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."

Friday, July 11, 2008

A full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction

Article XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.

The Offering of Christ once made in that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.

From The Supper of the Lorde and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Masse, in the first Book of Common Prayer, 1549:

O God heavenly father, which of thy tender mercie diddest geve thine only sonne Jesu Christ to suffre death upon the crosse for our redempcion, who made there (by his one oblacion once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifyce, oblacion, and satysfaccyon, for the sinnes of the whole worlde, and did institute, and in his holy Gospell commaund us, to celebrate a perpetuall memory of that his precious death, untyll his comming again: Heare us (O merciful father) we besech thee; and with thy holy spirite and worde, vouchsafe to blSmCross.GIF (76 bytes)esse and sancSmCross.GIF (76 bytes)tifie these thy gyftes, and creatures of bread and wyne, that they maie be unto us the bodye and bloude of thy moste derely beloved sonne Jesus Christe. Who in the same nyght that he was betrayed: tooke breade, and when he had blessed, and geven thankes: he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saiyng: Take, eate, this is my bodye which is geven for you, do this in remembraunce of me.
Likewyse after supper he toke the cuppe, and when he had geven thankes, he gave it to them, saiyng: drynk ye all of this, for this is my bloude of the newe Testament, whyche is shed for you and for many, for remission of synnes: do this as oft as you shall drinke it, in remembraunce of me.

Hebrews 9:24-28:

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

It was assumed by the Roman Magisterium, in 1896, that the Church of England had rejected Eucharistic Sacrifice, on the basis of Article XXXI, quoted above in its entirety. But, is the meaning of the phrase "sacrifices of Masses" the same as Eucharistic Sacrifice? Note the plurality of that phrase in the Article. Was it an attempt to reject the Tradition of the Church, or to correct the popular mis-perception of the common man in that time and place?

The average layman needed to be taught two things about the Supper of the Lord. First, the specific sacramental act of the Church in each individual Mass was not, itself, an isolated sacrifice on behalf of the living and of the dead. In the "nun theology" of that time and place, each Mass was viewed just this way: And, so it seemed good for Christ to be offered quite often, over and over again, in as many sacrifices as the priests could reasonably perform.

What needed to be taught, in order to correct this popular error, was best summarized in those words that remind us of the Epistle to the Hebrews: "All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world..." Christ was once offered, and his offering is sufficient. No other sacrifice for sin can be made.

It was this essential truth of the Gospel that motivated the English Reformers to write the Article, and to give us so clear a teaching within the service of Holy Communion. This was the reason for their emphasis on his once for all sacrifice. In no way did this emphasis repudiate Eucharistic Sacrifice. Instead it helped to clarify the true meaning of Eucharistic Sacrifice, in terms that are true to the Tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, in perfect accord with the Scripture. The Anglican emphasis was not a mistake, not an error, and not a rejection of Catholic Faith.

There is one Sacrifice, and every Eucharist is mystically joined to that one event, that offering by Christ of himself as "priest and victim, in the Eucharistic feast." There is one Supper of the Lord, and every Eucharist is the same supper that Christ held in the night in which he was betrayed. When the Church gathers for this highest and most important time of worship, we are taken to the same table with Christ and his apostles, and we are also taken to the cross at Calvary.

"And although we be unworthy (through our manyfolde synnes) to offre unto thee any Sacryfice: Yet we beseche thee to accepte thys our bounden duetie and service..." If we are unworthy to offer a sacrifice, how can we nonetheless offer it? By asking the Lord, of his mercy, the request as it follows: "not waiyng our merites, but pardonyng our offences, through Christe our Lorde..."

Writing in 1624, speaking for the Anglican position, a Church of England priest named William Bedell wrote about Eucharistic Sacrifice:

"[If by it you mean] a memory and representation of the true Sacrifice and holy immolation made on the altar of the cross...we do offer the sacrifice for the quick and the dead, by which all their sins are meritoriously expiated, and desiring that by the same, we and all the Church may obtain remission of sins, and all other benefits of Christ's Passion."

The Eucharistic sacrifice is the complete sacrifice. It takes us to Calvary. It is our bounden duty and service, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and of ourselves as living sacrifices (following Romans 12:1,2); as the English Mass also says: "And here wee offre and present unto thee (O Lorde) oure selfe, oure soules, and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee..." Nothing is omitted, nothing neglected, in this highest act of Christian worship.

The second thing they wanted to teach is that the people were supposed to receive the sacrament. For this reason they came up with yet another name for this ancient service, one taken directly from St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians: Holy Communion. It was not enough to "hear the Mass" of a priest. This offering of the whole Church (led by a priest) made the sacrament available so that each Christian could feed on the bread of life. "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."(John 6:54, 55) And, about this we have
already written.

Once again, we see that the English Reformers did not attack the Catholic Faith. They defended it, and they restored it.

(Posted also on the Continuum.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Right Reason


The question arose on The Continuum as to what is meant by Right Reason, and how it has come to be placed alongside of Scripture and Tradition. Too often it has been assumed that these three, Scripture, Right Reason and Tradition have been placed as equal parts of an epistemological triad for discerning the truth, with the idea of a "three legged stool" that provides the Anglican concept of authority or a magisterium. As we have seen before, however, this concept is not quite correct. It is drawn from Richard Hooker, but is not exactly what he meant. Whereas he laid great stress on all three of these (though rarely together in any one passage), the "three legged stool" analogy gives the false impression of equality, as if our mind could reason anything that equals revelation. In fact, Hooker saw the Scriptures as possessing the greatest weight of authority, but only understood correctly with the aid of the Church- or as we say, Tradition. And, as we have seen, neither human reason nor the Tradition of the Church can be weighed against Scripture, nor Scripture against the Tradition, since these two things speak the same truth with one voice. They support each other, not by comparison, certainly never with contradiction, but in a way even stronger than complement. The Scripture and the Tradition are one and the same, so that we say the Creed with the same conviction and certainty as words from the Bible.

How, then, do we understand Hooker's estimation of Reason?

One: regarding Church Polity

What does he mean when he speaks of Reason in connection to the Church? It must be remembered why he wrote The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. The Church of England faced a threat from the Puritans. They wanted to overthrow the Church of England and its episcopal structure, and replace it with the "Calvin's Geneva Discipline." Hooker argued quite persuasively that Calvin's form of church government was no fit basis for polity (he preferred to say "polity" since he thought of "church government" as an insufficient concept). It did not conform either to the scriptures or to anything that was practiced by the Church in its earliest generations. He especially mentioned, in more than one place, just how unwarranted he found their notion of "Lay elders."

"So as the form of polity by them set down for perpetuity is three ways faulty: faulty in omitting some things which in Scripture are of that nature, as namely the difference that ought to be of Pastors when they grow to any great multitude: faulty in requiring Doctors, Deacons, Widows, and such like, as things of perpetual necessity by the law of God, which in truth are nothing less: faulty also in urging some things by Scripture immutable, as their Lay-elders, which the Scripture neither maketh immutable nor at all teacheth, for any thing either we can as yet find or they have hitherto been able to prove." BOOK III. Ch. xi. 20

In short, he found the Calvinist discipline, as it existed in those Reformed churches, at best the result of necessity that drove men to create some kind of order where none had existed, and at worst he found Calvin's ideas to be, as he wrote, "crazed." For the Church of England, never deprived of bishops and due order, he would have none of it.

One of the ideas that he refuted was the notion that the scriptures clearly set down everything that the Church was commanded to do, and how to do it, in exact detail. And, anything that could not be found in scripture should be forbidden. To this end, the Puritans imagined all sorts of interpretations to justify their own ideas, and condemned anything that did not fit their scheme.

It was not at all difficult to show that the Bible did not contain detailed instructions about many things that the Church must do. Hooker acknowledged that the scriptures command the things that truly matter most in every generation, but that it does not give detailed rules about many particulars that must vary from time to time and place to place. These things can and must change to meet the needs of real people in real places and ages, unlike God's eternal and unchanging commandments that are always and everywhere the same.

"The matters wherein Church polity is conversant are the public religious duties of the Church, as the administration of the word and sacraments, prayers, spiritual censures, and the like. To these the Church standeth always bound. Laws of polity, are laws which appoint in what manner these duties shall be performed." BOOK III. Ch. xi. 20

He gives one obvious example:

"In performance whereof because all that are of the Church cannot jointly and equally work, the first thing in polity required is a difference of persons in the Church, without which difference those functions cannot in orderly sort be executed. Hereupon we hold that God’s clergy are a state, which hath been and will be, as long as there is a Church upon earth, necessary by the plain word of God himself; a state whereunto the rest of God’s people must be subject as touching things that appertain to their souls’ health."

He argued that the Scriptures teach the office we call "bishop," knowing that the other orders depend on this office. Having given this example of a permanent law of polity, from scripture itself, he goes on to mention those things that are necessary, but are not commanded in detail by the word of God:

"A number of particularities there are, which make for the more convenient being of these principal and perpetual parts in ecclesiastical polity, but yet are not of such constant use and necessity in God’s Church. Of this kind are, times and places appointed for the exercise of religion; specialties belonging to the public solemnity of the word, the sacraments, and prayer; the enlargement or abridgment of functions ministerial depending upon those two principal before-mentioned; to conclude, even whatsoever doth by way of formality and circumstance concern any public action of the Church. Now although that which the Scripture hath of things in the former kind be for ever permanent: yet in the later both much of that which the Scripture teacheth is not always needful; and much the Church of God shall always need which the Scripture teacheth not." (emphasis mine)

Laws of ecclesiastical polity are necessary; everything from canon law to rubrics. And, it is obvious that many of these things cannot be drawn directly from scripture, even though they must be in accord with the teaching of scripture, never violating the principles and doctrine contained in it. To this end, he had opened the third book by extolling the high place of Reason, called also Right Reason, as a light given to man from God. The wisdom that is so highly praised in the Book of Proverbs is a light that also guides, even where no exact law of God is written in his sacred word.

The simple fact is, this is one use of what is meant by Right Reason (or Reason for short). It is a source of authority, yes, but not equal to the authority of revelation. It gives wisdom needed to establish many details of Church polity. True doctrine, however, comes only from Scripture as known by the Church.

Two: Subject to Scripture and the Tradition of the Church

The other proper use of Reason for Hooker, therefore, is when he speaks of it as subject to the Church, especially the testimony of the Church, by the Holy Spirit, that the scriptures are no less than the word of God. It is earlier, in chapter VIII of this same Book III, that we find the strongest of Hooker's statements to this effect.

"The question then being by what means we are taught this; some answer that to learn it we have no other way than only tradition; as namely that so we believe because both we from our predecessors and they from theirs have so received. But is this enough? That which all men’s experience teacheth them may not in any wise be denied. And by experience we all know, that the first outward motive leading men so to esteem of the Scripture is the authority of God’s Church. For when we know the whole Church of God hath that opinion of the Scripture, we judge it even at the first an impudent thing for any man bred and brought up in the Church to be of a contrary mind without cause. Afterwards the more we bestow our labour in reading or hearing the mysteries thereof, the more we find that the thing itself doth answer our received opinion concerning it. So that the former inducement prevailing somewhat with us before, doth now much more prevail, when the very thing hath ministered farther reason. If infidels or atheists chance at any time to call it in question, this giveth us occasion to sift what reason there is, whereby the testimony of the Church concerning Scripture, and our own persuasion which Scripture itself hath confirmed, may be proved a truth infallible. In which case the ancient Fathers being often constrained to shew, what warrant they had so much to rely upon the Scriptures, endeavoured still to maintain the authority of the books of God by arguments such as unbelievers themselves must needs think reasonable, if they judged thereof as they should. Neither is it a thing impossible or greatly hard, even by such kind of proofs so to manifest and clear that point, that no man living shall be able to deny it, without denying some apparent principle such as all men acknowledge to be true.

"Wherefore if I believe the Gospel, yet is reason of singular use, for that it confirmeth me in this my belief the more: if I do not as yet believe, nevertheless to bring me to the number of believers except reason did somewhat help, and were an instrument which God doth use unto such purposes, what should it boot to dispute with infidels or godless persons for their conversion and persuasion in that point?" BOOK III. Ch. viii. 14.

We see in this that Hooker did not shy away from such Catholic principles as the Church's authority, rooted in Tradition (and notice his positive use of the word "tradition" in this case, contrary to recent assertions made about him) teaching us that the Scripture is the word of God, and that this teaching is no less than "infallible." And, lest we charge him with insufficient appreciation of mystical religious experience, it is useful to notice what follows directly:

"Neither can I think that when grave and learned men do sometime hold, that of this principle there is no proof but by the testimony of the Spirit, which assureth our hearts therein, it is their meaning to exclude utterly all force which any kind of reason may have in that behalf; but I rather incline to interpret such their speeches, as if they had more expressly set down, that other motives and inducements, be they never so strong and consonant unto reason, are notwithstanding uneffectual of themselves to work faith concerning this principle, if the special grace of the Holy Ghost concur not to the enlightening of our minds. For otherwise I doubt not but men of wisdom and judgment will grant, that the Church, in this point especially, is furnished with reason, to stop the mouths of her impious adversaries; and that as it were altogether bootless to allege against them what the Spirit hath taught us, so likewise that even to our ownselves it needeth caution and explication how the testimony of the Spirit may be discerned, by what means it may be known; lest men think that the Spirit of God doth testify those things which the Spirit of error suggesteth. The operations of the Spirit, especially these ordinary which be common unto all true Christian men, are as we know things secret and undiscernible even to the very soul where they are, because their nature is of another and an higher kind than that they can be by us perceived in this life. Wherefore albeit the Spirit lead us into all truth and direct us in all goodness, yet because these workings of the Spirit in us are so privy and secret, we therefore stand on a plainer ground, when we gather by reason from the quality of things believed or done, that the Spirit of God hath directed us in both, than if we settle ourselves to believe or to do any certain particular thing, as being moved thereto by the Spirit. BOOK III. Ch. viii. 16.

We see in Hooker an appreciation for the work of the Holy Spirit as a normal part of the life of every devout Christian who submits the mind to Scripture. He sees Reason as a tool to gather these things. The mind that comprehends and explains what we have learned from the Holy Spirit who enlightens us, expresses these things as things that have been learned and are evident. They are "gathered" by reason when reason is directed by the Scripture and the Church. Reason is not a source of authority for doctrine, but the receiver that gathers what it learns, orders it, and gives expression to the truth.

Reason is placed along with Scripture and Tradition in these two ways. It provides wisdom whereby the Church in various times and places can establish polity, including those matters not directed by any permanent and unchanging commandment, and in forming ways to obey permanent and unchanging commandments, or do other necessary things, where changes of detail are permitted. Reason is also the servant of Scripture and Tradition, and indeed, of the Holy Spirit, for everything from teaching to apologetics. It is always subject to the authority of the Scriptures and the Church (with its infallible Tradition) and whatever we receive from the Holy Spirit is known and expressed by Reason as drawn and gathered from the Scripture.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hardwick's History of the Articles

Free for the download from Google Books!

Hardwick's excellent

A History of the Articles of Religion

An excellent text--required reading for all classical Anglicans!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Necessary Admissions

The following was written by Fr. Matthew Kirby, and posted on the Continuum. it is relevant to the major themes of this blog too, because it sets forth a clear defense of Anglicanism.

One of the great barriers to Anglican Catholics considering corporate reunion with Rome is that we perceive a demand on the other side of the Tiber for a mere submission which would involve two deliberate lies by us. The first would be an unqualified affirmation that Rome's actions and common or approved teachings in the past (relevant to the broken relationship between our Churches) have not been at fault. The second, related to the first, is a dishonest denial of our identity. This demand is implicit in the official approach, wherein we are characterised as properly schismatic, heretical and without valid Orders, and explicit in the polemic of those I will call Anti-Anglican Roman Catholic Apologists (AARCAs herein), in particular those apologists for the RCC who engage Anglican Catholics with the attitude and arguments of Cardinal Newman and take Apostolicae Curae as at least practically infallible.

My aim in this post is to lay out some of the admissions Rome would have to make before many of us could take seriously its claim to pursue honest reconciliation. Subsidiary to that aim is another one. The history of the unending controversy between us and the AARCAs is such that further conversation appears utterly futile unless AARCAs are willing to stipulate to certain facts and some manifest moral implications before we would be obliged to consider or listen to anything new they had to say. (This is partly because we need to clear the ground of outdated irrelevancies and summarise established historical facts.) I will contend, therefore, that the abovementioned admissions are a precondition for further conversation about these matters at the popular level. Indeed, I will suggest that in future, Anglican Catholic apologists should simply link or refer to this list of admissions and tell their AARCA interlocutors they will not be engaged in debate until they make the necessary stipulations. This may seem an arrogant or presumptious attempt to curtail the debate, but the deepest reason for my pursuing this secondary aim will, I hope, become abundantly clear below.

The admissions that will be posited as a sine qua non for progress deal with: the Roman denial of the validity of Anglican Orders; the Papal Supremacy claimed and imposed by Rome at the time of separation; and the moral and doctrinal errors and superstitions officially approved, encouraged or tolerated by Rome at the time of separation. There will be very little debateable arguing and much recounting of simple fact. I will generally let the facts speak for themselves.

Part 1.

First, I will lay out in roughly chronological order the reasons commonly given for denying the validity of Anglican Orders by AARCAs and the Vatican from the 16th Century onwards, in conjunction with certain relevant and undeniable facts relating to these reasons. A to I below come from the 16th Century and early 17th Century, D to H being sourced from some of the most active early AARCAs, men such as Sanders, Parsons and Kellison. The rest date from the later 17th Century onwards, and J to L (and, it is sometimes claimed, M) were eventually included in the abovementioned Papal Bull, Apostolicae Curae.

A. Orders given by the Edwardine Ordinal were simply asserted to be invalid or "counterfeit" by RC divines at the Marian restoration of papal jurisdiction. Detailed theological reasons were not given at this stage. Fact: There is scholarly debate about how universally affected clergy were re-ordained and precisely what portion of the ordination was repeated. The instructions from Rome to Cardinal Pole had ambiguities, with it being unclear whether certain commands to ordain referred to those ordained by the English rite or those not ordained at all who received "benefices" or those ordained by another reformed rite but illicitly allowed to function as clergy in their own congregations by King Edward. There is early testimony that some clergy only had the anointing of the hands supplied. And other testimony that various Marian bishops clearly taught the invalidity and need for absolute reordination, as noted above. There was no binding decision on the English Ordinal as such.

B. After Elizabeth's accession to the throne and restoration of the English Ordinal and Book of Common Prayer, orders so bestowed were said to be either illicit or invalid because performed by schismatics and canonically ultra vires, invalid because performed by married men, or because the Roman rite was not used, or even because the ordinal had not been approved by Parliament when first used! Facts: No modern Roman theologian today accepts any of these as sufficient to invalidate orders. The official modern Roman position on Anglican Orders does not refer to any of these factors.

C. Pope Paul IV denied the validity of the Anglican episcopate because the Anglican Ordinal included an explicit denial of papal jurisdiction, since the pope believed that episcopal ordination did not give new sacramental grace (the episcopate being then commonly seen as the same order as the priesthood, except with larger pastoral powers and having the authority to confirm and ordain "unbound") but did signify the grant of episcopal jurisdiction by the Pope. Hence, rejection of papal jurisdiction meant the episcopate could not be given. Facts: No modern Roman theologian today accepts any of these as sufficient to invalidate orders. The official modern Roman position on Anglican Orders does not refer to any of these factors. Indeed, this theory of the episcopate was effectively abandoned at Vatican II.

D. One early accusation against the Anglican hierarchy was that no "Matter" was used in their ordinations, not even the laying on of hands, notwithstanding what the Ordinal says. A related early accusation denied the use of any "Form". There was, in fact, a denial that some bishops had been consecrated at all before they took up their posts. Fact: These are false accusations, as now admitted by all RC historians and theologians.

E. The "Nag's Head Fable" claimed that Archbishop Parker, the first Elizabethan Primate, had not been really consecrated at all, but appointed in some way at the Nag's Head Tavern. Fact: This is a false claim, as now admitted by all RC historians and theologians.

F. It was alleged that a later Archbishop of Canterbury, Whitgift, had received his ordination from the Queen. Fact: This is a false claim, as now admitted by all RC historians and theologians.

G. It was alleged that the records produced which contradicted the Nag's Head story had been forged by Anglicans. Fact: This is a false claim, as now admitted by all RC historians and theologians.

H. It was then claimed that it didn't matter what really happened with Archbishop Parker anyway, since his chief consecrator, Bishop Barlow had never been consecrated himself. Fact: This is a false claim, as now admitted by all RC historians and theologians.

I. It was commonly asserted that the absence of the "Tradition of the Instruments" in the Anglican rite made it invalid, since an earlier Pope had defined this as the Matter of the sacrament of order. Fact: This ceremony is not the true Matter and is not necessary to valid ordination, as now admitted by all RC theologians and as definitively taught by the RCC.

J. The original Form of the English Ordinal was said to be invalid because it specified neither the precise order to be conferred nor any of the primary roles appropriate to that order. The words "Receive the Holy Ghost", used for both priests and bishops, are thus insufficient. Facts: The words in what was commonly considered the Form of the English rites were not only "Receive the Holy Ghost" but as follows: For the priesthood, "RECEIVE the holy goste, whose synnes thou doest forgeve, they are forgeven: and whose sinnes thou doest retaine, thei are retained: and be thou a faithful despensor of the word of god, and of his holy Sacramentes. In the name of the father, and of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen. TAKE thou aucthoritie to preache the word of god, and to minister the holy Sacramentes ..." (Emphasis added. NB: The Council of Trent particularly connected the sacerdotal office with the key role of forgiveness of sins by absolution.) For the episcopate, "TAKE the holy gost, and remember that thou stirre up the grace of god, whiche is in thee, by imposicion of handes: for god hath not geven us the spirite of feare, but of power, and love, and of sobernesse. GEVE hede unto reading, exhortacion and doctrine. Thinke upon these thinges conteined in this boke [the Bible just then given], be diligent in them, that the encrease comyng therby, may be manyfest unto all men. Take hede unto thyselfe, and unto teaching, and be diligent in doing them, for by doing this thou shalt save thyselfe, and them that heare thee; bee to the flocke of Christ a shepeheard, not a wolfe: feede them, devoure them not; holde up the weake, heale the sicke, binde together the broken, bryng againe the outcastes, seke the lost. Be so mercifull, that you be not to remisse, so minister discipline, that ye forgeat not mercy; that when the chief shepheard shal come, ye may receyve the immarcessible croune of glory, through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen." (Emphasis added. NB: The Council of Trent particularly connected the episcopal office with the key role of preaching.) The quotations from Scripture within each form were those specifically associated with these offices by contemporary respected scholars, including Erasmus. Also, it is virtually universal opinion in the RCC that ecclesiastical rites must be interpreted as a "moral unity", so that each part gives contextual meaning to each other part. This is why it is now accepted and officially taught that the essential form and matter of the old Roman rites were not simultaneous (the Form preceeding the Matter) and did not need to be. Here are some excerpts of earlier prayers in the English rite. For priests, "mercifully behold these thy servantes, now called to the Office of Priesthode, and replenish them so wyth the trueth of thy doctryne, and innocencie of lyfe, that both by worde and good example, they may faythfully serve thee in thys office". For bishops, "sende thy grace upon him, they he may duely execute the office wherunto he is called ... mercifully beholde this thy servaunt, now called to the worke and ministerie of a Bisshoppe, and replenishe him so with the trueth of thy doctryne, and innocencie of life, that both by worde and dede, he may faithfully serve thee in this office". Apostolicae Curae mentions that some of these prayers might have sufficed as supplying an adequate form, but for the next two objections.

K. The Intention to convey the traditional Catholic Orders was said to be absent, an intention to create a new set of offices sharing only the name was said to replace it. Facts: The Preface to the Ordinal specifically states the intent, using the very word intent, as follows: "from the Apostles tyme, there hathe bene these orders of Ministers in Christes church, Bisshoppes, Priestes, and Deacons, ... therfore to the entent these orders shoulde bee continued ... no man (not beynge at thys presente Bisshop, Priest, nor Deacon) shall execute anye of them, excepte he be ... admitted, accordynge to the forme hereafter folowinge" [emphasis added]. Apostolicae Curae does not quote or mention the Preface at all, not even to dispute it.

L. The Intention was said to be proven absent from and adverse to the sacrament of Order in our rites by the complete denial of Eucharistic Sacrifice generally in the church and by the inbuilt heresy (the "native character" as the bull put it) involved in deletion of all references to consecration of the Eucharist and offering sacrifice in the Ordinal. Facts: Although direct reference to consecrating the Eucharist is not made in the rite, all acknowledge that such consecration is included in "ministering the sacraments", which is mentioned. The Book of Common Prayer, in which the Ordinal is placed, has always reserved that consecrating role to priests and bishops. In the Elizabethan period, when the denial of Eucharistic Sacrifice is purported to have vitiated all episcopal consecrations from Parker onwards, the following Anglican statements appeared. The Prayer Book's Liturgy calls this service a "perpetual memory" of the Sacrifice and a "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving". The 28th of the 39 Articles says that the “Supper of the Lord is … a Sacrament [= "effectual sign" according to Article 25] of our Redemption by Christ’s death”. In other words, the Sacrament signifies and effects our salvation by the Sacrifice of the Cross. Bishop Jewel (1522-71), in his defence of the Anglican position, quotes St. Augustine with approval: “ ‘Christ hath given us to celebrate in His Church, an image or token of that Sacrifice for the remembrance of His Passion.’ Again he saith, ‘After CHRIST'S ascension into heaven, the Flesh and Blood of this Sacrifice is continued by a Sacrament of remembrance.’ ” [emphasis added] Defence of the Apology. Part II. And then there is the subscription in 1567 of Archbishop Parker and 14 other bishops to the mediaeval homily of Archbishop Aelfric (A.D. 995), containing the following (with spelling modernised): “Once suffered Christ himself but yet nevertheless his suffering is daily renewed at the mass through mystery of the holy housel” [emphasis added]. Housel was the old English word for sacrifice, especially in reference to the Eucharist. It is appropriate to again compare these historical facts with the statement of the papal bull that “all idea … of sacrifice has been rejected”. And to compare the above statements with the fact that Aquinas in the Summa Theologica gives two reasons he considers sufficient to call the Mass a Sacrifice, namely that it "commemorates" and "represents" as an "image" the Sacrifice of the Cross and that it conveys its saving effects (P3, Q73, A4; P3, Q83, A1), which original Sacrifice itself can never be repeated (P3, Q22, A5). Similarly, the RC theologian Masure in the 20th Century taught that the Eucharist is a sacrifice simply because it "efficaciously signifies" the Sacrifice of the Cross, but that there is no fresh immolation of Christ on the altar (The Christian Sacrifice, 1943). Both these men's works, of course, have the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, meaning they are within the bounds of Roman orthodoxy. In Saepius Officio, the official response of the two English Primates to the papal bull, the Anglican doctrine is explained similarly, drawing on the liturgy: "We continue a perpetual memory of the precious death of Christ ... we plead and represent before the Father the sacrifice of the cross, and by it we confidently entreat remission of sins and all other benefits of the Lord’s Passion for all the whole Church" [emphasis added]. Nevertheless, the Vatican's letter in response said that this doctrine was "not that of the Roman Catholic Church."

M. In response to Anglican reference to the Ordinal's Preface to verify their intention to "do as the Church does", RC theologian Clark replied that the bull did not really argue that the Anglicans did not have a general intention to do as the Church does (cf. K), nor that this intention was undermined by a mere heretical understanding (cf. L). Instead, he claimed that the Pope had in fact argued that the admitted general intention was vitiated by a positive contrary intention to exclude the conferring of a sacrificial role, this contrary intention being imposed by the omission of all sacrificial language from the Ordinal. Facts: The group responsible for the original English Ordinal probably had a mixture of more Catholic and more Protestant churchmen, and accepted the pattern recapitulated in the canons of an ancient Council of Carthage. However, it is generally accepted by theologians that a Church is not committed to the beliefs of any of the authors of a rite except as those beliefs are expressed in the rite itself so as to "inform" the intent of the users of it. There are no positive statements denying the sacrificial aspect of priestly ministry in the Ordinal. However, such a statement was supplied in a suggested draft by the Lutheran Bucer to the English Reformers. They did not include it. The Book of Common Prayer specifically notes the principles behind various omissions made at the Reformation in the preface "Of Ceremonies", and says that some were omitted due to number and complexity, some due to eventual abuse despite their original goodness, and some but not all due to their intrinsic unworthiness. That is, not all omission was outright rejection at the English Reformation. As for the Pope's real meaning in Apostolicae Curae, it is notable that he nowhere admits or implies even the Church of England's general intent to do as the Church does, nor does he refer to any duality or inconsistency of intention. He says the correct intention is "wanting" and the actual intention involved "rejecting what the Church does". He does not speak of an intention to reject one particular part of what the Church does while accepting the rest.

N. Clark, however, seems to have had a kind of fallback position, in that he argued that the RCC can simply declare and make sacraments invalid by, for example, changing the acceptable conditions for validity by fiat, as it has done before with Marriage. Specifically, he states that the RCC "has an effective power to restrict sacramental validity" (Anglican Orders and Defect of Intention, 1956:10). Therefore, the decision that the Anglican Ordinal fails to satisfy the necessary conditions might theoretically be seen as incontestable and self-fulfilling. In a sense, they would then be invalid because Rome said they are. Facts: This approach, which ironically leads us back to A to a large extent, is obviously unanswerable if its premisses are granted. It is, however, not the argument of Apostolicae Curae, which appears to assume an argument is actually necessary.

I cannot (and I do not believe I am obliged to) accept that any Roman Catholic, once made aware of this history, has any right to begin a new attack on our Orders without at least first admitting that part or most of the past record of RCs and their Church in this regard has been deeply shameful. I am morally certain that the above facts speak for themselves to a great extent and display a significant amount of malice, disingenuousness and vincible ignorance on the other side. The constant shifting of ground by AARCAs as each place staked out is washed away by the truth, in combination with the refusal to stop and consider what has gone before, convinces me that enough is enough. I ask AARCAs either to show that the statements above are untrue or to stipulate that they are factual. In the latter case, if such a stipulation does not include acceptance of the shamefulness abovementioned, it may be that further conversation is still worthless, since an inability by an AARCA to agree with us on the theological shallowness of B and C or the disgraceful calumny of D to H, for example, would indicate moral and other premisses too incommensurable for further conversation to have any hope of genuine communication.

As M appears to confirm, Anglican Catholics cannot make any headway with many of their AARCA interlocutors because of an act of will (to assert Anglican Orders null and void) by them that is effectively a priori and incapable of ever being overturned by reasoning. At best, this is impossible for them to avoid as they perceive this to be necessitated by their act of faith in all RC doctrine. For people such as these, I have no criticism, only the request to at least pause, take seriously the above facts and understand why we will remain unconvinced of their position and perhaps be unwilling to debate the point further with them. At worst, an AARCA may believe that such an intransigence is not absolutely necessitated, but choose it out of pride and contempt towards us or possibly blameworthy ignorance. I say blameworthy because much of what is above should be known by those who claim any expert knowledge in this area, and without such expert knowledge it is doubtful one should make arguments that one knows will offend (because they deny the fundamental self-understanding in sacred matters of your "opponents"), since one will be causing offence without the objective assurance that might justify such action. Put simply, if people (who are not morally certain on other grounds related to an act of faith) want to tell us we belong to pseudo-churches consisting solely of laymen, with some laymen pretending to be Catholic clergy, they are obliged to be very, very sure of themselves because they have done all the necessary research.

If the reader senses some exasperation and anger, he is not led astray by this intuition. It is hard to stress too much the sorrow and affront caused by the Roman claims against our Orders and the history of their development. We have been, in effect, told we are self-deceived frauds, yet often through manifestly fraudulent or erroneous assertions. It is made worse by the fact that they come from those with whom we share so much, and with whom we would have peace and reconciliation. Indeed, they proceed from a Church whose Orders and whose men in Orders we have always received as equivalent to our own, while being told by it that we intended to replace those very Orders. So, we ask that AARCAs not attempt to continue the attack without first either refuting or stipulating to the above history, and in the latter case admitting the very poor impression justifiably created by this history.

As for official dialogue between the Churches, even here I think that such a stipulation of facts should be requested by the Anglican Catholic side when it comes to discussing Orders. Since the aim of such dialogue -- reconciliation -- is different to the aim of mutually opposed apologetical debates -- proving your side right and the other wrong -- admission of past blame for invalid and egregious arguments is far less relevant (especially since the institution is not automatically responsible for all its apologists' tactics). But we should still make sure relevant and significant facts in our favour are out in the open early. And we owe it to Rome to be honest with them about our moral certainty that we have the Apostolic Succession and our refusal to accept absolute re-ordinations in the event of reunion, since such acceptance would constitute deliberate sacrelige on our part.

Part 2.

Our second topic is the Papal Supremacy as it existed and operated, and according to the powers it claimed for itself, at the time of the English Reformation. Historic Facts: Briefly, it may be said that the highly authoritative Unam Sanctum of the 14th Century, which taught that the Pope could command the civil power and the use of its "sword" and, in this context, decreed that it was "absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff", created the impression the Pope was claiming imperial rather than spiritual powers. This impression was reinforced by other acts. There had been tensions between England and the Papacy over Roman interventions in both temporalities and spiritualities for centuries. These and related facts, in combination with the papal excommunication of 1570 which purported to also depose Elizabeth, and papal machinations to have her assasinated or her country invaded, confirmed for the Church of England at that decisive time that the Papacy was now committed to unspiritual, proud and violent usurpation. This was the kind of Papal jurisdiction rejected. Purely spiritual primacy was not dogmatically rejected. For example, Queen Elizabeth I acknowledged in her negotiations on behalf of Church of England the right of the Pope to preside at a free General Council, though not as "universal bishop". King James I acknowledged Roman primacy if it followed the pattern of the original Petrine primacy. Theologians and bishops such as Bramhall similarly distinguished between usurped papal powers, especially civil, and a valid and beneficial universal primacy. Corresponding modern facts: The modern papacy now makes no such claim to imperium, is encouraging some devolution of authority in the Church and has begun to return to "first millenium" principles in explaining its Primacy, effectively admitting the unnecessary nature of certain later accompaniments to this Primacy. That is, elements we criticised have been abandoned or are being modified. This is not the papacy then refused by us. Indeed, the papacy refused by us is now, to an increasing degree, disclaimed by the "papists", despite the difficulty caused by Vatican I in the meantime.

Part 3.

Our third topic is the erroneous teaching allowed or approved by Rome at and after the time of the Reformation, even though not dogmatised. A similar treatment of this issue appear earlier on this weblog.

Historic Facts: It was maintained at that time in the RCC without censure in approved works that the worship paid to the Divine nature, latreia, was also due to images of Christ, the Trinity, to relics of the "true Cross", to relics supposedly of Christ's blood, hair or nails, and to crucifixes. Even the Council of Trent did not make entirely clear that adoration of Christ could not be paid via an image of him, in that it said "by the images ... we adore Christ". On the other hand, it denied any divinity in the images "on account of which they are to be woshipped" and made all honour to images "due honour". After Trent there were still writers uncondemned by Rome who justified adoring the divinity represented in the image, using the image as a proximate object of worship. Corresponding Doctrinal Fact: This is not in accordance with the teaching of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which only allows a maximum honour of proskunesis to any image. It is, according to this Council, the objectively mortal sin of idolatry, and is heretical.

Historic Facts: Other serious deficiencies affecting popular instruction or guidance in faith and morals were: the multiplication and encouraged veneration of and trust in false relics; disapproval or deliberate lack of encouragement of lay access to Scripture in their own tongue; authorised prayers to the Saints worded so they implied to the common man Saints were direct authors of benefits; assertions that Mary could command Christ and that she was to be approached as the more merciful when a Christian was afraid to approach Jesus, since He is the Judge; portraying the Intermediate State as temporary Hell-fire inflicted primarily as divine vengeance; teaching that the Mass involved an extra, fresh immolation of Christ, that is, a repeated offering of Him; and permitting or commanding the torturing of "heretics" to gain confessions.

Corresponding Relevant Facts: Every single one of these problems had been long-lasting and widespread but has since been effectively corrected in some way by the RCC since that time, but not all at the time of Trent and the Counter-Reformation. Every single one of them was a reason the English Reformers said they were justified in carrying out reform independent of Rome and those in submission to it and sharing these deficiencies. Thus a break in communion was accepted (though not initiated) by the Church of England on the basis of identified errors in the Western, Papal communion that were serious and appeared to Anglicans to be practically authoritative in that communion.

Such breaks in communion had occured in the past for perceived misbehaviour or error at a less than dogmatic level. E.g., the removal of Pope Vigilius from the diptychs at the Fifth Ecumenical Council till he would confirm an earlier anathematisation of heresy. Also, the Acacian schism began due to a papal decision to break communion not because of heresy personally held or taught by Acacius but his tolerant communion with a hierarch who fluctuated between Chalcedonian orthodoxy and Monophytism. The schism persisted because of the refusal of one of Acacius' personally orthodox successors to anathematise his predecessor, even though he did excommunicate undoubted Monophysites. (A number of afterwards universally recognised Saints lived and died faithful communicants on each side of this schism, though it was complete at the time. This has been pointed to by some theologians as evidence that this schism for reasons other than error in dogma did not really cause either side to be outside the Catholic Church.)


Unless the facts listed in part 1 are admitted, our nature as particular Churches will continue to be impugned or denied carelessly and automatically and this will darken any dialogue that occurs. Unless all the above facts in parts 2 and 3 are admitted, the nature of the original schism between Rome and the Church of England cannot be fairly characterised or put into context. Especially since it is not the case that all theologians in good standing in the RCC or Eastern Orthodox Church assert or accept that every kind of schism affecting the Catholic Church must leave one side properly out of it, as I have noted before. We do not need to approach Rome as if repentant rebels, begging for re-admittance to the Fold.

Finally, and on a more eirenic note, it is incontestable that Anglican Catholics too must stipulate to important and undeniable facts: Anglican Churches also tolerated or even encouraged at various times much material heresy among their bishops, clergy and laity, despite also not "dogmatising" the heresies by imposing manifest error on their officially binding formularies. They allowed the corruptions of latitudinarian indifference to infect their faith and practice, such deficiencies being no less destructive than the corruptions within the Roman communion. Anglican theologians were often slow to admit the logical deductions from their principles and separate Patristic and Catholic wheat from the chaff of certain Western mediaeval excesses. They also did not sufficiently discriminate in their criticisms between common opinion and true doctrine in the RCC, and did not always interpret those doctrines with a just or charitable eye. Many of our liturgies were for a long time unecessarily minimalist in certain areas, such as prayer for the dead, where only implicit requests or traces remained, e.g., pleading the Sacrifice of the Cross "for all [God's] whole Church" in Holy Communion, or asking God in the Burial office "to hasten [his] kingdom" that both the living and the "departed in the true faith" might have their "perfect consummation and bliss" at the Resurrection, but not referring at all to the intermediate state in this prayer. And, although the English State's bloody persecution of RCs for treason was often unjust, the English Church did not do enough to challenge this wickedness, and often defended these actions as if all those executed were truly malicious towards or a danger to the State, overlooking the vicious and insincere motivations of certain agents of that State. So, both sides do have things of which to repent, but both sides should approach each other as genuine sister Churches, realising that each has in fact already moved toward the other.