Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pheww ... Where to Begin?

The following was written by Mr Stephen Cooper for Virtueonline. I would suspect that readers will have quite a bit to say about it, but would ask that as a matter of courtesy they do it there.

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of what had promised to be a strong force for unity and hope among the oppressed faithful - the St. Louis Congress that launched the greater part of the Continuing Church.

The following piece identifies the sources for what is probably the most troubling and indefensible aspect of the Continuing Church - its persisting fractured, diminutive, and essentially helpless condition, a condition which renders it of minimal effect in this hour of need on the part of growing numbers of faithful Episcopalians and Anglicans for whose benefit the movement was created.

The Continuum, however, holds in its hands the keys of its own restoration. These are the same keys that form the cornerstone and foundations of the worldwide Anglican Communion - namely, the Faith of Jesus Christ set forth in Holy Scripture, and the doctrines of Scripture set forth for our use and edification in the Anglican Formularies: the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the classic 1662-1962 Book of Common Prayer together with the Ordinal. These are the teaching authority - the "magisterium" - and the unifying principle of Continuing Anglicanism, which can and will be effective - but only if honored in truth and in practice as well as in word.

Read it all here.

10 comments:

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Mr. Cooper has made many assertions here, but has documented nothing except one quotation from Archbishop Hepworth of the TAC (the bishops of the APCK distanced their jurisdiction from ++Hepworth's statement long ago). No facts, no names, dates or quotations (except for an alleged anonymous conversation between a CC bishop and an ECUSAn priest)are in this piece. No actual lines from the Affirmation of St. Louis, no real understanding of the cooperation and inter-communion between the original jurisdictions, no distinction made between sound jurisdictions and the many imitations of the vagante that are, in fact, the result of religious freedom rather than fragmentation.

Nonetheless, Mr. Cooper's real problem is with the Anglo-Catholic position, which, like it or not, is nothing new. Readers can decide how well we have answered these things in the archives of our own blog, The Continuum.

poetreader said...

I've read Mr. Cooper's full article and the comments following it, and have decided that I'm not really inclined to jump into the midst of a bunch of people who are talking past each other, with little, if any intent to learn from one another. Mr. Virtue's forum is not a place I wish to go.

Mr. Cooper, though a member of the same jurisdiction as I, does not share the same outlook as I, nor that of most other continuing Anglicans. I am not committed to the infallibility of the 16th century Reformers, though I share with them the concern to look to the Fathers and the faith of the undivided Church. They were quite mistaken in identifying certain distinctly Protestant views with that undivided faith. That identification was simply untrue, and there have always been Anglicans who saw through those mistakes. Today, in the confusion that has infected 'mainstream Anglicanism' we see the fruits of that reformation. We see the utter apostacy of the 'liberal' Western Anglicans, we see the toleration, even the advocacy of female ordination in many of the 'conservative' bodies, and we see an increase of rampant anti-catholicism everywhere. I'm not interested. Let's tend to the unification of our movement and its ultimate reunification with the rest of catholicism.

ed

Ohio Anglican said...
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Anonymous said...

You know, I think the genius of the "continuing" movement is its desire to maintain or fully develop a catholic identity over and above any specific Anglican features.

Clearly defining "catholic" and "anglican" is difficult (it seems like even the Anglican Communion can't come up with a good definition) and I'm sure that's where some of the fault lines of division occur.

So I'll ask the body of commentators here. What are the features of a body that makes it "Anglican"?

Ohio Anglican said...
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poetreader said...

Ultimately, Anglican identity, like all other distinctions within the Catholic Faith, is primarily, and perhaps entirely, a matter of culture. There is but one Faith. In all essentials of doctrine and practice, one Catholic is identical to another. However, every culture has its own esthetic, its own methods of applying the same Truth, and its own style of thinking about that same Truth. The very obvious differences between Eastern and Western Catholic Christianity, then, can be descibed in detail, but that description tends to obscure the pervasive identity of the two, as ot also fails to identify what the differences really are. A Byzantine simply thinks and feels differently from a Latin. It's like that with Anglicans as well. There is a readily identifiable style pervading the Anglican milieu. An Anglo-Papalist is as recognizable Anglican as an old-fashioned Prayer Book Catholic, or an Anglo-Orthodox, for that matter.

Yes, Mr. Cooper is correct in pointing out that Anglicans are affected by the Reformation. Whatever good the Reformers unearthed in questioning the progressively narrowing outlook of a troubled period of church history, remaons good and remains part of the Anglican ethos. He is entirely wrong, however, in asserting that being affected by the Reformation makes us, at the basis, theologically distinct. We cannot be. We are Catholic. The Reformation can only teach us how to appreciate aspects of the Catholic Faith that have tended to be underemphasized, such as the role of Scripture.

So, in answer to the question, the features that make us 'Anglican' are largely matters of style, a style, to be sure, to be treasured as a very special gift, but never a matter of essential faith and practice. In these latter, we are indistinguishable from the Catholic Tradition, or, if this is not true, we are something novel which should not exist.

ed

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Beautifully said, Ed!

[But clearly my poetry will never match yours. :-) ]

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that this article, which bemoaned the ongoing division of continuing Anglicanism, appeared within days of the announcement of the intercommunion agreement with the ACC and UECNA. Is this an irony that eluded everyone but me??

Father Bob Jones

Fr. Robert Hart said...

To Ohio Anglican:

But not all Anglicans speak English or use an English language liturgy, or read an English Bible. For example, we have done Anglican Masses in Spanish, translations of the Prayer Book. So, what you say is not really the definition of "Anglican."

The late Fr. Louis Tarsitano, of the ACA, once said something in an e-mail conversation among Touchstone folks who were trying to grasp just what an Anglican is (most of whom were not Anglicans, though perhaps more than half had been ECUSAns at one time or another). He said that the only vaild reason for being Anglican is that one rejects innovation, both the innovation of Protestants and of Rome (Of course, the Orthodox fit this category too, so I think we could add something about being Western).

This, of course, has that via media philosophy in it, the rejection of extremes. And, a proper understanding of via media is good philosophy. I can trace it back to St. John Chrysostom (not the term, of course, but the idea) who warned us that if we preach strongly against one error we can appear to endorse the opposite error (in Six Little Books on the Priesthood.

To be Anglican is to be Catholic with this philosophy and the willingness to cultivate the temperment that goes with it. Ultimately, however, an Anglican can allow Anglicanism to die, because his true allegience is to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Ohio Anglican said...
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