Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What is Anglicanism?


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.

21 comments:

Michael said...

Archbishop Haverland emphasises the broad agreement of the ACC with Eastern Orthodoxy. I wonder whether the ACC has had any dialogue with Orthodox Churches, particularly about their Western Rite parishes. If the ACC sees itself as a Western embodiment of Orthodoxy, it would make good sense for it to seek (if possible) some sort of formal relationship, even if this was a very long term goal.

In regard to the ACC's differences from Roman Catholics, does the Archbishop have a position on the progress of dialogue between the Vatican and Eastern Orthodox? Pope Benedict is generally seen, I think, as strongly desiring a closer relationship with Orthodoxy. In the event that there was a breakthrough on that front, would the ACC then consider the possibility of seeking intercommunion with the Holy See?

Finally, while I also identify very much as an "Anglo-Catholic", I wonder how useful that particular term is to describe a church, since it seems to refer first and foremost to the historic Catholic Revival in the C of E. Some "reformed" churches fall into the trap of thinking church history starts in the sixteenth century, and it would be very unfortunate if anyone took the identification with "Anglo-Catholicism" to mean only an identification with the practices and ideas of that particular movement. (My parish and diocese are quite careful to distinguish between "Anglo-Catholic" and "Anglican Catholic".) Catholicity involves, not liberalism, but perhaps a certain orthodox type of comprehensiveness.

Anonymous said...

An excellent article. When however was the Church undivided, there were always people who claimed to be part of it whom others rejected? Can it only be regarded as undivided on the basis of principles that can only come from an undivided body?

Anonymous said...

Since Fr. Nichols' _Panther and the Hind_ is mentioned prominently in this post, let me suggest this recent document:

http://www.anglicanuse.org/Anglican_Uniatism.pdf

by Fr. Nichols as possibly of interest also.

I am not myself competent to say what conclusions, if any, should be drawn from it, but it does comment on more recent events among Anglicans.

Be aware that it is a PDF document, which may place some demands on your computer.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

When however was the Church undivided, there were always people who claimed to be part of it whom others rejected?

The point has been made that even the rejection of the so-called Monophysites was a mistake, because they really were not Monophysites at all. They had simply confused the meaning of the words we translate separately as "Person" and "Nature." Today the Copts are seen as Christians with an orthodox Christology.

Nonetheless, in the First Millennium of Christianity it was generally easy to identify the Church where ever one found himself in the known world (the empire). The Five Patriarchs and all of the bishops could be identified, and the pope in Rome was one of the five, all of whom had to ratify the decisions of an Oecumenical (or Ecumenical) Council. After 1054 no such universal reception of another Council has been possible.

So, to speak of an undivided Church is not a perfect description, but it is a useful one.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Archbishop Haverland has put his finger of the crux of the problem, I believe with these words: "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."

Once the Anglican formularies were tossed out and catholic orders broken, there was nothing left that could be called Anglican. I think that this points to a way forward: uphold the historic Book of Common Prayer and strengthen catholic orders in line with the Declaration of St. Louis.

agrarian said...

Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful! I have always loved and wholeheartedly agreed with Abp. Haverland's writings in this vein. What I have never understood is the ACC's obsession with uniting the Circle of Three as some sort of necessary precondition to pursuing union with any other Catholics, East or West. Why not be open to union with any Catholics, East or West, period, including those Three who have thus far adamantly refused to get their act together? Why discriminate? Just be open to any union so long as it is founded upon the bedrock of Truth of the undivided Church. That is absolutely, positively the only way the Church stands to be reunited this side of the Second Coming, and we are obligated to make the effort even if it should never succeed.

Despite my objection, if the ACC would place a mission within remotely reasonable driving distance, I would love to attend it. But I would also love to see the ACA critique this essay, comparing and contrasting themselves with the ACC. Or if a similarly directed piece written by the ACA leadership exists, that would serve the purpose just as well. Might something like this be posted on this blog as well?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Might something like this be posted on this blog as well?

I am sure that Albion Land, Ed Pacht and Fr. Kirby would all agree with me, that, if such a statement is presented to us it will be posted.

poetreader said...

Emphatically yes!

If I had sufficient clout with my own jurisdiction, I would be pushing with all my might for such a statement to be issued and published here. Unfortunately, I am a bit sidelined and lack such influence, and have no authority to speak for ACA, though I do try, when I am able, to express our predominant viewpoints.

ed

agrarian said...

Gentlemen,

Thank you for verifying that the ACA lacks any similar statement. I have sought one off and on for years (as well as similar statements from other jurisdictions), but obviously in vain. Since so much has been accomplished through this blog, perhaps the necessary ball might get rolling now in high places, guided by Ed et al. Certainly, if we clearly understood something so basic as how each jurisdiction defines Anglicanism, it would go a long way toward overcoming stumbling blocks, both real and imagined.

By the way, the ACA could use a total revamp of its website. I recall that the subject of jurisdictional websites once came up here and the ACC, for one, promptly acted to produce a vastly improved one. The ACA really ought to do something similar. Great things have been happening in the ACA of late, and a web design of "ancient" mid '90s vintage coupled with a lack of regular "news" updates belie the great Life therein. Let's have aesthetics and news updates consonant with a serious and committed organization (if for no other reason than to keep the Barking Toad off the ACA's back!).

Carlos said...

This article made my day Father Hart.
Do many of you agree with Haverland that most dissaffected Anglicans will bolt for Rome and Constantinople over the Affirmation Church (Essentially they are one since they are in full communion with each other but at this time their institutive bodies remain organizationally apart)?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Agrarian:

I do not know that the TAC lacks such a statement, only that I have not been sent one. Furthermore, with ++Haverland's "and similiar bodies" qualification, I assume that the TAC shares the same view. Frankly, Fr. Lou Taristano's book, An Outline of an Anglican Life, says some very similar things.

By the way, I do not expect the barking Toad to come down on the ACA. As long as the BT continues his regular blackmail payments I will keep his identity secret; so, I can't tell you why unless he misses a payment.

agrarian said...

Fr. Hart wrote:

Furthermore, with ++Haverland's "and similiar bodies" qualification, I assume that the TAC shares the same view. Frankly, Fr. Lou Taristano's book, An Outline of an Anglican Life, says some very similar things.

Tarsitano is an excellent reference. It is conceivable that he reflects the ACA view of Anglicanism. However, it is my sense that Abp. Haverland and Fr. Tarsitano would disagree in some key areas. For example, my recollection is that Tarsitano went to great lengths to defend the traditional "broad" interpretation of the Via Media, and was adamant that the 39 Articles were not a political statement, but formed a coherent theology. By contrast, Haverland is explicit that Anglicanism traditionally was a muddled mess of constituent parties, inherently irreconcilable, such that Anglicanism's demise in its traditional "broad" form was inescapable from the get-go (hence Haverland's exclusive commitment to a single "strain" from within traditional Anglicanism). Thus, Haverland implicitly sees the Elizabethan Settlement and 39 Articles as purely political maneuvers, a view Tarsitano vehemently rejected.

Of course, it is possible that Fr. Tarsitano came around closer to Abp. Haverland's view later in life, in the wake of ECUSA's recent apostasy and subsequent developments globally. I don't know. But short of this, I would think that these two great men would have some not altogether insignificant disagreements consistent with the two "possible definitions" Abp. Haverland describes in the two following paragraphs:


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.



My perhaps mistaken impression is that Fr. Tarsitano was ultimately committed to maintaining the cancer of Anglican "comprehensiveness," albeit in a diminished way (via ecclesiological "chemotherapy"), a view echoed by the APA as a matter of fact. By contrast, Abp. Haverland has moved decisively to excise the cancer, thereby cutting off satan's avenue of attack through modern (and any future) broad church heretics, and finally paving the way for the ultimate reunification of Christ's Church on the only possible terms: the faith of Jesus Christ as embodied in the Truth of the undivided Church.

Fr. Tarsitano might be considered a broad-to-high church Conservative (although, I certainly defer to your judgment, Father) whereas Abp. Haverland is an unapologetic high church Traditionalist. Ultimately, this may reflect the difference between the ACA and ACC in terms of how each defines Anglicanism. But I would like to see a contemporary statement from the ACA just the same.

agrarian said...

Fr. Hart wrote:

By the way, I do not expect the barking Toad to come down on the ACA. As long as the BT continues his regular blackmail payments I will keep his identity secret; so, I can't tell you why unless he misses a payment.

Hehe! That rotgut gin of his has sufficiently loosened his tongue from time to time such that I have formed the impression that he is a former APCK priest lately received into the ACA. If so, then no; one would not expect him to come down on the ACA.

All the same, I look forward to the day when he finally "comes in from the cold" so that I might finally hear this man give a sermon. From the sound of it, he ought to have the ushers charge admission. Perhaps beer and hot dog vendors working the aisles? Girls dancing on giant speakers? Better stop....

The young fogey said...

Wrote on this question over a month ago.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Agrarian

Have you actually read An Outline of an Anglican Life? The theology was clearly Catholic, but in the very specifically Anglican sense from a perspective that had no room for Broad Churchmanship at all. Far from Anglican "comprehensiveness" he set forth the idea of the Via Media as a specific road with defined principles, not the middle of the road. There was no room for anything vague or comprehensive in his definition. He was a firm Traditionalist, and took very strong stands (he was the one to identify women in men's vestments as "cross dressers"). Like me, he did not throw away the things that distinguish Anglican Catholicism from Roman Catholicism, and this is something that too few Anglo-Catholics seem to appreciate.

agrarian said...

Fr. Hart,

I will reread Fr. Tarsitano's Outline. With your point about the Via Media, you do seem to confirm my recollection that he saw nothing political at all in the Elizabethan Settlement and 39 Articles. Normally, that view would be consistent with something other than Catholic Traditionalism. It certainly is explicitly at odds with Abp. Haverland's view as posted here. But I will take another look at the Outline.

The young fogey said...

If the Antiochian Orthodox intend to keep their Western Rite - if it's not a bait and switch - a union fitting Abp Haverland's beliefs (in which the whole ACC would become WRO) could work if the ACC went along with it.

(The other WRO are a few in ROCOR - among them is a handful of English and Australian ex-Anglicans doing more or less the BCP with Sarum ceremonial, a kind of Anglo-Catholicism you used to see in some places in England.)

I've seen Tarsitano's book online and it seems good high-Central/classic-Anglican stuff. I'm fairly sure he wasn't Anglo-Catholic - he was a former Roman Catholic seminarian who changed churches over theology - but don't remember much in it objectionable to ACs.

Like the doctrine implied in the Prayer Book services and the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (the creeds, the necessity of the historic episcopate, the implied belief in the Real Presence because the elements don't revert to profane use - they're consumed) it's a good base for defining what Anglicanism as a set of beliefs is: to Catholics true as far as it goes but not the fullest or necessarily the best expression of it theologically.

As for the tolerant conservatism of the culture - Catholicism with an English heart including when it's dressed up in Italian finery old (as you see among American ACs - love it) or new (the mode among English ACs) - it is uniquely AC and something as a born Anglican I keenly miss when it's not there.

agrarian said...

From one young fogey to another:

Do you really think WRO is a viable option? I used to toy with the idea but no longer see it as leading anywhere. Instead, I'd just like to see the rest of the Continuum sign on to Abp. Haverland's view and stop "putting off the inevitable" (which Anglicanism has done for nearly 500 years now, as I see it). Then there should be no remaining theological roadblocks to full communion with the Orthodox Church (the faith of the undivided Church in its Eastern form). And somewhere along the line we should become as One as Anglicans and with the East. At such a point, Rome might actually see fit to humble itself, admit its errors, and restore the faith (our faith) which it left behind. Then we might truly be as One.

The young fogey said...

I don't know if WRO is viable or if it's really a bait and switch. I hear conflicting things.

Anyway, what you describe is, from the Orthodox POV, simply the ACC (or in your vision the whole Continuum or all conservative Anglicans) becoming WRO.

Exactly what St Tikhon wanted the Anglican Communion to be: Western Catholicism without the modern teachings on the papacy, as part of his church.

agrarian said...

Fogey,

I associate the term WRO with a quasi-uniate status within the Orthodox Church. This arrangement I think we should avoid. Too many Eastern Orthodox have a bad habit of confusing tradition with Tradition. I would not want them to strip us of our glorious music at some point. Nor would I want them to micromanage our liturgical practices. We are not Eastern, and there is no necessity that we abandon our culture in order to experience the fullness of the faith. Even St. John Maximovitch agreed with this. But a WRO pseudo-uniate status within the Orthodox Church would probably only guarantee such unwarranted incursions.

Instead, I would like to see bishops entering into full communion with each other as equals, exchanging clergy, etc., and respecting each others differing small "t" traditions. Surely we do not have to place ourselves under an Eastern Patriarch just to enjoy full communion with each other. Surely we do not have to be a vicariate, a uniate, or anything else.

We may agree but be defining terms differently.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have said before that the Orthodox can sometimes confuse Tradition with precedent.