Recovery is the theme of this post in two ways. I was sick last week, too sick to write because I was too sick to think. I am recovering my health. At the same time, Fr. Wells has been busier than sin, which is good for the souls in his cure. But, we will have our work on the Articles underway in time to frustrate our chiefest opponents, seeing the recovery of true catholic faith in Anglicanism. We will begin with what Edgar C. S. Gibson, Bishop of Gloucester called the "The Catholic Faith and where it may be found (Articles I--VIII)."
By starting their articles affirming the faith of the Church, the English reformers also declared their intention to remain true to the catholic faith and to stay within the great tradition of the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church". The purpose of the Protestant reformation was recovery of catholic faith. Our Lord had said about the Old Testament, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5:17) So too, the purpose of the reformers was not to destroy the catholic faith, but to recover it. The distinctive gift of the Church of England was its refusal to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Anglicanism retained the full catholic faith and order of the Church, so that it recovered the Evangelical truth of the Catholic faith without losing any of its essential and true doctrines and practices. The parts of the catholic faith that were hidden and buried by Rome, as well as those that were lost by Continental Protestants, remained alive and well in the Church of England.
Sadly, we live in a time when people who should know these things, and who should be happy to have the Anglican heritage as their own family inheritance, are embarrassed by the very things they ought to boast of. On one hand, the "Stand Firmers" (Reasserters) are embarrassed by “the intent that these Orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in the Church of England” (Preface to the Ordinal). On the other, too many modern Anglo-Catholics are embarrassed by the Evangelical and genuinely Apostolic Faith, mistaking all things Roman for genuinely Catholic, kow-towing to their critics and begging for a place at an inferior (and polluted) table. The via media we affirm avoids the extremes of both of these “Anglican” camps, because neither of them gets the point.
By the time you get through reading these essays you will be very glad to call yourself an Anglican, provided you haven’t joined an ordinate so that you may beg a morsel of bread from those who ought to be begging to share your wealth. You will gladly fly your flag, humble to be part of something so wonderful.
(I had a word mincer when I was young. It broke, and I decided not to get it fixed.)