Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pax Anglicana

The genius of Anglicanism is not to be found in a lack of definition, but in strict adherence to doctrinal priority combined with Reason. The potential of genuine Anglican thought could be devastating to those who cherish the divided condition of the Church, inasmuch as the logical conclusion of Anglican thought would reunite the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. But, what G.K. Chesterton observed about Christianity in general, from his Roman Catholic perspective, is true in a special way about Anglicanism: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."1 The latent power of Anglican reason to unite the Church has not been tried, at least not more deeply than on the surface.

For purposes of fitting into one essay an ambitious and comprehensive evaluation of this idea, it will be presented as a statement of theses with only modest support at the present time for each. This may fuel discussion, and certainly will be followed by more attention to many details. That is, this may turn out to be Part I.

To begin with, the Anglican Communion has dropped the ball, and so its various churches cannot be considered the heirs of Anglican belief. Rather, the heirs are the Continuing Church bodies who have accepted The Affirmation of St. Louis. The relatively small membership of Continuing Anglicans, against the millions who belong to the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the various Protestant churches, is not relevant to discussion of beliefs and of the Anglican approach to Right Reason. For this discussion only ideas matter, coupled with facts about history and the current state of the Universal Church.

Spiritual Warfare

Those who believe in Demonology, as a true subsection of theological science, should consider the theory that Anglicanism has been attacked by the forces of Darkness precisely because of the potential it had to reunite the Universal Church. Not only does it have the necessary Reason to reunite the Church, but to empower it with a practical approach to theology that would arm the Church to encounter its mission more strategically and effectively than anything the modern world has seen.

The "Liberals" in the modern Anglican Communion have perverted the idea of "the Bridge Church" to indicate a soft approach to ecumenism that amounts to nothing but attempts to compromise, to run from meaning to vagueness, from definition to confusion and from principle to laxity. But, the true principles that could yet, if allowed to prosper, build the bridge that has potential to reunite the Universal Church, would have to be strong enough to endure every assault, unlike the false start that brought the Cantuarian project to moral and doctrinal collapse in the closing decades of the twentieth century, with the collapse still rumbling.

...and members in particular

Every apostasy must be, first and foremost, rebellion against the house in which that apostasy arises. Apostate Anglicans had to reject the specific form of Christianity known as Anglicanism and Episcopalianism. They had to destroy its doctrines and sacraments, and they had to replace the Book of Common Prayer with something enough like it to fool a large number of people. Therefore, it is not correct to see the apostate condition of modern Anglican churches in the Canterbury communion as some natural or inevitable result of Anglican beliefs; for those beliefs first had to be buried and forgotten.

People who live on the two poles of Anglican partisanship, employing the words "Protestant" (or "Evangelical") and "Catholic" by in-house definitions unique to Anglicanism, need to work at finding the reconciliation of their divergent positions that is, in fact, within the actual properties and contents of Anglicanism. This includes the development of Anglican theological thought and liturgical practice over centuries in which responsible churchmen found solutions to relevant issues facing their own respective generations. For example, the writers of the Thirty-Nine Articles addressed the needs of their time with language easily misunderstood today: But, what they actually taught, upon genuine and honest study, was as essential to the Catholic Faith of the Church as the later emphasis of the Oxford Movement proved to be in its time. The two do not contradict each other, but rather complement each other across the centuries.

Divergent practice, and to a degree divergent theological views, can and must be reconciled by what we have in our own possession. This requires, also, that each avoid extreme views that exclude orthodox believers of the other party, that we overcome the ignorance that enables prejudice and misunderstanding on our own part, and that we hear each other with willingness to learn instead of eagerness to react. The result will be, for many, rediscovery of the true Catholic and Apostolic Faith that each of the two parties on each pole have only in part, unless and until they reconcile spiritually and intellectually with the other. Neither party, the Evangelical party nor the Anglo-Catholic party, when refusing to hear the other, have the complete picture; though sadly, the partisan elements among them often exhibit a sense of self-sufficiency and wholeness that is, in fact, an illusion. Evangelicals who think they have no need of Anglo-Catholic respect for the Universal Church and the Sacraments, and Anglo-Catholics who think they have no need of Evangelical emphasis on Scripture and salvation, are both condemning themselves to severe spiritual deprivation.

Myths of consensus

Because the older division of the Church was between the East and the West, we have tried to be faithful to a consensus of the Universal Church that was expressed in the Seven Oecumenical (or Ecumenical) Councils. The Affirmation of St. Louis affirms all seven of them. Opposed to that correct definition of "consensus," it is factually wrong to mistake an ancient consensus of East and West for a modern consensus of Rome and Orthodoxy. In fact, the continued division between Rome and Orthodoxy is deeper than the division between Rome and most forms of Protestantism in the West.

The notion that the Orthodox Church sees the Roman Magisterium as closer to themselves then, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention, is debatable. The two western bodies, from the Eastern Orthodox perspective, share beliefs that rely on Augustinian and Anselmian paradigms 2, and are therefore closer to each other than to the Orthodox Church. In some places, including Holy Mount Athos, the rejection of Roman Catholicism is more fierce than anything to be found in most of the Protestant churches, even the most anti-Roman of them. Just how much we may speak of East West consensus as any sort of Orthodox and Roman consensus, is highly debatable. The former is a historical reality that alludes to the Seven Oecumenical Councils, the latter a deception that alludes somewhat to a grand fiction.

Some writers confuse later Roman Catholic developments with Universal Consensus. A perfect example of this confusion was caused by the fallacy that Rome's dogma of a punitive Purgatory with temporal punishments, including the Medieval and modern "Treasury" doctrine unique to Rome, was ever a doctrine of the Universal Church. Such late developments have no claim to Universal Consensus, and as doctrine are rightly rejected by Anglicans, by the Orthodox Church and by the many Protestant bodies. get back homeward

If we were to look for a Church that has found a sure path back to Antiquity, and also has worked its way back forward with all of the essential doctrines and practices of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we would need look no further than our own native ground as Continuing Anglicans. We find that full Catholic doctrine in our Evangelicalism, and in our Catholicism; we practice it in our liturgy and experience it charismatically in the sacraments, including the five sacraments of the Old Testament that were spiritually and significantly enhanced in the Church as revealed in the New Testament (one partly corrupted from anointing for healing to "extreme unction" and one a state of life called matrimony). We experience it also in the other two sacraments that are generally necessary to salvation, which we call sacraments of the Gospel, instituted by Christ with a visible sign and ceremony ordained of God, namely Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Indeed, by explaining the correct meaning of Article XXV, as I have just done in the paragraph immediately above, I mean to show the way home, the path back to Right Reason.

1. Chesterton, G.K, What's Wrong With The World, 1910 1910, London, chapter 5.

2. My brother, David Bentley Hart, however, made the argument that St. Anselm, properly understood, can be reconciled to Eastern Orthodoxy, especially by comparing his work to that of St. Gregory of Nyssa. - Hart, David Bentley, The Beauty of the Infinite, 2003, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing co., Grand Rapids.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps if you were elected King-of-the-Church then everyone would have a reason to comprehend the Articles and Anglicanism in the way that you do, Fr. Hart; but on account of free-will, your or anyone else's notion of "right reason" will forever fail to create cohesion amongst Christians. Without a visible head, there can be no visible Church - no cohesion. Within Christianity, the Pope has always served in this role as visible head. The New Testament mentions S. Peter's name 10 times to every one of the other Apostles. S. Peter is named "Cephas/Petra/Petrus" (meaning "rock") by Christ Himself - Tu es Petrus &c. S. Peter was the initiator of all things Christian in Scripture - first to evangelize Jews, first to heal the sick, first to drive out demons, first to confirm, first to evangelize gentiles, first to speak at the Council of Jerusalem. S. Peter's successors were always given primacy in issues of discipline and doctrine as, for example, Pope S. Clement was the man who address the problematic Church in Corinth rather than S. John the Apostle who was still alive and geographically closer at the time of S. Clements writing (and how could this be except that the successor of S. Peter was accorded more honor than even the Beloved Disciple?). Peter's two Epistles are unique in that they are in the form of encyclicals addressed to the whole early Church.

Anglicanism manifests merely an expression of the Faith but it is not a plenary expression. To be complete, Anglicans must be in communion with the See of S. Peter. God be praised, Benedict XVI has presented a truly generous and practical solution to the inherent deficiencies of Anglicanism.

Colin Chattan said...

Dear Anonymous,

You must be new to this blog or you would have been aware that Fr. Hart and his fellow writers have ably and frequently refuted all the arguments you present here (or at least the arguments that carry any weight). I have just a couple of comments:

(1) There seems to be a slight inconsistency in your method: you dismiss the capacity for "right reason" to create cohesion amongst Christians - but then proceed to attempt to employ "right reason" to justify the papal supremacy as the basis for said "cohesion". It reminds me a little bit of those devotees of deconstructionist "philosophy" who love to deconstruct everyone but themselves.

(2) I'm not sure that the Bishop of Rome can offer "cohesion" that has any value - except in a purely superficial, political sense. The fact is that under the papacies of John XXIII and Paul VI moral and spiritual (not to mention liturgical) confusion was sown throughout the Roman Church and, alas, beyond, with consequent devastating effects for Christianity throughout the western world - a mess that neither John Paul II nor Benedict XVI has been able to clear up. What practical good, then, is the papacy? What good is salt if it has lost its saltness? If what Rome has to offer is a "plenary expression" of the Christian Faith, I am happy to remain a "deficient" Anglican.

Canon Tallis said...

As much as I agree with what you have written, Father Hart, I disagree with the comment of anonymous. His defense of the Roman See whose corruption over the last thousand years has destroyed the cohesion of the Western Church. It has also plainly rejected too much of the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church as plainly stated in the New Testament, the writings of the earliest bishops and Catholic fathers and the theological teaching and canons of the first four general councils.

Every Anglican in the Continuum should "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest, two of the great Anglican classics of the 19th century, Littledale's Petrine Claims and Luke Rivington's The Primitive Church and the See of Peter. They refute exhaustively the false claims of the Roman Church. When you finish them you can but wonder at the extremity of the damage done to the Roman ego when Constantine moved the capital of the empire to Constantinople leaving their city to be conquered again and again by barbarians to the point which they became a cultural backwater.

AnglicanContinuer said...

Anonymous said:

Without a visible head, there can be no visible Church - no cohesion. Within Christianity, the Pope has always served in this role as visible head.

This reminds me of the Protestant Fundamentalists who insist that the Word of God is found only in the King James Bible. Among the supporting arguments are the number of revivals which have occurred and souls won by those using the KJV vs. other translations. The reasons seem obvious and conclusive to those who support that view. In the meantime, other Christians go about their business, and God continues to work in His Church.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

An ACC Bishop wrote the following:

I think the point of referring to a living consensus involving Rome and the Orthodox is to say that:
1. Christendom is not all that divided - the vast majority of Christians ubique even now agree about most matters of most importance, including controversial matters such as the invocation of saints, a high doctrine of the Real Presence involving a transformation of more than the meaning or signification of the Elements, and the objective efficacy of seven sacraments; 2. Anglicans can by looking to both Rome and the Orthodox show them their essential need for each other and also find for ourselves a standard to judge ourselves; 3. the consensus (ab omnibus) is indeed a living consensus, not a mere historical construct or memory.

So I would tend to say that when Rome and the Orthodox agree, we should be extremely reluctant to disagree. Where they disagree (the papacy, marital indissolubility, purgatory), we are free to adopt whichever position is truest to our own tradition and its scriptural foundation. The exception of an erroneous Rome/Orthodox consensus, namely the case of the marriage of bishops - is so contrary to the Biblical evidence that we hardly need to worry.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anonymous wrote:

Without a visible head, there can be no visible Church - no cohesion. Within Christianity, the Pope has always served in this role as visible head.

That belongs alongside other "historical facts," such as George Washington and the Cherry Tree, or the legend of John Henry and his hammer. The argument about the Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthian Church is a perfect example of grasping at straws. A point that needs that kind of weak argument is, at best, collapsing in on itself. Besides, the Church in Corinth suddenly had no clergy at all. yes, Peter is mentioned a lot in the Gospels, and Paul wrote most of the New Testament, and John outlived them all. None of these men had anything to do with the papacy.

Fr. Steve said...

I believe the visible head of the church is Christ. Nuff said.

Fr. John said...

Anonymous wrote: "S. Peter is named "Cephas/Petra/Petrus" (meaning "rock") by Christ Himself - Tu es Petrus &c."

I was thinking that when Jesus and Peter conversed they habitually spoke in Aramaic and not Latin.

Jack Miller said...

This may be applicable:

Article XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.

Are not the doctrines and practices consistent with Scripture faithfully adhered to and entrusted to faithful men (as Paul wrote) throughout the years that which define the true church, not its structure nor its individuals? Doesn't the error occur when the church is defined by an office or a structure of church tradition in that it gains preeminence over and against the wine within the wineskin?

just a thought.

blessings all...

highchurchman said...

Regarding Frs, Denny and Littledale!

Some weeks ago I was at an ,'ecumenical meeting',
discussing authority within the Church. Being an avid reader of both the above I used their arguments only to be called a liar!
I pointed out that the truth or otherwise could be gained by reading the above authors, accepted scholars!
"They are liars as well," was the shouted reply!

Anonymous said...

I would be the first to say that the "Affirmation of St Louis" is a very fine document. Why do some place it on the same plane as the three Catholic Creeds? Anglicans have always considered themselves to be Creedal and not Confessional. The Creeds are timeless. Confessions speak to a moment in history.

J. Gordon Anderson said...

Great essay. Should be required reading for all continuing Anglicans (and not a few Romans, Orthodox, and Protestants, I might add).

I would disagree with Anonymous, as his comments seem to be more "saying-so-makes-it-so" rather than an argument.

A former spiritual director - a venerable Episcopal Anglo-Catholic priest who retired in the APA - told me that years ago in the Episcopal Church even though there were "parties" (low church, anglo-catholic, etc.) they were united in the fundamentals of the Catholic and Anglican faith. He said that even the most low church Episcopal parish would never dream of having a non-Episcopally ordained minister come in and preach, celebrate, etc. because even the low churchman believed in the Episcopacy and apostolic succession.

The question about the Affirmation is a very good one. It is certainly not a confession (as the Articles are not a confession but simply articles). I think as an "affirmation" it is not meant to replace the Creeds or become a fourth creed, but is nothing more than an "affirmation" of the doctrine and theology of the Creeds of the Church, and also of the praxis of the same.

Those are just my quick and general thoughts on that interesting question... I am sure others could offer better and more erudite comments.

Jack Miller said...

The English definition of "creed" is as follows: 1) A formal statement of religious belief; a confession of faith.

The Creeds are confessions. They, like the 39 Articles of Religion and other reformed confessions of the 16th century were formulated in response to a moment in history due to doctrinal confusion or errors that needed correction and clarification, and as a result these "statements of faith", in terms of what they address, testify to the 'catholic and timeless' faith of Christianity.

The issues of the 16th century were not the issues of the day that fostered the Apostle's or Nicene Creeds. Thus the Creeds don't address important doctrines that the 16th century confessions do.

The Articles embrace the Creeds and then also speak to other timeless Scriptural doctrines needing clarification and illumination... a result of the reforming work of God's Spirit in England and on the Continent.

In the same way, this is true of the 'Affirmation', though some like myself see them as an insufficient "rallying point" confession for those seeking a more classical Anglicanism.

Jack Miller said...

Paul Helm of Regent College has a helpful comment on what to consider when using the term 'catholic':

There is another side to this. ‘Catholicism’ stands, in the main, for an objective understanding of truth. Truth is not relative to a group, or to a person, but it is expressed in the ‘faith once delivered’, perduring through the centuries. Catholicism is after all an endeavour to express the objective truths of Scripture regarding creation, the Trinity, the Incarnation, grace, original sin, the atonement, and much else.

The Shrinking Cleric said...

I almost didn't comment on this. "Anonymous'" opening sentence was so over-the-top and aggressive that I thought if I continued reading, I might be able to bill for a 90806 (Individual Psychotherapy, 45-50 Minutes).

"Anonymous" reflects much of what I think is really bad in religious discussion: A venomous approach to anyone who does not see things the way he does.

To me, the best approach is laid out by the unnamed ACC Bishop (although the words sound VERY familiar): "[W]hen Rome and the Orthodox agree, we should be extremely reluctant to disagree. Where they disagree (the papacy, marital indissolubility, purgatory), we are free to adopt whichever position is truest to our own tradition and its scriptural foundation."

To me, what is lacking in "Anonymous'" response is something that is all too frequently lacking in religious debate: a charitable recognition that we all share faith in Jesus Christ.

My grandmother always said, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Maybe when folks like "Anonymous" are willing to really learn something about Anglicanism and when some of us are willing to listen rather than speak, maybe then we can make some real progress.

Father Hart, great article as always. I'm still not a big fan of the 39 articles, though. :-)

You may send me your insurance information so that I can properly bill for the consult. :-)

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I'm still not a big fan of the 39 articles, though. :-)

Have you read Bicknell's book? Let me suggest this: Without the Articles in their time, we would not be here in ours. The Caroline Divines, the Oxford Movement, etc., needed first the recovery made by the English Reformers, Catholicism free of Medieval error.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart,

I especially appreciate your reply to the Shrinking Cleric. In this age we frequently forget what has been paid by those who have gone before us to give us what we have now. I have recently been strongly reminded of this by the actions of Sir Robert Shirley of Staunton Harold who in the year 1653 began the building of a church on his estate in the West of England. That act plus his defense of the Royalist cause brought about his death in the Tower. Why? Because when the Book of Common Prayer and the English Church had been outlawed under Cromwell, he began and his family finished the building of a church for prayer book worship in the English decorated gothic style.

It seems to me that what the Continuum is doing is what Shirley did and which is commemorated by a plaque in that church: "In the year 1653 when all things sacred were throughout ye nation either demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley, Baronet, founded this church, whose singular praise is to have done the best things in ye worst times, and hoped them in the most calamitous. The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance."

I would remind everyone that the word 'Catholic' is derived from two Greek roots meaning "according to the whole" which would include the whole of Holy Scripture before anything else. Unless we or any other group who calls themselves Christians are as completely true to the plum line of that document as it is humanly possible to be, the word would seem falsely applied.

The Shrinking Cleric said...

No, I haven't read Bicknell. I was hoping you would suggest something!

Anonymous said...

J. Gordon Anderson and Jack Miller thank you for your responses. If one is to understand the three Catholic Creeds as they have been interpreted in light Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture, why do we need "articles?" If one is to interpret the American Constitution correctly, we look to the authors and their interpretation of that document. It would appear, "that which has been delivered", should be sufficient. A better definition of "articles" might be "commentary."

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anonymous wrote:

If one is to understand the three Catholic Creeds as they have been interpreted in light Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture, why do we need "articles?"

The Articles were written in a time when the Gospel was buried under a popularly perceived religious system that required no faith for justification, that replaced faith and repentance with merely human works and saintly "merits"-and that for time off from a vainly invented thing called Purgatory, that treated each Mass as a sacrifice of propitiation in and of itself, that never directed the people to receive the Holy Communion themselves, that treated sacraments as elemental magic in a amoral universe rather than as sacraments to be used reverently, that forbade married men from serving as clergy, and that ascribed to the pope direct powers affecting the salvation of individuals, and universal authority over the whole Church beyond anything God has ever ordained for any man except His only begotten Son.

The three great Creeds do not deal with these errors, for they did not as yet exist when the Creeds were established.

Jack Miller said...

Anonymous wrote:
If one is to understand the three Catholic Creeds as they have been interpreted in light Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture, why do we need "articles?" If one is to interpret the American Constitution correctly, we look to the authors and their interpretation of that document. It would appear, "that which has been delivered", should be sufficient. A better definition of "articles" might be "commentary."

Your analogy is flawed. The 3 Creeds are not analogous to 'The Constitution'. The Holy Scripture, not the Creeds, is to the Church what the Constitution is to our country. The Creeds (which are confessions) and the Articles (which is a creed or confession) serve the purpose of authoritative catholic interpretations of Scriptural doctrines and issues, even as Supreme Court rulings are authoritative interpretations of the Constitution.

Article VI:
VI. "Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church."

Because of the errors of the Roman Catholic Church which subordinated the Scripture to the doctrines of mere men (though they sit in the supposed seat of Peter) sola scriptura as explained above was a necessary and completely 'catholic' article of confession.

William Tighe said...

Are you *quite sure* that you meant Luke Rivington, Canon Tallis? The Luke Rivington (1838-1899) whose works I have read was an English Anglican convert to Catholicism, and his writings are as papalist as one might expect in that time and milieu.

The Shrinking Cleric said...

I ordered Bicknell's book this morning. I look forward to reading it. Thanks for the reference!

David said...

My issue with the articles is that they also wander into the territory of Jack Chick by supposing to know what others internal meaning of external acts mean. For instance relics or icons. I do not worship icons but I am sure there are plenty of Orthodox and Anglicans who have made idols out of careers, status and wealth.

One thing I do appreciate is their reaction to real, tangible errors of Rome, errors that were being demanded of the people.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

David wrote:

My issue with the articles is that they also wander into the territory of Jack Chick by supposing to know what others internal meaning of external acts mean. For instance...

David, I can think of nothing anywhere in the whole corpus of the Thirty-Nine Articles that justifies this particular criticism of yours. Frankly, I don't even see it as a result of language shifts causing confusion, as I do see other fairly common misinterpretations. I see no pretension of anyone judging people's motives. The issues dealt with are very objective and straight forward.

Jack Chic? Come on, already. The men who wrote the Articles were genuine scholars and theologians. The fine points of how their knowledge of Greek and Hebrew formed their exact wording in both the Latin and English versions is an art form, making the Articles a masterpiece of theological literature.

David said...

Father, that reaction you had to my comment, that is exactly what I am talking about. To the Orthodox and apparently to some Anglicans, the articles make you have that same feeling. I don't expect you to agree with it but to understand how some others are made to feel.

When I read a track that says Anglicans, Lutherans, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic believe you have to eat crackers and wine to be saved it creates rather strong feelings. When it is suggested that my veneration of icons or relics is any more than my veneration of the American flag I have that same ill feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Were you able to get to reading the rest of my post?

Like I said I am sympathetic to the articles because of the context of the place and time they were written. Rome had tangible errors. I have had discussions with evangelical Anglicans on Stand Firm for instances who use the Articles as a weapon to prove I worship idols, believe in earning my salvation, etc, etc.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


What are you talking about? I must wonder if you have read the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,
I have read your writings here for some time. You are very bright and detailed etc... Forgive me being a little obtuse perhaps, but I can't trace the insistence by the Church of the first millenium on right reason as being an essential part of Her Rule of Faith. What am I missing?


Anonymous said...

Regarding Mr W. Tighes comments on Luke Rivington!

Perhaps Canon Tallis meant as a third Anglican author and scholar,Father Puller, with his book, "The Primitive Saints and the See of Rome." I have his 3rd Ed. Puller refers scathingly to Rivington's scholarship and appears to doubt his work. But is deadly in his work.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...Forgive me being a little obtuse perhaps, but I can't trace the insistence by the Church of the first millenium on right reason as being an essential part of Her Rule of Faith. What am I missing?

Right Reason helps us know and clarify the doctrine God has revealed, but it is not in any way itself a source of revelation. The ancient Church had to clarify its teaching and establish polity.

David said...

Why do I even bother? I can't learn anything here from Fr. Hart because I did something that made him not like me and for that I am sorry. At least I will have the charity to conclude that he isn't a bitter nasty oldster but rather a fighter that is sore from the fight. It wasn't my intent to slug you.

Anonymous said...

To clarify thinga a bit for Patrick:

As Fr Hart states, "right reason" was not suddenly deemed a source of revelation.
Hooker had to insist that RR is a necessary element of sound theological method because he was dealing with some unreasonable people, who insisted on their rather arbitrary "regulative principle of worship,' the idiosyncratic notion that only things explicitly authorized by the Scriptures may be done in public worship. To make sense of Hooker's view of the place of reason, we must remember the unreasonableness of his Puritan opponents. This plea for reasonableness did not diminish the primacy of the revelation contained and delimited by the Scriptures.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


You are treating my question as if it were hypothetical. It is not. What could you possibly see in the Thirty-Nine Articles that matches your stated objection to them? You have stated something specific, but I can't match it to the text.

Jack Miller said...

To make sense of Hooker's view of the place of reason, we must remember the unreasonableness of his Puritan opponents. This plea for reasonableness did not diminish the primacy of the revelation contained and delimited by the Scriptures.

Amen, Fr. Wells. Hooker was defining and defending the English Church's doctrine and polity against the extremes of the Roman Catholic Church and that of the radical Puritan element... which many reformers on the Continent (Bullinger of Zurich for one) were likewise engaged in defending against. Right reason wasn't a new approach, nor a supplanting of Holy Writ.