Furthermore, for too many of them, being Catholic means nothing more than having valid Orders, causing them to act as if all we stood for was a solution to the married priest problem Rome has created for itself. Valid Orders do matter of course; but, if you think that being Catholic means nothing more than that, then you will believe all too readily that the Pope has been generous in "offering" conversion by expanding the Pastoral Provisions in Anglicanorum Coetibus. If so, you are ripe for the picking, like those born every minute P.T. Barnum style.
Why are people so shocked to learn that Anglicanism is both Catholic and Protestant, and further, scandalized to hear that this is good? The answer is simple and twofold. The first problem is that they have allowed the Two One True Churches to define the terms, even though those big fellows can't get their own divisions reconciled. The other problem is that the word "Protestant" has taken on too many definitions. A word that means so many things can end up meaning nothing at all. I understand the second problem, but refuse to surrender to it. After all, the same problem applies to the word "Christian."
Anglicanism is like a coin with two sides, but it is not a two-headed monster. That is, Anglicanism, as we Continue it, is balanced, but not double minded. Yes, "a double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8)," but a one legged man is crippled. Anglicanism is what it is because the message of the Church is Evangelical, and the order of the Church is Catholic. The Faith we proclaim is the Catholic Faith, that is, it is according or κατά (kata) to the whole ὅλος (holos). The word comes from combining the words into one, katholike. We proclaim the whole truth, and it is by holding and practicing this whole truth in its entirety that the Church is Catholic.
This whole truth is the revelation God has given. However, the Whole does not include man made, or demon made, innovations. It cannot include any doctrine that has not been revealed by God, and therefore cannot include anything that is "repugnant to the Word of God." It is in this spirit, and for this cause, that Anglicanism has always the goal of conforming to the doctrine of the Apostles as the ancient Church received it, holding it fully intact, guarding against addition to God's revelation and against subtraction from it. It is for this reason that we regard our teaching and practice to be truly katholike; and that is the positive and authentic meaning of the more recently coined word, "Protestant"--at least as we should feel free to use it without embarrassment.
Those who merely observe classic, genuine Anglican practice from the outside, with their faces pressed against the window, weighed down in their minds by modern definitions or by anxiety to conform to the standards of others, may be "ever learning," but they are "never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" that we both teach and live in our daily practice of "the Faith that was once delivered to the saints" (II Timothy 3:7, Jude 3). They argue against the very lives that we live, treating the whole matter in theoretical terms only. But, their theoretical arguments only prove to us that they have no idea what they are talking about.
Many such people, disabled concerning "the knowledge of the truth" in their "ever learning" state, are members of Anglican churches, and some have been Anglicans by affiliation for years. But, they have never grasped the essence of Anglicanism itself. We may pity them, but we need not wonder why they seek a solution for something that is, though they are blind to it, most healthy, good and true. The solution to life is death, and the solution to health is sickness. Seeking a solution to life and health is easy, but no wise person wants to do so.
I wish I had said that
In the VirtueOnline posting of my essay, An Apologetic Response, our own Fr. Laurence Wells commented in response to another reader:
"The [Catechism of the (Roman) Catholic Church] at paragraphs 606--618 describes the Atoning work of Christ exceedingly well, especially at #615. 'Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.'
"But this noble statement of the Gospel is subverted, overthrown, and reneged on in the discussion of Penance, Purgatory, and Indulgences. In paragraphs 1459 and 1460, we are told on the same page (!) that Christ has expiated our sins, and like[wise] we must expiate our own sins through the good works of penance.
"This is incoherent. You cannot have it both ways.
"At paragraph 1473 we are told that even after 'the forgiveness of sin and remission of eternal punishment,' even so 'the temporal punishment of sin remains,' which we must endure through various practices of penance and the sufferings of purgatory. So the Good News of Jesus becomes nothing more than the phoney warranty on a used car! The Gospel of the Roman Church resembles a scam in which we are offered a 'free gift' but when we pick it up at the post office, it is C.O.D."
Amen. Well said Fr. Wells.
1. I have said enough about the word "Protestant" here and here. Therefore, when someone thinks he is insulting me by calling me Protestant, he may be shocked when I respond, "thank you for the compliment."