And so on.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Serving their generation
Anglicanism is difficult to understand because people want to approach religion and theology in a manner that is simplistic. Therefore, inasmuch as understanding what Anglicanism is, in essence, begins with overcoming a neat and tidy categorization, namely that "Catholic" and "Protestant" mean opposite things, the lazy and easy option is to ignore its basic nature. It is too much to think about. Having already explained the matter (i.e., here), I do not wish to repeat my efforts.
Therefore, I would prefer to offer a very brief and direct summary of how we reconcile seeming contradictions, that are in truth not contradictory; they are complementary. To use the most extreme examples within our own history, how do we reconcile the teaching of the English Reformers with the Oxford Movement? Inasmuch as the real Anglo-Catholics, most of the men who wrote the Tracts, considered themselves children of the English Reformers as well as the children of the Universal Catholic Church, it behooves those who call themselves Anglo-Catholics not to dismiss the same English Reformers. It behooves those who call themselves Reformed catholics not to dismiss the Tractarians.
Each era, each generation, faces its own battles, and speaks to some degree in a language all its own. For example, parts of the Thirty-Nine Articles are hard for modern people to understand because they were written in a specific period of history in which various practices that are mentioned in parts of the Articles automatically come across to modern readers as something different from the religious practices and beliefs of that time. Instead, contemporary practices and beliefs, and then only as perceived, appear to be the target.
Emphasis is also a major factor, as we view theological issues in the light of the times in which they were discussed. To be very simple about it (but, not simplistic), it was necessary to emphasize doctrinal matters in the sixteenth century that freed people from a wrong approach, or rather lack of approach, to the sacrament of Holy Communion; and yet, in the nineteenth century, it was necessary to restore the dignity of the sacrament, and even to protect the doctrine of the Incarnation by doing so. The inheritance we have received is to own both of these emphases, which serve as an example for our present purposes, and to hold the truth of each in balance.
And so on.