Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Ecumenical Lament

Lately I have been sorely tempted by something akin to the sin of despair regarding our Catholic ecumenism. I cannot help but conclude that, for many reasons, the task is hopeless humanly speaking, and so must continually remind myself not to rest there, but to trust in God. An example of how even the best of our ecumenical interlocutors can show signs of not really listening to what we have said, instead falling into a mild but reflexive form of patronising contempt, appeared recently in a comment by our friend Dr Tighe at Fr Hunwicke's weblog. I will address below some of his statements.


Dr Tighe said: “Well, of course -- it shouldn't need saying, but evidently it does -- there never was any "intercommunion" between the Orthodox and the Anglicans.”

If he wishes only to say that the Orthodox (for the most part) do not in theory recognise any category of sacramental communion with anybody short of communio in sacris, such as the word “intercommunion” usually denotes, he is correct, but this would apply between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church as well. But most readers would take his statement as meaning Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox never resorted to one anothers' sacraments with official approval. And this statement is patently false. Let me lay out just a little of the evidence.

  1. From an article (dated January 19, 1928) in the official fortnightly publication of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Patainos: “On demand of occasion and at different times the Orthodox Church has given effect to her mind that under exceptional circumstances, and in emergency in countries where there is lacking either an Orthodox or an Anglican priest, economy is permissible, whereby the faithful of either Church may have resort for the invocation of grace through an available priest of the other Church: as, for example, in the case of the administration of the last rites {lit. the undefined mysteries, sc. the Blessed Sacrament} to a dying Christian, of the celebration of marriage, and of the burial of the dead. There exist many examples of such relaxation in recent years.”

  2. At an inter-Orthodox commission meeting in Belgrade, 1966, during a discussion of the validity of Anglican Orders and sacraments generally, Bishop Stephen of Dalmatia (Serbian Orthodox) said “I think that our sister-Church of Rumania had made the greatest contribution in this area, and that there is nothing in the Bucharest agreements which cannot be accepted. We certainly cannot say that all the Orthodox Churches have avoided communicating with the Anglican Churches, that they have not recognised in them the signs of 'ecclesiality'. When Anglican bishops visit us, our churches accord them the insignias of the Episcopate, thus recognising in practice the Orders which they bear.” [Emphasis added. Source: Hilaire Marot, O.S.B., 'The Orthodox Churches and Anglican Orders', Concilium, Ecumenism, Vol. 4, No. 4, April 1968, p.80.]

  1. On this very weblog Fr Hart has frequently referred to the practice obtaining in America for decades during the Twentieth Century whereby Orthodox laity were given written permission to communicate at Anglican altars by their bishops. He has also related his first-hand observation of one such letter.

  1. Bishop Tikhon once invited Bishop Grafton of Fond du Lac to make up the third consecrator at an episcopal consecration, in the early Twentieth Century. He was unable to attend due to illness.

    5. See also here and here.

It is plain that for most of the Twentieth Century, up until the ordination of women, a number of Eastern jurisdictions allowed their people to make frequent use of Anglican sacraments in particular circumstances and were willing when necessary to return the favour to Anglicans. Either they believed Anglican Orders and sacraments were intrinsically valid in some sense even before any reunion or they were willing to knowingly permit their people to partake of mock sacraments. Since the latter is ridiculous and insultingly so, the former is inescapable. What is disturbing is that Dr Tighe is a regular reader of this weblog and is unlikely to have missed item 3.

Dr Tighe went on to say: “What the Orthodox "recognition" of Anglican Orders ... meant was that in the event that the Anglican Communion, or some Anglican churches, sought to enter into communion with Holy Orthodoxy (with the requisite doctrinal affirmations and "clarifications," and no doubt the exclusion of some of the more Evangelical/Protestant aspects), then, by an exercise of "economy" Anglican clergy would not have to be reordained in order to minister in Holy Orthodoxy. That's all it meant, no more and no less. ... A glance at, say, the relevant parts of Bishop Kallistos (Ware's) *The Orthodox Church* will easily confirm the truth of this.”

The evidence given above is sufficient to refute the “That's all it meant, no more” claim. But quite apart from this, it is difficult to understand how one as well-informed as Dr Tighe should simply reiterate Ware's gloss on the matter, when it is abundantly clear that it relies on the “no intrinsic grace is admitted in any sacraments outside the Orthodox Church” version of the doctrine of economy. For this is a version disputed by other Orthodox quite openly, including relatively recently in American EO-RC theological dialogue.

The good Dr also not unreasonably observes: “Orthodox who tended to become more familiarly acquainted with Anglicans and Anglican churches tended, however, to lose their initial enthusiasm for it, especially once they became aware of the "comprehensive" nature of Anglicanism and the fact that their Anglo-Catholic friends could not authoritatively speak for their churches and, especially, make definite commitments to the Orthodox on their behalf.” However, he did not mention any of the counter-examples to this tendency, where Orthodox theologians and Churches retained long and close relations with and respect for Anglicans. E.g., Archbishop Methodius Fouyas and the examples cited above.

Perhaps the “unkindest cut of all” was this: “I well remember the reaction of the then chaplain of a certain Cambridge college in the late 1970s who, when he returned from a trip to Romania, spoke about how Anglican clergy were allowed to celebrate the Eucharist on Orthodox altars in certain monasteries there, unlike the RC priests, who were not allowed to do so, and I replied that far from that being a token of "recognition" it probably meant that, given the Orthodox practice of celebrating only once a day on any altar, they felt that whatever the Anglican clergy were doing, it was not the same thing as their Divine Liturgy, whereas the refusal to allow RC clergy to say Mass indicated that the Catholic Mass might possibly be the same thing.”

Could Dr Tighe have been unaware that it was with the Romanian Orthodox Church that Anglicans had the warmest relations and the most fulsome bilateral agreements, those of Bucharest, 1935-'37? That, in the conclusion of these agreements it was famously if optimistically said: “By these agreements, we believe that a solid basis has been prepared for further discussions whereby full dogmatic agreement may be affirmed between the Orthodox and the Anglican Communions”? (These are the very words quoted by Bp Ware in the same section of the same book cited by Dr Tighe.) Did he not see that his argument invited the reductio ad absurdum that if his suggestion was the real reason they permitted Anglican priests the use of their altars, how much more would they have invited Lutheran, Reformed and Baptist pastors to do the same? To object that that would be beyond the pale because of their greater distance from Orthodoxy would cut off the very branch the argument rested upon. No doubt he was unaware that the Romanians had Synodically re-asserted their recognition of Anglican Orders and the Bucharest Agreements in 1966, but was there not enough reason anyway to eschew such an odious and inaccurate inference?

Now, Dr Tighe is well known to us as honest, intelligent, scholarly and friendly toward us. How then can all of the above be explained, when at least some of the counter-evidence was apparently known to him? I can only put it down to a kind of latent dismissiveness of the arguments and evidence Anglicans have put in the past, including ourselves, with this leading to the relevant counterfactuals to his argument not occuring to him at the time. He loves us, but he cannot take us seriously, perhaps. (In fairness, it might also be the case that the last comment regarding the Romanians was an angry response to an annoying bit of skiting by the Anglican priest who related the exclusion of Roman Catholic priests from the Romanian altars.)

All of this is a just one example of why Anglican Catholic / Roman Catholic dialogue will be so difficult and why I feel we must talk to the East first. Let me expand and explain.

There appear to be 4 basic groups and associated attitudes toward us among Roman Catholics who are aware of us. First, there is a large group of self-described “progressives” whose attitude toward us is either plain animosity or chuckling disbelief that we could be so hidebound. However, they accept the Anglican Communion and its ecclesial reality. Second, there are what I will call “unfriendly traditionalists” who consider all Anglicanism to be, in its distinctiveness, essentially nothing but a despicable and wicked rebellion founded solely on regal lust. To them we are little more than simply break-aways from break-aways and heirs to Catholic-persecuting, sectarian Protestantism and so self-deceived in our self-understanding. Our primary obligation is to repent of Anglicanism and submit forthwith to Rome. Third, there are the “friendly traditionalists”, who also think we are wrong about ourselves and our Orders, but can see some worth in our patrimony which is worth generously preserving. Basically, if any form of corporate reunion is the best way to get us “back” into the “One True Church”, then they think that is to be encouraged. (Dr Tighe belongs, I think, to this group.) Finally, there are the orthodox Catholics who dispute or doubt the factual correctness of the conclusion of Apostolicae Curae, because they accept the infallibility of its theological premises and conclusion ad arguendum, if the corrigible historical premises were correct, but believe they probably were not. Alternatively, they deny the infallibility of the infamous Bull altogether, because RC theologians (and one Pope, Pius X, in answer to the question of an Anglican theologian, Dr Briggs) have opined that it was not infallible, and the note appended to Ad Tuandem Fidem claiming it was infallible was not itself infallible! (Got all that?) This relatively small group would be more willing to see us as at least “particular Churches” in the proper sense.

Now, the hierarchy of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) is a kind of mirror to the third group abovementioned. They have indicated they are willing to accept: all Roman Catholic doctrine without further discussion or clarification; absolute reordination if they can't get conditional reordination; the replacement of their bishops; and uniat status if possible or something less if not. But despite this abject submission bordering on self-humiliation, the official response has not been terribly promising. It says, basically, “Thank you, we're thinking about it”, and then implies they wish to turn their attention to the mainstream Anglican Communion. The same heterodox Communion which has been spitting in their eye for so long and from which none of it member churches can bring themselves to leave. In the meantime, nothing is promised or proposed except “prayers and good wishes”. It may be I am too cynical here, and I hope things work out well for the TAC. But given how long and hard they have been knocking on the door, it is difficult to see the Roman response over time as warm and welcoming.

The Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) sent an official letter by registered mail to an appropriate Vatican official. We know it was received, but no reply was ever forthcoming, not even to say, in a formulaic, polite sort of way, “We acknowledge receipt of your letter. Thanks.” Unlike the TAC, the ACC wished to move towards the greatest degree of communion possible after serious dialogue. The silence in response may speak volumes. And in the context of the different groups in the RCC of which I spoke above, it is difficult to hold out much hope for the RCC taking a proposal like the ACC's seriously. The first two groups are contemptuous our position, albeit for opposed reasons. The third might like to see the TAC succeed as it has the proper attitude of unconditional surrender, and so should be treated generously, but they may not have much respect for the ACC's approach. The fourth group may not be large or influential enough to help.

Is it all about numbers? Are the two main continuing bodies, the TAC and the communion of the ACC/APCK/UECNA just not big enough to warrant the RCC's attention or consideration as particular Churches? Using the most conservative figures I have come across, the TAC has a minimum of 70,000 members. The ACC alone has at least 4,000 in the U.S.A., 15,000 in one African Diocese, and many more members elsewhere in Africa, India and around the world. So the ACC/APCK/UECNA has between 20 and 30 thousand members. So, lack of numbers is clearly not a valid excuse, since a number of Uniat Churches, such as the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church, are smaller in numbers than both these Anglican bodies by a wide margin.

Why, then, do I think it would be better to talk to the East, other than past relationships as noted above? Partly because their versions of groups one and two above have less size and influence in the Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC). And partly because there is less to discuss with them in the way of differences. However, I realise that, like the RCs, the Orthodox may see little point in dialogue towards reunion. Despite what both the RCC and EOC have said to Anglicans in the past, absorption is so much easier and more obviously beneficial to them. There may well be the tendency for them to hope we simply wither on the vine, gradually leaking our members to their jurisdictions. I hope and pray this is not the case. Let us all do so.

31 comments:

poetreader said...

Thank you, Fr. Kirby, for a well-stated assessment. I'm a member of TAC, and very pleased with the efforts being made toward Rome, BUT, I don't think I'm alone in feeling that abject surrender, such as you describe, and such as at least some of our leadership seem willing to accept, is an appropriate action in seeking union. I don't think I'm alone in TAC in finding the approach you outline considerably more attractive, and I also don't think I'm alone in finding reunion of the two major branches of Continuing Anglicanism to have the highest priority in seeking unity. If we can't do that, frankly, we have no business struggling along in the first place

ed

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,
Excellent post. You and Fr. Hart are brilliant and I have learned a great deal from you both. I am a Roman Catholic and I find this issue interesting for a number of reasons.

I'll use this comment as a starting point. You said:

"There may well be the tendency for them to hope we simply wither on the vine..."

Is it taught and believed in the Anglican Communion that God will not allow the Anglican Communion to "wither on the vine" so to speak? IOW, that Holy Orders and the Sacraments will be preserved in the Anglican Communion by the Grace of God?

Pat

Anonymous said...

This is a truly fine essay, Fr Kirby. Although I do not share his Anglo-papalism, Dr Tighe is a special friend of mine, and I am sure he will give you adequate clarifications. And, Ed, I am with you: the reunion and reconciliation of orthodox Anglicans is our greatest urgency. While I have problems with both TAC and APA, there are many splendid priests and parishes in those groupings. We cannot rightly leave them behind in our Ecumenical endeavors.
LKW

Fr. John said...

Sometimes I feel (not believe) that everyone hates the Anglican Continuum generally and the Anglican Catholic Church specifically. We won't do what anyone wants us to.

I do believe it is possible that one of the reasons God suffers us to continue is that we might wind up being one of the last repositories of Christian orthodoxy on the planet.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

One point about the post.

"...the note appended to Ad Tuandem Fidem claiming it was infallible was not itself infallible!"

The clarification in Ad Tuandem Fidem about Apostolicae Curae boils down to this: The 1896 Bull is not really infallible, and could be rescinded. That is, it is not dogma, and the only reason why [Roman] Catholics should treat is as if it were infallible, is in order to obey their church. This reveals that the Roman position has grown from Infallibility ex-Cathedra to presumption of Infallibility concerning everything the pope says. We saw, in the pontificate of JPII, that this caused confusion on the issue of capital punishment.

I am surprised that my friend Bill Tighe takes Kallistos Ware's opinion so seriously. Ware simply placed his own speculation, mere isogesis, on top of the facts like a covering to hide them. Ware did not draw anything from the documents, and simply tried to explain away the uncomfortable truth. Frankly, despite his otherwise impressive theological contributions, this transparently desperate argument makes Ware look like a complete featherweight, a Little League theologian. The argument is just plain wrong through and through. It is also very bad history, because the facts all contradict Ware's ridiculous explanation- that is, explanation as in explaining away.

Elijah said...

Thank you Fr. Kirby for your excellent post. I have wondered what the TAC would look like after reunion with Roman Catholicism. For that matter, what would the ACC look like after reunion with Holy Orthodoxy? I have heard a number of Orthodox lamenting the confusion of bishops and jurisdictions in the "diaspora" and it seems undesirable for a reunion to produce a separate, parallel, worldwide hierarchy within either Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. Without a hierarchy that promotes Anglicanism, how would it be preserved? Certainly parishes would be allowed to remain undisturbed, and priests could receive training from Anglican schools, thus preserving Anglicanism in some sense. The Prayer Book would also be a means of preservation, but it seems likely that Anglicanism as a cohesive entity would be dispersed. So, how can Anglicanism survive? Continuing Anglicans are united in belief and liturgy, not in geography. It could be that the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church would recognize Anglicanism as the indigenous Church of England, the United States, and several other countries, and cease their "missionary" work in those regions, giving the congregations in those areas over to the Anglican Bishop, but that seems like a bit of a pipe dream. It would also seem appropriate for the Roman Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church to adopt the Prayer Book as the normative liturgy in the English language, but that seems just as unlikely.

I admit that I have very little understanding of the mechanisms of reunification. What is do you think Anglicanism would look like on the other side?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Setting aside for the moment that Met. Kallistos has made some statements in the past that have given me pause, I think anyone would do well to take a very deep breath before referring to him in such disparaging terms. Such comments often tend to cast more of a reflection on their author than on their target.

That said His Beatitude certainly requires no defense from me. I am content to permit his reputation as a theologian to stand on its own merits. People are free to draw what conclusions they will.

Under the mercy
John

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Such comments often tend to cast more of a reflection on their author than on their target.

No, they tend to express someone's thoughts. In this case, mine. Furthermore, it is not simply my opinion, but an objective fact, that on this subject Kallistos Ware was very, very wrong. He did not even quote from the documents themselves. And, the reason is obvious.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Kallistos Ware, see Alice Linsley's article posted today on VOL relating the growth of support for WO in
EO. Scarey.

And utterly related to this thread: please remember that Jan 21 is the sad anniversary of Roe vs Wade. It will find me in the Prayer Vigil around the Federal Courthouse downtown. For many years I have been the only Anglican collar there.

LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

You mean January 22nd.

Anonymous said...

I have three members who are Orthodox who attend my CC parish, and they have begun to take Communion each Sunday.

The nearest Orthodox Church is 3 hours from here, and each of them said that they could no longer sit at home on Sundays when they knew there were orthodox Anglicans in a thriving parish in their own town who were celebrating Word and Sacrament.

I also found that the new Orthodox Metro, Jonah, was very ecumenical when he reached out for a meeting and photo-op with Bishop Iker of Texas.

John A. Hollister said...

It certainly seems to be a fair appreciation that Bp. Ware has exhibited an attitude toward Anglicanism that could accurately be described as "dismissive".

From time to time, it has occurred to me to wonder whether this is actually rooted in the fact of his own personal journey from Anglicanism to his current communion. In other words, may this attitude, and the statements that result from it, not be better explained by psychology than by theology?

John A. Hollister+

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Pat,

Sorry for the delay in replying. The short answer is that we cannot claim that God has guaranteed by divine promise such preservation for any particular Church or tradition, including our own, though the Church as a whole is guaranteed continuance. Particular Churches within the Catholic Church have, it seems, been laid waste by heresy or persecution in the past.

That being said, we trust under the providence and grace of God that he will in fact preserve us. I hope this helps.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Please note: "I hope this helps" refers to what I said as a whole hopefully aiding understanding. It is not talking about the providence and grace of God!

We can safely say that does help. :-)

Sandra McColl said...

Fr Hollister: you took the words right out of my mouth, but arranged them so much more elegantly than I could possibly have done.

Robert Duncan said...

There is quite a bit of talk on some of the Catholic blogs that a statement will be coming from Rome with regard to TAC sometime around Easter - following a more recent statement with respect to the SSPX

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,
Thanks for your response. You are kind. As I mentioned I am a Roman Catholic. In looking at the issue of Ecumenism with the hope for full reconciliation I find that there are some fine points of dogma that are critical to maintaining orthodoxy. Please understand that I am in no way any kind of expert nor would I claim to be. You and Fr. Hart are brilliant men who have obviously donated your lives to these issue for the sake of the Body of Christ- The Church. I thank you for that. I do, however, have some difficulty connecting all the dots, so to speak, as it relates to certain Truths of the Faith as they are explained on this site. For example, you said the following:

"The short answer is that we cannot claim that God has guaranteed by divine promise such preservation for any particular Church or tradition, including our own, though the Church as a whole is guaranteed continuance."

I am wondering how this statement would relate to the issue of Apostolic Succession- ie,specifically Holy Orders. Please keep in mind I am coming at this as a sheep in the Body of Christ. I am looking to be led and fed. (John 21) It seems though that by saying, "...the Church as a whole is guaranteed continuance." that this would include the Sacrament of Holy Orders, of course. However, I keep coming back to the notion that there must be an identifiable seat of authority. A point at which the Apostolic Succession can be traced- unbroken. I'm not entirely clear as to the best way to state what I'm thinking, but I sense that there is a disconnect in the explanations of Ecclesial authority on this site. Granted, I am a Roman Catholic and the circle is complete in my mind. The magesterium/Pope are the fulcrum; the identifiable seat of authority. However, the issue does seem relevant to the discussion because this is indeed how Roman Catholics see it as you know, maybe even better than me.

God Bless,
Pat

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Pat:

I appreciate the security you feel in the beliefs of your Church, because it would be very reassuring to believe that God has appointed an infallible shepherd. Nonetheless, we do not share that belief, but instead have the same security in the Church. God has given his infallible revelation, and we have no "disconnect" on the matter of authority. We believe our people must remain committed to learning the teaching of the Universal Church, Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.

We need not fix teaching authority in a particular See. Nor does Apostolic Succession depend on such a "seat of authority." The See of Rome has never taught that it is itself the guarantor of Apostolic Succession, and recognizes orders outside its own Communion, most obviously, the Orders of the Orthodox.

poetreader said...

Dear Pat,
You said this:

"However, I keep coming back to the notion that there must be an identifiable seat of authority."

That would seem to be, rather than a self-egvident proposition, a major difference of assumptions between us. "There MUST be ..."? Is that the only way God could have organized His Church? Is God so limited that He cannot preserve His truth without such a single identifiable human authority? I'm sorry, but that God appears altogether too small. God is able to govern His Church as he chooses to do, and our concepts of necessity are pretty much irrelevant. The question is as to whether he actually DID choose such a single identifiable authority, and, if so whether that authority is the pope. The Roman Church will answer both questions in the affirmative. Classic Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox will not. There is, to my eyes at least, no question of what God has to do, but as to what He did and does do. I'm rather tired of the arguments from necessity, as there simply is no such necessity.

ed

poetreader said...

Well, I was cross-posting with Fr. Hart. We seem to have been both saying about the same thing.

ed

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Pat,

You seem to be confusing two distinct issues. "Has God guaranteed any particular Church will continue to have Apostolic Succession?" and "Has any one Church or bishop been guaranteed continuance in orthodoxy?"

While Roman Catholics would say "Yes, to Rome in both cases", the reasons are not identical. The first continuation would still be explicitly dependent on the Church's broader Apostolic Succession of Orders and Jurisdiction, as bishops (whether of Rome or elsewhere) are generally not consecrated solo, but by at least three other bishops, who must have authority to do so, but none of which need be the Pope. So, a Pope's earlier consecration as a bishop, and his later election and installation in Rome (which cannot happen unless the former Pope is dead) are not merely dependent on some independent "papal succession" but on the Apostolic Succession more widely distributed. There is no necessary Petrine or Roman Succession in the same very "tactile" sense as there is an Apostolic Succession. Also, while the Church believes it can at no time be without bishops in the Apostolic Succession, it cn be bereft of a Pope for a time. At every interregnum, in fact, some of which have been long.

As for the second purported guarantee relating to orthodoxy, look at the relevant paper in "Fr Kirby's Apologetics" under "Resources" to see my take on that.

Carlos said...

Here's a pretty interesting Blog entry I found on Everybody's Favorite Anglican and his Orthodox relations.

http://josephpatterson.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/c-s-lewis-and-the-orthodox-church/

charles said...

I think the East is the best possible way to go. Please consider the generous provision for Anglicans in the Antiochian church. Anglicans don't have to surrender their cultural identity to become Orthodox:

http://www.westernorthodox.com/
http://www.allmercifulsavior.com/Western.html
http://www.orthodoxresurgence.com/petroc/

also this blog:
http://westernorthodox.blogspot.com/
May the Lord Hear our Prayers

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anglicans don't have to surrender their cultural identity to become Orthodox.

Neither do they have to become Orthodox to be fully part of the Holy Catholic Church.

chares said...

Dear Fr. Robert Hart,

I don't see a reason to reduce the 'church' to a barebone minimum of unity. The Orthodox have a sound practice of plurality (autochephalousy) within unity. But this unity is based on common canonical discipline, profession of dogmatic/creedal faith, and councilar government. Rather than reduce visible unity to a mere 'sentiment', I would say common courts, synods, and constitutions compose something much more concrete and substantial than 'feeling'. I believe we loose more than we gain by remaining independent in the ecclesial sense. John the Baptist said, "I shall become less, so He shall become more".. and St. Andrew and St. John thus left the Baptizer to become Apostles of Christ. Does our divisions and independence in the robe of Christ truly glorify Him? Does it advance the gospel and holiness of the Church? I really do not think so.

Respectfully,
charles
www.anglicanrose.wordpress.com

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I believe we need to find a way to heal the sad divisions of the Church. The reason for what I wrote earlier is this: In the meantime, Anglicans need not doubt the full validity of who they are in the Church. Also, real unity requires honesty and respect for the truth. The truth is, we are already One Church, and simply have to find a way to make that fact known instead of hidden, and accepted instead of denied.

Most differences between the Orthodox and the [Continuing] Anglicans are matters of polity rather than theology.

David said...

Father, who are the Anglicans in the church. I have never been able to pinpoint exactly what an Anglican is other than an Anglican being anyone within a range of theology and practice. It might be easier for the Orthodox to have unity with the Continuum if we knew what an Anglican believes. In the mean time I think caution about embracing people who may very well hold a faith in someways contrary to Orthodoxy is good.

I read this blog and feel good about the Continuum but I could visit the local APCK or ACA parish and become quite uncomfortable with the baptist theology of one and the lack of coherent understanding of the "catholic" faith in the other. When I became Orthodox it wasn't because I didn't want to be Anglican, I was just baffled by Anglicanism. I think there is something wrong when a former Mormon is able to make more sense of a fairly Greek explanation of Orthodoxy than Anglicanism.

David said...

In addition, I think remaining separated is better at this point with the understanding that I certainly wouldn't doubt salvation found in the Continuum, the TEC now that is another story.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

David:

Your description of what you may find in an APCK or ACA parish does not ring true. Baptist theology? Pray tell,just where have you been?

Nonetheless, when I have written about Anglican theology I have used the actual primary sources. Read my articles, especially over the last year, on this very blog. It is classic Anglicanism.

David said...

Father, I love your writings. I am hooked on this blog even though I am Orthodox because of your gift of communicating what can be very confusing material in a way a layperson can understand. I have been to a couple ACA parishes that were more Methodist, dare I say even Baptist in their asking for decisions or quoting baptist evangelist and theologians and others that were very catholic (Old St. Pauls in Portland ME, and St. Marks in Portland, OR. I don't mean to sound as if I am attacking the low church people, they just stand out in such stark contrast with the anglo-catholics. The APCK parishes felt less natural than the ACA parishes though there was a much stronger theological proclamation (and a catholic one at that) in the APCK parishes. I attribute my APCK experiences to circumstance. One parish had to meet in a lodge they rented that was neither comfortable or "churchly" and the other did not have a priest. I would say without a doubt you are Orthodox Father, my concern is with others who claim Anglicanism yet hold a theological perspective that is much different. It is confusing to say the least. I also don't think you personally need the official sanction of an Orthodox bishop to be in reality what you are as a result of your faith, ie. Orthodox. I say it is okay to be divided in corporation so long as we are united in faith.

I really hope that comes off they way I am trying to communicate it. I lack the gift you have Father.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

David:

Without a priest a congregation can do no more than Morning Prayer. Even so, that is really a derivative of St. Benedict's Rule rather than something Protestant in its roots.

I really cannot imagine either of those jurisdictions promoting anything that comes across as Baptist or Methodist; but some congregation off somewhere, geographically, could demonstrate ingrown characteristics.