Friday, November 04, 2005

two interesting articles

One is Fr. Kimel's continuing assertion of Anglicans' essential non-catholicity. (Wherin he continues his synecdochical broadsides against J-Tron, and Aff Cath's catholic aesthetics disguising a protestant core.)

The other is more on P.Ben's life preserver, such as it is: RC Archbishop Myers of Newark. First posted by Fr. Harmon.

My problem with Fr. Kimel's argument is that he picks out those elements of Anglicanism which are essentially protestant and declares them to be essentially Anglican. He has not, so far as I am aware, addresses the traditional Anglo-Catholic claim that Anglo-Catholicism is THE true and proper expression of Anglicanism. Such a claim makes the contemporary situation, at least in ECUSA, rather like the situation in Constantinople during much of the 4th century, the situation in which St. Gregory Nazianzus emerged as "the Theologian". The extent to which Anglicans are not Anglo-Catholics is the extent to which they are bad Anglicans. And I don't mean that the extent to which Anglicans do not "self-identify" as Anglo-Catholics is the extent to which they are bad Anglicans. Rather, the extent to which they depart from the coherent and contiguous teaching of catholic Anglicanism from Henry VIII and Richard Hooker, through the Nonjurors and Caroline Divines, the Tractarians, to Charles Gore and Michael Ramsey, is the extent to which they are bad Anglicans.


Philip said...

The 39 articles are essentially Catholic, at least under the correct interpretation.

M F Davidson said...

The Irish sort all this out for you quite neatly. Look no further than to know who you are.

Johnny Awesomo said...

Richard Hooker was as protestant as they come. Charles Gore was a heretic.

Johnny Awesomo said...

That Church of Ireland link is great. My favorite part is at the beginning saying that protestant and catholic are not opposites.

Anglicans are not catholic. Read JH Newmann

Pontificator said...

Hi! Thanks for commenting on my piece.

In his Tract 90 Newman attempted to do precisely what you are suggesting---to identify Anglicanism with Anglo-Catholicism. His attempt was rejected by his fellow churchmen. The CoE subsequently compromised and allowed Anglo-Catholicism to continue as a party within it; but that's as far as it goes, has ever gone, and can ever go. To identify Anglicanism with Anglo-Catholicism is in essence to ask Anglicanism to renounce the Reformation. That it can never do.

In his correspondence with Thomas Allies, the Catholic Newman criticized Allies for asserting his private judgment in trying to define Anglicanism as Anglo-Catholic: "Do you follow her living authorities, or her reformation, or Laud, or her liturgy, or her Articles?"

Newman's Anglican Difficulties is essential reading here.

J-Tron said...

An interesting thought, WB. Perhaps I would, however, say it differently. The extent to which Anglicanism, or any Christian body, divorces itself from the Truth of Catholic Tradition and practice is the extent to which that body divides itself from the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Or in other words, it is not the extent to which Anglicans are "Anglo-Catholic" that makes us good Anglicans but rather the extent to which we are consistent with the Catholic Church. And, if by nature the Anglican Church is part of the Catholic Church, then true Anglicanism must be truly Catholic. (I suspect this is what you mean, but I thought it might be worth saying anyway.)

Contarini said...

Fr. WB,

I find the Anglo-Catholic argument to which you refer rather arbitrary and unconvincing. Why should 19th-century figures who were never more than a minority even in their own day have the right to define retrospectively what Anglicanism was all about, in the teeth of the plain statements of practically every Anglican of the period when the Prayer Book and Articles were being forged?

If Anglicanism is not Protestant, why do we have a Prayer Book and Articles explicitly produced by Protestants as Protestant texts?


The "correct" interpretation to which you allude is patently contrary to the expressed intentions of the people who produced the Articles and Prayer Book. If we believed that the Articles were infallible, I could see how we might be driven to such an interpretation. We might argue that the framers _intended_ to exclude the Catholic meaning, but the Holy Spirit so arranged things that they in fact left open a loophole by which later generations could bring back such a meaning. It seems to me that Roman Catholics do something very like this with texts such as Unam Sanctam. But we don't believe the Articles are infallible, so why resort to such contortions?

father wb said...


"If Anglicanism is not Protestant, why do we have a Prayer Book and Articles explicitly produced by Protestants as Protestant texts? "

Well, that's exactly what I am denying. To me, your question sounds like "If Anglicanism is not Protestant, then why is it Protestant?"

What I am saying is that the BCP is fundamentally Catholic. It provides for 1) a sacrificing priesthood in continuity, through an apostolic succession of bishops, with the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, the Fathers, and the Apostles, and 2) the eucharistic sacrifice. It also provides for prayers for the dead, auricular confession and absolution, and many other of the trappings of popish Catholicism. But fundamentally, it provides Apostolic faith and order, which I take to be constitutive of catholicity, specifically via an Episcopate in succession from the Apostles, and a ministerial priesthood, offering the Eucharistic sacrifice for the baptized.

I don't care how the English reformers would have self-identified, though I'm not sure they would have called themselves "protestant". "Reformed" is probably closer to the truth, though not so much so as to erase the essence of catholicity, which I assert, at the core of Anglicanism. Anglicanism is unlike any other of the ecclesial bodies to come out of the Reformation in its retention of the above-mentioned elements. These elements are sufficient guarantees, I argue, of catholicity (assuming the presence of Apostolic faith). And I think the Fathers largely agree. Especially the ante-Nicene Fathers.

No matter how "protestant" Dean Zahl, or anyone else, claims to be, he can't get around the prayer of the Church which ordained him. And this prayer is in an unbroken chain of catholicity, though the English Reformation, to the first generations of the Christian Church.

Antonio said...

Just one question:
Who has to interpret the 39 Articles?
The Church as a whole?
Each individual?

father wb said...

If the 39 Articles are being held forth as doctrine or dogma, then it is the Church who interprets them. It is not clear to me that they are held forth as such. I, for example, though an Anglican priest, have never made any promises regarding the 39 Articles, nor have they ever even been so much as commended to my attention (that I can remember) during the course of my formal education.

We are bound first by Scripture, then by catholic tradition. All that is incompatible with those two (and respectively, they really recommend nothing but one another) is to be chucked.

Becca said...

Not that it matters very much to me ... since I believe that we all call Jesus Lord ... but, I think Contarini raises excellent points and I agree with him (though with deep respect and love for my fellow Anglo-Catholics). If we don't hang together, no one will.

Contarini said...

:I don't care how the English reformers would have self-identified,:

Well, as a historian I have problems with that!

: though I'm not sure they would have called themselves "protestant". "Reformed" is probably closer to the truth,:

"Protestant" wasn't anyone's primary self-descriptor in the sixteenth century--I think it's safe to generalize that both "evangelical" and "reformed" were preferred. Let me rephrase this: The English Reformers and the leaders and theologians of the Church of England throughout the sixteenth century (and much later, I'd argue, but I'm less sure of my ground there) were _unanimous_ in the belief that they stood on one side of a chasm between a reformed, Biblical Christianity represented on the Continent by Wittenberg, Geneva, Strasbourg, Zurich, Scandinavia, the French Huguenots, etc., and an unreformed, corrupt, superstitious, un-Biblical Christianity represented by the "Church of Rome."

Yes, Anglicans like Hooker made the chasm a lot smaller, and were far gentler in their assessments of the Church of Rome, than most Continental Protestants. But that doesn't refute my claim. The chasm was still there, as you can see if you read Hooker's sermon on justification. Indeed, in that very sermon Hooker says that Anglicanism differs from Lutheranism in significant points such as confession (on which the Lutherans were the ones maintaining the more Catholic position). This clearly places Anglicanism not only in a broad Protestant camp but in a "Reformed" as opposed to "Lutheran" camp. (I understand that Donne similarly places Anglicanism between Lutherans and Reformed in one of his sermons.) It seems pretty clear to me that Hooker's "via media" doesn't place Anglicanism between Protestantism and Rome, or even between Reformed Protestantism and Rome, but rather stakes out a moderate Reformed position against the hardline followers of Geneva. (I grant that many Hooker scholars would disagree with me there.)

It's easy to refute me. Show me one Anglican text by an Elizabethan bishop or major theologian that speaks of Protestants in general (Lutherans and Reformed) as being in error complementary to the errors of Rome. (Again, I reiterate the point that when Hooker wants to give an example of Anglican difference with fellow-Protestants, he picks a point on which the Lutherans were more Catholic than Anglicans!) Show me one text (again, from the reign of Elizabeth) that speaks of the Catholic Church in such a manner as to imply that Continental Protestants are outside it. I don't know of such a text. It may exist--I'm not an expert on the Elizabethan era (my advisor wouldn't direct a dissertation on an era later than 1555, and he pretty much wanted me to stick to the Continent as well). But I'll be very surprised if it does.

:Anglicanism is unlike any other of the ecclesial bodies to come out of the Reformation in its retention of the above-mentioned elements.:

How is it unlike the Swedish Lutherans in those respects?

True, most Protestants did not retain a three-fold ministry. But again, I'm unaware of any Anglicans during Elizabeth's reign who thought that episcopacy was constitutive of the Catholic Church. Continental Protestant clergy were not required to be reordained until 1662. (I know that the standard Anglo-Catholic argument is that the clergy allowed to minister in England without reordination constitute "irregular exceptions," but that's a rhetorical dodge to avoid the plain facts.) With regard to the Eucharistic sacrifice, the 1552/1559/1662 BCP goes out of its way to avoid any sacrificial language until after communion has been received. Certainly early Anglicans believed that the Eucharist was a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, but this was a common Protestant belief. Prayer for the dead is nowhere to be found in the Elizabethan BCP. In both these points I think you are misled by your familiarity with the Scottish/American tradition and have not looked closely at the English version. Finally, while there is allowance for confession at the point of death, that is the only place where it is provided for, and it is presented as an easing of the conscience. Yet again, I point you to Hooker's sermon on justification, which mentions the Lutheran position on confession (which did retain it as a regular pastoral practice) as one of the points on which Anglicans and Lutherans differ.

Thorpus said...

Gotta take exception to Contarini.

The 'chasm' between all English and Roman Catholicism was, from the first, an Erastian one. Insofar as all English self-identified with the Reformation, it was to establish an Erastian national church under the monarch. This church, from the beginning, was understood to remain catholic in every sense despite this separation. That this understanding continues through Edward, Mary, Lizzy, James I, Chas's I and II, and James II is evidenced by the facts that:

1. every time an English monarch tried to marry into a continental catholic royal family, people went bonkers, as much because a Roman heir would be under the Pope's thumb as because of theological concerns;

2. the one thing that both traditionalists and Puritans could agree on across theological lines during the Tudor reigns was that they didn't want any foreign princes telling them what to do, especially the pope;

3. read the laws passed under Henry that executed the separation -- it's Erastian all the way, and explicitly stated that it's not a theological movement;

4. Even with draconian support from Chancellor Th. Cromwell, Cranmer didn't dare write a new BCP during Henry's reign - he would have been lynched. He had to wait until Somerset backed him up under Edward, and even then the 1549 BCP had to walk on eggshells. Catholic sentiment was still very strong, and not just because of the very visible changes in parish liturgical life. People (including most clergy and bishops) believed in English Catholicism -- it was foreign jurisdiction they didn't like.

What are we up to, 5.? Mary was welcomed with open arms because England as a whole really didn't like the Edwardian reform or the way it was carried out. It was Cranmer's and (Th) Cromwell's spin machine consisiting of preachers like Latimer and Ridley, satirists, and publishers, who were pushing the reformation. That's why publishing licences and copyright law trace their history back to Mary's reign (look it up) -- she had to clamp down on the Protestant spin machine.

6. So Lizzy comes to power and is firmly protestant, right -- but she was never willing to go as far as Edward's ministers were. The Elizabethan settlement welcomed high-church (read 'Anglo-catholic') leaders, and that's why you see a steady creep toward a non-Roman catholicism in England under Lizzy, although sentiment against the foreign jursidiction of the Roman prelate is just as strong. Lizzy's settlement also is the first time that the reform party is accepted into the national church, and our current two-party system, as it were, is created. Before then the reformers were steering the CoE toward a Geneva-like existance, while traditionalists backed catholic ritual and theology, but not Papal jurisdiction. Lizzy's settlement forces moderates on both sides together, while radical Puritans and Popish recusants slide to the margins. But there's still a strong current of genuinely catholic, authentically Anglican churchmanship. Witness Hooker, witness Jewel. Their influence toward what we may now call Anglo-Catholicism, also WB's essential Catholicism, is so strong that when James I takes over, it's only a few years before Convocation proclaims that just as kings rule by divine right, so also do bishops! You call that reformed? I call it exhibit #7.

8. Under Charles you have the Laudian Caroline divines, who are very high church, very Anglo-Catholic. Because they're in power, anybody of any real Protestant sympathy beyond the original Erastian intent of Henry is culled out of the CoE and into the various Puritan camps. At the time the lines are drawn around these various Protestant groups, they are clearly distinct from the Anglicanism of the King and the bishops-Laudian. It's protestants VS. Anglo-Catholics, and Rome is, of course, still on the other side of the Erastian divide.

9. At the Restoration, the Laudians had done their preperatory work well, and it was full blown, catholic Anglicanism that was restored along with the monarchy. Witness the continued persecution of Protestant radicals under Chas II. One of the major foci of this restoration was the episcopacy, which meant specifically the very catholic idea of the historic succession. This was in no way understood to jeopardize Anglican identity: on the contrary, it was understood to establish it along the lines of the Elizabethan and Henrican settlements, OUT of continuity with the work of the radical reformers during the Commonwealth.

Where are we, 10? By the time Newmann et al get around to rediscovering the CoE's catholicism, they weren't just pulling that out of their hats. Catholicism has always been the native element in Anglicanism, the source of continuity between the medieval English church and everything that came after. Reformed ideas are the innovation and were not part of the orignial Erastian mandate. What WB seems to be saying is that he buys the idea of Erastian Catholicism. He believes it is the essence of Anglicanism that it is Catholic but not Roman, and in this he joins good King Henry, his clergy, and his people, who later formed the vanguard of Mary's catholic restoration; also he joins Laudians under Chas I and the Latitudinarians under Chas II who all claim catholicism as the essence of Anglicanism. The difference between that idea and the Anglicanism of Cranmer, Hooker and the Elizabethan settlement, and the 1662 BCP is that the latter join catholicism with reformation theology to comprise the essence of Anglicanism. All agree that Anglicanism is catholic - if you didn't agree with that you joined the Roundheads. The real question at stake here is not whether Anglicanism is Catholic but whether it is reformed, whether reformation theology necessarily belongs at the heart of who we are. I contend that although catholicism held that kind of essential status all by itself under Henry and Laud, particularly; reformation theology has NEVER formed the sole essential identity of Anglicanism. Every time that was tried the English people and clergy rejected it. A religion without Catholicism has never been the goal of authentic Anglicanism. Those who thought that way ended up leaving the CoE and starting other churches that still exist to this day, mind you.

So the conclusion I hope you all draw from this is that the ideal of catholicism has historically held more importance to self-identified Anglicans than the ideals of reformation theology. We have at times been more or less reformed, but we have always held on tightly to catholicism.

J-Tron said...

Thorpus, you're my hero. I can't believe you referred to Good Queen Bess as "Lizzy."

Paul Goings said...

He has not, so far as I am aware, addresses the traditional Anglo-Catholic claim that Anglo-Catholicism is THE true and proper expression of Anglicanism.

Well, he wouldn't, would he? He wasn't, as far as I know, an Anglo-Catholic when he served as a priest in ECUSA.

In any event, I don't suppose that anyone, even Newman, believed that the English schism didn't have some of its roots in various protestant heresies. The claim made by various Anglo-Catholics (myself included) that "Anglo-Catholicism is THE true and proper expression of Anglicanism" is the understanding that Anglicanism needed to be reformed, to align itself with the doctrines and disciplines of Rome, and to eventually reunite with the Holy Roman Church.

wyclif said...

The extent to which Anglicans are not Anglo-Catholics is the extent to which they are bad Anglicans.

Sorry mate, but this is laughable.

It's laughable (and predictable: I read a lot of Anglo-Catholic blogs) precisely because to suggest that Anglo-Catholicism is anything but a minority position historically is to eviscerate the received Faith. It ignores the faith of Anglicanism's founders: Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley.

But it also downgrades the achievements of the vast majority of churchmanship from the Reformation to the Caroline Divines to our day.

Consider this: from the mid-16th century to c.1850 you would be hard-pressed to find Anglo-Catholic ritualism as a representative sample in the Western Church.

Essentially, you've made a post-industrial revolution theological construct normative historically. That, I think, is truly bad.

father wb said...

" suggest that Anglo-Catholicism is anything but a minority position historically is to eviscerate the received Faith."

Question begging. I assume by "the received Faith" you mean the faith that our Lord handed on to his Apostles, which they handed on to theirs, etc. Nonsense like sola scriptural and salvation by faith alone were no part of that.

Theological truth is not a question of democratic consensus. Just because Anglo-Cathoics and High-Churchmen have always been in the minority (a point no one denies) says nothing about whether their claims are true.

Also: what does the industrial revolution have to do with anything? As far as I can tell, Anglo-Cathoics want to emphasize the continuity of Anglicanism with the medieval Church in Britain, and through that, to the Church of the first millennium, the Fathers, and the Apostles.

Or do you mean that just because the Oxford movement happened after the industrial revolution that therefore Anglo-Catholicism is post-industrial? If that is the case, then the theology "constructed" by Oliver O'Donovan is post industrial, and insofar as he (or whomever) takes it to be TRUE, presumably, he or they take it to be normative. How, then, is Anglo-Catholic theology different in its being "post industrial revolution" from ANY theologizing happening after the industrial revolution? Again: what does the industrial revolution have to do with anything?

wyclif said...

As far as I can tell, Anglo-Cathoics want to emphasize the continuity of Anglicanism with the medieval Church in Britain, and through that, to the Church of the first millennium, the Fathers, and the Apostles.

I think the best of them want to embody the medieval faith, and perhaps even the Apostolic faith. They just do a rather terrible job of it.

And that's my point in bringing up the Industrial Revolution. It's not to use it to sully Anglo-Catholicism but merely to point out that that age was the context for the Tractarian Movement.

Anglo-Catholicism owes far more to the Victorian sensibility than it ever did to the medieval age.