Friday, November 20, 2009

Q & A on Apostolic Succession

I was sent a behind the scenes email with questions about Apostolic Succession. Upon considering my answers, I thought it may be helpful for some if I post here a summary of the questions, and my answers. This may be read in connection with an essay about Apostolic Succession and Scripture posted back on August 8, last year.

Questions

I have read your articles about the apostolic succession, and I think that I have grasped your argument. Paul ordained Timothy and Titus by the laying on of hands, something was transmitted to them by the imposition of hands, and we have no other biblical model for ordination, so we must stick to it. The early church did it this way, and this way the Apostolic Succession (AS) has been transmitted to the present day.

1. The Ordinal makes the Bishop say that the Holy Spirit is transmitted to the priest by the imposition of his hands, and that he thereby receives authority to forgive or retain sins. My difficulty is that I do not see that this necessarily results in the conclusion that AS is in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP).

2.So the Bishop ordains, and in so doing the transmits the Holy Spirit for a particular purpose. How do we conclude that it must always be a bishop in the line of AS? Is it not also reasonable to think that this happens in any ordination, such as the Presbyterians practice? I am thinking of continental Presbyterians like a Laski (?) who came to England with Presbyterian orders and were received into English orders without re-ordination. I have in mind the letters between Cranmer and Calvin, in which the necessity of episcopal ordination for the purpose of transmitting the AS is not mentioned. Surely something so necessary for a valid sacrament, which sacrament is generally necessary for salvation, would be boldly and plainly stated, instead of being inferred? Why is the AS not mentioned in the articles?

Please believe that I am not trying to change your mind, or to have an argument, but to rightly understand this issue.

My Answer

(Before getting into the meat of the answers, let me say this: About Laski: The fact is, if any man who had never been episodically ordained was allowed to minister as if he had been, the bishop who knew this would have been in violation of the Law, and both men in danger of imprisonment. The official records of the Church of England simply do not bear out the Laski story; and, on the other hand, the records of English Law are indisputable. As for Cranmer's letters to Calvin, they were intended for an ecumenical purpose, and the practices of the Church of England were well-known, making any difference fairly obvious and perhaps not worth discussing in that context. One generation later, however, answering domestic matters, Hooker had much to say against "Calvin's Geneva Discipline" when defending the unbroken practice of the English Church.)

It is evident that only disputed matters get enough attention to receive clarification. The answer to why the BCP, including as it does the Articles and Ordinal, does not explicitly speak of Apostolic Succession in the clearest of terms is covered by answering your other question at the same time, namely: "Is it not also reasonable to think that this happens in any ordination, such as the Presbyterians practice?" For, neither the Calvinists nor the Lutherans have ever rejected Apostolic Succession to this day. True many of them do not know this fact; but, it is known to their more astute theologians.

What the Presbyterians and Puritans in England rejected was the episcopate. They believed that the Apostolic Succession was passed on well enough through their presbyters. They would emphasize I Tim. 4:14: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." Our side has always replied that this verse does not stand alone, and must be read along with II Tim. 1:6: "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." So, the Apostolic hands of Paul were essential somehow, since the gift came by his hands. The hands of the presbytery seem not have the same efficacy, as what happened was merely with their laying on of hands, not by it. Therefore, we believe that we must make sure that what is passed on is truly Apostolic and not merely ecclesiastical, and why this requires bishops will be clear in what follows. Moreover, II Tim. 1:6 speaks in expressly charismatic terms, not merely institutional terms; what we see in scriptural references to ordination bears witness to supernatural grace, not merely a formal procedure of licensing ministry.

It is evident from the Epistles to Titus and to Timothy that each of these men was placed in the position of what we call these days the Ordinary-they ordained. They needed to exercise sound judgment concerning who they should ordain, and who not to ordain. Clearly, their authority was greater than that of the Presbytery. It is evident that they were left in Crete and in Ephesus respectively in place of the Apostle himself. Whether or not the word ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos, bishop) was synonymous with the word πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros, elder) in the usage of the Church, at the time of Paul's writing, within one generation the word episkopos (bishop) was set apart to refer only to those men like Titus and Timothy who succeeded the Apostles (most evident in the Epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who knew Paul, Peter and John). And, as noted, this succession, drawing from what we read in scripture is not only authoritative but charismatic. Furthermore, our reading of scripture also happens to coincide with the only practice of the ancient Church for which we have evidence. Non-episcopal ordination simply has no historic witness. The closest we come is mention of laying on of hands with the presbytery in Alexandria; but, on examination it is evident that, there too, this was not without the laying on of a bishop's hands as well.

I hope this answers your questions.

Sincerely,
RH+

60 comments:

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart's interlocutor asked about the "precedent" set by Jan Laski's service in England.

Actually, Laski never served any congregation of the Church of England. He was the Superintendent of the "Stranger's Church", an independent Protestant congregation for Continental visitors, which is today the Dutch Protestant Church in Threadneedle Street, London.

So he cannot be evidence that that presbyterally-ordained Continentals were permitted to serve within the Church of England without reordination. In fact, he is evidence of just the opposite.

All one need do is read Samuel Pepys' Diary for the years 1660-1663 to see how careful the restored English Bishops were to root out the Presbyterians and Independents who had been intruded into Church of England livings under Cromwell's military dictatorship.

John A. Hollister+
"sonsperm"

Canon Tallis said...

While the Office of Institution is not general to the prayer book tradition, it does contain on page 572 the following prayer to be said by the newly instituted minister:

"O Holy Jesus, who has purchased to thyself a universal Church and hast promised to be with the ministers of Apostolic Succession to the end of the world; Be graciously please to bless the ministry of him who is now appointed to offer the sacrifice of prayer and praise to thee in this house which is called by thy Name. May the words of his mouth and the mediation of his heart be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is that the doctrine of Apostolic Succession has been emphasised more and more in recent times than it was in the past, with the exception of the early church. It is no surpise of course that interest in the doctrine and an increasing emphasis on its role in authority (and relatively speaking more recently, in the validity of the sacraments) has increased with the multiplication of denominations and juristictions. I suppose this is to be expected, as many would argue that the increase in schisms is in fact an attack on the doctrine of the AS itself.

You've written a nice little explanation here.

However, I have to disagree with only one point, and I quote:

For, neither the Calvinists nor the Lutherans have ever rejected Apostolic Succession to this day.

This is not exactly true. The Lutheran Confessions certainly reject a particular interpretation of Apostolic Succession, namely that it validates the sacraments. On this point, almost all of the Reformation era doctors on the Continent appear to agree.


The Lutheran Confessions do in fact state a great deal about the role of the bishops (AC XXVIII, Ap. Art. XXVIII ), ordination (Tr. 60ff), and what makes sacraments valid (AC XIII.2, LC IV.18 etc). They also refer to the succession of authority not being of the essence of the ministry, even citing an ancient example of ordination being valid if coming via presbyters as mentioned in Jerome's epistle (Tr. as above)

While this is not a rejection of the Apostolic Succession per se, clearly it is a rejection of what many modern-day catholic and Orthodox teachers mean when they say Apostolic Succession. So often we hear (these days) the idea that if a minister's orders have questionable succession that such would render their sacraments utterly invalid etc. The Lutheran Confessions clearly would reject such notions- however they do not reject the necessity of the call and ordination of ministers in the church, nor the benefits of an episcopal structure. What I'm saying is that within the Lutheran Confessions there is room for a "bene esse" interpretation of the episcopate but never an "esse" understanding of the same (as taught by some today) and thus no room at all for the idea of Apostolic Succession as the validator of sacraments as understood by many modern-day catholics.

Interestingly, almost all of the Anglican teachers after the Reformation and prior to the Tractarian movement seem to hold a very similar view, with perhaps some qualifications that you could point out for us.

Some Christians are of the practice of using the Apostolic Succession as a club to beat other Christians into "order" by claiming that they don't have valid sacraments or are not part of the "church" or whatever. This argumentation completely misses the point of course, but it does happen.

Thanks again for the interesting comments.

T

curate said...

I suppose the weak link in your argument is the identification of the bishop with the presbyter in the Bible.To say that they were distinguished at a later date, as you do, does not convince me that the present distinction has a biblical mandate, but the opposite.

What does convince is the observation that Timothy and Titus were ordained by the laying on of hands, and that they were Ordinaries, not a Presbytery.

The other good point is that something was transmitted to these men by the laying on of hands.

The question then is whether these men transmitted their office as well as the AS.

curate said...

Another question about a Lasko (?). Why was he permitted to minister at all in England if we was an illegal minister?

If one believes that there is only one proper way of ordaining, why would you tolerate a Presbyterian at all when you had the power to prevent him from falsely ministering the sacraments to the hurt of his congregation?

Would it not be better to argue that while the CoE had its own policy established in law, they recognised the scriptural freedom of other churches to follow their Presbyterian principles.

Also, what about the Crown? He/she is the head of the CoE, and yet when she is in Scotland she receives the ministry of the established church there. That has been the case since James 1. Is that not an open acknowledgement that while there are different particular policies, that there is a recognised freedom to differ?

(I repeat that these are real questions, not veiled attacks.)

Anonymous said...

Arguments over who was the real ordaining agent (bishop or presbytery)can go on forever, and we do not really need to prove that monarchical episcopacy had clearly emerged by any particular point in history. (It probably did not develop at the same time in all places, but that is another discussion.)

The real point at issue which not who ordains, but what is the man ordained to.

Our real argument with the Presbyterians is over the sacerdotal nature of the presbyterate. Did Christ truly create a priestly ministry in His Church, or not? Or did He only establish a preaching ministry, with which sacraments are asssociated only in some loose sort of way for decency and order (the classical Presbyterian view)? When He said "Do this in memory of Me," did He, by those words, commission the Apostles as sacrificing priests? Once a genuine sacerdotal ministry is acknowledged as firmly rooted in NT ecclesiology, the matter of proper ordaining agent quickly falls into place. Apostolic Succession then is not merely a question of legality and legitimacy, but of sacramental reality--the continuity through time of the Church which Christ founded. The promise "Lo, I am with you always" (Matt 28:20) was specifically given to "hoi Hendeka," the Twelve. That is the clinching proof-text for Apostolic Succession..
LKW

poetreader said...

Caveat: In the following I am merely expressing what I have seemed to see. I'm sure there are others that can express it better.

Another question about a Lasko (?). Why was he permitted to minister at all in England if we was an illegal minister?

Well, it seems he was not ministering in a C of E situation, but rather in a tolerated church of foreigners.

If one believes that there is only one proper way of ordaining, why would you tolerate a Presbyterian at all when you had the power to prevent him from falsely ministering the sacraments to the hurt of his congregation?

Anglicans seem never to have been as rigidly exclusive as Roman -- that is they were less anxious to regulate those outside proper authority than was Rome. In the case of Laski's 'foreign' congregation, it was apparently judged that such a church was no danger to the realm and thus could be tolersated.

Would it not be better to argue that while the CoE had its own policy established in law, they recognised the scriptural freedom of other churches to follow their Presbyterian principles.

I don't find Anglicans agreeing that there is "scriptural freedom" to establish a non-catholic ministry, but rather a reluctance to be more legally restrictive on those outside the C of E than seemed necessary.

Also, what about the Crown? He/she is the head of the CoE, and yet when she is in Scotland she receives the ministry of the established church there. That has been the case since James 1. Is that not an open acknowledgement that while there are different particular policies, that there is a recognised freedom to differ?

James loathed Presbyterianism and worked hard to reintroduce episcopacy to Scotland. Subsequent Stuarts felt likewise, one of them losing his head over the matter. The Hanoverians, though nominally governors of the church were none of them theologically astute, and Victoria made it clear that she preferred the Scottish way. In short, this anomalous situation is a political one, and the various monarchs have related to it differently, while the Church (over which they are nominally the authority) has never wavered in its insistence on Apostolic succession.

To repeat, this is not a scholarly observation, but rather what I seem to see in the history.

ed

John A. Hollister said...

Curate asked:

1. "Another question about a Lasko. Why was he permitted to minister at all in England if we was an illegal minister?"

He was permitted, with the license of the Bishop of London, to minister in a congregation that was outside the Church of England and that was established expressly for the use of resident aliens who were themselves not members of the C of E and who, any reasonable observer would have concluded, were not going to be attending services in the C of E.

Not only was this a matter of Christian accomodation by the C of E toward others, it was prudent because Englishmen expected the reciprocal privilege when they established residences in foreign ports where they conducted business. There were a number of "English Churches" in foreign cities at that time (and still are, in many.)

That this sort of "extraterritoriality" in matters of daily life for foreign visitors was an old tradition is evidenced by the Steelyard, the special enclave that had existed since the early Middle Ages as the headquarters of the Hanseatic Merchants. Samuel Pepys records going down to the Steelyard to buy a sword or something of that sort, so it was still functioning at the Restoration (the property was not sold off until the 19th Century).

2. "If one believes that there is only one proper way of ordaining, why would you tolerate a Presbyterian at all when you had the power to prevent him from falsely ministering the sacraments to the hurt of his congregation?"

He was only ministering to Presbyterians, who were not going to be attending the C of E anyway, so what harm could be done by tolerating him?

What is significant is that all Presbyterians who would not submit to episcopal consecration were turfed out of C of E congregations.

3. "Also, what about the Crown? He/she is the head of the CoE, and yet when she is in Scotland she receives the ministry of the established church there. That has been the case since James 1."

First, it is the Sovereign (a person), not the Crown (an organ of government) who attends church, regardless of the place.

Second, England and Scotland are separate kingdoms. The Church of England is established by law in England and the Church of Scotland is established by law in Scotland. The domestic law of neither kingdom extends to the other.

While it is a great tragedy that the historic Church of Scotland was despoiled by John Knox (whom Fr. Hart has called "a religious terrorist) and its lands and buildings ripped off by the Presbyterian hordes, it happened and, of course, the real Church of Scotland -- that is, the continuation of the ancient Catholic Church -- actually became for long illegal.

That was, ultimately, to our benefit, if not Scotland's, because the American Church received the episcopal succession precisely because the (Episcopal) Church of Scotland was no longer trammelled by national law as the Church of England still was.

John A. Hollister+

William Tighe said...

There are at least three certain cases of non-episcopally "ordained" men being admitted to benefices in the Church of England between 1559 and 1642, and a few more possible ones. They were not done surreptitiously, either. The certain ones are:

1. On April 6, 1582, John Aubrey, vicar-general to the Archbishop of Canterbury, licenced John Morrison, whom the licence declared had been ordained by the Presbytery of Lothian in Scotland, to preach and minister the sacraments throughout the Province of Canterbury. A century and a half later, Archbishop Wake of Canterbury admitted the case to the Gallican divine Le Courayer, refused to condemn what Grindal had done, and observed that it had been perfectly legal according to English Law as it stood before the 1662 act of Uniformity.

2. Peter de Laune, a Dutchman ordained by the Presbytery of Leiden and who was subsequently minister of the Dutch "stranger church" in Norwich, was presented to a benefice in the Norwich diocese in 1619. The Bishop of Norwich, John Overall, an anti-Calvinist who shared some views with Lancelot Andrewes, offered to "reordain" de Laune if legal counsel found that the law required episcopal ordination, or of de Laune himself had "scruples" about his Orders, but gave as his opinion that de Laune needed no reordination to be admitted to the belenice and there to preach and minister the sacraments.

In the event, though, de Laune did not take the offered benefice, but a decade later, when he was presented with another Norfolk benefice, the then bishop, Francis White, instituted him without any form or reordination, and in the very records of the event de Laune is described as "ordinatus presbyter per Doctores et Professores Collegii de Leyden, 26 Junii 1599.

William Tighe said...

(cont'd)

3. Caesar Calandrini, by origin an Italian Catholic, left Italy and Catholicism, and received "presbterian" ordination, probably in Switzerland. Subsequuently coming to England, he rec'd a B.D. from Exeter college, Oxford, and wa sbriefly a fellow there. In June 1620 he was presented to a benefice, and took out Letters Dimissory from Archbishop Abbot of Canterbury to recieve the orders of deacon and priest from any bishop. Thomas Morton, Bishop of Lichfield, was approached to ordain Canandrini, but he rfused to do so, replying that he consiodered Calandrini's "foreign Orders" perfectly valid. The refugee Archbishop of Spalato, Marc'Antonio de Dominis, who had denounced the papacy, come to England, and been made Dean of Windsor in 1618, insisted that Calandrini had to be ordained, as he was "not a priest." Morton refused again, and said if the law required him to receive episcopal ordination, he would make clear in the ordination certificate that he was only undertaking the act to comply with the "external requirements" of the law, and not out of any doubts about Calandrini's Orders. In the event, though, as Richard Montagu noted in a private letter to John Cosin, Calandrini was instituted to his benefice without reoprdination, and continued to hold it until he left to become minister of the Dutch "stranger church" in London in 1639.

The "probable case" was that of the Dutchman Hadrian Saravia who, after being ordained by a presbytery in the Netherlands, came to England and received a benefice in London. Despite his advocacy of episcopal government of the Church and that it was "of divine authority" in his 1590 book, De Diversis Gradibus Ministrorum Evangelii, it appears that he himself was never ever ordained by a bishop.

I have already mentioned John Cosin as a correspondent of Richard Montagu, whose exclusive "divine right view of episcopacy he shared as a young man and clergyman. Later on, in 1650, after studying the matter, he was to write that:

"if at any time a minister so ordained in these French churches came to incorporate himself in ours so as to receive a public charge of cure of souls among us in the Church of England, as I have known some of them to have so done of late and can instance in many other before my time, our bishops did not reordain him before they admitted him to his charge, as they would have done if his former ordination here in France had been void ..."

Fr. Robert Hart said...

My friend, Dr. William Tighe, has presented names and dates. On the other hand, Canon Hollister has summarized the explanation for these cases:

"Not only was this a matter of Christian accomodation by the C of E toward others, it was prudent because Englishmen expected the reciprocal privilege when they established residences in foreign ports where they conducted business. There were a number of 'English Churches' in foreign cities at that time (and still are, in many.)

"That this sort of 'extraterritoriality' in matters of daily life for foreign visitors was an old tradition is evidenced by the Steelyard..."

1. The Laws of England were clear about ministry within the Church of England. Licensing for "strangers" churches was also subject to the local English bishop.

2. Private opinions, even by bishops, cannot be controlled.

3. The Act of Uniformity was written to clarify once and for all the Intention already stated in the Preface to the Ordinal.

4. If men not episcopally ordained were allowed to function as priests to an English congregation, the fact would remain that such a license would have been contrary to the law.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Curate wrote:

I suppose the weak link in your argument is the identification of the bishop with the presbyter in the Bible.To say that they were distinguished at a later date, as you do, does not convince me that the present distinction has a biblical mandate, but the opposite.

The first problem with that is the the priority given to a word rather than to the usage of that word. Only during the lifetime of the men who fit one of two categories as Apostles ("the twelve", and James and "all the apostles." From I Cor. 15. This second category would have included St. Paul himself after his conversion), does episkopos appear to be used as a synonym for men among the presbytery. All of the Apostles were eyewitnesses that Christ was risen,including, finally Paul himself as he approached Damascus. Therefore, the Apostles were revered in a special way.

It is obvious that Titus and Timothy were successors of Paul, and that the Church established what we identify as the episcopal structure within her first generation. So, either the usage of the word episkopos shifted very early, or we have misunderstood the New Testament when thinking it identifies "the bishop with the presbyter." Perhaps the usage never changed at all from the time St. Paul used the word to identify an office when writing to Timothy.

Anonymous said...

Prof Tighe appears to have out-facted Canon Hollister by citing examples of Continental Calvinist clergy permitted to function as priests within the Church of England itself (not just as ministers of ad hoc congregations of refugees). But has he?

There may be even more examples. While I have no solid documentation at my finger-tips, I seem to recall similar things happening with Huguenot clergy in colonial parishes in South Carolina.

But whatever happened, happened not as legal and normal, but as anomalies. There is no example, I note, of a Continental Reformed or Lutheran minister being received as a bishop.

Church history is full of anomalies. The common violations of celibacy and frequent incidents of simony in the Church surely do not constitute evidence of anything but sin. Whould Prof Tighe or anyone else be so rash as to claim there has never been an invalid sacrament in the RCC?

A handful of incidents like those cited by Prof Tighe do not overturn the theological evidence plainly written in the Preface to the Ordinal, which has consistently been there since 1549. That has been normative, doctrinally and practically. So while Prof Tighe's examples are interesting as historical curios, they are theologically irrelevant.
LKW

curate said...

There is another very important issue that has not been addressed, which is the unchurching of other Reformation churches.

Reading the many posts here on ecclesiology, it is plain that you all regard only those churches with AS to be churches at all. Hence the view here that the church is the RCC, the EO churches, and yourselves. You do not recognise the Lutherans or the Reformed, whose formularies are very clear about sacramental efficacy.

This anachronism strikes me forcefully, since the Reformation CoE was extremely hostile to Rome, even identifying the Pope with Antichrist. It identified itself with the Reformation churches, including the Lutherans, as the Apology of the CoE makes plain.

This fact does not square with the view of AS presented here.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

It is a fact that such language about Rome was not repeated during the second secession, i.e. under Elizabeth. Instead, we see Hooker writing as in the link below.

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2008/03/hooker-on-unity-with-rome.html

Anonymous said...

curate said:

This anachronism strikes me forcefully, since the Reformation CoE was extremely hostile to Rome, even identifying the Pope with Antichrist. It identified itself with the Reformation churches, including the Lutherans, as the Apology of the CoE makes plain.

This fact does not square with the view of AS presented here.


I think I had tried to share the same thought in a way. The 39 Articles are very indebted to the Articles of the Calvinists and the Lutherans, in some cases borrowing heavily from them. This itself is sufficient evidence that they identified more with the Reformation that with the Papacy. In fact, anyone reading Tract 90 will quickly notice that Newman does his best to make them say almost exactly the opposite to what the authors intended on a few points. It was to some extent, as we say these days, spin.

The modern day Anglo-Catholics (of most stripes) have emphasised more and more an identity with Rome or the Orthodox and expressed disparaging sentiments towards the Reformation. Most have no regard at all for the true roots of the BCP and the 39 Articles, but rather take them to be mere historical footnotes in Anglican history.

Which brings me to the point I was originally trying to make: the current interpretation of Apostolic Succession prevelant among Anglo-Catholics is really open to question as being novel. While all Anglicans agree that the succession is important, not all agree that it is vital for sacramental efficacy, nor do all agree that it is necessarily only through Bishops as if by divine right.

Many of the classic Anglican authors hold a position that is truly a via media between the Presbyterians and the Catholics. This via media seems to be under attack from the catholic party of Anglicanism, and one must question that position not only on theological but also on historical grounds. Is the classic Anglican via media dead or not?

T

Anonymous said...

As I mentioned before (as mentioned in the Lutheran Confessions, citing the Fathers), there is historic precedent for "non-episcopal ordination" (to cite RH). Most notable is the epistle of Jerome to Euangelus, which pretty much sums up the idea that the difference between a presbyter and a bishop is a human distinction made for good order. Jerome notes that there was a continuous time in history in Alexandria where presbyters elected and set apart bishops from amongst their own ranks, and he mentions that this was the practice from St Mark until Bp Dionysius and Bp Heracles- which makes it an Apostolic practice and tradition.

I think the question nobody is asking is this: what do we think the Apostolic Succession is really about? Why does it matter?

Some say that is makes sacraments valid.

The idea that Apostolic Succession makes sacraments "valid" is a little difficult establish as a fact from Apostolic times. The first real discussion on the validity of sacraments doesn't seem to take solid form until St Augustine, who believed that the sacraments derived their power from the Word of God and nothing more (Tracate 80). Chrysostom also seems to agree (The Betrayal of Judah, 1:6)

Others say that the Apostolic Succession makes one part of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and those that don't have it are outside of her. This begs the question- have not all the historic heretics had Apostolic Succession too?

I don't say this to undermine the idea that Apostolic Succession is important to maintain. I hold that it is. However, we should be open to questioning our subsequent interpretation of that doctrine.

Surely, Titus and Timothy are examples in scripture of what later became a diocesan bishop. Of this we have no doubt, and thus we should maintain our threefold ministry. However, we should ask ourselves about what we wish to teach and protect when we claim succession from the Apostles. I think the classic Anglican position has been overlooked in recent times. I also think this is because people are starting to feel insecure about the church, and thus emphasis on a connection with the Apostles seems to help them psychologically. However, it has proved to be no guarantee of orthodoxy or orthopraxy, or the validity of sacraments and that is the bottom line.

T

Fr. Robert Hart said...

T:

The Thirty-Nine Articles follow a Lutheran format in many ways, and could not have been written without the Augsburg Confession. This is not problematic at all, inasmuch as the continental Reformers shared the same goal as the English Reformers; that goal was to restore true Catholic faith and practice. Much of what is in the Augsburg Confession is very good.

However, as E.J.Bicknell pointed out (and I cannot endorse that book enough- everyone should read his book on the Thirty-Nine Articles) it is very important to read the Thirty-Nine Articles in light of the Continental Reformers to appreciate where the English stopped short of embracing the most extreme views of Calvinists and Lutherans, and how the English remained within the Universal Consensus of Antiquity; that is, the true Catholic Faith Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. It is necessary also to read the Articles in the context of the entire Book of Common Prayer.

Some Anglo-Catholics dislike me because I refuse to treat the words "Protestant," "Evangelical" and "Reformed" as a four letter words. Neither will I go so far as to teach something that is not revealed by drawing a line as to where we may know that God withholds the grace of the sacraments among baptized Christian believers. Therefore, I remain within the Anglican tradition of refusing to unchurch them, nor to imitate Rome in declaring their sacraments to be "absolutely null and utterly void" of grace.

On the other hand, neither can I know all their their sacraments to be valid. The Anglican way has never been to try to determine what is valid or not valid in every case, but rather to stay within the safe boundaries of what we do know to be valid for sure. Therefore, we insist on AS in our churches for our deacons, priests and bishops. The stakes are too important to gamble on presumption of validity where genuine AS is lacking. Therefore, Canon Law among Anglicans has been clear, and where necessary (to avoid misunderstanding) clarified further.

I mentioned the matter of Alexandria, and what we know for sure is that they certainly had orders both valid and regular long before Athanasius was born. The evidence indicates that Jerome described an election process and the "laying on of hands with the presbytery," not an absence of episcopal ordination and consecration (Hall and Dix wrote about this). The Canons of Nicea (325) record the standard for election and consecration of bishops, and do so without any indication that Alexandria had failed to measure up, or that it needed corrective measures to be taken. It appears that one of two things happened: 1) their orders were "regularized" quietly, or 2) AS was never lacking, and the situation was as I have suggested above ("an election process and the 'laying on of hands with the presbytery,' not an absence of episcopal ordination and consecration").

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply +Hart,

I also concur with Bicknell's conclusions, having used that book in seminary and worn out two copies (along with two copies of Moss's "The Christian Faith" as well) in my lifetime. It's a pity it's so hard to come by these days and so few with the name Anglican seem to even acknowledge it's existance.

You are wise in your position regarding the "Protestant"s etc in not wishing to see them unchurched- more people should be so charitable, but I am curious as to what you think makes a sacrament valid, and thus why one would call their sacraments into question at all. I think this is the point I have been trying to draw conversation on. Surely, we all would agree that having AS is a sure and safe way- but it has never stood on its own as validating a sacrament.

I don't speak of Anglicans like yourself, but of those who take a rather over-inflated view of AS on this point. We all know of many in valid succession who are utterly heretical whose sacraments are oddly considered valid, and many whose AS comes through presbyters yet are orthodox in sacramental theology whose sacraments are considered invalid by some in Anglo-Catholic camps. This dilemma came up in the Reformation, where one might have had to choose between Zwingli's "real absence" or the real presence. Luther is qouted in addressing this problem by saying "better to drink blood with the Pope than wine with Zwingli". It seems to me that in the same situation many today would have said the same thing. Is the modern equivelant a choice between having communion from a heterodox or heretical Anglican bishop or someone like a Lutheran pastor who believes in the real presence? I know I would certainly choose the latter.

As for the interpretation of Jerome postulated by teachers like Dix and so forth, I'm not fully convinced they have it right. It seems to make the Epistle to Euangelus a nonsense and the thrust of the letter a moot point. I rather suspect that the modern authors read what they want into the epistle and load with nuance the plain speech Jerome is so accustomed to using to form a position he did not share. But that's not really an important matter for us today anyway. As you noted, at Nicea the Council made points regarding the election and consecration of bishops, but again, this doesn't seem to have any bearing on the point Jerome was making, as the practice he mentioned ceased many years before the Council sat. It is obvious that the See of Alexandria had regularised its ministry to be in step with the others by the time of the Council, but Jerome's point is that the separation of presbyter and bishop which allows only bishops to be ordinaries is by human arrangement. Whether we agree with Jerome or not might be important to us, but I think he makes an interesting statement which does have a bearing on how we see the activity of the Holy Spirit in the ministry.

T

Bruce said...

Just to play low-church advocate:

Is is possible that God has different forms of church government for different times? We're Israel and Israel had different forms of government for different times: patriarch-tribal, Mosaic anarchy, Judges, a King, Kings, etc.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

T:

There is a difference between seeing a sacrament as invalid and seeing it as "absolutely null and utterly void." Because the Church must do things as God has revealed and commanded, we are obligated to act according to the pattern shown to us (Heb. 8:5); but, we are not obligated to pronounce judgments about what goes on in other churches.

My views have been written in a couple of places.

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2009/06/grace-and-sacarments-part-iv.html

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2008/02/grace-of-sacraments.html

Bruce said...

Also, there do seem to be some special characteristics of the ministry of the apostles themselves. Has a Bishop (even the Pope) ever brought a dead man back to life? Do Priests and Bishops ever speak in tongues (the experiences of the apostles themselves don't seem to be entirely reproduced).

I've experienced two Continuuing priests. One is (apparently and according to almost everyone) a sociopath and pervert. The other isn't but is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal that doesn't sound a lot different than an episcopal. What good did it do them that a Bishop layed hands on them? I understand it doesn't confer impeccability but you'd expect a little something more.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Bruce wrote:

Is is possible that God has different forms of church government for different times?

Where is evidence for any such difference, by anyone's standards, prior to the 16th century?

Bruce said...

"Where is evidence for any such difference, by anyone's standards, prior to the 16th century?"

I'm not deeply learned in church history Father, but as far as I know, there's not any.

Still, is it absurdly counterintuitive that for 500 of the 2000 years of the Christian era, that form of Church government hasn't been necessary?

poetreader said...

Still, is it absurdly counterintuitive that for 500 of the 2000 years of the Christian era, that form of Church government hasn't been necessary?

Short answer, yes -- absurdly counterintuitive. If there is one thing I see demonstrated amply by the history the last 500 years, it the absolute necessity of such governance. Episcopacy and the Apostolic succession are not the sole guarantee of the continuance of a true doctrine and real sacraments, but they are indeed a part of what is required. The fissipariousness of Protestantism began at the very outset of the Reformation and has only increased over time. The same tendency has been appearing, but somewhat more slowly, and apparently under the influence of a sectarian worldview, in episcopal churches more recently, and apparently following the example of what others have long been doing.

The church is unhealthy and unstable if it does not possess both Apostolic order and Scriptural teaching, and if both are not incorporated into its pastoral ministry.

ed

Canon Tallis said...

Ed,

I appreciated your comments and would like to add a hearty "Amen!"

Anonymous said...

Bruce,

While it is obviously scriptural to have an episcopal government in the church historically the church has not always stuck to the strict letter of the law. She has consistantly invented and multiplied a vast array of ministries and titles and given them authority in the church. Everything from Popes and Patriarchs down to sub-deacons are ministries with either no or little scriptural support. She also gives new and often ill-fitting titles to some of these same ministers, like "Right-Reverend". The fact of the matter is that these are mere human arrangements, with no special authority or grace in and of themselves- with the oft disputed exception of the Papacy.

Not only that, there are other very successful Protestant models- so I have to disagree with poetreader on their "fissipariousness" as a rule, because they do actually join together denominations around the ministry and not always divide. Interestingly enough, IMHO the best models in protestantism are based on an episcopal format anyway, but perhaps with more authority given to the laity (which is very scriptural and certainly continuing desperately Anglicanism lacks)

Then of course there's the way religious orders organise themselves, which is usually (but not always) within the framework of the episcopal churches.

Lastly I don't think we can use Israel as a template for ministry in the New Covenant, for a whole host of reasons, but I'm sure you see where I would be coming from on that.

T

T said...

Fr Hart,

I agree with you on that point anyway- this is the sane approach to orders and sacraments: make sure your own are valid and let God lead the others to the same.

T

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Wells wrote:

Prof Tighe appears to have out-facted Canon Hollister by citing examples of Continental Calvinist clergy permitted to function as priests within the Church of England itself (not just as ministers of ad hoc congregations of refugees). But has he?

Another aspect of the "but has he" question involves why some bishops thought that a clear violation of law was not a violation of law. The answer is, they were not violating the law because the use of church property was involved, but not for English congregations. Such cases, to be legal, had to be when the idea was, again, ministry to foreigners, Protestants from other countries. Why would this require episcopal license? Because they were using the English church buildings.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

T wrote:

I agree with you on that point anyway- this is the sane approach to orders and sacraments: make sure your own are valid and let God lead the others to the same.

Charity...hopeth all things.

She also gives new and often ill-fitting titles to some of these same ministers, like "Right-Reverend".

Excuse me? We see that title for bishops, and I see nothing wrong with it at all. Whether or not the man deserves to be revered is irrelevant; his office does. Sometimes you simply have to salute the uniform-though it is preferable when the man wearing it deserves respect.

This may be of interest:
http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-03-019-v

...mere human arrangements, with no special authority or grace in and of themselves- with the oft disputed exception of the Papacy.

Interesting problem of overlap. Certainly, the Bishop of Rome is a God appointed office; but too much man-made silliness has been added to the papacy.

About Patriarchates, it was a Reasonable idea simply for organization long ago. But, it is treated like a God-ordained and permanent structure, as if it is based on revelation.

Not only that, there are other very successful Protestant models-

As well as political structures and businesses. But, success from a human standpoint is not the same as following the pattern revealed by God. The chapter in Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity called "Calvin's Geneva Discipline" does a good job of sorting this out.

John A. Hollister said...

Bruce wrote, "I've experienced two Continuuing priests. One is (apparently and according to almost everyone) a sociopath and pervert. The other isn't but is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal that doesn't sound a lot different than an episcopal. What good did it do them that a Bishop layed hands on them?"

He has just tripped across the reason that each delegate to an electoral synod must remind himself or herself that the man who is elected Bishop at that synod will be the final voice in chosing that diocese's clergy, potentially for years to come. So pick a bishop whom you can trust to pick the clergy you would want in your parish.

It's the ecclesiastical equivalent of voting for the President who will pick the Federal judges you want to have shaping your children's lives....

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Canon Hollister also sent me this behind the scenes:

I would have said that congregations such as Laski's "Strangers' Church", or the similar foreign congregation in Norwich, were not using C of E buildings but properties purchased by the foreigners themselves or by their sponsoring governments or trade Hansas. As I understand the situation to have been, the reason a license was required was that, by statute, no one could preach publicly within the territory of an English diocese, whether in or out of a C of E parish church building, without a license from the Ordinary.

These licenses were given to foreigners because they were, essentially, outside the C of E's concerns. They were, most conspicuously, not given to Englishmen, so unlicensed "conventicles" were always, at least in theory, subject to being raided by the authorities and shut down.

Just recall the problems the Wesleys had, almost a century later, even though they were preaching in fields, because they were not licensed in the dioceses in which they were acting.

I further believe this situation persisted until the repeal of the "Conventicle Acts", if not until the general dawn of denominational toleration in the 19th Century.

However, I didn't think there was any point getting into these minutiae on the Blogspot thread, just thought another view might be of interest to you personally.


Concerning my theory about church properties I stand corrected (my infallibility is only in matters of doctrine; that is why the pope seeks my advice all the time).

I was thinking a bit more about Fr. Wells' comment and this part in particular:

Church history is full of anomalies. The common violations of celibacy and frequent incidents of simony in the Church surely do not constitute evidence of anything but sin. Whould Prof Tighe or anyone else be so rash as to claim there has never been an invalid sacrament in the RCC?

It is worth noting that on some occasions Abbots, who were not bishops, presumed to ordain priests, and that Rome simply allowed it to go on, and let the men function. It is worth noting also that St. Thomas Aquinas was among those who believed that every priest was given the same powers as bishops, and was restrained only by Canons and ecclesiastical authority. It is worth noting also that the Preface to the {English} Ordinal restored the three-fold ministry inasmuch as Rome had come up with additional orders, the numbering varying in different centuries. At one point they even considered Acolytes to be an order. They had subdeacons, exorcists, etc.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote: "It is worth noting that on some occasions Abbots, who were not bishops, presumed to ordain priests, and that Rome simply allowed it to go on, and let the men function."

I know one ACC priest who was originally ordained by just such a Roman "mitred Abbot". We received him in his Order but he, after joining us, asked to be reordained sub conditione, because he did not feel entirely comfortable about the circumstances of that ordination.

John A. Hollister+

curate said...

Rev. Hart, would you please give us the reference for your belief that the Puritans etc believed in AS?

Thanks.

Canon Tallis said...

And you might remember, Father Hart, although you may just be too young when Rome made the three orders, Subdeacons, deacons and priests. And then there were the various bishops of the Roman Church in the 18th century who were known to be atheists. What could be said of their intention when it came to ordaining. And finally there were those like my relative, Hippolyto d'Este who was created cardinal as the titular archbishop of Milan and was later made the archbishop of Lyon by action of his buddy the king of France. But it was not until many years later that he was ordained so much as priest.

William Tighe said...

Well, I think that St. Jerome was simply wrong, if he thought that bishops were originally and ultimately the same thing as presbyters. St. Jerome's view on this matter unfortunately came to dominate the Latin West in the Middle Ages, but the only Early Christian writer who agreed with him in his own time or later was the obscure Constantinopolitan Arian named Aerius, who wrote ca. 360. Some also cite "Ambrosiaster" as lending partial support for this view.

A good article about all this is Trevor Jalland's "The Doctrine of the Parity of Ministers," in *The Apostolic Ministry* ed. Kenneth E. Kirk (1946) -- a careful essay that tends to be overshadowed by Dom Gregory Dix's long and controversial essay on "The Ministry in the Early Church" in the same volume.

On the opposite pole from St. Jerome is the view of Theodore of Mopsuestia, in his commentary on the Epp. to Timothy and Titus, who writes that while the apostles were alive the terms "episkopos" and "presbyter" applied to the same men holding the same office, over all of whom the apostles held authority -- but as the apostles reached the end of their lives and began to appoint successors to their own office and ministry (e.g., Timothy and Titus, and Clement in Rome*) these latter, deeming themselves unworthy of thre name "apostle," as they had not personally witnessed to the Resurrection, took for themselves the title of "episkopos" and left that of "presbyter" to those who had formerly been termed both "episkopos" and "presbyter."

There are some problems with this view as well, but I think that they are far less pervasive and insuperable than those attributed to St. Jerome. I write "if" and "attributed to" with regard to St. Jerome's views because of this interesting analysis of St. Jerome's views which an Orthodox friend sent to me some time ago:

http://wellofquestions.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/jerome-on-the-tri-fold-ministry/

Interesting also is this more recent posting discussing the views of the Anglican scholar Frank Cirlot on the same subject:

http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/apostolic-succession-1-presbyter-bishop/

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Hart,

Actually, I thought that the non-episcopal ordinations in the RCC you refer to were done under the explicit licence of the Pope. There were at least 4 examples of this "privilege" being granted. Does this mean the RCC rejected or rejects the doctrine of Apostolic Succession? I think not.

3 other points regarding the examples of the C of E recognising (but not practising) presbyteral ordinations:

1. It was against the official law, strictly interpreted, demanding episcopal ordination for those not already priests which, as I understand it, was codified canonically or legally even before appearing also as the modification to the 1662 Preface to the Ordinal.

2. However, it was tolerated because even many (not all) bishops accepted the theological argument that necessity could be pleaded for the Continental Reformers in relying on presbyteral succession, and that there were ancient precedents just permitting this. In other words, they took an approach similar to the Eastern Orthodox "recognition by economy". This was even the case for bishops who strongly criticised these Protestant Churches for lacking episcopacy and not doing enough to get it back.

3. Amazingly, Eastern Orthodox theologians have suggested that non-episcopal orders could be remedied by incorporation via economy too.

As for Abp Wake's approach, it should be noted he also tried to encourage Protestant Churches to recover episcopacy from the C of E, and, in the correspondence Dr Tighe referred to, also noted to Le Courayer (if my memory serves me correctly) how strongly the early reformed C of E bishops had defended episcopacy, its foundational origins and its importance.

T said...

John Hollister mentioned:

He has just tripped across the reason that each delegate to an electoral synod must remind himself or herself that the man who is elected Bishop at that synod will be the final voice in chosing that diocese's clergy, potentially for years to come. So pick a bishop whom you can trust to pick the clergy you would want in your parish.

This is of course the pragmatic approach- but what happens when the available bishops are unworthy, heretical, or unwilling to heed the people and the Holy Spirit, as happened on the Continent during the Reformation?

It's the ecclesiastical equivalent of voting for the President who will pick the Federal judges you want to have shaping your children's lives....

Any example from American politics can only further worry us. :-)

Fr Hart mentioned:

About Patriarchates, it was a Reasonable idea simply for organization long ago. But, it is treated like a God-ordained and permanent structure, as if it is based on revelation.

Exactly. The human arrangement has taken on a divine mask. People can do this with any matter pertaining to religion, whether it be an office of the ministry or a liturgy.

T

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Curate:

The Calvinists in general rejected the episcopate, but believed that their presbyters carried some sort of AS. They still do believe that, and blame can be laid on various western writers from previous centuries, as we have discussed.

Bruce said...

"And then there were the various bishops of the Roman Church in the 18th century who were known to be atheists. What could be said of their intention when it came to ordaining."

We're assuming something happended (actually a chain of many events none of which we witnessed) and that our salvation depends on it.

John A. Hollister said...

"T" wrote, ".

This is of course the pragmatic approach [to pick a bishop whom you can trust to pick the clergy you would want in your parish] but what happens when the available bishops are unworthy, heretical, or unwilling to heed the people and the Holy Spirit....?"

Perhaps the Continental Reformers should have done what properly-inspired electoral synods do today: refuse to elect any of the available nominees and call for a new writ of election and a new electoral synod which will, one hopes, produce either (a) a new slate of nominees, or (b) more complete discernment regarding those who are available.

Remember, any male of suitable age may be the one called by the Holy Spirit to lead a particular diocese -- as SS. Ambrose and Augustine of Hippo show, he need not be willing, and as St. Ambrose shows, he need not even be formally a Christian (yet).

I have often thought the Church needs a "Society of SS. Ambrose and Augustine", the apostolate of which would be the identification, nomination, election, and consecration of men who do not wish to be bishops.

John A. Hollister+
"dedlypo"

poetreader said...

The corrollary, which I often make (though aware of an exaggeration when I do) is that no one who wants to be a bishop should be.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

"And then there were the various bishops of the Roman Church in the 18th century who were known to be atheists. What could be said of their intention when it came to ordaining."


Name a bishop known to have been an atheist back then; for such a man in 18th century would have been deposed if the charge was proved; therefore, if this was the case it would have been unstated, private, and at worst generally rumored. But, even so, their indiviual intentions would not have been the issue: The Intention of the Church would have been the issue.

Article XXVI. Of the unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.
LTHOUGH in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometime the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by His commission and authority, we may use their ministry both in hearing the word of God and in the receiving of the sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto them, which be effectual because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty by just judgement, be deposed.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart asked, "Name a bishop known to have been an atheist back then [in the 18th Century]."

Charles Maurice de Tallyrand-Perigord, Comte de Tallyrand-Perigord, Prince de Benevento, Bishop of Autun.

It is said that the entire R.C. hierarchy of France can be traced through him.

John A. Hollister+

Canon Tallis said...

Touche', Canon Hollister. We have at last found his weakness, but who would have thought that it would have been French history?

Alas! As much as I doubt the pope's infallibility, I was beginning to believe in Father Hart's.

Put not your trust in princes nor in any child of man.

T said...

John Hollister said:

"Perhaps the Continental Reformers should have done what properly-inspired electoral synods do today: refuse to elect any of the available nominees and call for a new writ of election and a new electoral synod which will, one hopes, produce either (a) a new slate of nominees, or (b) more complete discernment regarding those who are available."

If only the Continental Reformation would have been that easy- with bulls and excommunications flying around it would have been hard to hold a unified synod at all. I think we can safely say that politics played a fatal role in putting to death any idea of an orderly synod that we might have today.

When we read the statements and letters of the Reformers we get a picture that is a lot more chaotic and hostile on the Continent. The issue was at the time that no bishop would ordain anybody who the people wanted. Melancthon testifies of this when he wrote:

"...when the regular bishops become enemies of the Church, or are unwilling to administer ordination, the churches retain their own right. [Because the regular bishops persecute the Gospel and refuse to ordain suitable persons, every church has in this case full authority to ordain its own ministers.] For wherever the Church is, there is the authority [command] to administer the Gospel. Therefore it is necessary for the Church to retain the authority to call, elect, and ordain ministers. And this authority is a gift which in reality is given to the Church..."

I think we all have to live with the past to some degree, and Anglicans obviously have to live with the echo effects of the past, whether they occured on the Continent or in Britain when they approach the theology and practice of ordination and AS.

The good news is that the C of E managed to recover its ministry after a number of hiccups, so for that all Anglicans should be grateful.

Thanks for the reply.

T

Bruce said...

"Short answer, yes -- absurdly counterintuitive. ..... The fissipariousness of Protestantism began at the very outset of the Reformation and has only increased over time."

I had to look up the definition of fissipariousness :-)

I don't believe most of the Evangelical Protestant Churches have lost the essence of the Gospel. There's more unity than there can appear to be.

It's absurdly counterintutive that the One Church described in the great councils has been split in geographic half for half the Christian era. But that's how it is.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The good news is that the C of E managed to recover its ministry after a number of hiccups...

Recover? I say it was never lost.

T said...

Fr Hart,

Good point. But, you and I might say the C of E never lost its ministry, but we have to admit that other catholic Christians have questions (or worse) about them.

T

T said...

Bruce said

"I don't believe most of the Evangelical Protestant Churches have lost the essence of the Gospel. There's more unity than there can appear to be."

There is truth in that. They share the same books, the same Bibles, the same teachers, the same music, the same attitudes generally and don't mind if a minister from another denomination visits and preaches in their pulpits or appears on a DVD in the family home. Not only that, their denominations more and more are mergers rather than splits (although that will always happen).

T

Canon Tallis said...

T wrote: "we have to admit that other catholic Christians have questions (or worse) about them."

But that says more about them and their view of the Church and the faith, than it does about us. Indeed, when they raise the questions after what they have done and what they have accepted - which has usually involved submission to them - one is entitled to question their good faith about anything and everything, including their very catholicity. When you move away from the teaching of the New Testament and the apostles, can you really still be either Catholic and Orthodox?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The reader who calls himself Curate has commented, and I consider the comment to be demonstration of the need for education. Therefore, using editorial privilege, I am going to post all of it, but provide answers to each point.

I think that Article XVI deals a blow to the idea of AS. It teaches that the efficacy of a sacrament is unaffected by the unworthiness of a wicked minister, because its power comes from the institution of Christ and his promise:

"... which be effectual because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men."

Note that they are effective without regard to the minister's AS! Thus the Anglican doctrine is that sacraments are valid by the power of Christ's institution and promise. Period.


No Curate, you are quite wrong. This is speaking not about Apostolic Succession (AS), but about whether or not the man possesses godly character. We are assured of God's own working and grace even if we discover that a priest was living a debauched life in secret.

Frankly, it is entirely irrelevant to the question of AS, just as it is irrelevant to the subject of other indelible sacraments (i.e. that the man also had been baptized and confirmed before he was ordained). You have tried to make an argument against AS, but have hit the wrong target; you have simply presented an argument against ordination. And, the argument is very poorly thought out. Inasmuch as the Article had not been published apart from the Book of Common Prayer, in which we find the Ordinal with its Preface, we can be certain that you have given it a spin, an unworthy spin, that does not rise to the level of an interpretation, not even the level of a bad interpretation. The context of the BCP as a whole simply rules out your spin.

(to be continued)

Fr. Robert Hart said...

(still answering Curate)

The words "... which be effectual because of Christ's institution and promise," refer to the power and grace that are in operation through the sacraments. That would include the sacrament of conferring Holy Orders through the laying on of the bishop's hands-effectual whether or not the bishop may be secretly a wicked man.

"It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Which Offices were evermore had in such reverend Estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried, examined, and known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same; and also by publick Prayer, with Imposition of Hands, were approved and admitted thereunto by lawful Authority." -From the Preface to the Ordinal

That is how Christ's institution and promise are made effective and recognized by the Church. He uses the bishops ("...as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." John 20:21).

An evil man in this context is an enemy of God and Christ, a man who has no intent to serve or glorify God. How such a man could have the intention to consecrate a bishop in the AS, for the purpose of ministering proper sacraments, is beyond the powers of my imagination.

Applying this to the past EO recognition of Anglican orders, their argument rested upon the conviction that the consecration of Ap. Parker was valid because the proper intention was present. According to this article the intention of the consecrators is irrelevant. A sacrament derives its power from Christ's institution and promise, even in the event of its administration by an evil man.


Well, let's suppose he is completely in rebellion against God. He could have no genuine Intention in baptism, communion, absolution, etc. By your argument people are not really baptized, a congregation has not really had communion, and sins have not really been absolved, etc. What a terrible situation! What can we do, if the secret intentions of a minister's heart are as important as the Sacramental Intention of the Church in which he administers. Thank God that no one has ever taught that the secret intention of the minster's heart is what matters. Always, the teaching is that Sacramental Intention is that of the Church, not necessarily of the man.

Curate, you need to begin a study of sacramental theology. You are on a remedial level at best.

John A. Hollister said...

Curate wrote that in “the past EO recognition of Anglican orders, their argument rested upon the conviction that the consecration of Abp. Parker was valid because the proper intention was present. According to this article [XVI] the intention of the consecrators is irrelevant.”

If he had read some of the other comments posted on this blog, he would have realized that the “intention” which concerned the EO theologians was the objective intention expressed by the wording of the rite concerned, not the subjective intention secreted in the minds of Bishops William Barlow, John Scory, Miles Coverdale, and John Hodgkins, at the time they participated in Parker’s consecration.

Article XVI addresses something completely different. It deals with the question whether a minister, who has been properly ordained to his Office and who celebrates according to the Church’s approved rites, can nevertheless vitiate the efficacy of the Sacraments over which he presides because of his own personal state of sin or because of his subjective doubts, errors, or unbelief.

The Article gives as its answer a resounding “No”.

And how do we know that the minister in question must first have been properly ordained and must also have been using the Church’s authorized rites? Because anything else would have been contrary to law, i.e., a crime.

John A. Hollister+

curate said...

Rev. Hart, I think that either you have entirely misunderstood my post, or I have entirely failed to communicate. I do not for one minute believe that right intent is necessary for a proper sacrament. Indeed, that is part of my argument.

The sacraments are effective regardless of the worthiness of a minister! In RC and EO theology intent is vital for the transmission of the AS. According to them there must be three things: intent, right form of words, and the right material, such as water, bread and wine.

The RC argument against Ap. Parker is that since no-one outside of the consecrating group saw what happened in that private room, and since they were all Calvinists, there is a grave doubt that they intended to perpetuate the AS, since the Reformed as a rule do not accept the AS.

This point of intent is an important difference between RC and CoE theology. It is the RC view that takes away our assurance that the grace signed and sealed has in fact been conveyed to us, not the Article. I agree with the BCP.

My argument is that if it it accepted that consecration/ordination is a sacrament, then the intent to convey the AS is neither here nor there.

My further point concerns the worthiness of a minister. Worthiness implies both moral and formal worthiness. Therefore if a man does not have the AS he is unworthy. And yet, the unworthiness does not affect the orders being conferred, therefore orders are unaffected by the AS (OR NOT) of the Ordinary.

Hope that this clarifies things.

Warm regards

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Yes. It clarifies that you are more confused than I had realized. Article XXVI is about wicked men, not about the continental Protestants who had no AS. The Laws of the Church of England were sufficient to make their position clear, and that Law required AS.

It is the RC view that takes away our assurance that the grace signed and sealed has in fact been conveyed to us, not the Article. I agree with the BCP.

Really? Article XXVI is a statement by the Church of England that was in perfect accord with what the Church of Rome was also teaching. The words of that particular Article contain no point of dispute with Rome at all.

The RC argument against Ap. Parker is that since no-one outside of the consecrating group saw what happened in that private room, and since they were all Calvinists...

They were Calvinists? That would have been news to them. Why then did they reject the Geneva Discipline, and, why did the Church of England, with the same Queen and ABC, eventually accept Richard Hooker as their spokesman?

John A. Hollister said...

Curate wrote:

1. "The RC argument against Ap. Parker is that since no-one outside of the consecrating group saw what happened in that private room, and since they were all Calvinists, there is a grave doubt that they intended to perpetuate the AS, since the Reformed as a rule do not accept the AS."

While the arguments Roman adherents have made against the validity of Abp. Parker's consecration are, when examined carefully, worthless, only one of them is as idiotic as Curate portrays them all to be. When he writes of a "private room", he can only be referring to the long-exploded "Nag's Head Fable", which no serious scholar today would deign to put forth.

Parker was not consecrated in any private room but in the Chapel of Lambeth Palace, probably for reasons of convenience. And there was nothing objectively irregular about his consecration's taking place in what was, after all, his own church.

As to the contention that his consecration was invalid because his consecrators were Calvinists, no Roman I have ever read has made that particular contention which, of course, would undercut Roman sacramental theology just as much as it would Anglican.

2. "Worthiness implies both moral and formal worthiness. Therefore if a man does not have the AS he is unworthy. And yet, the unworthiness does not affect the orders being conferred, therefore orders are unaffected by the AS (OR NOT) of the Ordinary."

This is so confused as to make no sense whatever. "Worthiness" as used in Article XVI has nothing whatever to do with apostolic succession; it refers to the subjective dispositions of the celebrant.

Without apostolic succession, there is no minister of any sacrament other than baptism or matrimony, so of course the Article was referring primarily to the official ministers of the Church, all of whom are either in apostolic succession or are imposters.

John A. Hollister+

Canon Tallis said...

Curate wrote:

"The RC argument against Ap. Parker is that since no-one outside of the consecrating group saw what happened in that private room,. . ."

And what, pray tell, would lead you to believe that the consecration of an English archbishop would ever have been done in a "private room?" Especially as Elizabeth was politically astute enough to know just what her enemies and those of the English Church would make of such an act?

I realize that there are, even among ourselves, those who accept the Roman 'myths' because most Anglicans do not take the time to read the old documents or the reports of those who have, but Elizabeth was more than willing to take the necessary steps to impose her will and her vision of the Church on those desiring to remake it in the continental model. One only has to understand the discipline she imposed upon her second archbishop or the tenacity with which she had the writers and publishers of the Marprelate Tracts hunted down, to know that she, if no other, saw to it that every detail of the rite of the ordinal was carried out and that publicly so that none in that period would be able to allege such trash as would later be done in the Nag's Head fable.

Veriword: shigate
Veriword: thaerap

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Thank you Gentlemen: I had absolutely forgotten the phrase "private room." This man's comments had strained my credulity-as in, I could not believe my eyes as I read. Some arguments are bad because they are poorly thought out; and some do not even rise to that level.

T said...

I think Curate is merely trying to point out (if I am reading him correctly) that the minster having "perfect" theology does not validate the sacraments.

We need to admit that someone's inner intention can not be known, but the outer intention of the sacrament can be known by the liturgy involved.

Maybe there is some confusion here about what we are talking about.

T