Friday, October 23, 2009

Spoiling the party

I don't want to spoil the party
So I'll go
I would hate my disappointment to show

Except that, unlike those lyrics from a Beatles song, I am not going anywhere, and my response is not disappointment. One cannot be disappointed by what he expects. Actually, I am willing to spoil the party if that is what it takes. I could say, "no more Mr. Nice guy," except that I have never been thought of as a nice guy in the first place. At least, not by "Roman" polemicists and eager Tiber swimmers.

In the midst of heady, enthusiastic (if not Enthusiastic) responses to Rome's big offer, it seems necessary for someone to have the bad manners that it takes to remind people of classic Anglican disagreements with Roman doctrine. Or so some of the comments to my recent post, Thanks, but no thanks, indicate. And, although it should not be necessary to remind readers of this, the classic Anglican position is not to be found in the multitude of "spirituality" choices currently on the official Canterbury Anglican Communion menu. Neither the perpetual adolescents at Stand Firm, the way out liberals of the modern Broad Church ("Broad" as in 1940s movies- effeminate, with broads at the altar) which includes as well the "sacramental" buggery party, nor the fussy Anglo-Papalists, embrace classic Anglican doctrine. Rather, all of these people live by the humorous lyrics in another Beatles song: "I dig a pony, Where you can celebrate anything you want." Their "Anglicanism" is all made up in their own heads, and mutually affirmed in their own circles just enough to complete the process of deception with confidence. It began with that famous lie, "Anglicanism has no distinctive theology."

Of course that is a lie only when the sentence is incomplete. It is supposed to end with the words, "but only that of the Catholic Church." How often we have repeated on The Continuum those words, under our blog title, Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. How often we have reminded everybody that the goal of the English Reformers was to restore the full Catholic truth that had been lost by overmuch carnal and demonic "Doctrinal Development." By English Reformers, I mean the men who took up the pastoral challenge to reform the teaching and practice of the Church of England. I do not mean Henry VIII, whose only goal was to rule without interference. It is telling that in his announcement on Tuesday (Oct. 20, 2009), Cardinal Levada did what Romans always do: He laid the whole English Reformation on Henry, as if there was no Bloody Mary between Edward and Elizabeth, and as if there were no Cranmer, no Hooker, etc. who wanted to teach sound doctrine to the salvation of souls.

If ever we would see genuine Reunion in the Church, then ill mannered men like me will have to be given our say first: That is because real unity can have a chance only if it is to follow sincere discussion about theology, inasmuch as Christians must never divorce themselves from conscience and from love of the truth. Frankly, we have so much in common, that overcoming these theological differences is worth the effort. Therefore, it is necessary to state the differences that remain between us and Rome. Differences that are merely those of custom and ethos are important, but here we shall discuss the heavier matters of theology.

1. The papacy.

If we believe in the Universal Consensus of Antiquity then we cannot accept the magnified role of the bishop of Rome. Simply put, we believe in the Conciliar authority of the bishops of the Church, not in the Roman doctrine of Papal Universal Primacy (Before someone lectures us in comments, yes, we do understand the Roman doctrine: We do not agree with it).

2. Teaching authority.

Related to point 1, we believe that all doctrine must be thoroughly documented by the standard of Universal Consensus and Antiquity, and must come from the revelation of God in Scripture as its source. Rome claims to believe this too, but in practice they have relied instead on a flawed concept of Newman's theory of Doctrinal Development. Therefore, they have created "dogmas" such as the full blown Medieval theory of Purgatory and its related errors (which we will address), and have felt free to make dogmas out of pious customs, namely the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, requiring them as necessary to salvation even though they cannot be proved by Holy writ (see Article VI).

3. Justification

The Gospel cannot be preached truly unless we believe that Christ's sacrifice alone is all that is needed to take away human sin. Rome does teach this in their Catechism of the Catholic Church, but on the same exact page they restate their belief that the merits of the saints can be applied by the Church to remit human sins.

May I suggest that this apparent self-contradiction is because Rome confuses Tradition with precedent? The burden of having to keep every doctrine ever taught, instead of weighing truth against error by the standard of Scripture with Universal Consensus and Antiquity, creates a disability that hinders direct and powerful proclamation of the Gospel. They want to proclaim that Christ's sacrifice alone is full and sufficient, but they are in bondage to a Medieval error that ought to be tossed out. This is no small matter. It must be thoroughly discussed and cleared up.

"Article XIV. Of Works of Supererogation.

Voluntary Works besides, over and above, God's Commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety: for by them men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants."

The above Article is simply the only doctrine known to the ancient Church, and it is consistent with the testimony of every saint who has ever left behind any record of the struggles, the sins and the mercy that were experienced in this transitory life. It is beyond question drawn from the Bible. If the Church has been given some "treasury" of the merits of saints, then it must be that these people were so righteous that God owes sinful mankind a credit based on the merits of these saints; and although that credit is applied against some idea of "temporal punishment" in a state called Purgatory, the idea of any remission of sins that allows one unhindered entrance into God's presence, other than Christ's own sacrifice of himself once offered, is heresy. It is a false Gospel, and therefore no small matter (Gal. 1:8).

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ...For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." (Rom. 5:1, 7-11)

Saint Paul taught very clearly that justification comes by God's grace, because he does not hold the sinner guilty; not only is the sinner forgiven, but all sin is forgotten; it has been taken away. Justification leads to sanctification, but the justification of the ungodly that comes through faith is immediate, not a process inasmuch as mercy can have no process that delays its full effects.

"Article XXII. Of Purgatory.

The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God."

It may be that some kind of theory of Purgatory, other than "the Romish doctrine" referred to here, is the only meaningful interpretation of various passages that speak of the many stripes given to those who knew, and the few to the ignorant, or of Paul's account of loss by fire of wood, hay and stubble. That is, a final cleansing. It is just as reasonable that this purifying will be painful but achieved in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the carnal and fallen mortal condition of the saints must finally die as the power of Christ's transforming immortality perfects all those who are raised after pattern of his resurrection.

Nonetheless, we must be unhindered in our efforts to preach the Gospel. The doctrine condemned in Article XXII was an elaborately constructed teaching about how individuals may earn credits, may receive pardons based on merits of the saints, and be granted a shorter sentence in Purgatory. Indeed, the whole emphasis of complete repentance and genuine faith, so as to be restored to fellowship with God in this life and the in the age to come, was lost. The realization that Christ had offered himself once for all (Heb. 10:10) was lost. Instead, people performed works to lessen the time of temporal punishment, an entire concept that is alien to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, contrary to Scripture, unknown by the Fathers, indeed, "repugnant to the word of God." And, the whole idea of long sentences in Purgatory contradicts the clear teaching that Christ will come again, and that "the dead in Christ shall rise first." (I Thess. 4:16) For, in that whole crazy system, sinners working off their sins will always have time to serve in Purgatory, and so Christ could never return. The time would never be right.

In short, it is a damnable heresy that denies the Gospel. Furthermore, it calls into question Christology.

Our Book of Common Prayer draws from the Epistle to the Hebrews and from the First Epistle of St. John to give us this powerful proclamation in our service of Holy Communion (all of which is edited out of the "Anglican" Use Rite approved by Rome-for no good reason):

(Using the version as it appears in the American , Episcopal Prayer Book, edition 1928)

"ALL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious the death and sacrifice, until his coming again."

That the "Romish Doctrine of Purgatory," with all of its related errors, calls into question the Christological truth drawn from Scripture and well defended at the Council of Chalcedon, should be easy to understand. If anything needs to be added to Christ' sacrifice* then we lessen his Divinity. The death of Christ is not full, perfect and sufficient ultimately because of the intensity of his suffering, but because of the Divine nature of his Person. The Man who is also the Word made flesh, the one who is complete in two natures, the Eternally Begotten Son who is of the same substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten not made, has taken time into his eternity, created nature into his uncreated being, and mortality into his immortal Person. The Person who is both God and man suffered and died. He was sinless, holy and righteous as the Lamb without spot, and he was God the Son, like the Lion who appeared as a Lamb that had been slain (Rev. 5:5,6). How could the death of the sinless one be less than redemptive; and how could the death of the one who is fully God and fully man be less than full, perfect and sufficient? The cross saves us from all sin and from death because of the Divine Person who died there. If we claim to need anything else, are we not denying that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? (I John 4:1f)

This may spoil the party, but before we can enter into real unity, we have genuine work to do.
_________________________
* I fear someone may think that St. Paul's words contradict my point: "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church." (Col. 1: 24) St. Paul was not setting forth his sufferings as adding to Christ's atonement, but identifying his sufferings with those of his Lord, as all true disciples may, and trusting that those sufferings were all serving a good purpose in the hands of God.

42 comments:

Independent said...

Surely classic Anglican doctrine is that of Thomas Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, and Elizabeth's bishops? A Protestant Church, recognised by all other Protestant Churches in the 16th Century as one of them can of course have no truck with Rome.

However the heirs of the Tractarian revolutionaries can now carry their revolution to its logical end.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

Father Hart:

From all the comments I’ve read here on this subject, it seems to me that it is the papacy, either its very existence or its scope, which creates a leitmotif in this discussion.

Please allow me to suggest a different approach to consider when analyzing this question:

In the twentieth century, papacy came under attack from the new totalitarian systems that were trying to establish and perpetuate themselves, primarily communism. Within that system, as it “matured” in its brutality, the methods to eliminate the Church changed over time. The early outright killing of the clergy was slowly replaced by a more refined method that sometimes went under the name of “de-lamination”.

Communists understood, correctly, that first and foremost, the head in Rome should be “delaminated” from the rest of the local body. A headless body can then be further delaminated via local “bishops councils”, work of the “patriotic priests”, compromised theologians, agents among the laity, etc. All this was submerged in a continuous campaign to ridicule and promote the worst possible view of the papacy and the Church. Their desired result here was to have disconnected and frightened remnants nervously reading their Bible under a 40-watt light bulb with curtains drawn.

In view of this history, my advice to you is this: take a broader view of this subject.

It would be a shame if those readers who can connect various historical dots erroneously conflated your arguments with such ideological goals regarding the papacy. You don’t deserve it, but the difference here may depend on whether one does his work with a hammer or a scalpel, and on the breadth of one’s historical perspective.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr Hart,
Thank you for this. It is much needed at this time.
But words are vital. What Anglicans have learned to reject (along with the Eastern churches), is not the universal PRIMACY of the Bishop of Rome, which simply means that he is first among equal brother bishops,and which is not disputed by Anglicans or Orthodox, but the unjustly claimed universal SUPREMACY of the same prelate, which means that he is ABOVE his brethren.

desertowl

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Indepedent:

However the heirs of the Tractarian revolutionaries can now carry their revolution to its logical end.

If that end is to convert to RCism in its unreformed condition, then go ahead (as several have already), but you will do so without me.

Mark VA:

In view of this history, my advice to you is this: take a broader view of this subject.


I suggest you take a broader view of history. It was not only RC priests who suffered persecution, but others as well. Richard Wurmbtrandt, for example, was a Lutheran.

It would be a shame if those readers who can connect various historical dots erroneously conflated your arguments with such ideological goals regarding the papacy. You don’t deserve it, but the difference here may depend on whether one does his work with a hammer or a scalpel, and on the breadth of one’s historical perspective.

I fail to see what this has to do with theological issues of disagreement. Rome will always have a bishop, so the papacy will continue. But, the questions and debates about doctrine that exist today may not exist tomorrow;And the papacy may, indeed, someday be restored to its ancient role, if Rome will accept the limited role within the Conciliar model that they accepted in Antiquity.

Canon Tallis said...

Very well done, Father.

I grieve for Independent who probably believes that the proper course for Anglicans is continue to disobey the Book of Common Prayer and its rubrics as many who took that view of Anglicanism did, but when Elizabeth's book and its successor is obeyed in all things the interpretation which they have attempted to put upon it fails.

I also feel very sorry for Mark VA in that he fails to recognize that a great deal of the tragedy of the last century is directly related to the action and inaction of the Roman Church. Rome placed itself on the side of tyranny and autocracy - something she would wish us to forget at the moment. The socialist and communist movements simply copied her methods and went beyond them because without belief in God real morality is quite difficult. I am sure he forgets the ease with which Rome explained the murder of protestant and other missionaries in Central and South American countries. But the truth is that religion creates the culture and moral climate of countries and thus influences their politics. Anglicanism made its English speaking daughters the freest nations in the world while its decline threatens those same liberties. One only need look at the difference between the French and the American revolutions.

I can accept the Bishop of Rome in the position accorded him by the canons of the first two general councils, but what they have attempted to make of themselves in the last thousand years is simply too much like a denial of the decision which our Lord made in his third temptation.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

Father Hart wrote:

"I fail to see what this has to do with theological issues of disagreement"

What I'm trying to say is that while we have our theological discussions regarding the role of the Papacy, we must take care not to promote the idea that it may be reduced to a toothless ceremonial role. Also, it would be helpful if those engaging in such discussions were more cognizant of the various types of attacks on the Papacy, both religious and secular in nature;

".. if Rome will accept the limited role within the Conciliar model that they accepted in Antiquity"

I wish I shared your, in my opinion, rather idealized view of the "Conciliar" model of the Church. While Church councils are necessary, at the same time they too are susceptible to outside manipulation, factionalism, and infiltration, just as individual parishes and various Church organizations are. Combine such manipulation and infiltration with a nominal Papacy, and then what kind of protection will an individual believer have against the wolves?

"It was not only RC priests who suffered persecution, but others as well. Richard Wurmbtrandt, for example, was a Lutheran."

I'm well aware that our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ suffered under totalitarian regimes (former East Germany comes to my mind). Their lot was often worse, since their organizational structures were no match for the methods used against them.

Let me conclude this way: as the wolves of this world organize and adjust their methods against Christ, so must the Papacy adjust, hold fast to Christ, and find effective ways to confirm the brethren in the Faith.

Anonymous said...

It is very easy to defend the Roman papacy when the chair is occupied by great men. I was born during the pontificate of Pius XII. He was, in my estimation, a truly great man. John XXIII, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI are great men. The last two have been world class theologians in their own right, quite apart from the office they hold.

But our evaluation of the entire institution must come to grips with the flagrantly corrupt and grossly immoral Renaissance popes. It is no exaggeration to describe such characters as Antichrist. The equally corrupt and immoral prelates in our time who have led their dioceses into bankruptcy over sodomitical practices warn us that it could be that way again in the Vatican.

The papal claims to not stand up to the simple facts of history. Papal infallibility was an invention of trhe high middle ages. According to the RC historian Brian Tierney, papal infallibility was a theory which emerged in disputes among the Franciscans in their attempts to define poverty. According to Tierney, the first Mediaeval figure to advocate the PI concept was one Peter Olivi, a Franciscan of the more rigorous "Spiritual" school. But (and here is the supreme irony) his purpose in developing the "Infallibility" concept was not to elevate the papacy, but rather to restrain it. Olivi's argument was that no living pope could alter the rulings or teachings of his dead predecessors. Of course this was utterly reversed in the 19th century innovations of 1854 and 1870. But the close study of mediaeval developments shows how far RC official theology has drifted. Conservative RC's are fond of the term "revisionist" for describing liberal Episcopalians and liberal RC's.
But surely there are no revisions in Christian history which equal the constant self-reinventions of the Diocese of Rome.
LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I agree with Fr. Wells, of course. To their credit, it is obvious that good popes, like the current one, really do see Infallibility as a constraining thing, forcing them to keep the Faith rather than redefining it. That is good and bad. It is good concerning subjects like abortion and women's ordination. It is bad concerning the theological baggage I have discussed above, obvious errors that need further reformation within Roman Catholicism.

But the problem is the whole papal system. It is largely invented, not ordained of God. Mark VA has pointed out that the Church was not perfect in the Conciliar days either, which is also to say, not perfect in Eastern Orthodoxy, or not perfect among Anglicans like us. That is because of a problem that the papacy cannot remove, and that no polity can remove, not even the very best polity: The problem of sin. Trying to remove the effect of sin, both on doctrine and actions, by some perfect system, is not possible. God never established any such polity or system, but nonetheless promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Every Epistle of St. Paul, except to the Church in Rome (obviously not the Church in Rome during the Renaissance), rebuked the sins of those churches, and corrected their errors. But, he also trusted God's grace within and among the people of the churches.

I do not see the point of Mark VA's argument. Some of the darkest deeds of Roman Catholic clergy in recent years happened on the watch of John Paul II, partly because he may have been too good a man to believe that these things were happening, and that his bishops were protecting the wolves in priestly garb who abused the children. I contend that if the Papacy was truly the voice of God, as they allege, and the pope truly God's appointed universal pastor, he would have not only this infallibility they speak of, but the prophetic power to confront hidden sin as Peter did in the case of Ananias and Sapphira. That is the Biblical standard of prophetic charism. We have not seen this in the papacy.

Mark VA wrote:

Combine such manipulation and infiltration with a nominal Papacy, and then what kind of protection will an individual believer have against the wolves?

At various times popes themselves have been the wolves; such as the crusading Pope Urban or the Renaissance popes. In our time we saw that a pope did not protect children from wolves hiding in the priesthood. I am sorry to have to ask this; but, Mark VA, have you been away on some other planet for the last few years? What idealized papacy are you thinking of? In the real world we have seen a sex abuse scandal among RC clergy while a pope would not lift his finger to stop it, because, for too long, he refused to believe it was happening. And, that was a good pope.

RC Cola said...

Like the grossly immoral Popes of the Renaissance, the founder of the Church of England, Henry VIII, was no gem of a man, no exemplar of virtue, but this does not invalidate his kingship or his head of the Church of England. Or, if we judge Henry, many of his appointed bishops who gleefully absconded with the property of the abbeys and monasteries, should we not then castigate them the same way as the Popes?

Canon Tallis, I like your posts very much, but to claim that the CofE was a force for freedom when it was comfortably in bed with one of modern history's most brutal colonizers is nearly nauseating.

That's not to say that the C of E did not do any good. It did, but to claim that the RCC was in bed with tyranny and oppression, while casually gliding over England's sins is unjust and intellectually dishonest. I sure as heck didn't leave Rome for Anglicanism because of England's glorious record, but despite it's record.

Let's put it this way, if I were searching for a religion in which everyone is innocent and always did God's Will, then I'd search bitterly until my dying day. The only people who have succeeded in following the maxims of their founders are the Marxists. he promised hatred, death and revolution, and that is exactly what every Marxist nation and group has delivered.

Since they are the only authentic witness to their faith, shall I cast my lot in with them? I think not. I have yet to find any logic in those who would decide to believe in a faith based on all of the "great things" our religion has done, when our faith clearly states that we cannot be saved by works. As Luther would say, those great things we try to claim for the C of E are "piles of dung covered in snow."

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

Father Hart:

Fair enough. Your heritage may encourage you to accentuate the failings and the shortcomings of various Popes, yet honesty demands that, when warranted, they be acknowledged and dealt with. Let's take a look at Pope John Paul II. There are several issues that I see as problems during his pontificate:

First, is the sex abuse scandal. We don't know how much information or disinformation was given to the Vatican on this subject, but in my opinion, a mere suspicion that such grave crimes may have taken place called for a Vatican investigation and action. That action should probably have included the removal of some bishops from their office. Why there was a failure to do this, is anybody's guess. My guess is that there was too much benefit of the doubt given to the veracity of the reports from the affected local Bishops. Also, this inaction may have been fed by a conviction that this local issue can be dealt with locally - in retrospect, a misapplication of the subsidiarity principle. Plus, the fact that today the Roman Catholic Church has a comparatively small cultural presence in the English speaking world, may also have played into this inaction;

The second problem is much more elusive. In Pope's homeland during the Communist occupation, it has long been known that a certain percentage of the clergy was compromised. Subsequent research after the collapse of Communism puts this number at fifteen percent. Thus, while the eighty five percent of the faithful clergy fought magnificently, and ultimately won, the remaining fifteen percent did not. The question for today is, what do you do with these now elderly fifteen percent of the priests?

The third issue I see is that during this pontificate there was a lowering of ecclesiastical discipline in some parts of the English speaking world, which has not been dealt with in a timely manner. The progressive seminaries seem to have been reformed. The legitimacy of the Traditional Mass is no longer under suspicion. But it is only now that the Vatican is taking a look at those progressive female orders that should have been looked at a couple of decades ago.

So, this is some of the Roman Catholic dirty laundry, out in full view. However, it should also be said that there were strengths and accomplishments in this Papacy. He strengthened much of the flock in the Faith, debunked many intellectual pretensions that seek to corrode the Faith, and he laid much of the foundation our current Pope is building on. Many of today's conservative young priests and seminarians are partly his legacy. Plus, he did his part in the struggle against totalitarianisms.

You ask "What idealized papacy are you thinking of?". Come on - let's ask more serious questions. Would you listen to a Pope who publicly denied he was a follower of Christ? Yes, Popes can commit sins, and yes, a robust Papacy is absolutely necessary in this world.

Anonymous said...

A prominent figure in the announcement of a few days ago is this Cardinal Levada, formerly of California. I do not agree with those who feel that somehow it is not proper to bring up recent sex scandals as relevant to the current proposal. To research this man, simply consult the website of "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" (SNAP for short). Type in the single word "Levada" and you will find plenty. The details are there. He is obviously not the sort of person you would place in charge of your acolytes and would probably fail a background check with any respectable diocese.
The misty-eyed advocates of Tiber-swimming need a good dose of reality.
LKW

Anonymous said...

Mark VA writes:

"You ask "What idealized papacy are you thinking of?". Come on - let's ask more serious questions."


Mark, it is a serious question, and you cannot treat it so dismissively. At what time in history has a particular pope exemplified all that you claim for it?

And with all your concessions, do you seriously ask us to believe in papal infallibility?
LKW

John A. Hollister said...

RC Cola referred to "the founder of the Church of England, Henry VIII...."

I protest. The "founder" of the C of E was, in the long view, Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the short view, it was some unknown missionary from the Roman Empire who has traditionally been represented by Joseph of Arimathea. If someone of later date is needed, then it probably should be St. Hilda of Whitby.

What is all too often forgotten is that Henry Tudor "founded" nothing. He did not even cause the C of E to recover the national independence of Rome that had, to some degree, voluntarily suspended in 664 A.D.

As Fr. Hart has pointed out on numerous occasions, Henry did not "separate from Rome". All he did was enforce and bring up to date certain long-standing English statutes, the effect of which was to limit drastically the amount of money that annually left the kingdom for Rome, and to stop English litigants in the Church courts from delaying cases for decades by appealing from the Provincial Courts to Rome.

The only "separation" that took place during his reign was the Pope's attempt to excommunicate him, an act that had no effect whatever and, in any case, became moot on Henry's death. This was demonstrated by the complete rapprochement between the two churches that took place on the ascension of Bloody Mary, in 1553, and that lasted until 1570 when, again, it was severed by Rome.

So, rather than saying the "founder" of the Church of England was Henry VIII, it would be closer to the facts, although still incorrect, to say it was Pius V.

John A. Hollister+

palaeologos said...

What Henry attempted to do by judicial fiat was essentially the same thing as their Catholic Majesties of Spain had done in a more quiet manner : to gain absolute personal control over the Church in his lands. But in Spain this was done much more subtly, and through diplomacy (the scalpel), whereas Henry attempted to manage it in one stroke (the hammer). Henry certainly didn't intend the state of affairs that now exists, or even that which existed 100 years after his death.

In other words, Henry didn't intend to found a separate church. That was never his program. He meant to continue Catholicism in his country as it had always been practiced, with a few minor reforms, yet continue it separate from Papal influence and interference. It was Edward VI, under the influence of Continental reformers through his ecclesiastical advisers, who led the C of E in a more Protestant direction (for good or for ill, or perhaps I should say "for good and for ill" since both good and bad things came of it).

Fr. Robert Hart said...

(I have dealt with the Henry matter in a somewhat humorous piece. http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2008/01/henry-you-say.html)


The relevance of Rome's obsession with Henry VIII was demonstrated by Cardinal Levada on Tuesday. The standard RC version of history was repeated, and that version is simply wrong. By making Henry the chief figure, it is easy to portray Anglicanism as a bastard child. If that false history will be part of an Anglican Studies program for the new priests in this extended "Anglican" Use/Pastoral Provision Ordinariate arrangement, all the more reason to keep away from it.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

LKW:

A straw man argument was set up that an "idealized" view of the Papacy was being promoted. Thus the question "What idealized papacy are you thinking of?" was dismissed.

You ask "At what time in history has a particular pope exemplified all that you claim for it?"

What is it that I'm claiming for it? If anything, I freely agreed with and commented on the perceived shortcomings of some of the recent Popes. Since criticism seems to be the lens thru which many of you look at this institution, I adopted it, up to a point, as my entry into your discussion. I've also mentioned that the Papacy has enemies both Christian and secular. I've not yet asked anyone to believe in Papal infallibility (i.e. when he is speaking ex-cathedra regarding doctrines on faith and morals).

Some of the thinking here on Papal infallibility strikes me as "reverse hagiography" - unless the personal character of every Pope is picture perfect in every way, infallibility, even if tightly defined, cannot stand. Since such Popes don't exist (I hear they go to confession quite frequently), it is equally unlikely that you'll ever have to change your mind about infallibility. An impossible standard leading to a hasty conclusion. If I misread this, please correct my thinking.

poetreader said...

I can't venture to speak for Fr. Wells, but while I find his degree of negativity toward Rome to be a bit overdone, I am (as usually) in fundamental agreement with him.

From my viewpoint, the failures of certain Popes (not a few, I'm afraid) to teach by example put their possession of the kind of authority they claim under very strong question. I would expect to see a charism that does not appear to be present in a person so infallibly guided by the Spirit. I would certainly expect to see that in a person with whom one must be connected in order to be fully a Catholic Christian.

Though I would still see the papal claims as unsupported by Scripture and Tradition, if all the popes had been obviously saintly, such a situation would force me to look more deeply. However, that kind of evidence is lacking.

Yes, though not proof one way or the other, the character of those occupying that see is certainly a part of what has to be considered.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The problem with the papacy (rather than the pope, currently a man I deeply respect) is that too much is claimed for it, and too much expected of it. For the Roman Patriarch to submit himself, even if as "first in honor" (whatever that really means), to the Patriarchs and universal College of Bishops according to the example of of the First several centuries, would restore rather than destroy the papacy. It would put back in perspective what one man, with whatever charismatic endowments, may actually do and do well. We do not envision a universal Church without the See of Rome and Patriarch of the West (a title that ought not to have been trashed); we do not say to any member of the Body, "I have no need of thee."

It is the extraordinary claims of the See of Rome, which claims have evolved even in recent centuries, that make it impossible to be in communion with it on its own terms. We would gladly share sacramental communion with the pope, but not on terms forbidden by conscience and precluded by wisdom.

Albion Land said...

Fr Hart said:

"For the Roman Patriarch to submit himself, even if as "first in honor" (whatever that really means), to the Patriarchs and universal College of Bishops according to the example of of the First several centuries, would restore rather than destroy the papacy."

My understanding is that 'first in honour' refers to the fact that Rome was the capital of the empire, and it was for that reason that its bishop/patriarch be accorded that place.

'Submit' might not be the right word, but reconcile himself, yes; recognise that the undivided church never accorded him universal authority and act accordingly.

poetreader said...

Actually, to call on the pope to submit to his brethren is no less than what the Apostle asked of all Christisn: "Submit yourselves one to another"

ed

Anonymous said...

Mark VA strikes again:

"Some of the thinking here on Papal infallibility strikes me as "reverse hagiography" "

That's very unfair, Mark. We have been at pains to emphasize our admiration of nd gratitude for Popes like Pius XII, John XXIII, etc. That list could be expanded to include Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, etc. I am finding it harder and harder to take you seriously.

"An impossible standard leading to a hasty conclusion."

A charming epigram which neatly summarizes Vatican I.

LKW

Death Bredon said...

In light of the recent English tour of the bones of Teresa of Avilla, might I be so bold as to add the the monstrous, grave-desecrating and corpse defiling, "Romish doctrine of relics," to the enumeration of stumbling blocks between formulary Anglicans our Roman (and Orthodox) cousins.

Indeed, let us instead recall the practice of the primitive Church, which reverently GATHERED the remains of the martyred Polycarp, so that he might rest in peace, as the ancient funeral rites exhort, and even be honored at his resting place by pilgrims moved by the Spirit of love to do so.

Let us but a stop to the superstitious and pagan practice of dismembering, trafficking, parading, and displaying bodily relics of the Saints; rather let them rest in peace in their home parish as was the original Christian, and still is, the Anglican way of things.

Death Bredon said...

I'd like to raise two points of fact regarding the historical record that have arisen in the comments:

First, most of the Tractarians were NOT in great sympathy with Roman doctrine, worship, or spirituality. Only a handful "Poped." Rather, it was the post-Tractarians, sometimes called "sub-Tractarians" in the historical literature, that morphed into the Advanced Ritualism of the Victorian Anglo-Catholics -- that is, adopted the liturgical, ceremonial, doctrinal, and spiritual program of the Counter-Reformation. So, please, let not pretend that the Caroline Divines, the Old High Churcham, and the Tractarians were precursors to reunion with Rome--to the contrary they were internal Anglican movements seeking the restoration of the Primitive Religion within an English-Speaking cultural context.

Second, Henry the VIII was decidedly Roman in his faith, as witnessed by his Six Articles as well as his Papal honorific, "Defender of the Faith." Rather, he and he alone, not the English Church, broke with Rome over a very narrow question regarding the scope of papal disciplinary authority. In sum, he is not the Father of the separated Church of England, or even an Anglican divine.

To the contrary, Elizabeth I, was the mother of Anglicanism proper, as a national catholic church intent on restoring primitive, catholic faith and practice within an English context, which fact was viciously and violently and unChristianly recognized by Rome shortly after the English Religious Settlement.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

LKW:

I like your quip about Vatican I – superb retort (even if I disagree with it). I’ll try to be more appreciative of your appreciation for the “good Popes”.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

Father Hart:

Regarding your proposal that the Pope "...submit himself, even if as "first in honor" (whatever that really means), to the Patriarchs and universal College of Bishops ...":

If the Pope was conservative, and this College was dominated by a progressive faction (we all know how progressives feel drawn to committees, their natural habitat), then how would all this work out?

To be balanced, I''ll try to work out the implications of the opposite case.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Mark VA:

You have brought up the other problem with the RCC; it has a college of bishops no more trustworthy than those in the Canterbury Club.

But, I was speaking of a larger doctrinal problem, and not without regard for the Orthodox jurisdictions.

RC Cola said...

Apparently at least one African Anglican bishop is mulling over the "deal." Does he really want to make the move, or is he hoping to force Rowan Williams' hand to expel the loopy left from the Anglican Communion?

In other news, the Church of Sweden has voted to [faux-]marry gay couples with a Church service. The northern Lutheran bishops were not happy. Perhaps Benedict XVI will consider throwing a life raft into the Swedish waters now, too? How will the Lutherans respond?

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Simply put, we believe in the Conciliar authority of the bishops of the Church, not in the Roman doctrine of Papal Universal Primacy (Before someone lectures us in comments, yes, we do understand the Roman doctrine: We do not agree with it).

Traditionally, Anglicans have accepted a Roman Primacy but not an absolute monarchy of the Bishop of Rome. As I have argued in the past(http://members.ozemail.com.au/~frmkirby/papacy.htm) , there are ways of interpreting Vatican I that avoid the latter.

Mark VA said...

Father Hart:

By now this is a cliche, but we Christians do live in particularly difficult times, and many of our institutions (yours and mine) necessarily share in these trials. Much of this difficulty is of our own making, and some comes from outside opportunists smelling weakness. I try to be honest and realistic about the state of affairs in my Church, as far as my knowledge allows, and confess schadenfreude if I fall into it.

I generally shy away from certain all encompassing judgments, as, for example, that an entire college of Bishops is untrustworthy (you do like our current Pope I noticed - the College of Cardinals must have done something right). Keep in mind that my Church is a truly global institution - Her problems and strengths in the English speaking world may be different from those in Brazil, China, Croatia, France, Italy, Nigeria, the Philippines, or Poland, to name just a few.

In spite of all these problems, I believe it is safe to say that in the Roman Catholic Church there will not be priestesses, Her defined sexual morality will never be subjected to a vote, and the Papacy will continue, to name just a few constants. And She will suffer public correction from a Higher Power if She strays, as we have recently seen.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

The Gospel cannot be preached truly unless we believe that Christ's sacrifice alone is all that is needed to take away human sin. Rome does teach this in their Catechism of the Catholic Church, but on the same exact page they restate their belief that the merits of the saints can be applied by the Church to remit human sins.

That is not quite accurate. The "Treasury of Merits" applies not to the remission of sins as to their guilt, but to the "remission" of the temporal penalty of sins which have "already been forgiven" (CCC: 1471). And it is accepted that such penalties can be completely avoided by a conversion that is animated by "fervent charity" and thus opens the sinner up to a more complete transformation and cleansing (CCC: 1472).

Other relevant points:

1. The good deeds of Church members as a corporate entity do have an intrinsic existence and value, as Rev. 19.8 shows, though it is founded in Christ's merits as comparison with Rev. 7.14 indicates.

2. Similarly, RC doctrine says that Christ's Merits in the "Treasury" are infinite (and therefore simply cannot be supplemented or "added to" in the proper sense) and are the basis of all derivative Christian "meriting".

3. "Merits" are said to be "owed" only because God has obliged himself to reward our good deeds caused by his Grace (CCC:2007, 2008), not because our intrinsic goodness obliges Him, since whatever good we do finds its ultimate source in his Gift. Anglican tradition accepts the concept of such rewards (Collect for Sunday Next before Advent).

4. "Times" in Purgatory were not meant to be taken literally, since there is no claim that the "times" once allocated on the basis of equivalent ancient ecclesiastical penances on earth correspond to identical periods in Purgatory, especially since Purgatory is not necessarily considered to possess precisely the same temporality anyway. In fact, I think the present Pope speculated formerly that the process could be much more like the very quick and intense process described by Fr Hart. And any "purgation" not completed by the Second Coming is seen as completed at that time anyway.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Mark VA wrote:

In spite of all these problems, I believe it is safe to say that in the Roman Catholic Church there will not be priestesses, Her defined sexual morality will never be subjected to a vote...

It is equally safe to say these things will not happen in the Anglican Catholic Church, also a truly global institution.

Fr. Kirby wrote:

The "Treasury of Merits" applies not to the remission of sins as to their guilt, but to the "remission" of the temporal penalty of sins which have "already been forgiven" (CCC: 1471).

Well, Fr., I cannot quite make out how you would define "forgiven." Living with consequences is one thing; but punishment meted out for what is also forgiven just doesn't wash. Purification of godly character is another thing altogether.

3. "Merits" are said to be "owed" only because God has obliged himself to reward our good deeds caused by his Grace (CCC:2007, 2008)

This gets very technical, and the whole discussion, whatever its academic strengths and weaknesses, begins in a philosophical context where Scripture is a foreign country. I say it hinders a direct proclamation that men must confess and repent, and be reconciled to God right now through his Son. it weighs down this practical demand of the Gospel with all kinds of speculative distractions.

"Times" in Purgatory were not meant to be taken literally, since there is no claim that the "times" once allocated on the basis of equivalent ancient ecclesiastical penances on earth correspond to identical periods in Purgatory...

I appreciate the philosophical abstraction for its intellectual and imaginative value. Nonetheless, I was, at that point, describing a system of thought that had created an elaborate system of religious belief and practice by the 16th century, one that was wholly alien to the Gospel of Christ.

I appreciate modern RC theologians trying to make sense of that system. But, I note that they are not free to hold it up to the brightest light and question it fully. They cannot ask what is the origin of it? They cannot consider, as we can, whether or not it is consistent with, or whether or not it comes from, the Bible as received and understood with Universal Consensus in Antiquity.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

Father Hart wrote:

"It is equally safe to say these things will not happen in the Anglican Catholic Church..."

If such things won't happen in the ACC, and from what I've seen I too tend to believe this, it will be due to courageous men like you.

Anonymous said...

"I appreciate modern RC theologians trying to make sense of that system. But, I note that they are not free to hold it up to the brightest light and question it fully. They cannot ask what is the origin of it? They cannot consider, as we can, whether or not it is consistent with, or whether or not it comes from, the Bible as received and understood with Universal Consensus in Antiquity."

Of course RC theologians can do all of this Fr. Hart. They indeed do all of this right down to,... "whether or not it is consistent with, or whether or not it comes from, the Bible as received and understood with Universal Consensus in Antiquity." Every bit of this is done by RC theologians. Just because you arrive at a different understanding of all of these matters doesn't mean it's not done by RC theologians. It also does not mean that your understanding of,..."the Bible as received and understood with Universal Consensus in Antiquity." is correct.

This is the one thing that I don't understand about you Fr. Hart. You are truly brilliant; you have a very sharp eye for pointing out inconsistencies in other's views,but you fail to apply the same sharp eye to your own view. It is like one big exercise in Question begging. I assume at this point that you realize that there are any number of, "Fr. Hart's" so to speak, that represent all other denominations. IOW, this is a zero sum gain. There are any number of RC theologians that I read who can convince me that everything you say about Anglicanism and the RCC is not exactly right. Then they proceed to show exactly how this is true. They do it the same exact way you do with Anglicanism and RCC. I don't know about anyone here but I find this fact very humbling. Each side is equally convincing. Each side has flaws. I'm convinced that there has to be a better way to reunite while honoring all sides. Obviously, as Fr. Hart has noted, the Petrine Ministry in the Church is a fact any way we look at it. I would be interested to hear what the Continuing Anglicans are doing to engage with Rome.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Another hit and run Anonymous.

Of course they may examine, but not to determine whether or not it is true. Inasmuch as this doctrine comes from absolutely nothing known to the ancient Church, not from so much as one passage of Scripture, or interpretation thereof by the Fathers, what should be questioned is the truth of it, plain and simple.

poetreader said...

Yes, "anonymous" (and once again, we would appreciate some kind of name, even if it be an assumed one), an RC is free to examine the Scriptures and the Fathers, and there is a lot of good scholarship to be found there, but an RC is not free to judge by those sources whether some papal or magisterial pronouncement is true. In the final analysis, rather than the teaching being driven and judged by the source material, the source material needs to be reinterpreted to fit the teaching. A Classic Anglican would perceive that to be just exactly backward and therefore rather dangerous.

ed

charles said...

Archbishop Haverland's statement on the RC's constitution (when it is finalized) will determine much regarding the future of BCP catholicism. I fear we must suffer for lax teaching and zero catechizing in many Anglo-catholic parishes.

I only speak from my own eye-witness experience, e.g., the alleged irrelevancy of 39 Articles, no understanding or mentioning of justification by faith, "seven sacraments" in the St. Louis Affirmation, adopting RC historiography (the so-called schism of early Protestantism), RC feasts and Papist Saints from the Missal, reading literature by Benedict XVI on Lent, confirming without using offices of instruction, EWTN being quoted by parishioners in study without correction, placing aesthetic above doctrine and confession, candles under images, marian chapels, etc..

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I am the one who has argued that Article XXV does teach seven sacraments.

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2009/08/hooker-on-incarnation-salvation-and.html

In general, however, I agree with the concern Charles has raised about Anglican churches in the Continuum that simply fail to teach their people anything but RC Lite. It is a distortion of what the Anglo-Catholic movement was about.

poetreader said...

I do agree, Fr, Hart, and, hopefully without seeming offensive, I find Charles' presentation to be ample evidence of the problem. We do have those who merely present Roman Lite, and we have those who look for things in the Roman Church against which to rail. The mixed bag of things he is upset about full well illustrate a lack of truly Anglican balance in the teaching he has had. We need to do better. We are not Roman Catholics, but neither are we Evangelical Protestants. Fr, Nalls in his reflection of Bishop Grafton makes an excellent effort in the direction we need to go if we are to survive with the wirtness God has entrusted to us.

ed

Anonymous said...

Charles:
No one has ever accused me of "Romanism Lite," as my Reformed credentials are pretty good. But Benedict XVI is an excellent spritual writer in my view. I am grateful for EWTN and have given money to its support. I quote Fr Benedict Groeschel more frequently than John Stott. And yes, we have candles before the Shrine of OLW and St Charles the Martyr. If my friends at "Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals" think I am inconsistent, they just do not understand.

I do hope and pray that the current discussion does not turn into a fit of nasty Know-nothing Catholic baiting. We Anglicans are above that.
LKW

Anonymous said...

Our parish,could be described as Tractarian though we don't label ourselves,has children's Church before the kids leave for Sunday school.We recite a section of the BCP Catechism ,sing a hymn and recite the Angelus or Regina Coeli according to the season.It is a benefit to all of us,not only the children.Not too long ago a young mother wrote a fine letter to the local paper's editorial section regarding a R.C. Bishop censoring a local R.C. politician for public statements at odds with the Church's teaching on biblical morality.She is a faithful Anglican who used her knowledge of our Catechism to back up a fellow Christian who was getting barbequed by many in the press and it was a delight for me and our whole congregation.I was so proud of her!

RC Cola said...

It's tough to keep track of these threads when they fall down to the bottom of the page and then grow to be 40+ comments long.

Anyway, I don't have a whole lot to add except that I think that RCs and ACs are natural allies rather than natural enemies. Our arguments seem to me like the kind that only siblings can have with each other. Call my Pollyanna, but I think that is true, and the more genial tone this thread has taken toward the end is evidence of that.

Most importantly, I ran across this reading in today's Morning Prayer (from the RC LoH: Thursday Week II). It is Romans 14:12-13, 17-19:

Every one of us will have to give an account of himself before God. Therefore we must no longer pass judgment on one another. Instead you should resolve to put no stumbling block or hindrance in your brother's way. The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and wins the esteem of men.Let us, then, make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another.

Friends, for some reason when I read this passage, I immediately thought of the people here.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Our arguments seem to me like the kind that only siblings can have with each other.

That is most certainly true, except for the word "like." The arguments really are between siblings who would, I believe, lay down their lives for each other, as children of God through Christ the only begotten Son.