Thursday, August 30, 2007
Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole
Overweight middle aged men, especially those of us with bad habits like smoking cigars and drinking things stronger than water, need our heroes too, perhaps even role models. Might it be just a bit strange, one might ask, for a member of the clergy to find himself drawn to a character who expresses no religious convictions, other than the presumption of innocence in English Common Law, and reverence for small cigars and affordable wine? His father was a Church of England Vicar who decided, after several years of ministry, that he no longer believed any of the 39 Articles, and hated Bible studies. And, the creator of the character, John Mortimer, is himself a lawyer who, long ago, defended the rights of pornographers to be published in England. He defended Lady Chaterley’s Lover, though, to his credit, he never defended it as literature.
But, I just cannot help it. Rumpole is the hero for me, a man I want to be like when my old age comes (which is any day now). Let some emulate the eternal thirty-something youth of James Bond, the physical strength of Schwarzenegger characters (none of whom I could name), or the gun-slinging fast draws of the old West. I want to be like Rumpole. First of all, from the physical perspective, it is easy. But here is where I surprise you: from a moral perspective it contains a challenge, and a challenge not unworthy of a Christian, not even of a clergyman like me.
You see, old rotund, Wordsworth spouting Horace Rumpole of the Bailey, is written, and for several years was played on Television by the great Leo McKern, with subtle but very observable strength of character, true courage and compassion. Not that he would want it to get around. Take his marriage for example; despite all the humor about “She who must be obeyed,” Horace is actually a very good and faithful husband, and was a responsible and loving father to their only son the whole time that he grew up. In the stories, these facts (of fiction) are made absolutely clear.
But, it is in the legal profession, and his genuinely heroic way of defending his clients, that Rumpole sets a good example for us, and in a special sort of way, even for clergymen. For, if we clergymen took the highest ideals of our Profession as seriously and as passionately as Rumpole takes his profession, the world might be evangelized in a decade. Take one of the earliest stories in the whole Rumpole canon, Rumpole and the Learned Friends.
Rumpole is defending a man known to have a criminal record, accused of safe blowing at a post office. Right away the streetwise barrister suspects that the evidence against his client was forged by a corrupt police inspector, known in the underworld as “Dirty” Dickerson. The judge, as Rumpole knows, will take a very dim view of any attack made on the reputation of a policeman, especially on behalf of a known criminal. Nonetheless, Rumpole, having obtained his client’s instructions to do so, makes his attack in court. But, something unusual happens; in this case Rumpole loses; at least at first.
When the judge begins to indicate that he is about to hand out a very stiff sentence because of the attack, the client cries out in the courtroom, lying about his own advocate: “I never wanted my barrister to ask them questions! I told him to keep quiet!” At this point it is our hero that faces danger, the likelihood of a suspension from the Bar, which would mean professional ruin.
His wife and his friends all want to help, and the best way to help is simply to advise old Rumpole to admit his mistake to the tribunal, and apologize to the inspector. So, he finds himself conversing with his friend and fellow barrister, George Frobisher, at which time Rumpole admits that it is quite probable that his client really was guilty. Both George and Hilda Rumpole assume that this means that justice was done. Not so our hero.
“We can’t decide guilt or innocence. That’s not for us, you know that George. That’s for twelve puzzled old darlings pulled off the street for three boring days with a safe blower. But we can make sure they’re not lied to, not deceived, not tricked by some smiling copper who wants to take away their decision from them by a few conjuring tricks in a dark cell.”
To defend this principle, the rotund barrister is willing to go down in flames. The ends do not justify the means, at least not in his corner of the world, the Old Bailey, where the rule of Law demands the Presumption of Innocence, and places the burden of proof on the prosecution. How often the public interest appears to be served by taking an easy course, one that is favored by a majority, and where it’s not really all that bad to fudge the rules a bit, as long as all ends well. Why not apologize and let the dirty copper win his battle, since he got a bad guy, and that’s good? But Rumpole, our hero, stands on principle.
Fortunately, he is no idiot, and he manages with some good and sneaky help to prove the guilt of the police inspector, and thus spring his client, and remove all danger of suspension, as well as all stain of character, from himself. But, he was ready to lose all for the sake of principle. If his profession cannot be what it ought to be, he will go into the country and grow vegetables for a meager living. Oh, what we clergy could learn from this.
Rumpole never prosecutes, and he never wants to be a judge; “there but for the grace of God…” he quotes to himself in one story. Even outside of court, when his fellow barristers, or the helplessly self-destructive judge Guthrie Featherstone, mange through sheer stupidity to entangle themselves in all sorts of trouble, the heroic defender works behind the scenes, usually anonymously, to spring them from the snares of their own making. They never appreciate his kindness; indeed, they never know how much his compassion got the better of him so that he came to their aid in time of need (though his left hand never knew…).
Yes, there is a lot we can learn from the old barrister. And, I often want to write and ask Mr. Mortimer if his character did not pick up something more than we read about from the Faith of his priestly father, even though the old man suffered his own doubt and disappointment. After all, we could all turn out a lot worse than Rumpole of the Bailey.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The following will soon appear on the ACC website under copyright, and is posted here with permission (the link is on this page). Archbishop Mark Haverland, Metropolitan of the ACC includes the following clarification: "I will anticipate objections to my exclusive references to the ACC. [Please note] it was written for an ACC parochial audience, then reprinted in an ACC paper, and that 12 years ago. A generous reader might interpret references to 'the ACC' as meaning 'the ACC and similar bodies' or something of the sort."
From October 1995 TRINITARIAN by the then Father Mark Haverland
More and more I am convinced that defining the Anglicanism that should characterize our Church is one of the most important tasks before us. I am also convinced that this task is difficult and problematical. I think that our Church has in fact come up with a viable definition, but that it has done so almost accidentally and without sufficient reflection and self-consciousness.
An English Roman Catholic Dominican, Aidan Nichols, has written a remarkable and very sympathetic study of Anglicanism called The Panther and the Hind: A Theological History of Anglicanism (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993). Nichols' sympathy extends to saying something positive about almost every tendency within Anglicanism, but he notes that Anglicanism now is, and perhaps always was, less a Church than a collection of "constituent parties, Evangelical, Catholic, Phil-Orthodox, Liberal and so on" [p. xviii]. Nichols also notes the powerful forces pushing at the seams of Anglicanism. Nichols is a polite outsider, but an honest insider has to say that at present the official Anglican world, the world of the old Anglican Communion, is in terminal and irreversible collapse. One argument for this assessment is provided by the fact that the foreword to Nichols' study was written by the quondam Bishop of London, Graham Leonard, who since its publication has left the Church of England and become a Roman Catholic priest. Soon, I am willing to prophesy confidently, the official Anglican Communion will consist of nothing but a liberal Protestant rump. Those who do not want to be liberal Protestants will become Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, stop going to church entirely, or (probably what will prove to be the smallest group) join the ACC.
What The Panther and the Hind shows is something well known to those who have studied Anglicanism closely. That is, Anglican history shows several broad strains of tradition, all of which can plausibly claim to be classically Anglican in that they have a long pedigree within the Church of England and her daughter Churches. Yet no one of these strands can claim to be Anglicanism in an exclusive sense if that claim means to imply that most Anglicans in fact historically held to that particular strand. Furthermore, these strands were and are often mutually contradictory and hostile. Nevertheless, classically the various parties within Anglicanism were united by at least two important factors. First, virtually all Anglicans recognized a common ministry under the authority of bishops who united Anglicanism "horizontally" by their fellowship with one another and "vertically" by their authority within their own dioceses. Secondly, most Anglicans were united by common prayer, by liturgical worship rooted in the Authorized Version of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. While some Low Churchmen, for instance in the Diocese of Sydney, and some Anglo-Catholics, particularly in England, did not use the Prayer Book very much, it at any rate functioned at least as a kind of norm from which departures were made. It is now commonplace to note that radical liturgical revision in the 1960s destroyed any semblance of common prayer or of a liturgical norm and that the ordination of women since the 1970s has destroyed the former universal mutual recognition of ministries. With the glue of common ministry and common prayer dissolved, only inertia held the show together. And inertia is not enough.
So how are we to define Anglicanism in this situation? It seems to me that there are two live possibilities before us. One possibility is that we define Anglicanism precisely by reference to its multiplicity of traditions and lack of uniformity, by its "comprehensiveness". This definition, however, reduces Anglicanism to liberal Protestantism and to the current state of collapse. The irony of Anglicanism-as-comprehensiveness is that persons with theological integrity have no desire to be comprehended by such a communion.
The other possible definition is in fact something of a redefinition: we may redefine Anglicanism by reference to one of its classical strands or parties and then assert that that single tradition should henceforth be normative to the exclusion of the other classical Anglican parties. If we take the first option, as the old Anglican Communion has done, we are doomed. The ACC, therefore, has adopted the second approach. This approach does not, of course, require us to reject everything ever thought or prayed or developed within the other classical traditions. However, it does establish a norm and it does reject the longstanding Anglican tendency towards "comprehensiveness" or, if you prefer, vagueness. We say, in effect, that what was once merely a minority party within Anglicanism is the sole legitimate form in which Anglicanism can continue.
I have for a number of years stopped using the term "Continuing Anglicanism". While what we are is a continuation of a form of classical Anglicanism, the term "Continuing Anglican" is apt to mislead. We are not attempting to revive the Episcopal Church of 1970 or 1960 of 1950 or whenever. That would simply be to revive the original flaws that gave rise to the collapse of the 1970s. While many of us were happy enough in the old Church in 1960 (or whenever), in retrospect we have to admit that the Church then was impossibly divided and confused. So the ACC has ditched theological vacuity and vagueness and established a clear identity.
That identity is, to give it a simple label, Anglo-Catholic. However, "Anglo-Catholic", like "Anglican", has come to mean almost anything and, therefore, nothing. It helps me at least to define myself more precisely by specifying three beliefs to which the ACC has committed itself. All three of these were believed by many Anglicans long before the ACC, but none was unambiguously taught by the whole.
-- "A Church" essentially is a community of Christians gathered around a bishop in the Apostolic Succession in a given territory. "The Church" is the community of bishops, and of Christians in union with them, throughout the world. Since ancient times bishops and their dioceses have been grouped under the authority of metropolitans in provinces. Metropolitans and their provinces in turn have been grouped under primates (or patriarchs) in "Churches", which often have had national or ethnic identities. While the patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople have ancient primacies of honor over other patriarchs, no primate has universal jurisdiction or infallible authority apart from the whole Church and the community of other bishops.
-- There were seven Ecumenical Councils in the undivided, ancient Church whose doctrine, discipline, and moral teachings bind us. There have been no Councils of similar authority since.
-- There are seven sacraments, as both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches teach. Two of these sacraments are "generally necessary for salvation", but the other five are no less sacraments.
One could add to this list of beliefs, but these three are sufficient to explain why the ACC is Catholic, why we are not Roman Catholic, and why we find ourselves in substantial agreement already with Eastern Orthodoxy. We are "Anglicans", and not Russian or Greek or "Eastern" Orthodox, because we are culturally Western, because our worship and devotion are rooted in the Authorized Version of the Bible and in the Book of Common Prayer, and because we are heirs to the great English tradition of spirituality, literature, ecclesiastical arts and architecture and music. People used to speak of Anglicanism as the "bridge Church". Usually they meant that Anglicanism united Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Perhaps the ACC is a bridge Church, but if so we bridge East and West rather than Protestant and Catholic.
The clarity and definition that the ACC strives for do not mean as a rule that we are going to enforce a monochromatic liturgical form. We have loyal ACC members with a wide spectrum of liturgical preferences, though our average parish is probably somewhat "higher" than the average parish from whence we came. This variety will continue as long as many priests and laymen want it to. We have enough uniformity in liturgy to hold us together, and enough variety in ceremonial and inessentials to satisfy a variety of tastes.
I am not sure what Anglicanism used to be. The fact that no one could really say points to the heart of the problem. That we can say what the ACC is and believes, and that what she is and believes leads back to the central tradition of Christendom represented by the Eastern Orthodox and the ancient Councils, is our chief justification.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Vincentian Canon and Doctrinal Development
Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est: " That faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all."
That faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all."
The Canon of St. Vincent of Lerins is self-evident and needs no formal status as dogma from an Ecumenical Council. In modern times this Canon has been criticized by a particular school of thought within Roman Catholicism most closely associated with the theory of Doctrinal Development that was held by John Henry Cardinal Newman. This theory is not the official position of the Magisterium in Rome, which is a point that seems to be lost on quite a large number of its proponents. Newman’s theory was set forth with his customary brilliance in expressing himself cleverly, and with his unique sort of historical scholarship. It was filled with examples meant to prove that doctrines that had been revealed in nothing more than what we may call embryonic form, were developed over time into the teaching of the Church.
We must agree with some of his ideas in that regard. In this day and age the problems that Newman faced have increased. False scholarship is rewriting history, whether in the popular fiction of The Da Vinci Code for unthinking minds, or the open and plainly stated distortions and dishonest academic work of Elaine Pagels and her imitators. Fraudulent scholarship sells. Against this, Newman identified a genuine Christianity of history, an idea that is right in itself. The problem for us is that he states his thesis with a bold conclusion right up front: “And this one thing at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this.” And, before we nod and agree, as the good Catholic Anglicans we are, we must understand that by “Protestantism,” he means Anglicanism.
Furthermore, we can paraphrase what he said, as follows, and be every bit as certain that, just as what he said was accurate in a sense and to a limited degree, so would it be to say, “And this one thing at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Christianity of history is not Roman Catholicism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this.”
Both his statement, and my rewriting of it, are true only to a limited degree, first academically, because "the Christianity of history" is a poor way of saying what he really meant; "authentic Christianity." Both statements are only to a degree true, also, because wherever we find the truth of the Bible and the Creeds, we find authentic Christianity, even if not perfect and full. Again, I am drawn to quote Fr. Louis Tarsitano: "The reason to be Anglican is to avoid innovations, whether innovations of Rome or of Protestantism."
In his work on the subject, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, the argument Newman made was intended to lead the reader to the conclusion that the only true Church is the Church that is in communion with the pope, and that the development of doctrine within that Church has been the guiding work of the Holy Spirit. To find a portion of scripture upon which such a theory must be based we turn to John 16:13: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” To come fully to the conclusion that Newman seeks to lead the reader, we must first identify the Church to whom the promise was made in the exclusive sense that Rome believes.
Against this conclusion stands the simple but forceful phrase of St. Vincent of Lerins, Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. Critics of the Vincentian Canon have used historical examples in an attempt to explain that the Church has received ongoing progressive revelation. Some of these critics have exceeded Newman, who insisted on finding the revelation upon which developments are based. It has been argued that the ancient Church, before the Fourth century, had no doctrine of the Trinity. I was debating a man once, who insisted that the Council of Nicea introduced a new understanding of the Trinity that could not be proved simply by using the Bible, and that for this reason the new word homoosious was introduced. Certainly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the fans of Dan Brown would agree with him. However, anyone who cannot prove the doctrine of the Trinity with just the Bible, and who cannot show that what the word homoosious actually means is the only logical conclusion of scripture, is inept and incompetent for the intelligent discussion of theology. And, reliance on Scripture is the Patristic method. It is the method used by St. Athanasius and the defenders of orthodoxy at the Council of Nicea. It is not a Protestant innovation; it is the ancient Catholic position known to the Fathers, and expressed in Anglicanism thus: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. (Article VI).”
What was the actual development accomplished at Nicea by the introduction of the word homoosious? This is the phrase that we say in the Nicene/ Constantinopolitan Creed: “Being of one substance with the Father…” It clarifies what the Church had always believed, and it was necessary to make this clarification due to the heresy of Arius, who introduced the hitherto unknown doctrine that the Son was a creature. Stemming from Arius’ heresy was the consequential and dependent heresy of the Pneumatamachi, or “fighters against the Spirit.” This heresy denied that the Holy Spirit is God, and even denied that he is Person (hypostasis). The best known Patristic work that answered this heresy was On the Holy Spirit by St. Basil the Great.
Enthusiastic supporters of Newman's Development of Doctrine theory have argued that the Church was not aware of the Holy Spirit until the Fourth Century. The evidence has been the apologetic writings against the Pneumatamachi, weighed against carefully selected earlier passages that make less than a full expression of the doctrine of the Trinity regarding the Holy Spirit. Sometimes a sentence is used from the scripture itself: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).” Supposedly this proves that the revelation that the Holy Spirit is God, equal to the Father and the Son, was not known by the earliest Christians, and cannot be proved by the Bible. The idea they put forth is that the ancient Christians only understood the Father as God, had a shadowy glimpse of the divinity of the Son, and had no idea just who the Holy Spirit is. Never mind the fact that this verse of scripture is in a long passage that constantly affirms the unique relationship of the Son and the Father, and that includes in this relationship the Holy Spirit, the Other Comforter “Who proceedeth from the Father (John 15:26, cp to John 8:42).” Never mind that the whole book, the Gospel according to St. John, from its opening chapter on sets forth two central doctrines, with absolute clarity, as its entire premise: the Trinity and the Incarnation (1:1,2,14).*
The answer they would give to my argument is that I can see the Trinity, the truth of homoosious, and the truth about the full divinity of the Holy Spirit only thanks to the lenses provided by the Church. By looking back through those Councils I know what I could not know from the pages of scripture. The answer is simple: The Church resisted this heresy because they already knew about the Holy Spirit and about the Trinity.
Yes, the Bible cannot be understood apart from the Church through which God gave it. However, the reason for this is two fold: 1) the truth of scripture is spiritual, and therefore hidden to those who remain dead in trespasses and sins, and 2) without the teaching of the Church in its Tradition the force of demonic and worldly thought would have a victory through confusion. The Bible was not given to stand apart from the Church: we know that. However, the doctrines we believe were not gradually revealed. The promise that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church into all truth was as real for the Apostles as for us- which means that the promise is as real for us as it was to the Church when the Apostles themselves were its living teachers. Doctrine has developed only because it has been clarified and often defended to meet the ongoing emergencies created by heresies. But, what we believe has not developed as new revelation and new dogma. The Ecumenical Councils did not create new dogmas, but rather defended the beliefs held from earliest times by clarifying dogma. To know the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the Incarnation and the truth that leads to eternal life does not require adherence to innovations, whether Roman or Protestant. It requires instead, Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.
*In a future post I will demonstrate how this kind of development is popularly misunderstood within scripture itself, about the popularly misinterpreted Jerusalem Council in the Book of Acts, and the inclusion of gentiles.
I don't think the Continuum blog is hostile to the ACC, for reasons several have stated. There is some ACC-bashing and some unpleasantness, but the blog as such is thoughtful and rather irenic. A non-ACC observer would, and even I do, find others occasionally bashed as well. In general when the ACC is the bashee I've thought that the problem would be solved by the simple expedient of reading what I or other ACC folk have actually read or written and then dealing with that, as opposed to speculating about motives, hidden meanings, and such. Blog threads perhaps invite tangents and speculation. But the weaknesses of the form are outweighed, I think, by the useful service performed by this example of it.
Monday, August 27, 2007
On the morning of August 25th, a very hot Saturday even in northern Pennsylvania, I stood in the company of other priests, including some as notable as Fr. Charles Nalls, with our right hands laid upon the ordinand to the priesthood. Bishop Rocco Florenza, sitting on the episcopal throne, his hands stretched out on the head of the man before him, said the familiar words from the Ordinal: “Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy Sacraments; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” Then I saw the bishop move his head nearer to the new priest’s ear, and say, “stay close to me, my son, and together we will work to build Christ’s Church.” I thought to myself, “now, that’s a true bishop.”
The detractors of faithful traditional Anglicans tell us that we are a small insignificant movement that has barely any present, and certainly no future. Even if that were true, men like Fr. Filkins, Bishop Florenza, the priests I stood with that morning, and indeed the priests I serve with and my own bishop in Easton, Maryland, would put it right. The ordination of Fr. Filkins, who served long as a deacon, points to the future; for those of us who have been together in the same foxhole in the same battle, his ordination is a triumph in itself, a victory against the forces of Satan. It is also a testimony to the character of a man formed by the Holy Spirit amidst hardship. Most men, knowing their calling, would have found a quicker and easier route than Jon Filkins; and most of them would not be as strong for finding it.
When I arrived in the Phoenix Valley in the summer of 2005, I was one of four local clergymen in the Anglican Province of Christ the King. Aside from two priests with their own parishes, I had the pleasure of working with a deacon about whom I knew only a little. But, what I knew impressed me. I knew that he had been turned down for ordination to the priesthood, and yet accepted the situation and continued to serve the people of the Church of the Atonement in Fountain Hills (just east of Scottsdale), and also Christ Church in Carefree. This impressed me because I know how easy it is, in all of the confusion of alphabet soup “Anglicanism” to find some bishop somewhere who, for whatever consideration, will ordain a man. I know also, with the various jurisdictions that have a presence in Phoenix and every major city, it is easy to leave one for another with or without much cause, and seek ordination. Jon Filkins had just cause to do that very thing, but he did not do it. He had been in the APCK seminary (St. Joseph of Arimathea Seminary) in Berkeley California after his ordination to the deaconate, sent with the full approval of the Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Southwestern States, Rt. Rev. Frederick Morrison.
While then Deacon Filkins was there, Archbishop Robert Morse told him one day to prepare to be ordained to the priesthood and sent to Boston Massachusetts to a specific Parish. Later, the Archbishop told him to choose his presenter, and get his invitations ready: The date for ordination was set. Deacon Filkins asked, “but, what about my Bishop Ordinary?” It struck him as very strange that Bishop Frederick Morrison would send him to the seminary only to hand his entire vocation over to the Archbishop. The answer to him from Archbishop Morse was not to worry; everything was in place with the full approval of Bishop Morrison. Like a good soldier, then Deacon Filkins obeyed. He chose a presenter and sent invitations to friends and family as he was directed.
A few days later, Archbishop Morse was leaving to go to Washington D.C. From inside the car, Archbishop Morse called to Jon, and said “You need to call your Bishop right away.” The window rolled up, and the car was off to the airport. Without delay, the obedient deacon attempted to call Bishop Morrison. Archbishop Morse returned the following week only to hear that Bishop Morrison had never come to the phone and had never returned any of Deacon Filkins’ phone calls. Therefore, the archbishop himself said, “the ordination is off. You’re in conflict with your bishop.” And then, as if replying to an argument that had never been made, “I won’t break collegiality.” Archbishop Morse then said to him, “you need to leave the seminary as soon as possible.” The deacon had fallen into disfavor with his own bishop for doing what he had been told; he had presumed nothing, and had practiced the virtue of obedience in full trust- as many before him had done since 1978.
“You’re in conflict with your bishop.” A bishop who had never voiced any objections to him? A bishop who could not be bothered to talk to his own deacon under such trying circumstances? A bishop who knew that pain and confusion were sure to come to a man under his pastoral care, but who remained hidden away and indifferent? The conflict was between the archbishop, who had overstepped the boundaries of his authority, and a diocesan bishop who decided to punish this innocent man for the archbishop’s offense. The sad truth is, a lot of good clergy have found themselves victimized over these last three decades. Families of clergy have suffered both emotionally and financially, and the list of bodies buried outside the Provincial camp is long, and somewhat well known (I am exercising restraint. The facts that my fellow clergy have are documented and many).
After more than a year Jon Filkins finally heard from his Bishop Ordinary. He spent his own money to travel to Tulsa Oklahoma to the annual diocesan synod, where Bishop Morrison told him, in front of the standing committee, that under no circumstances would he ever become a priest. The decision of the bishop, without spending any time to get to know this man, was firm and permanent. Under the Canons of the APCK, where all of the bishops must approve every postulant to the priesthood, this meant that then Deacon Jon Filkins would never be a priest, since Bishop Morrison, having once been slighted by the archbishop, would use his veto power to forever treat this human being as a symbol of the occasion.
Humble and obedient servant
Even with all of this provocation, the good Deacon never abandoned his post, and never ran off to the alphabet soup Anglicans. When I arrived in Arizona, and the Church of the Atonement was in the hands of a priest, he felt free to move away where he came under the pastoral care of a different bishop- Bishop Florenza. I did not know the story in those days, except for a very brief account by a few people who made it all sound a little confusing. When I heard from Bishop Frederick Morrison about this matter, the story was cleaned up, with a few subtractions and a few additions, all of which I believed at the time since I could not imagine that my bishop would ever tell me anything that was at all misleading. But, I knew Jon Filkins just long enough to know that he was the kind of man I would want with me in a foxhole. I knew that he had suffered some amount of injustice, even if it was only due to innocent failure of communication (something I thought, at the time, that I could try to put right), and that he had demonstrated humility, obedience and patience. He did not speak ill of the bishop, or of the archbishop at any time during the months that he served with me as deacon in the Church. He had been the pastor of the congregation for the months leading up to my arrival, and humbly took the place of a deacon under my authority as the priest. I relied on his understanding of the people in that church, since he knew them and their own peculiar ways as individuals. He loved them, and they loved him.
Father Jon Filkins has stepped into his new role as the rector of a country church in northern Pennsylvania. His congregation has been under the care of an elderly priest, Fr. Livingston, who is retiring and moving to North Carolina. St. Alban’s Anglican Church is near a college town that contains Penn State University. His prospects for evangelism sound particularly exciting, since Anglicanism does very well in college towns, especially for men who know how to make use of the intellectual resources available to us. Fr. Filkins is a living demonstration of God’s faithfulness, just as he is an example of patience and humility. And, his ordination is just another proof that we are moving ahead and taking ground.
The soul that to Jesus hath fled for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
“I sometimes fear the only reason that Archbishop Haverland's letters are published is so they can be attacked…
“… It’s a shame that the ACC cannot even be given fair consideration on this blog. Why not just rename it the "TAC Promotion Forum"?
“It seems to me that a blog called "The Continuum", supposedly for all of the Continuum, has become very biased.”
“I appreciate that my feelings on this subject have been posted. Perhaps this is a sign that more unbiased attitudes might begin to prevail.”
My response, as gently as I can put it, is "Heffer dust!"
You might call this blog many things, but one thing you can't legitimately call it is "biased."
For the benefit of all our readers, I would like to state what the reality of this blog is. You can accept it or not.
1. The Continuum does not belong to, nor is it affiliated with, any jurisdiction of the continuing Anglican movement. It belongs to me. And while I am a member of the Anglican Catholic Church, albeit inactive by virtue of geographical isolation, it is entirely independent.
2. The blog’s stated aim is to be “a place where those who live in the Anglican Continuum, or who are thinking of moving there, might share in robust, if polite, discussion of matters theological and ecclesiological.”
3. An unstated aim, but one that has permeated posting and discussion here since the blog’s inception in November 2005, is to promote ecumenism within the continuing Anglican movement and, in the spirit of the Affirmation of St Louis, to promote unity within the Church Catholic.
4. Given the first three points mentioned here, this blog has no “party line” in support of any given jurisdiction within the Anglican movement, which we broadly define as comprising the Anglican Catholic Church, the Anglican Province of America, the Anglican Province of Christ the King, the Traditional Anglican Communion and the United Episcopal Church of North America. By the same token, it takes no stand against any of these jurisdictions.
5. While this blog is owned by me, it has three co-hosts, who are free to operate within the very loosely defined parameters that I set out after I invited them to join, and which from time to time we occasionally refine in a collegial fashion.
6. We have no predetermined editorial policy, in the sense of Item 4 above, of an agenda to be pursued.
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Saturday, August 25, 2007
My statement was primarily directed towards the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK) and the United Episcopal Church of North America (UEC). This statement since has been affirmed and endorsed by the Most Reverend James Provence, Metropolitan of the APCK, and the Most Reverend Stephen C. Reber, Presiding Bishop of the UEC. The effect of this joint statement has been to affirm or reaffirm that among these three Churches there is a state of full communio in sacris and that we agree jointly that we should encourage unity both among ourselves considered collectively and also within each of our Churches considered separately. We also have agreed to the principle that we are not and cannot be in a state of full communio in sacris with ecclesial bodies that are part of the Lambeth Communion, or indeed with ecclesial bodies that are indirectly in such full communion.
At this point it may be worthwhile to outline why we have come to this conclusion regarding the Lambeth Communion. For some time, well into the 1990s, the ACC still considered itself in full communion with every province or autonomous diocese in the Anglican Communion that did not ordain women. This is shown in the Athens Statement on Unity of 1995, which said “we see our duty as lying towards the retention and maintenance of communion with those Churches, Provinces, and Dioceses of the Anglican Communion which have remained faithful to their Apostolic foundations.”
However, we did not consider ourselves in full communion with any of the dioceses subject to heterodox provinces, even if it was headed by a bishop who, while personally orthodox in theory, refused to fulfill his Catholic obligation to repudiate clearly communion with the heretical remainder of his province. That is to say, we reasoned that since the justification for our existence as a communion separate and apart from the Lambeth one was the strict obligation of repudiating a manifestly heterodox jurisdiction, then to treat those who rejected or ignored this obligation as properly Catholic and Orthodox would be radically inconsistent with our justification for our own origin.
In the period since the 1992 defection of Canterbury we have seen that no attempt has been made by purportedly orthodox Anglican provinces to repudiate publicly Eucharistic communion with Canterbury (or, indeed, with other heterodox provinces). Therefore, given that communion with Canterbury as a central reference point and “instrument of unity” is still considered the sine qua non for membership in the official Anglican Communion, we have determined that all churches remaining in that group have signalled that they do not consider the ordination of women a communion-breaking issue. Thus their orthodoxy is at least questionable, and we cannot be in a state of communio in sacris with them until they make a clean break and so clarify their teaching.
The statement of Archbishop John-Charles looked further a-field than mine and was directed towards all of those who understand themselves to be committed to the Affirmation of Saint Louis. Archbishop John-Charles encourages all such Churchmen to put aside sin and self and to work earnestly for unity among our selves. Archbishop John-Charles also challenges us all to recognize that continuing communion, whether direct or indirect, with Lambeth Communion bodies is unacceptable. While we can and should certainly work for closer relations with those still in the Lambeth Communion, if they agree with us about the basic principles of the Affirmation, nonetheless we cannot be in full communion with them until they have unambiguously and completely severed their ties with an heretical Communion.
The statements from Archbishop John-Charles and from me should be taken together. My statement sets forth the starting point for the ACC’s ecumenical policies and endeavors. Archbishop John-Charles’s statement points to our broader goals and also to the limits that constrain us in pursuing those goals.
There are several Churches or ecclesial bodies apart from the ACC/APCK/UEC which understand themselves to be “traditional Anglicans” or even “Continuing Churches” and are not in the Lambeth Communion. Some of these bodies are not addressed by either ACC archiepiscopal statement because these bodies clearly do not accept the Affirmation and its central principles. In particular a variety of neo-Anglican bodies have formed recently, and still are forming, in North America. These bodies reject some of the theological errors currently abroad in the Lambeth Communion, but nonetheless accept women’s ordination, modernist liturgies, or other serious innovations rejected by the Affirmation. These bodies tend to form as offshoots of what they consider to be “conservative” Lambeth Communion Provinces. While, again, conversations with such folk are possible, we cannot anticipate significant ecumenical progress with them in the short term: our initial assumptions are too far apart.
Another grouping, which includes the Anglican Province of America (APA), formally endorses the Affirmation, but seems to us to embrace ecumenical relationships and other policies which effectively contradict the Affirmation. While we might hope for progress with this group because of its formal endorsement of the Affirmation, here also we do not look for immediate or short term progress.
It is our belief that the most significant body of conservative or traditional Anglicans not described by the principles set forth in the foregoing paragraphs is your own, the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), which includes the Anglican Church in America (ACA).
Some assert that the ACC has a rigid view of the TAC and has refused to engage in dialogue with the TAC. This is simply false. On at least four occasions in the last five years TAC bishops have approached ACC leaders or have been approached by us. On each of these occasions the ACC has put into writing the issues we believe need to be addressed before we can move to a relationship of full communio in sacris with the TAC. In each case our position was given frankly, directly, politely, and was not widely publicized because doing so could be interpreted as seeking not true unity but instead mere political advantage.
We set no preconditions for conversations, but indicated principles that we considered essential. In one case in 2005 a TAC bishop was invited, at his request, to the Provincial Synod of the ACC’s Original Province. This bishop was warmly received, attended the public meetings of our College of Bishops and then of the Synod, came to dinner with the College, had private conversation with me, and received a copy of my report as chairman of our Department of Ecumenical Relations, which included a clear, written statement of our ecumenical policies and principles. While with us, he appeared to be pleased and made several tentative proposals for further steps. However, after the Synod there was no further contact of substance. Likewise the other TAC-ACC contacts mentioned ended with the TAC bishops failing to continue the dialogue. We do not note this fact to complain: the TAC may well have had good reasons not to sustain dialogue. But it is not true that the ACC has been “isolationist”, unwilling to engage in dialogue, or even unfriendly towards the TAC.
We are happy to acknowledge that the initiative for making contact has often been taken in an admirable way by the TAC. For example, Archbishop Hepworth, as Primate of the TAC, arranged a face-to-face meeting with Archbishop John-Charles, our former Acting Primate, where important ecumenical matters were discussed. This meeting, held on the 19th of March, 2004, was friendly and a good beginning.
Thereafter, we sent to Archbishop Hepworth a paper discussing the theological issues between our churches. However, the official response of the TAC foreshadowed by Archbishop Hepworth never came. Later requests for such a response, expressly conveyed to the TAC bishop who attended our last Provincial Synod as the TAC’s emissary, also came to nothing. Thus, the ecumenical ball has consistently been returned by the ACC to the TAC side of the court, where it consistently has rolled to a stop.
Before moving to the substantial issues outstanding between the ACC and TAC, I should say that in what follows I do not presume to speak for the UEC or the APCK, though I have given their chief bishops copies of this document in advance. While I believe the UEC and APCK share some of our concerns, and while no formal steps will be taken by the ACC with other Churches or ecclesial bodies without seeking approval or at least acquiescence from the UEC and APCK, in what follows I speak for myself and for my Church alone.
We understand the objections to bringing up the subject of the Deerfield Beach consecrations. Many feel that raising this subject merely dredges up the past in an unnecessary and unforgiving way, which betrays a lack of perspective and constitutes a refusal to face the real challenges of the future. However, the problem is not that we cannot or will not forgive, for we are certainly willing to do so. Similarly, we are willing to discuss the rescinding of disciplinary sentences against former ACC bishops now in the TAC, as noted in the paper sent to Archbishop Hepworth some years ago.
However, the real problem is that neither our pardon of perceived past offences or our silence concerning such, brings us much closer to genuine reconciliation. It is this that is seldom understood. There are a number of reasons to consider the Deerfield Beach events, quite apart from issues of justice or mercy. To begin with, it should not be forgotten that the ACA was founded by these very events and that the TAC (minus the ACC, which was until then a member of that body) performed them. Thus it is not unreasonable to ask whether any objective disorders therein in fact essentially characterize the nature of the ACA and of the post-1991 TAC. These issues will be discussed below with the specific intention of unfolding their possible theological implications in the present.
The ACA began in 1991 when five bishops of the Anglican Catholic Church joined with a body called the American Episcopal Church (AEC), whose leader was a colorful episcopus vagans named A.F.M. Clavier. This union was effected in Deerfield Beach, FL, within the ACC’s Diocese of the South, when all of the men who were intended to be bishops in the ACA were consecrated conditionally by, among others, the Right Reverend Robert Mercer and the Right Reverend Charles Boynton.
Bishop Mercer was Ordinary of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACC-C), which at the time was in a state of full communio in sacris with the ACC and with Archbishop Lewis, the Ordinary of the ACC’s Diocese of the South (and by that time already Archbishop Falk’s successor as ACC Metropolitan). Bishop Boynton was a bishop of the ACC residing in the Diocese of the South. The consecrands included not only A.F.M. Clavier and other bishops of the AEC but also the five bishops of the ACC. Clergy and laymen of Bishop Lewis’s diocese also were ordained at Deerfield Beach for the ACA.
However, in clear contradiction of ecumenical canon law and sound principles of Catholic order, bishops in full communion with Archbishop Lewis and the ACC entered his diocese, ordained laymen and clergy of his diocese without his permission or foreknowledge, and reconsecrated several of his episcopal colleagues without his permission or foreknowledge. They did this also without the permission or foreknowledge of the majority of the ACC’s bishops. It is difficult for us not to see this as the serious ecclesiastical offence of invasion.
The ACC does not recall these unfortunate events in order to reopen old wounds or to indicate a refusal or failure to forgive. The ACC recalls these events in order to probe the ecclesiology of the TAC as an important and necessary part of ecumenical dialogue. The ACC has to ask what theological principles could justify what happened at Deerfield Beach? What essential failure or heresy could justify such unfriendly acts towards Bishop Lewis and the majority of his colleagues who remained loyal to the ACC? Perhaps more importantly, in the future if the ACC achieved full communio in sacris with the TAC but then in some way displeased the TAC, could such events occur again? And if not, why not?
If, on the one hand, the consecrators and consecrands at Deerfield Beach, who were in the process of abandoning the ACC or its communion (despite not, except in one case, formally resigning from it), acted for what they deemed to be necessary, justifiable, and important reasons, why do not those reasons still exist and remain as a barrier between the TAC and the ACC? If, on the other hand, the consecrators and consecrands were guilty of unjustifiable oath-breaking and invasion, why have they not expressed regret, apologized, and perhaps even sought to return to our communion? This apparent dilemma remains unresolved, and until it is resolved, the ACC cannot be sure that we will not suffer similar invasion and schism in the future at the hands of the TAC.
At the time of Deerfield Beach one of the ACA’s bishops justified his departure from the ACC by asserting that the ACC’s ecumenical policy was an essential error that demanded departure from the ACC and so also repudiation of his oaths thereto. Since that policy has not changed to become more like that of the TAC, does the TAC believe that there still is an essential or Church-dividing error in ACC ecumenical policy? If not, what has changed? Or was the ACA bishop mistaken earlier?
In asking these questions the ACC is not demanding apologies or refusing to forgive or seeking to score debating points. The ACC is concerned to understand the ecclesiological principles that govern the TAC and its partners in dialogue.
The Lambeth Communion
At the time of this writing two bishops of the TAC appear to be simultaneously bishops in a diocese of the Lambeth Communion. One of the same two bishops appears to be rector of a parish in the Episcopal Church. In the last three years the TAC has claimed another Lambeth Communion bishop from Africa as one of its own, or at least has claimed a state of full communio in sacris with him. The TAC appears to enjoy or seek a state of full communio in sacris with a number of other “conservative” Lambeth Communion bishops. The TAC also has a close relationship with Forward-in-Faith and other para-Church organizations whose status is unclear and somewhat unsettling. Forward-in-Faith/North America, for instance, has recently elected a bishop. The ACC does not understand how a para-Church organization can elect a bishop. How does the TAC, which is in full communion with Forward-in-Faith, view a Forward-in-Faith bishop?
The ACC has difficulty reconciling many of these relationships and facts. Taken as a whole, these relationships and facts suggest an unacceptable laxity in regards to the Lambeth Communion and a willingness, when it appears to be expedient, to avoid clear conclusions. Once again we seek to understand the TAC’s ecclesiology and its limits and implications. We have asked such questions before quietly and in private, as I have noted above, and have not received answers. We only ask such difficult questions now more publicly because we have been publicly accused of rigidity and refusal to engage the TAC in dialogue.
A great deal of confusing information and many doubtful claims have circulated within the last three years concerning the TAC and the Roman Catholic Church. Careful attention to all press reports and official statements on the matter have not resolved the confusion in our minds. We do not understand if the TAC seeks to become a part of the Roman Catholic Church, whether as a Uniate Church or merely a personal prelature, if it seeks a relationship of full communio in sacris with Rome without any organic and organizational unity, or if it seeks some other goal.
Again, this matter has important ecclesiology implications which need to be clarified if fruitful dialogue with the ACC is to occur. It is not for the ACC to dictate the TAC’s policy towards Rome. But there is little point in the ACC talking to the TAC if the TAC merely seeks to become absorbed into the Roman Catholic Church.
This is not an exhaustive set of concerns, but it suggests important areas which, if clarified, would take the ACC a long way towards understanding the TAC better. I have noted to more than one TAC bishop that we understand that the TAC may well have questions for and concerns about us. We ask what we ask, not in a spirit of self-justification, but in a sincere attempt to clarify our own position and to understand the position of the TAC. We recognize the many subjective and objective sins and negligences that exist among us in the ACC. We understand that our own sins contributed to our unhappy division. But if we are to progress we must talk. And if we are to talk, the conversation has to begin and then must be pursued. We are willing and still are waiting.
ALMIGHTIE and everlastyng God, which art alwayes more ready to heare then we to praye, and art wont to geve more than eyther we desyre or deserve; Powre downe upon us the aboundance of thy mercy; forgeving us those thynges wherof our conscience is afrayde, and gevyng unto us that that our prayer dare not presume to aske, through Jesus Christe our Lorde.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
"Such a neo-Anglican vision is untenable. It is contrary to the historical facts, if all the facts, documents and data taken into consideration...."
If you'd like to have a go at de-bunking this, please do it where it all started and not here.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Objections and answers
In May of 2005 I received a phone call from a former APCK bishop named Robert Waggener, who was associated with FiF at the time. He had been reading Fr. Al Kimmel’s Pontifications blog (they had been friends since the days when both of them were in the Episcopal Church), and he was very much in agreement with Fr. Kimmel that Anglicans reserved for themselves a personal right to “Private Judgment” that placed them outside of the Holy Catholic Church of the creeds. He asked me this question: “So, where do you think I should lead my people to get away from the problem of Private Judgment? Rome or Orthodoxy?” I replied: “What makes you think that Roman Catholics and the Orthodox indulge in Private Judgment less than anybody else?” He had no answer to this question. (I am glad that the pope is very sound in his beliefs; but how does that save an American Roman Catholic who is not?)
At the time of his call, the Pontifications blog was endorsing the idea that Episcopalians should flee their “church” (we agree) to either one of the two One True Churches, Rome or Orthodoxy- that is, when you get to the fork in the road, take it. Since that time Fr. Kimmel has become a Roman Catholic priest under the terms of the Pastoral Provisions (as my brother Addison had done several years earlier), and Bishop Waggener has become an Orthodox priest, having taken the name Alban. I have no disagreement with the direction taken by either man, and believe that we may trust that both of them were guided to their respective homes by the Holy Spirit. Of course, neither one can say the same about the other, since only an Anglican can rejoice equally for both men. Each of them believes that the other has missed the mark just enough to have settled for something less than the One True Church in all of its fullness.
We do not agree with that. We believe that both of them remain in the One True Church, the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” of the Nicene/ Constantinopolitan Creed, which is the same as “the Holy Catholic Church” of the Apostle’s Creed, and that they profess “the Catholic Faith” as taught in the Creed of St. Athanasius (i.e., named after him), also called the Quicumque vult. We believe that without the sacraments that depend on the Apostolic Succession of bishops and the teaching of the True Faith, no one can claim to be in the Church as Christ himself founded it, but that with these things in place, no baptized and faithful Christian can be outside of that same Catholic and Apostolic Church. Therefore, we cannot say of ourselves, as traditional Catholic Anglicans, that we are not of the Body; and neither can they say to us that we do not belong to the Body (I Cor. 12: 15-22). Our Apostolic Succession, and our continuation of true Apostolic teaching, makes us a part of the same Church as the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, and to this Church belongs everyone who has been baptized into Christ, even though many are ignorant of the full truth of what the Church is.
Some among the Anglo-Catholics are not as bold to say this with the same degree of confidence as I. But, like the late Fr. Louis Tarsitano, I am an Anglican by conviction. I believe that it is a good option, and I recommend the Anglican Way as the best of all. That is why I have fought for the Faith against the heresies of the Episcopalians, and entered into this Anglican diaspora. It is why I carry on from here. I respect and love both Rome and Orthodoxy, but not to the point where I must decide between them, and not to the point where I have any perceived need to enter either communion.
Clarifications: Branch Theory
Two questions need to be answered by Traditional Catholic/Evangelical Classic Anglicans. First, we must answer for the “Branch Theory” and then we must answer the charge of “Private Judgment.”
The Branch Theory is error if by it we mean, or even imply, that Christ founded his Church to be divided into different jurisdictions without unity. But, this is not what we mean. The fact is the Church exists among many cultures and languages, and is meant to include people from “every kindred and tongue, people and nation (Rev. 5:9).” Therefore, it is meant to have within it divisions, since all of these cultures will have their differences as people; but these divisions are the Divisions of one army, all on the same side in the same war. However, due to original sin and its very real influence through the world, the flesh and the Devil, history has placed us within a Church that is One, but that has outward and apparent disunity. These facts do not actually divide the Church in the eyes of God, or destroy its spiritual unity. They do affect it politically, and create problems within the real world. A Branch Theory which teaches that a divine plan is the source of the apparent divisions, as organic and necessary to the Church, would be wrong. A Branch Theory, however, that simply acknowledges the reality on the ground of a Church rendered politically divided by history not of our own making, but that acknowledges the presence of the Holy Spirit within Christ’s Body the Church exactly as he has promised, is also a Branch Fact.
A man and wife are made into one flesh. This does not mean that they will get along with each other unless both of them make the effort with true commitment. Even if they obtain a divorce, they remain one flesh as long as they both shall live, since their unity through the fact of marriage is as close to indelible as mortality allows. Our unity is also a fact. Are we so arrogant as to imagine that Christ’s words “that they may be one, even as we are one (John 17: 22)” were His prayer to us. These are words spoken by a Person of the Trinity to a Person of the Trinity- the Son speaking to the Father. With those words, Christ was not in some dependent manner begging us to become one. He declared us to be one in fact, just as through human mouths he declares the couple to be one flesh as man and wife. If the man and wife set up separate houses these become facts on the ground, legal facts that indicate that the reality of original sin has had its effect on them through the world, the flesh and the Devil. It indicates their failure to get along. Neither of them can claim to be the one true spouse to the exclusion of the other.
The apparent and political divisions of the Church existed between the Roman Patriarch and the Orthodox Patriarchs long before the Church of England was jettisoned out (by excommunication) from Rome’s communion in the days of Queen Elizabeth I, for the “heresy” of not starting a civil war and murdering the monarch. Furthermore, in a given locality we may find the jurisdictions of more than one Orthodox bishop, and also of more than one bishop who answers to Rome. In the same place we find Catholic bishops who can be from any number of the Byzantine Catholic churches, usually keeping their distance from the local Roman (as in Latin Rite) bishop in order to avoid strife. In the same city we find Orthodox bishops who are OCA, Greek, Russian or Antiochene. Yet, add to this one Continuing Anglican bishop, and we are told that the man espouses a Branch theory, and so represents disorder. What is wrong with this picture? Can anyone blame us for not taking the objection seriously?
There is a branch fact, if not of divine making, nonetheless operating within God’s providence and economy.
The Myth of Private Judgment
The man we most associate with the charge that Anglicans reserve a right to “Private Judgement” is Cardinal Newman. When John Henry Newman converted to Roman Catholicism, he wrote quite a lot about his past affiliation, comparing the two. It would be wrong to say that he did not make valid criticisms that we can lay to heart, and it would be wrong to deny his brilliance (and the power of his prose). But, it would be wrong to conclude that his apologetics were self-evidently true. He rejected the Vincentian Canon, that we must hold to that which has been believed “always, everywhere and by all" (Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est) for the simple reason that Rome was headed in the direction that finally produced the novelty of "Papal Infallibility” in 1870 (a hitherto unknown doctrine, rejected in the official Catechisms of the Roman Catholic Church only a few years before). His theory of Doctrinal Development boils down to a simple formula. Christ’s promise that the Spirit of Truth would lead the Church into all truth (John 16:13), means that revelation itself may progress as perceived by the Roman Magisterium, and must be accepted as dogma. He would not have worded it that way; but, it is the reasonable definition both of his theory, and of the teaching of Vatican I.
Against this we say that the Church received the fullness of revelation from its earliest times, and all that has developed is the application of this revelation, and the need both for definition and clarification; and that these were the products of the Ecumenical Councils as they were, in fact, guided by the Spirit of Truth.
We do not claim that we have “no need” of that part of the Body that is called the Magisterium in Rome; indeed, we respect the Petrine See, especially in their boldness and sense of pastoral responsibility when they take on the ethical challenges of the modern world with diligence to produce clarity in all issues of morality; no small consideration in practical pastoral theology. They are part of the Body, and this moral teaching authority may be one of their gifts from the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, in their work they apply the clear teaching of scripture to the matters at hand, a tool available to all of us. Does this really fit Newman’s theory of Doctrinal Development? They could not depend on his theory anyway, since it was never accepted as the official teaching of their communion, which prefers to base its papal claims on what they perceive to be in the Bible and in a consistent Tradition of the Church from earliest times (claims that the Orthodox Patriarchs rejected long before the sixteenth century).
So then, what of Private Judgment? St. Paul taught “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (Rom. 14:5)” about less than essential issues. And yet, how can we imagine that he did not have a double edged intention in the use of these words? Consider that faith in the word of God must reach a level by which we so truly believe the doctrine of Christ, that we are “fully persuaded” just St. Justin Martyr was. Before his death, the saint was asked by the magistrate, “do you suppose that [if you die for your Christ] you will be granted some recompense of reward?” Saint Justin replied: “I do not suppose it. I know, and am fully persuaded of it.” And so, he yielded his life in service to the Lord. This is the level our faith must reach. If we allow ourselves a right to Private Judgment we can never be the stuff of which martyrs are made. And, frankly, that is the stuff that must be the substance of a Christian. Our own judgment must yield to the teaching authority of the Church so that we hear the Spirit of Truth; not our interpretation of scripture, but "that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all." And thus, by His grace we become so fully persuaded that His truth becomes the very fabric of our thinking.
Can an Anglican do this? Of course he can. We do not rely on private opinions any more than our Eastern Rite Catholic, Roman Catholic and Orthodox friends. And, sadly, many of them do not rely on private opinions any less than the same Episcopalians for whose escape and salvation we earnestly pray. We mortify our Private Judgment with the weapons of Scripture, and the Right Reason of The Church (or Tradition)- on the whole quite sufficient. Yielding to these as our authority is not "private judgment." It requires that we say credo to what God has revealed, and that we live by it.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Deus, qui omnipotentiam tuam parcendo maxime, et miserando manifestas: multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam; ut ad tua promissa currentes, caelestium bonorum facias esse consortes.
The Collect 1549
GOD, which declarest thy almighty power, most chiefly in shewyng mercy and pitie; Geve unto us abundauntly thy grace, that we, running to thy promises, may be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christe our Lorde.
The Collect 1662
O GOD, who declarest thy almighty power most chiefly in shewing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This collect originates from the Gelasian Sacramentary of about AD 750, being assigned, in the Sarum Missal to this Sunday, and in the Tridentine to the 10th after Pentecost. Archbishop Cranmer’s translation of 1549 is quite literal and preserves the poetic imagery of the original. The compilers of 1662, apparently reaching for more elegant language, managed to change the emphasis subtly from God’s promise to our obedience, which seems a pity, inasmuch as this latter theme is very common among other collects, and this one prayer seems to stand almost alone in content. It is the 1662 version that has come down to Americans in the 1928 BCP.
God, who created the heavens and the earth, to whom all the laws of nature are subject, in whose hands are held the awesome powers of the elements, shows His almighty power in many ways, but chiefly and most importantly in the apparent weakness of a Cross whereon mercy and pity and grace are dramatically revealed. In our awe at this counter-intuitive manifestation of divinity, we ask His grace, not that we may do better and thus earn his favor, but that we may run to his promises, that we may accept what He so freely offers us by that Cross, that by those promises we may receive the great treasure that He has prepared for us sinners. May we ever run with all our effort into His everlasting arms.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
In recent months we have mentioned specific historical events and the names of specific bishops and archbishops, and have addressed the disagreements between jurisdictions as they are rooted in past events. My own contributions have included criticism and have called into question the motives behind new twists and turns in Continuing Church relations. One result was an exchange of comments that put me at odds with an ACC priest, Rev. Canon John Hollister. But, then a funny thing happened.
In the threads of comments after the two articles I posted about marriage and annulments, a very useful exchange of thought followed in which I came to realize that I enjoyed reading the erudite and sound comments of Fr. Hollister. Furthermore, when Fr. Edwards joined in, we could see the complementary thinking between this priest recently joined to the ACA, Fr. Hollister of the ACC, and me- the provocateur.
Why not? We are all Traditional Anglicans who embrace the Catholic Faith of our Church tradition, and who find our common ground in what we believe. The Continuing Church has been riddled with divisions for thirty years, almost never based on principle or doctrine, and, more often than not, based on the failure of those who hold the same doctrine to get along with each other. Those who worship with the same liturgy, and the consequential effect of Lex Orandi Lex Credendi on our minds and hearts, have been divided by engaging in everything from turf wars to simple indifference. Sometimes the divisions seem to have some element of principle, even of theological substance. Yet, they have not been laid on the table and discussed as subjects of theology, but, instead, all too often as matters of jurisdiction.
And yet, finding common ground in theology is the way to heal the divisions, inasmuch as we are all traditional Anglicans. This is what has been going on between the four of us who contribute to this blog. We represent three separate jurisdictions between us, but have been posting together from a common theological foundation. Albion approached us with this idea, initially, because we were wearing ourselves out writing apologetic comments on Fr. Al Kimmel’s Pontifications blog, defending our Anglican beliefs and orders against the usual RC attacks (especially novel Newmanian theories). We were tired of repeating the same answers (usually met with everything from repetition to Bulverism), and decided to make our own points and let others disagree with us in their own comments. We stood together in our theology, and so have had no strife among ourselves.
This blog is still committed to the healing of the sad divisions among Continuing Churchmen of orthodox faith. We have a common basis for our belief, a well developed Catholic and Evangelical Faith unique to Anglicanism for its clarity and balance. In addition to theology, the Anglican mind has resources of philosophy and critical thinking, and a boldness of erudition that stands as judge of the errors of passing ages, weighing in the balance popularly conceived prejudices of the zeitgeist against right reason, and finding them wanting. This we do rooted and grounded in the Catholic Tradition, enlightened by the English rediscovery of the riches of Patristic writings, and rooted in theology.
This blog offers the only remedy for Continuing Church divisions, namely theological healing.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
A Neglected Opportunity
Robert Hart on the Criticisms of Dominus Iesus
In the Fall of 2000, the document Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church was put out by the Vatican to make it clear that sound doctrine is not superseded by the passing of time and that eternal verities are not subject to any essential change simply because mankind, including the Church, experiences the increase of knowledge. Among the eternal verities, it included, much to the indignation of some other Christians and the press, the claims of the Roman Catholic Church.
I am an Anglican priest, not a Roman Catholic, and when I first read the news reports, I was sure that the Vatican had gone much too far. I began to exchange words to that effect with my Roman Catholic brother, until I read the declaration for myself. Then I said, in his language, mea maxima culpa, which in my language means, “by my own most grievous fault.” For what I saw in it was simply what the Holy Father intended, as America Press would later report: “The cardinal [Ratzinger], responding to criticism . . . said it was written because Pope John Paul II ‘wanted to offer the world a great and solemn recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord at the culminating moment of the Holy Year.’”
The primary issue in the document is the unchanging universality of the gospel. It boldly defends the mission of the Church, and encourages us with a reminder that that mission remains exactly what the Lord Jesus commanded, that his gospel be presented to all peoples as the revelation of God’s salvation for all nations on the earth. At a time when such a defense is sorely needed, Dominus Iesus heartily proclaims what all Christians should hold dear, that the gospel is unequaled by anything in the variety of mankind’s religious genius.
With profound sensitivity, both to non-Christian religions and other Christians who are, like myself, not in communion with Rome, the Vatican maintained the essentials of the faith shared by Christians the world over. Appealing to Scripture from beginning to end in a way reminiscent of the patristic method, the Roman see maintained the unique and universal saving revelation of God in Christ, as the full title of the declaration suggests.
This Vatican document spoke of the Church. This it had to do as part of its thorough discussion of salvation, in which discussion the Church must figure as the instrument of God’s kingdom on earth. The Church does not merely proclaim redemption, it offers redemption, having in its life the full gift of salvation in Christ, both by his Word and by the sacraments.
The document said nothing new, and following the pattern of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, maintained the Magisterium’s teaching on the Petrine See in a way most sensitive to those who do not agree, but are, nonetheless, baptized into Christ and share the same faith of the Creed and the same Scriptures. It acknowledged their place in Christ and their ministry of spreading his salvation, even if they are “not in perfect communion” with the See of Rome.
Read carefully, it does not “unchurch” baptized and faithful Christians, though it never wavers in its adherence to the belief that the fullness of the Church “subsists in the Catholic Church.”
“Fullness” does not mean that the Church subsists exclusively in the Catholic Church, but speaks of the whole deposit of truth and of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that is entrusted to her.
Among these gifts of the Spirit are the sacraments. The truth is the teaching that has been handed down from Christ and his apostles through all of the subsequent ages, and that is guarded by the successor of St. Peter, namely, the bishop of Rome. This was the belief of the Catholic Church long before Dominus Iesus was written.
Faithful to its own beliefs, the Vatican expressed the different degrees of closeness to the Catholic Church held by the other Christian Churches. In so doing, it created the one and only section used as a “pull quote” by the press. The alleged offense was in its description of the Catholic Church and its treatment of the rest of the Christian world as being either “particular Churches” or not Churches at all but “ecclesial communities.”
The offending passage began with the claim that “there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.” It then described, in a less controversial passage, “the Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist.”
These it called “true particular Churches” and said that in them “the Church of Christ is present and operative . . . even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.”
Dominus Iesus then discussed those “ecclesial communities” that “have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery.” These, it said, “are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.”
These words received all the attention, but it would have been only fair to give equal attention to these words that followed:
Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church.
But such attention was not given by the press.
The hue and cry that followed drowned out the real message of the declaration. In fact, one would think that the whole doctrine of papal primacy had been invented in and for this very document, meant by the Vatican to set back ecumenical progress by a hundred years.
Clearly, throughout Dominus Iesus, the Roman See has taken care to express a degree of solidarity with all Christians, but not in such a manner as to compromise its own doctrine. But, to be considered “proper” or not “proper” does not carry within it a judgment on the reality of salvation in Christ or the genuine faith of those Churches. It speaks instead of the conviction that, in various degrees, they lack the “fullness” God intended.
Yet, this charitable restatement of Roman doctrine was treated as a shocking bit of incivility. Most astonishing of all was the reaction of the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, who immediately expressed his offense at being told that the Anglican Communion was not a “proper” Church, despite the fact that the Anglicans were never mentioned by name.
“The idea that Anglican and other churches are not ‘proper churches’ seems to question the considerable ecumenical gains we have made,” said Archbishop Carey. There are two ironies here.
The first is in whom Carey (speaking for many other religious leaders) blamed for the division. Beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century, a desire to pursue ecumenical relations with Rome was increasingly a priority of the Anglican Communion. Relations continued along a road of significant progress, reaching what would prove to be their summit in the 1960s and early 1970s, during the time of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey. But the unity sought for was not to be achieved.
The failure was principally caused by a rebellion against Church Tradition in the 1970s, namely, the decision of Anglican bodies, including the Episcopal Church, to admit women to the priesthood. This spread to other churches of the Anglican Communion until England began to “ordain” women in 1992. This was done with the active support of Dr. Carey, though he knew that the innovation would be the death knell of hopes for unity with the Church of Rome, and with the Orthodox Church as well.
Now there are female Anglican clergy whose ordination never can be seen as sacramentally valid, not only by Rome and Orthodoxy, but by traditional Anglicans as well. What a very unecumenical development indeed, not only breaking off useful discussions with the Catholic and Orthodox churches, but sharply dividing the Anglican Communion itself. It is one of the reasons why I am a priest in the Continuing Anglican movement, separated from the Episcopal Church in which I was raised, and therefore from Canterbury, too.
Add to this the diversity of moral teaching that has come to be associated with the once good Anglican name, against which the archbishop has given no strong defense, and his statement must be turned on himself. It all does great harm to “the considerable ecumenical gains we have made.” For the Vatican to restate its long-held doctrine on the Primacy is by no means a significant obstacle to ecumenical progress. And how could it compare to the unfaithfulness the archbishop has supported?
Discussions between Rome and the Anglican Communion have become a mere formality, without real purpose, due to the novelty of women’s “ordination” in 1976. Time has seen the situation worsen, and all by acquiescence to the initiative of apostasy in the Anglican Communion, not by Roman intransigence. What, then, is the basis of the English archbishop’s complaint?
Various Protestant leaders jumped onto the bandwagon with Dr. Carey, denouncing the bad manners of the pope, and especially of Cardinal Ratzinger. In fact, so have significant leaders within the Roman Catholic Church. What have they all missed? What, in this document, have they ignored? This is where we find the second irony: Dominus Iesus is a document that deserves to be seen in exactly the opposite way to the reputation it has been given. It is, in fact, a very ecumenical document.
Two Kinds of Ecumenism
Of course, we must bear in mind the distinction between two kinds of ecumenism. We have become perhaps too used to a sloppy kind, the kind in which anything of substance, about which people may disagree, is simply avoided. Serious thought is extinguished, and the lesson is learned that theology is a bad word, something to be avoided at all costs. Is it any wonder that from such ecumenism as this only laziness, and eventually immorality, can grow?
The other kind of ecumenism is the kind that takes seriously the need to hold dear the truth for which we are willing to die, and for charity’s sake to find common ground as Christians. Theology and morals are not allowed to slide into the abyss. Where we can agree, we do so in good conscience, and where we cannot agree, we disagree with charity. Our common purpose is to serve our Lord, and as much as we can honestly do so, to serve him together. And here we find that there is much common ground.
The document Dominus Iesus serves, by its main emphasis on “the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church,” this very end. It serves it not only as between different respective Churches and Rome, but also among all Christians in a more general sense. It fits the second model of ecumenism, the mature and responsible kind, by establishing common ground on matters of major importance without the pretense of ignoring essential differences. This is simple honesty.
The body of Dominus Iesus is a powerful and eloquent statement of the Christian faith, carefully worded and defended by a consistent appeal to the authority of the Bible. If read fully, it gives all Christians an expression of their common ground, not only with Catholics who obey the see of Peter, but also with each other in the face of a world growing ever more hostile to the very notion of Christianity as a missionary religion.
It gives us a strong word of encouragement to resist the demand—heard as loudly from many church leaders as from the secular world—that we drop our exclusive and universal claim of salvation in Christ, and that we both halt and condemn our own mission to the nations. It presents a needed apologetic at a time when rather vocal church leaders have decided that we have no right to convert people to Christ, and favor political correctness and multiculturalism over faithfulness to Christ and his Great Commission that we make disciples.
By appealing to Scripture, Dominus Iesus gives to all Christians, certainly including the Protestant Evangelicals, reason to study its contents for their own edification. It refers to the scriptural teaching as being “without error.” Evangelicals and fundamentalists can rejoice over the faith expressed in the truth taught by the Scripture, especially on the essential matters of faith in Christ. The document speaks simply and plainly of the inspiration of Scripture by saying that these books “have God as their author.”
On one of my weekly radio broadcasts I read a large portion of the document. Many of the listeners to the station were Evangelicals, quite appreciative of the document’s emphasis on the statement of St. Peter: “Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name given under heaven among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).” Apparently the disappointment of the morning for some people was that this powerful affirmation of Bible truth had come from the Vatican.
Also, it is of no small consequence that the document quotes the Nicene/Constantinopolitan Creed without the controversial filioque. (The filioque is the addition of “and the Son” to “proceedeth from the Father” in the article on the Holy Spirit.) It has never been acceptable to the Orthodox Church, and its use in the West has caused contention for centuries. This was a clear gesture of respect and conciliation intended for the Orthodox.
Dominus Iesus received undeserved bad press. Treating all Christians, and indeed all people, in accord with their inherent dignity—a dignity that requires that one be honest when one thinks others are in error—it has, nonetheless, been characterized as unecumenical, triumphalistic, and insensitive. This is a very great shame. At the very least, it ought to be studied for its profound defense of the gospel and the mission of the Church.
Dominus Iesus has been a very neglected opportunity for all Christians to forge stronger ties with each other and to study the meaning of our shared mission to the nations as believers in the same Christ.