Thursday, October 06, 2005

more on mediation, fr. zahl, etc. from pontifications

In a previous posting, whether here or over at Titusonenine I forget, I inquired why Cranmer’s own private opinions or theological beliefs should enjoy any more “normative status” in Anglicansim than those of William Perkins, Richard Hooker, or Lancelot Andrewes (or, added as an aftethought, John Shelby Spong). My point was (cf. the final paragraph of that article by Gregory Dix that I sent you some months ago, “The Revelaing Church”) that there is really no such thing as a preseciptive standard of “Anglican orthodoxy” and that in practice, or at least before the advent of Spong or his intellectual and spiritual granddaddy Bishop Barnes of Birmingham in England, so long as one professed a purely conventional (and uncontroversial) orthodoxy on matters of the Trinity and Christology “on paper” one might well take Cranmer or Perkins or Hooker or Andrewes for the quintessential Anglican, and who might dare nay-say one’s choice. But there is another side of this: whatever the vast, and even unbridgeable, theological chasms between those who take one or the other of these men as quintessentially Anglican, none, not one, of them advocated a “comprehensive church” none of them thought it one of the glories of the Church of England that, as a kind of eccleiastical Noah’s Ark, it could fill itself with beasts both clean and unclean. Diarmaid MacCulloch makes it clearin his momumental biography of Cranmer that his subject in all likelihood would have been appalled by “Anglican comprehensiveness” were he but able to see it. So why, on what basis, when Christianity from the beginning has been a dogmatic ecclesiastical religion that comes to conclusions in matters of faith and penalizes those that gainsay them, are we to believe that “Anglican comprehensiveness” to be a good thing? From a historical prespective, the only “denomination” that ever embraced “comprehensiveness” was the Unitarians here in the USA (I know less about English Unitarianism), and their embrace of it led them within 50 years right out of Christianity. Is thiswhat “ethanasius” and Mr. Montgomery want? If so, then the road is wide open to “reconciliation” between ECUSA and the UUA. My own suspicion is that it comes from a lack of doctrinal seriousness on the part of those that espouse such a view, plus the American cracker-barrell view that “I’m an American and nobody is going to tell me what I have to believe, even in the church I belong to” — which is as much to say that the real religion of many “Christian Americans” is “American values” and even their own churches’ doctrines must be subordinate to these “values.”

Nor do I understand why Mr. Becker should write that “there is room in the Reformation traditions for Zwinglian perspectives …” especially as I take him for a Lutheran. Either the “Zwinglian perspectives” are false (as Luther most certainly believed) and, if false, there ought to be no “room” for them in Christian truth, or else they are true, and should be embraced by all, or all at least who profess “Reformation traditions.” But if they can be regarded as “false” (from a Lutheran prespective) and yet have a legitimate “room” in “Reformation traditions” than let’s also make room for Servetus, Arius, Montanus, Marcion and Valentinus. Noah’s Ark was very “inclusive” and I don’t see why a comprehensive “Reformation traditions” should be any less so.

As the verse on the door of the “Protestant plantation” town of Bandon in Ireland ran: “Enter here turk, Jew or atheist/Any man except a papist.” Fuinseoig may know the verse that some Irish rascal is said to have affixed below it in 1798, but I won’t quote *that* here.

Comments by William Tighe at Pontifications. Read the whole thing here.

The "verse affixed below it" was as follows:

'Turk, Jew or atheist may enter here, but not a papist.’

A Catholic wit responded

‘He who wrote this wrote it well, the same is written on the gates of hell.’

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