Saturday, April 29, 2006


A deviant is someone who deviates from a set path. The word has a certain quality these days that suggests something weird or sinister. However, all it means is that a person deviates, does not follow the normal course. See my articles (below) on the subject of why Apostolicae Curae is a rather unimpressive bit of noise and fury that gives no genuine reason to doubt the Catholic validity of Anglican Orders (and, the Anglican dismissal of Rome’s declaration on our orders was shared by the Orthodox Church, as they expressed in official pronouncements. More on that story later in the week). One of the more disturbing qualities that has characterized the written and blogged attacks on Anglican validity in general, is that the attackers always refer to the deviant opinions of certain very Protestant minded individuals that have been part of the Church of England or of the Anglican Communion. When they do this, the implication is that the deviant, individual opinion is what Anglicans are supposed to believe, or that the deviant view was equally valid as an option in a Church body that never truly defined its Faith in accord with the Tradition.

Even John Henry Newman, after his conversion, spoke about how he had, in his Anglican days, believed the Pope to be the Antichrist. What a splendid example of deviation; because if Newman the Anglican had believed that, he did so in contradiction to the official doctrine of Anglicanism. The Anglican position was formally defined: The Church of Rome is a true Church (not perfect, but True). Furthermore, the Orders of the Church of England are traced through Rome. So, Newman was rejecting his own formerly held ideas upon converting to Roman Catholicism; but he had no reason to suggest that his ideas had been Anglican in the first place.

I remember having an e-mail debate, years ago, with a man who had studied quite diligently the writings of John Jewell. And indeed, Jewell had very nasty ideas about Rome, as well as very unorthodox views about the ancient Tradition of the Church in general. What my correspondent had failed to grasp in our long conversation, was that Jewell deviated from the commonly accepted Faith that the Bishops of the Church would teach in the days of Elizabeth I, and that would be set as the teachings by which the Church would be guided.

If we wish to know what is Official in Anglicanism, we need to refer to the Formularies, and beyond them to the Faith which was being continued in England, and later in Anglicanism as it spread to other countries. In other words, referring again to Orders as a prime example, the opinion of this or that Low churchman, Puritan, Broad churchman, etc., helps us only in understanding those individuals. To know the official teaching of Anglicanism, we need to see what the Ordinal actually says, specifically the Preface. There we see a clear statement that the ancient Orders are being preserved. They are not redefined, recreated, or modified in any way. This is the Formulary that speaks to the subject, and no deviant opinion equals it in authority; no deviant opinion changes the expressed sacramental Intention of the Church.

The official position of Anglicanism was, always, that the Church of England was the same Church that had existed since the Council of Hertford in AD 673, when the Celtic British Christians and the English Christians converted by Saint Augustine of Canterbury became one Church. The spiritual descendents of the Continental Protestants trace their churches to the 16th Century, and see no need for the Apostolic Succession to bind them to the Holy Catholic Church established by Christ. We trace our Church to Jerusalem and the Day of Pentecost. We have the Apostolic Succession not just because we like it, but because, as our Formularies make clear beyond doubt, it is of the essence of the Church to have true Bishops. Deviants say no, but the Formularies say yes.


poetreader said...
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poetreader said...

Post a Comment On: The Continuum "DEVIANTS AND FORMULARIES"
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poetreader said...
Good points. If one is to judge a church by its deviant theologians, there's not a church that would pass. I've read some old RC documents, bearing the imprimatur, no less, which say horrific things about the Eucharistic Sacrifice that, in my opinion would invalidate the whole thing by the degree to which it distorted intent -- of it were to be the official teaching of the church. Since it isn't, it becomes merely a curiosity of bad teaching, very much indeed like the teaching of some of the aberrant Protestant Anglicans. Indeed, there a lot of things being taught in some places in the Middle Ages which, had they been officisal teaching, would have justified the wholesale condemnations thundered by the radical Reformers. Since those teachings were never the teachings of the church, neither is the condemnation justified.