in virtue of his office is a 'priest'. Priesthood is one of his functions.
My footnote
* Earlier Bicknell had addressed the evolution of how the words presbyter (πρεσβύτερος) and bishop (ἐπίσκοπος) came to have separate meanings, when the word ἐπίσκοπος came to refer only to those in Apostolic Succession after the first generation of Apostles were gone. But here, he refers to an earlier time. See Acts 20:17, 28.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

E.J. Bicknell on Development of Doctrine

The following is an excerpt from The Thirty-Nine Articles by E.J. Bicknell. It comes from a chapter about Article XX* in a section called the "Church's authority in doctrine."

So we refuse to accept such doctrines as those of the Treasury of Merit or the Immaculate Conception or Papal Infallibility as true developments of Christian truth. They cannot be proved from Scripture. There is no evidence that they formed part of the beliefs of the Church in early times. Nor can they be logically deduced from apostolic teaching. Human logic is only valid when it has a complete and adequate knowledge of the facts from which it argues, but when it deals with Divine truths about which our knowledge is limited, its conclusions are at best precarious. Logic is most triumphant in dealing with abstract or mathematical statements, in the form of 'all A is B.' When we know the symbols A and B, we know at once all that there is to be known about them. They are the pure creation of the human mind. But we cannot detect in advance by logic the course of human history or the conduct of our friends. So to argue that our Lord's sinlessness and the holiness of the Blessed Virgin imply that she must have been conceived free from all taint of original sin, and to state this as a new dogma, that of 'the Immaculate Conception' is to strain logic. Such an argument would only be valid if we knew all about original sin and heredity and the manner of the Incarnation. Further, since the Blessed Virgin is a historical person we are justified in asking for historical evidence that she either claimed to be sinless or made the impression of sinlessness on others. In Scripture there are indications that at times she lacked the complete and immediate sympathy with our Lord's purposes which would be evidence of entire sinlessness. She is rebuked by Him once (John 2:4) and even takes part in an attempt to restrain Him from His ministry (MK 3:21 and 31ff). In the Acts, after the first chapter, she disappears. The whole idea of 'Immaculate Conception' is the natural outcome of the place she has come to hold in modern Roman devotions, not of the place that she held during her life on earth. Logic cannot create new facts, and the Roman doctrine needs such for its defence. We claim, then, that Roman developments of doctrine are not on the same level as the earlier developments of doctrine, such as we admit in the case of the formal statement of the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity. They imply an addition from outside to the deposit of faith, and so demand in the last resort a fresh revelation. At best they are but pious opinions which grew up in the Church as the private beliefs of individuals and schools, and afterward were exalted into dogmas. We fall back upon the test of Scripture as interpreted by the Universal Church and by such a test they stand condemned.

* Article XX. Of the Authority of the Church. The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God's word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ: yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed for necessity of salvation.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Anglican Belief and Practice: An overview and summary

(A Joint Affirmation of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America October 4, 2001.)

I. Introduction
Both the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America recognize the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as one of their formularies. This was also true for both sides of the Evangelical/Catholic debate within nineteenth-century Anglicanism. The following is an articulation of the comprehension of Anglican belief and practice beyond and/or supplemental to the Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal; it addresses the primary topics of Church, doctrine, sacraments, ministry, and worship.
II. The Church
It is recognized that the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal establish the limits of Anglican faith and practice. When the Articles of Religion were issued in their final form, Article XX was added to address Puritan objections to the Book of Common Prayer. Articles XIX and XX give a terse description of the Church and then establish the fallibility of "particular churches," the authority of "The Church," and the Church’s responsibility towards Holy Scripture. Furthermore, neither the Catechism appended to the Confirmation rite in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer nor its successors contain instruction on the nature of the Church other than the language contained in the Apostles’ Creed.[1]
Little information exists in Anglican formularies upon which to construct a thorough doctrine of the Church. To attempt such a task is controversial because the opening words of Article XIX have been and remain subject to a variety of interpretations. Within Anglicanism, there have emerged two approaches to the Church, neither of which has at any time dominated the theology of classical Anglicanism.
Church of England formularies enacted during the Reformation period said little about the Church outside its local expression. This fact probably reflects the historical period in which they were written; for what the post-Reformation churches would become was then unknown. The most that could be said was that the English Church on the one hand rejected Anabaptist claims that there was no such thing as the "visible" Church on earth, while, on the other, rejecting the Roman Catholic notion of ecclesial infallibility. The Church also rejected Puritan claims that it had no authority to perpetuate rites and ceremonies inherited from the past or created in the future. The Church, as a constituted body, affirmed its authority as "a witness and keeper of Holy Writ."
The opening words of Article XIX in affirming a visible church evoke Old Testament concepts of the congregation of Israel. There are historic as well as theological ingredients in such a definition as it emerged in the last years of the reign of Edward VI, described by Cranmer and the reforming party as the "new Josiah." The statement, "The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men..." may be interpreted parochially, denominationally or as a description of the Church "militant here on earth."
Many reformers[2] affirmed and granted primary force to what would later become known as "the doctrines of grace," variations on Continental Reformed theology as it appeared in various forms, while granting that the structure, ministry, sacraments, rites, and ceremonies of the Church were "godly." From this beginning arose the Evangelical tradition within Anglicanism, a tradition that, by its very name, stressed soteriology above ecclesiology.
Towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign, those theologians formed by the Book of Common Prayer began to create a more extensive doctrine of the Church, its ministry and its sacraments. Richard Hooker's The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity best exemplified their approach. While not abandoning earlier emphases, those who followed Hooker sought to establish a distinct identity for Anglican Christians.
Many assertions of Anglican identity were put forth during the years when the Church of England was proscribed (1646-1660); they identify the tradition taken up by the Caroline end of the Anglican ecclesiological spectrum[3]:
To believe the Catholic to believe that there is a society of Christians dispersed into all quarters of the world, who are united under Christ their Head, formalized and moved by His Spirit, matriculated by Baptism, nourished by Word and Supper of the Lord, ruled and continued under Bishops and Pastors lawfully called to these offices, who succeed those upon whom the Holy Ghost came down, and have the power of the keys committed to them, for administration of doctrine and discipline, and who are bound to preach the Word, to pray with and intercede for people, to administer the Sacraments, to ordain ministers... [4]
It is not stipulated that the themes of either tradition are absent from the other; their interpenetration informed the Reformation, continued through the Interregnum, Glorious Revolution, the founding of the Protestant Episcopal Church and many years thereafter. Possessed of a common Church polity, ministry, liturgical use, assent to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and an acknowledged latitude in matters indifferent, both the Evangelical and Catholic traditions of Anglicanism witness to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the Creeds.
It is therefore affirmed that the Church is a "royal priesthood."[5] Through Baptism, all Christians are configured into the priesthood of Christ, and participate in the common priesthood of the faithful. Grounded in this common priesthood are the various spiritual gifts and ministries conferred by Christ on the faithful for the edification of the whole Body of Christ, the household of God. This ordering, built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, is of the esse, or being, of the Church, the Body of Christ.[6] Furthermore, this ordering assumed its definitive pattern during the apostolic period, presumably by apostolic design, in the three offices of ministry: bishop, presbyter, and deacon. The maintenance of this ancient and desirable pattern is of the plene esse, or full being, of the Church. In Anglican churches, this ancient threefold pattern is maintained in the succession of the historic episcopate as inherited and received from the Church of England and "locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of his Church," which administration is affirmed to be for the bene esse, or well-being, of the Church.[7] Finally, while maintaining a charitable recognition of those jurisdictions which have, either by design or accident, failed to maintain the apostolic threefold pattern by way of the historic succession of the episcopal office, Anglicans consistently recognize as licit within their own jurisdictions only episcopal ordination.
III. Doctrine
Preface The surest way for the Church to test the truth of her teaching is by the study of Holy Scripture. Such study ought to be conducted within the tradition of the Church and with the use of right reason.[8] As no man save Christ is perfect, the Church on earth will always need these things as she seeks to discern God’s revelation and to do his will.
The relationship among Scripture, reason, and tradition as sources of authority has long vexed Anglicans. This vexation is twofold: first, touching the relative weights given to each source when authority is sought; and secondly, the nature of each source itself.
Scripture Holy Scripture as found in both the Old and New Testaments is the word of God written and "containeth all things necessary to salvation."[9] Scripture given by God is, therefore, supreme in its authority to declare God’s will. Similarly, the Church may not teach anything as necessary for salvation that cannot be proven out of Scripture; nor has the Church any authority to reject or alter any of Scripture’s teaching on faith or morality. Likewise, no revelation in Scripture concerning God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost or his plan for human redemption is susceptible to change by any human agency. There are, however, rites and ceremonies that are in themselves indifferent, which need not require biblical sanction but which should not contradict the clear meaning of Scripture.
Tradition Just as Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation and the promise that the Holy Spirit will lead the Church into all truth, it is axiomatic that the faith once delivered to the saints has been believed and practiced at all times, in all places and by all in the Church.[10] It does not follow from these principles that the Church on earth may never err, as if it were infallible, but rather, that it is indefectible, and that in it is found a universal consensus in faith and practice through time and across the earth.
This consensus constitutes what St. Paul calls tradition.[11] In substance, the tradition of the Church is none other than the rule of faith as discerned in Scripture. In practice, tradition also refers to the teaching of the faith through time. In neither sense of the word does tradition indicate a source of authority separate from or parallel to Holy Scripture. Nor does it indicate a source of authority equal to that of Scripture. Rather, Scripture provides the standard for tradition.
Tradition thus has a derivative authority for Christians, and only then when tradition is understood aright. What Jesus calls the "traditions" of men are practices of human devising, which cannot bind Christian conscience and can often separate man from grace.[12] What St. Paul calls tradition, the apostolic teaching and the process of preaching and receiving it, constitutes tradition as a source of authority. Understood in this way, tradition is not mere human custom. Taken materially, it is the presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church over time. Taken formally, it is the evidence of this presence as found, for example, in the three historic Creeds,[13] the first four undisputed Ecumenical Councils, the Fathers of the early Church, the range of Anglican divines, the historic Books of Common Prayer and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. The process of discerning tradition in this latter sense involves bringing this evidence before the bar of Scripture, where it is cleared and kept, convicted and discarded or corrected. Those traditions that reach back to Christ himself or to his Apostles brook no change. Because tradition has corporate and historical dimensions to it, it is of higher authority than reason (which may be regarded as a faculty of the individual Christian). Similarly, tradition is a faculty of the whole Church, as beliefs, practices, modes of spirituality, and theological insights are given special honor and reverence by the wider Church or particular churches.
Reason As to fallen man, original sin has not entirely obliterated the image of God in him, and yet he is "very far gone from original righteousness."[14] As St. Paul makes clear, man in a state of sin has enough reason left him to be held accountable for his actions, albeit not enough reason to avail him of any salutary power on his own behalf.[15]
As to redeemed man, reason is a necessary component in the Church’s belief, teaching, reflection, prayer, practice, and preaching. It ought never to be equated with personal or even corporate experience. By redeemed reason, the Church on earth and its members understand the teachings of Scripture, proclaim the faith, and participate in the tradition of the Church.
Affirmation It is therefore affirmed that since Scripture is complete in itself, it is the highest authority in the Church. Tradition, as the life of God in the Church over time, is often obscured in fact by error and in perception by historical prejudice and individual shortcomings. Its authority is derivative from and subordinate to Scripture. Reason, either as the faculty of a community or an individual, is subordinate to tradition because the honest reflection of a few people in dialogue ought to be subordinate to the life of the whole Church, which holds what has been believed and done in all places, at all times, and by all Christians.
Postscript: The Articles of Religion The purpose of the Articles of Religion was to distinguish the teachings of the Church of England from the doctrinal and practical aberrations associated with Rome on the one hand and from Protestant sectarianism on the other. Yet the Articles are unique among Reformed confessions, owing to the deliberate policies of the Edwardian and Elizabethan regimes to accommodate within the Church of England a broad spectrum of doctrinal opinion, limited only by creedal orthodoxy and informed by a constant appeal to prove all things by God’s Word written. This balance between received orthodoxy and Scriptural adjudication safeguards the Anglican tradition from the tyranny of "strict subscriptionism" that plagues so many confessional traditions within Protestantism. As a result, the Articles of the Religion are by nature broadly catholic and therefore characteristic of the Anglican approach to faith and practice.
The Articles of Religion are generally normative (both descriptively and prescriptively) for understanding the historic teaching and positions of the Church of England and the faith and practice of her derivative provinces and jurisdictions. Since, however, the Articles were drafted for a sixteenth-century national situation, it is understood that they are to be read and interpreted in the context of their age. Contemporary application of the Articles must therefore take into account how their historical context may differ from contemporary contexts. The continuing relevance of the Articles is related to their original purpose, namely, to distinguish the right faith and practice of the greater Anglican tradition from the aberrations in faith and practice associated with all extremes of the Reformation divide.
IV. Sacraments
Preface In the words of the Prayer Book Catechism, sacraments, properly understood, are "outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace given unto us; ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive this grace, and a pledge to assure us thereof."[16] Our Lord instituted two sacraments as "generally necessary unto salvation": Baptism and the Eucharist.[17] In the early Middle Ages the Western Church adopted a numerical system of identifying incarnational signs of grace, thereby amplifying rites rooted in baptism and enlivened by the Eucharist commonly employed in the daily lives of believers. This system became a focus of controversy during the Reformation. Most Anglicans, however, while not strictly defining these later rites as sacraments, have acknowledged that they, in conjunction with faith, function as conduits of God’s grace. As such, they are included in Prayer Book rites and ceremonies which ministers are obliged to use in public worship.
Baptism It is through baptism by water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost that an individual dies to sin and rises to new life in Christ.[18] Through this rebirth, or regeneration, baptism washes away original sin and opens the door to God’s grace.[19] At baptism, a person is grafted into the Church, the Body of Christ, and becomes a branch of the Vine. Furthermore, in Baptism a visible confirmation is given of God’s forgiveness of the individual’s sins, and one’s adoption as a son of God and an heir of salvation.[20]
Eucharist Scripture clearly teaches what has traditionally been called the Doctrine of the Real Presence.[21] In short, Jesus Christ is really, truly, and uniquely present in the Eucharistic celebration in which the dominical elements of bread and wine serve as focus. Our Lord’s Presence is also to be celebrated in the life of the whole Church militant and triumphant of which the Eucharistic community is the local manifestation. Anglicans have been loath to go beyond this basic definition, except to reject as dogmatic the theory of transubstantiation and to stress the role of the Holy Ghost in the celebration of the sacrament.[22] In the words of John Cosin, "as to the manner of the presence of the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, not search into the manner of it with perplexing inquiries; but, after the example of the primitive and purest Church of Christ, we leave it to the power and wisdom of Our Lord..."[23]
Affirmation It is therefore affirmed that Christ directly instituted only two sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, for use in the Church, by means of which his people partake of the mystery of the Incarnation. These two sacraments are rightly considered "generally necessary for salvation." Furthermore, the Church orders her life sacramentally in services, rites, and signs that are rooted in the baptismal and eucharistic mysteries. The Church through these ministrations is the instrument and channel of God’s grace. For this reason, it is permissible within Anglicanism to refer to the rites and ceremonies of confirmation, penance, matrimony, ordination, and unction as "minor or lesser sacraments."
It is also affirmed that the sacrament of Baptism effects a new birth into the life of Christ and his Body the Church, and is thus rightly called "regeneration." According to our Lord’s command and institution, Baptism is the necessary sacrament of Christian discipleship, and thus ordinarily necessary for salvation. The grace conferred in Baptism, when received rightly, includes the remission of both original sin and all personal sins (when applicable) through one’s union with Christ in the Paschal mystery, the adoptive sonship of the Father and membership in Christ and his Body. Through Baptism, a person is incorporated into the Church and becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. Baptism configures a person to Christ and makes him a sharer in his priesthood, consecrating the baptized person for Christian service and worship. Hence, the character of Baptism is rightly said to be indelible and the Sacrament not repeatable.
It is also affirmed that the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper, was instituted by Christ to be a true partaking of his Body and Blood, a sacrament of our spiritual nourishment and growth in him, and a pledge of our communion with him and with each other as members of his mystical body. There is but one sacrifice for sin--the "one oblation of [Christ] once offered" upon the Cross. This one offering is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Thus, the Eucharist cannot be said to be a propitiatory sacrifice to the God the Father. Finally, the medieval doctrine of transubstantiation, as stated in Article XXVIII, "cannot be proved by Holy Writ"; nor can any dogmatic definition comprehend the mystery of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The mystery of the Real Presence can only be affirmed by faith.
V. Ministry
The Episcopacy

The Tudor and Stuart insistence that the episcopacy be retained in the reformed Church of England meant that initially Anglicanism had bishops but no common understanding of who they were or what they were supposed to do. The specifically broad language of the 1550 Ordinal made it clear that bishops had been a part of Church order since the Apostles' time, and with the Ordinal's incorporation into the English Constitution, bishops became a permanent feature of Anglicanism. Anglican understanding of the episcopacy, then, clustered not around theories of bishops but rather around the fact of bishops and how to account for them.
During the religious debates of the seventeenth century, those who supported the continuation of the English episcopacy came to be largely divided into two camps: those who considered bishops to be of the being (esse) of the Church and those who considered bishops to be for the well-being (bene esse) of the Church. Theologians of the former view took great pride in the Church of England's structural and visible continuity with the Church of the New Testament through the ages. Those espousing the latter rejoiced when English bishops invited Continental Protestant scholars and preachers to England. The esse view emphasized the bishop’s place in the structure of the Church; the bene esse view pointed up the bishop’s functions within the Church's mission. In either view, bishops served as the index of the Church's health.
Jurisdiction, however, remained unique to bishops as an order. Not only did this jurisdiction apply to clergy but to laity as well. Just as bishops ordained deacons and presbyters, so, too, did they confirm lay people. The new emphasis given to the practice of confirmation by bishops after the Reformation brought bishops within sight and hearing of their flocks on a regular basis. The intention of continuing episcopal confirmation was to emphasize that bishops not only should order the ordained ministry but have an essential role in ordering the whole visible Church. Furthermore, episcopal confirmation, when administered after a program of parochial instruction, demonstrated the presbyterate and episcopate working together to the edification of Christ’s flock.
Along this spectrum of views on episcopal status, a new consensus emerged as to the role of bishops. Specifically, "the office of publick preaching, or of ministering the Sacraments in the congregation" did not admit of individual pretensions to authority.[24] In this vague phrasing, no mention is made of bishops. The Ordinal, however, makes clear that bishops possess this authority, by which other ministers and their functions are ordered. The same order makes much of the bishop’s newly emphasized role as a teacher of the faith. Three out of the eight questions addressed to bishops-elect in the Ordinal have to do with diligence and orthodoxy in teaching.
The episcopate is a witness to the visible nature of the Church on earth, which is composed of all the baptized and has a mission to preach to all within earshot: the godly, the unregenerate, the fallen and the indifferent. As an element of Anglican polity, the episcopate has shown that Anglicanism believes that the Church is not to be viewed as a self-selected coterie of the godly but as the company of all faithful people.
The Presbyterate or Priesthood:Unlike both Roman Catholics and the Continental Reformers, Anglicanism has avoided excessively defining the presbyterate or priesthood.[25] As with the episcopacy and the diaconate, the Anglican presbyterate was simply carried on from the pre-Reformation English Church. Indeed, in daily life, there was very little change in the duties of a priest during the Reformation.
Anglicanism did reject certain medieval errors as well as stress in the Ordinal several basic functions of the reformed Catholic priesthood. First of all, Anglicanism rejected the notion that the priest’s liturgical function is to offer a propitiatory sacrifice anew at each Mass. Secondly, Anglicanism rejected any concept of presbyteral dignity based on such notions of propitiatory sacrifice.
At the same time, Anglicanism has consistently pointed up the pastoral and teaching roles of a parish priest. It was for this reason that Anglican clergy historically have been among the best educated anywhere in the Church. Ideally, a parish priest would care for and instruct all people who lived within his parish. The Anglican presbyterate has also retained the privilege of, among other things, performing baptisms, blessing marriages, and administering the Eucharist. A priest’s authority to preach, to administer the sacraments, and to care for souls comes from the bishop.
The DiaconateAnglicanism has had little to say about the diaconate other than what is found in the Ordinal. Indeed, for much of its history, Anglicanism has viewed the diaconate as little more than a step (often exceedingly brief) towards the priesthood. Another problem in understanding the roles of the diaconate is that many of its original functions, such as financial and administrative ones, eventually came under the care of the laity. Despite this shift of some duties in the life of the Church, Anglicanism retained a Catholic understanding of the episcopally ordered diaconate, thereby rejecting any tendency to make the diaconate a lay office.
The essential character of the diaconate, however, is still that of service. According to the Ordinal, the deacon serves the bishop by assisting a priest in his liturgical, pastoral, and didactic work within a parish. In practical terms, deacons have traditionally aided the parish priest in administering Holy Communion, reading lessons, catechizing youth and adults, taking communion to the sick and home-bound, caring for the poor and widows and, when the priest is absent, administering Baptism and preaching. Historically, deacons have had the privilege, when present, of reading the Gospel during the Eucharist.
AffirmationIt is thus affirmed that the bishop is the visible head of a particular church or portion of a church (e.g., a diocese) entrusted to him at his consecration; this headship makes him the ordinary president at all sacramental ministrations therein, and confers upon him the sole prerogative to ordain and confirm. Vested in the order of the episcopate is the faculty, by right of succession, to exercise singularly the spiritual authority that resides collectively in the Church within such canonical, provincial, or diocesan bounds as may apply in any given case.
It is also affirmed that presbyters are fellow overseers and elders with bishops, though theirs is an authority given by delegation and not by right of succession. Vested in the order of the presbyterate is the faculty to exercise collegially with the bishop spiritual authority in the Church within such canonical, provincial or diocesan bounds that may apply in any given case. Presbyters are entrusted at their ordination with the spiritual faculty to remit and retain sins through the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Church. Finally, in Anglican parlance, "presbyter" and "priest" are equivalent and are to be carefully distinguished from terms referring to the Old Testament sacrificial priesthood (e.g., Gr. hieros).
It is also affirmed that the order of deacon is a distinct ministry directly instituted by the Apostles in the early days of the Church for the service of charity.[26] For this reason, the deacon retains a special relationship of submission and obedience to the bishop, who alone lays hands on him in ordination. According to the Ordinal, the spiritual graces conferred at the ordination of a deacon are the confirmation and strengthening of the charisms, or spiritual gifts, previously exhibited in a person’s life, along with the authority to use these gifts representatively in the image of Christ the servant.
VI. Worship
PrefaceIn the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647), "the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." In worship, we come together not so much to gain a blessing from God as to perform a service in offering "ourselves, our souls and bodies to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto the Lord."[27] From the start of the Reformation, Anglicans have believed that worship ought to be liturgical in a language understood by the people, ought to profess the Christian faith, and ought to be (as St. Paul stipulates) reverent and orderly.[28]
LiturgyAnglicans have consistently rejected ex tempore prayer as the primary form of worship. In Scripture, one finds the use of prescribed forms of prayer.[29] Further, the tradition of set forms of liturgical prayers go back to Apostolic times and enjoy the support of the Universal Church.[30] Anglicans have also tried to continue the original English Prayer Book’s purpose of being a common Prayer Book for all people. Finally, a liturgy, by its very nature, is corporate, and thus best fitted to the Biblical understanding of the corporate nature of the Church.
A Profession of FaithThe liturgy ought to conform to the axiom, lex orandi lex credendi:[31] properly, rites and ceremonies ought to express the historic faith of the universal Church through the open reading of Scripture, the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the sacraments, and theologically sound composition of prayers and hymns. As the Book of Common Prayer has historically been central to Anglican self-identity, it ought also to express the fullness of classical Anglican faith and devotion.
Reverence and Orderliness
In worship, a congregation comes before God with praise and thanksgiving but mindful of its own unworthiness and sinfulness. The reverence of worship is a necessary antidote to human egocentrism. Reverent and orderly worship also enables the community to understand that it is bound together by the Holy Ghost in love for God rather than by the shared opinions of individual people. Reverent worship draws the congregation out of the secular and into the sacred. In this way, both the individual and the community are constantly reminded of the spiritual, corporate, historical and mystical aspects of the Body of Christ.
AffirmationIt is therefore affirmed that worship involves man’s highest duty, to honor God. In worship, man is enabled by God to offer him what he cannot offer of his own ability, namely, right praise. Worship is both the duty of mankind and a way towards the end of his salvation. This eternal dimension to worship is reflected in its corporate, historical and mystical aspects, in which individual worshippers and congregations are linked to the worship of the heavenly hosts and Christians of all races, cultures and historical periods. Since the worship of the Church is one activity carried on in various contexts, it demands due order and seemliness in its environment and execution. For the same reason, the Church ought to take care that the forms by which it worships in specific circumstances--rites and ceremonies--bear a visibly organic relationship to those forms established and used by the wider Church.
Postscript: Liturgical Revision
The Preface of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer clearly advocates the necessity and utility of liturgical revision.[32] Anglicans have never opposed liturgical reform as demonstrated by the production of the various historic Prayer Books (1549-1928). The Preface, however, also clearly states that such revisions and alterations ought to be made, "yet so as that the main body and essential parts of the same (as well in the chiefest materials, as in the frame and order thereof) have still been continued and unshaken." In short, liturgical revision should be a slow, evolutionary process that, far from attempting to lead the Church into new truth or to posit new revelation, states the Faith of the Church past and present. Further, the Preface in no way envisages drastic changes to the idiom by which the faith is witnessed to or worship offered.
[1] At least in the Episcopal Church in the United States no attempt was made to define the Church until new "Offices of Instruction" were officially approved and inserted in the Prayer Book of 1928. [2] Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Later Reformation in England, 1547-1603, London: Palgrave, 2001 [3] The term "Caroline" denotes those Churchmen during the reign of Charles I who held to a high view of the episcopacy and the Eucharist, retained medieval ceremonial, and considered themselves to be the direct heirs of Richard Hooker. [4] William Nicholson, A Plain but Full Exposition of the Catechism of the Church of England, London: 1655 [5] 1 Peter 2.1-10. [6] Ephesians 2.20-2.1. [7] Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, 1886, 1888. [8] Hooker, Richard Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Cf. Augustine, "Epistula 143" and De Genesi ad litteram, x. [9] Articles of Religion, VI, hereinafter cited by Article in the 1801 version. [10] Vincent of Lerins, A Commonitory, cap. II. [11] II Thessalonians 2.15; 3.6; I Corinthians 11.2; cp. Jude 1.3. [12] Matthew 5; Mark 7. [13] Apostle’s, Athanasian, and Nicene. [14] Article IX. [15] Romans 1.18-20. [16] Book of Common Prayer (1662), p. 300; Book of Common Prayer (1928), p. 292; Also, Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V, Chapter 1, sections 2-3: "For we take not Baptism nor the Eucharist for bare resemblances or memorials of things absent, neither for naked signs and testimonies assuring us of grace received before; but (as they are indeed and in verity) for means effectual whereby God when we take the sacraments delivereth into our hands that grace available unto eternal life, which grace the sacraments represent and signify..." [17] Article XXV; see also the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. [18] Matthew 28.19; Romans 6.3-4. [19] Article XXVII; Lancelot Andrewes, Whitsun Sermon 5, city: publisher, date, p. 191. [20] Article XXVII. [21] Matthew 26.26-29; Mark 14.22-25; Luke 22.17-20; John 6.48-58; I Corinthians 11.23-32. [22] For example, Lancelot Andrewes, Responsio ad Apologiam Cardinalis Bellarmini: "At the coming of the almighty power of the Word, the nature is changed so that what before was the mere element now becomes a Divine Sacrament, the substance nevertheless remaining what is was before..."; see also Article XXVIII. [23] Author, Historia Transubstantiatonis Papalis, cap. 1. [24] Article XXIII. [25] Although in Greek, the terms "priest" and "elder" are two different words, in English both "priest" and "presbyter" are interchangeable. This fact is reflected in the use of both terms in the text. [26] Cf. Acts 6 [27] Book of Common Prayer (1928), p. 81, based on Romans 12.1. [28] I Corinthians 14.40. [29] For example, the Psalter, synagogue worship, and the Lord’s Prayer. [30] "And, besides that the prescribing a form in general is more edifying, than to leave everyone to do what seems good in his own eyes, we have concurrent testimony, experience, and practice of the Universal Church; for we never read or heard of any Church in the world, from the Apostles’ days to ours, but what took this course." William Beveridge, A Sermon on the Excellency and Usefulness of Common Prayer. [31]Prosper of Aquitaine, in chapter eight of Official Pronouncement of the Apostolic See on Divine Grace and Free Will, wrote, "ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi [so that the law of praying may establish a law of believing]." See Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology, ch. 7, "Lex Orandi," for a review of the tag lex orandi, lex credendi and the relationship between the Church's role as a custodian of God's word to man in the Bible and a keeper man's words to God in liturgy. [32] "The Particular Forms of Divine Worship, and the Rites and Ceremonies appointed to be used therein, beings things in their own nature indifferent, and alterable, and so acknowledged; it is but reasonable that upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigency of times and occasions, such changes and alterations should be made therein, as to those that are in place of Authority should, from time to time, seem either necessary or expedient."