Sunday, December 26, 2010

To Anonymous and his kin

If I did not need one thing on Christmas, it was for someone to send me a comment full of complete, utter, non-sense. As usual, a zealous, arrogant, pontifical comment was proved to be the work of that prolific writer/composer/poet, Anonymous; a man known for his courage (if Anonymous wants to read and make a series of comments, he needs to create some sort of nickname, so that we know we are responding to the same individual). Seeing that Fr. Wells and I are working on the Laymen's Guide to the Thirty-Nine Articles, the brave would-be scholar took keyboard in hand to set us straight:

"Tested against the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Church Fathers the Articles do fail. They convey a Calvinist theology that is in opposition to what was taught and understood by the pre-schism Orthodox Catholic Church. Examples include the following Orthodox Catholic dogmas: real presence in the eucharist, including a change in the elements; infallibility of the Church in ecumenical council; that the Church consists of all Orthodox Catholic members who were baptized and chrismated into the faith by a bishop or priest who stands in apostolic succession; salvation by a joint effort of human and God and not by faith alone; total rejection of human depravity as it is understood in the Calvinist sense, etc.

The Articles should be consigned to the category of theological error and forgotten."

What is worse, the anonymous Anonymous sent this on the heels of other comments in which he claimed to speak for the ACC, a claim I find insulting and offensive. Continuum readers may anticipate my response, that each point he made is wrong, and in my own essays has been refuted already. Furthermore, in our series on the Thirty-Nine Articles, that has only recently gotten underway, each point he made will be corrected yet again.

I could ask him where and how any of the Articles actually "fail" against the Seven Oecumenical Councils, but I would rather simply tell him that if they did, both Fr. Wells and I would know it already. We would not need to be told, especially by Anonymous. Furthermore, I know that his answer would amount to the angry reactions of someone who suffers from a far worse condition than mere ignorance: he suffers from mis-education, or the indoctrination of a kind only slightly better than brain washing.

I could ask him to explain, if it is required that one must have been "chrismated into the faith by a bishop or priest who stands in apostolic succession" in order to be part of the Church, where do the children of our congregations stand who have been baptized, but not yet confirmed? And, I could demand to know how he can so openly contradict the Universal Church by adding this condition? And, if he is any sort of Anglican, why does he say "chrismated" instead of confirmed? That is, why does he emphasize the anointing with oil, which is not in the Bible as matter for this sacrament, instead of the Laying on of Hands, which is? I would ask him, what makes him think he can understand the Articles? For, it is obvious that he cannot understand the foreign language (English) in which they written.

Like many chronic sophomores, he uses the word "Calvinist" very freely, no doubt as if to frighten us with a scary monster face. But, I have no doubt that he would not know real Calvinism if it climbed up and bit him on the behind. Usually, when such persons invoke the word "Calvinist" they really mean a combination of Thomist and Dominican Theology that they wrongly attribute to Protestantism for its origin. It is a widespread symptom of mis-education. The only real innovation of Calvinism (i.e. something that was new in Calvin's time) is the Geneva Discipline; and Anglicans have always and consistently rejected that innovation (one might say that Richard Hooker wrote the book on our polity, because he did).

But I hope this person (who I imagine to be a young man) will stick around and keep reading, and maybe actually learn something, which may be possible once he stops pontificating to his betters.

The Legal status of the Thirty-Nine Articles is a subject that will not be part of our Laymen's Guide. But, I am going to address the subject here briefly anyway, just to get it off my chest.

I have been informed by a few of my fellow clergy in the ACC that the Articles are not binding in our church (but, never have I heard anyone say that the ACC rejects the doctrine contained therein), and that is because they are not mentioned in the Constitution and Canons. I respect the men who have made this argument, and generally agree with their views. Nonetheless, I disagree with them, respectfully, in this matter. I might as well say why I disagree.

The Affirmation of St. Louis says:

IV. PRINCIPLES OF WORSHIP

Prayer Book -- The Standard of Worship
In the continuing Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer is (and remains) one work in two editions: The Canadian Book of 1962 and the American Book of 1928. Each is fully and equally authoritative. No other standard for worship exists.
Certain Variances Permitted
For liturgical use, only the Book of Common Prayer and service books conforming to and incorporating it shall be used.

The words, "each is fully and equally authoritative" could not be more clear. I have argued that the 1928 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer lists "the Articles of Religion" in its regular contents. It is not there as an index, or as a mere historical document. And, even if one wants to disagree with me on that, the 1962 edition of the Canadian Book of Common Prayer is absolutely and unmistakably clear, repeating on page vii the following Solemn Declaration (first published in 1893):

IN the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

WE, the Bishops, together with the Delegates from the Clergy and Laity of the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada, now assembled in the first General Synod, hereby make the following Solemn Declaration:

WE declare this Church to be, and desire that it shall continue, in full communion with the Church of England throughout the world, as an integral portion of the One Body of Christ composed of Churches which, united under the One Divine Head and in the fellowship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, hold the One Faith revealed in Holy Writ, and defined in the Creeds as maintained by the undivided primitive Church in the undisputed Ecumenical Councils; receive the same Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as containing all things necessary to salvation; teach the same Word of God; partake of the same Divinely ordained Sacraments, through the ministry of the same Apostolic Orders; and worship One God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ, by the same Holy and Divine Spirit who is given to them that believe to guide them into all truth.

And we are determined by the help of God to hold and maintain the Doctrine, Sacraments, and Discipline of Christ as the Lord hath commanded in his Holy Word, and as the Church of England hath received and set forth the same in 'The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the Church of England; together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches; and the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons'; and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion; and to transmit the same unimpaired to our posterity.

The Constitution and Canons of the ACC contain the Affirmation of St. Louis as a foundation, which calls the whole 1962 Canadian BCP, which includes that Solemn Declaration, "fully authoritative." Therefore, our Constitution and Canons do, in fact, bind us to the Thirty-Nine Articles. There was no need, therefore, to single them out from the rest of the Book of Common Prayer for special mention at St. Louis in 1977.

I do not expect everyone to accept my argument, but I am persuaded that it is good enough to be treated with respect. No one should simply brush aside the possibility that I am right. Nor, especially in light of Tract 90, am I able to understand why anyone could think that rejection of the Classic Formularies is a position consistent with Anglo-Catholicism. The idea is very new, and contrary to the Oxford Movement.

The most responsible course of action we can think of is to create a resource that explains the true meaning of the Thirty-Nine Articles. I do not expect my argument about their legal status to win over everyone, but merely to establish that the legal status of the Articles is not so cut and dry. But, even if they have no legal status, and are not binding, they will not go away. They are with us, and they will remain with us for the foreseeable future, and they will continue to have in hearts and minds an authority that is greater than mere legal status can provide.

But, we have a problem. Anonymous cannot understand their meaning because they were written in a foreign language. That is, they were written in the past. They were written in a time of history that is generally not understood very well. As a result, in the wrong hands the Articles of Religion are dangerous. Of course that is true of everything that is of genuine value, including the Bible.

So, whether you agree with my position on the legal status of the Articles, or not, I see clearly the only realistic and responsible course to take, as does Fr. Wells. Therefore, I hope Anonymous will sit down, listen and learn.

59 comments:

Tom said...

Thank you, Fr. Hart, for this essay. Like you, I have heard members of the ACC declare that the 39 Articles are 'not normative' in this jurisdiction. And like you, I have chosen to simply ignore those statements. Especially, I thank you for the quotation from the 1962 Canadaisn BCP.

In Christ
Tom McHenry+

Anonymous said...

Also relevant is the language of the Preface to the USA Prayer Book, which says that "this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worrship." If one had asked an English bishop in 1789 (when those words were written) what the "essentiasl points of doctrine" were, we all know what his answer would have been.

Also important is the fact that the Articles in our American Prayer Book were not adopted simply as old baggage, but by special action in 1801, after some contentious debate. Two important emendations were then made (both unfortunate in my view). By the principle "exclusio unius (vel duobus), inclusio alterius" [the exclusion of one or two implies the emphatic inclusion of the rest], the Articles did have some standing in the pre-1976 Minneapolis GC Church.
How that standing actually worked is another matter, but surely we do not wish to perpetuate the latitudinarian/liberal virus.
LKW

Anonymous said...

Having been a member of the ACC for 6 and one half years now, I have sadly observed many things that trouble me greatly.

Rejection of the classic Anglican faith in favor of a sort of imitation 1950s Roman Catholicism seems to be prevalent among some, not all, clergy and laity.

Not only have I heard the 39 Articles rejected, I have heard and read statements by ACC clergy attacking the 1928 BCP as "not catholic enough", thus trying to belittle it and promote the Anglican Missal. Some ACC clergy have even written in blogs, etc. that they support the use of the Roman Novus Ordo.

I have truly become convinced that the true church that is truly continuing real Anglicanism is the UECNA.

Thankfully there are some ACC clergy, such as Fr. Hart and Fr. Wells, who are truly Anglican, but sadly some of the ACC is getting as far away from real Anglicanism as is TEC, just in a different way.

Sadly, there is not a UECNA parish close to me. If there were, I would become a member without delay.

Discouraged Anglican

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Discouraged Anglican:

One of the reasons I have felt at home in the ACC is that I found that I could be an Anglican here. Does everyone think exactly like me? No. But, even though I never pretended to be a late model Anglo-Catholic, and my rather Protestant writings (Protestant in that Catholic way that only Anglicans appreciate) were well known before I was received, I have never been made to feel like an outsider; In fact I was appointed by Archbishop Haverland to preach at the Provincial Synod last year.

The only question I have run into about the Articles and Formularies has been about their legal status. I have met no one, so far, who rejects the theology therein. The official position requires a larger context than simply Anglicanism as such, namely, the context of the ancient and universal Church. Of course, that is almost self-contradictory to say, inasmuch as reaching for the goal of being the Continuing Church of the Apostles is exactly what Anglicanism has been all along, in some venues and at different times, with more or less success. But, we keep that goal alive and well.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Some arrogant fellow wrote to gloat, thinking we are "fighting" and telling us how much he enjoys watching. He claims to be safe now, having been EO since 1987:

"Well, I don't have a dog in this fight since I'm not any kind of anglican (upper or lower case) anymore. I am happiy Eastern Orthodox since 1987 and happy here in EasternLand.

"rdr. James
Keep on fightin', y'all. I love to see the sparks fly."

Rdr. James, we are not fighting, but clarifying important matters of doctrine. But, if you really want to present the Eastern Orthodox Church as free from controversy, internally peaceful and superior in charity, I will gladly allow you to embarrass yourself. The Eastern Orthodox Church is, however, far from paradise, and far from being peaceful - in fact you may want to see that for yourself in Bethlehem next Boxing Day.

In fact, come to think of it, Rdr. James, I strongly suspect we have discovered the real identity of Mr. Anonymous, and have seen why we need not take seriously his claim to be in the ACC.

Anonymous said...

So, some Orthopdox fellow with the moniker of "rdr. James" writes:

"Keep on fightin', y'all. I love to see the sparks fly."

If you enjoy watching "the sparks fly". Reader James, may I suggest a couple of Orthodox discussion boards?:

1) The "Orthodox List" at the UI Listserv: https://listserv.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/wa-iub.exe?A0=orthodox

2)Euphrosynos Café: http://www.euphrosynoscafe.com/

There is a publishing company, CTOS, which you might find enjoyable as well. You can order books here:

http://www.ctosonline.org/

Caedmon, Orthodox Reader headed to Anglicanism

Fr.Jas.A.Chantler said...

Dear Father Hart
I am glad that you made reference to the Solemn Declaration found in the BCP Canada 1962:clearly the Articles do have legal status in the Continuum! I think the person who fancies the UECNA (I have nothing against the UECNA and consider +Peter Robinson their Bishop to be a very good bishop) must have encountered some folks in the ACC who might best be described as 'Old Catholics' but the vast majority in the ACC are solidly Anglican.If that poster was to enter the UECNA he would probably find some people who held strange ideas about the Faith of our fathers there as well.

charles said...

Dear Fr. Hart,

Your reply to 'anonymous' strikes home. Also, 'discouraged Anglican' iterates a strong sentiment I shared about a year ago, and my conclusion was the same: UEC. As you know, I've expressed my concerns with ACC C&C before, and, with a number of other readers, was pretty vocal about classical Anglicanism finding itself a 'local option'.

I believe the American pluralistic environ makes well-defined standards fairly pressing. It should also be noted the success of liberal catholicism might be attributed to a renegotiation of the Anglican Settlement away from the 39 articles and prayer book toward a minimal ethos centered upon the eucharist and Creed. Often symptomatic of this eviscerating renegotiation is the too frequent claim that 'Anglicanism is merely practice', thus ritual, and not theological. By such reasoning it is hoped questions of 'justification' and 'sacraments' simply vanish. Instead, the liberal catholic settlement reopened questions of sacrament and soteriology, allowing RC, EO, and modernism to exploit and otherwise fill the gap.

While I still believe ACC canon 2.2 is pretty final (with respect to 1543 as a cut-off line for ACC received doctrine), the 1962 Canadian solemn declaration is stronger argument than the 1928. Together with the ACC's November 19th/20th (?) 1979 resolution (could this possibly be drudged up?) you might actually have a case, or at least a respectable opinion.

cont'd

charles said...

cont'd
However, there might be some problems with an argument from the Prayer Book alone. According to Frere, the Articles, though bound together, are not part of the prayer book proper, the title being, "The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Ceremonies of the Church according to the use of the PEC in USA".

Furthermore, the 'circumstance clause' found in the American BCP's preface has two interpretations, the finality of which was left to diocesan opinion. The majority view was the American Revolution licensed a revision along the proposed 1689 line. Hence, you have a mandate for a wide-ranging protestant ecumenicalism, including everything from unitarianism to presbyterianism. The minority view belonged to New England which understood revision in nominal ways, counting only the deletion of royal state prayers. Because the 'circumstance clause' is finally understood according to Bishopric discretion (the 1789 agreement), I find appeals to it to be rather indeterminate since its historical context may slice both ways.

Unfortunately, official inclusion of Articles is found in older PEC church canons which the ACC architects conveniently buried in 1980 by drastically overhauling C&C's. Consequently, what Settlement Churchmen in the ACC are left with is the liberty of a local option (if not an 'indulgence') by moderate (but pro-EO/RC) bishops, thus 'tolerating' some protestant doctrine and worship therein. While this does not describe the Continuing-St.Louis church movement in total, I believe it sadly describes its largest, remaining flagship, the ACC. So whatever Fr. Hart accomplishes will have far reaching effects.

I wish the best for the Layman's Guide, and, irrespective of constitutional questions, the only way out for any Anglican church this day and age (REC, APA, ACNA#2, UEC, ACC, et al.) is intensifying catechism and preaching instruction through classical, english, reformation standards (BCP, 39, homilies), taking Seabury's high view combined with Laud and Whitgift's more consistent discipline (or something like that...). Otherwise we'll be slowly gobbled up by more determined and hostile branches like EO, RC, etc, etc.. I believe Fr. Hart and Wells are headed in the right direction given everything that would push the other way. Thank you, but please find that 1979 resolution. Combined with 1962 you have a stronger argument and can probably use every ounce of defense available. Plus, the sake of history itself.

sincerely,
charles

charles said...

cont'd
However, there might be some problems with an argument from the Prayer Book alone. According to Frere, the Articles, though bound together, are not part of the prayer book proper, the title being, "The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Ceremonies of the Church according to the use of the PEC in USA".

Furthermore, the 'circumstance clause' found in the American BCP's preface has two interpretations, the finality of which was left to diocesan opinion. The majority view was the American Revolution licensed a revision along the proposed 1689 line. Hence, you have a mandate for a wide-ranging protestant ecumenicalism, including everything from unitarianism to presbyterianism. The minority view belonged to New England which understood revision in nominal ways, counting only the deletion of royal state prayers. Because the 'circumstance clause' is finally understood according to Bishopric discretion (the 1789 agreement), I find appeals to it to be rather indeterminate since its historical context may slice both ways.

Unfortunately, official inclusion of Articles is found in older PEC church canons which the ACC architects conveniently buried in 1980 by drastically overhauling C&C's. Consequently, what Settlement Churchmen in the ACC are left with is the liberty of a local option (if not an 'indulgence') by moderate (but pro-EO/RC) bishops, thus 'tolerating' some protestant doctrine and worship therein. While this does not describe the Continuing-St.Louis church movement in total, I believe it sadly describes its largest, remaining flagship, the ACC. So whatever Fr. Hart accomplishes will have far reaching effects.

cont'd

charles said...

cont'd
I wish the best for the Layman's Guide, and, irrespective of constitutional questions, the only way out for any Anglican church this day and age (REC, APA, ACNA#2, UEC, ACC, et al.) is intensifying catechism and preaching instruction through classical, english, reformation standards (BCP, 39, homilies), taking Seabury's high view combined with Laud and Whitgift's more consistent discipline (or something like that...). Otherwise we'll be slowly gobbled up by more determined and hostile branches like EO, RC, etc, etc.. I believe Fr. Hart and Wells are headed in the right direction given everything that would push the other way. Thank you, but please find that 1979 resolution. Combined with 1962 you have a stronger argument and can probably use every ounce of defense available. Plus, the sake of history itself.

sincerely,
charles

John said...

The Articles of Religion are an interesting often profound sometimes misguided historical statement of faith by the 1801 General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church which reflects the preferences of the leadership of Protestant Episcopal clergy and laity in 1801. I commend Frs Hart and Wells for writing educational essays on the AOR, but I resist if it is their notion that the AOR are "normative" for Continuing Church Anglicans especially those of a more catholic persuasion.

Merry Christmas!

Canon John Wesley Westcott ACC

Fr. Robert Hart said...

John Westcott:

The fact that you attribute the 1801 statement to the American Episcopal Church indicates that you have not read this essay carefully. That you seem to attribute the Articles themselves to the Episcopal Church and the time of their writing to 1801 also indicates that you don't know the subject at hand. I suggest you read a bit about the Church of England and about the 16th century. The Thirty-Nine Articles are not "preferences of the leadership of Protestant Episcopal clergy and laity," and they were already very old by 1801.

Why would you even have an opinion about the content of the Articles? Your comment indicates that you have no idea what they are. Did you mean to write what you did?

Anonymous said...

Fr. Chantler:

The majority of ACC clergy and members that I have met in my particular diocese could best be described as imitation Roman Catholics.

I have only encountered one or two clergy who actually don't seem to be ashamed of the word "Anglican."

I stated that this is "some" of the clergy in the ACC. There may well be some true Anglicans out there somewhere.

Sadly, there is not a UECNA parish within a reasonable driving distance. For that reason, I am simply leaving the ACC, staying home and reading the BCP. Praying from the 1928 BCP is something I can do at home. It is not something that happens in the ACC. Instead, it is the Missal.

Discouraged Anglican

charles said...

Dear Fr. Hart,

If you didn't like the first entry's rehatching the earlier debate on ACC C&C w/ link, feel free to edit that particular sentence out where it's mentioned. The rest will fly w/out it and still make sense. If that can't be done, just delete them all. My guess is you read them each, so you got the idea. I hope you see the 1979 resolution as another possible proof, adding to your other arguments. sincerely, charles

Fr.Jas.A.Chantler said...

I think it's time,once again,to commend Bicknell's book on the 39 Articles.It can be purchased for under ten dollars in many used book stores or online. Most Anglican critics of the Articles have read Papalist denunciations of them but few have studied expositions of them by classical Anglicans.I am pleased that Fathers Hart and Wells are making the effort to teach the Articles and/or give us a 'refresher course'.I would also encourage a regular and prayerful use of the Catechism in our Churches. Sadly, many of the same people who misunderstand the Articles and denounce them also ignore the BCP's Catechism.

charles said...

Fr. Wescott surely confesses the same as his bishop: http://www.mdne.org/Believe.htm

The problem is reconciling certain poorly worded sections of the St. Louis Affirmation to the 39 Articles. These include the following as found on the MDNE website:

"*We believe in the holy Tradition of the Church as set forth by the ancient catholic bishops and doctors, and especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church.

*We hold dear the seven Sacraments of Grace, namely, the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance, and Unction of the Sick. We believe them to be objective signs of Christ's continued presence and saving activity among us. We believe in the holy sacrifice of the Mass and that the body and blood of Christ is truly and really present in the Holy Eucharist."

I also wonder if St. Vincent's canon sometimes is interpreted at the expense of Andrewe's formula of five centuries. I'm not sure if a clarification, however, is just unnecessary hairsplitting? Anyway the above points will be the greatest hurdle, and this is where Fr. Wescott likely needs some assistance.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Charles wrote:

While I still believe ACC canon 2.2 is pretty final (with respect to 1543 as a cut-off line for ACC received doctrine), the 1962 Canadian solemn declaration is stronger argument than the 1928.

I do not see C&Cs 2.2 as making 1543 a cut-off date. I see, rather, that 2.2 forbids us to begin half way through the 16th century, and forces us to go back to the Church of the Apostles and Fathers. This is what the Reformers intended.

John Westcott:

I want to add two things to what I said before to you. Your use of the word "catholic" is insulting. You do not mean catholic; you mean Spikey. We are no less Catholic than you or anybody else.

Before trying to set us straight on what it me4ans to be Catholic, especially Anglican Catholic, read my essays, and also plan to read each installment we write about the Articles. Frankly, you need the education.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Charles:

I forgot to mention, I think all your comments are here, and it looks complete to me. If something is missing, please send it again. I appreciate your comments, for they make important points.

John said...

My goodness! In the midst of the season of Christmas, my comments regarding the AOR are called insulting and ignorant because I offered my opinion that I personally do not believe them to be "normative". One of my parishioners commented on another topic on your site and was similarly slapped down by Fr Wells as being beneath the salt of the exalted level of your discourse on this site. You two do not suffer those who you consider fools gladly. I suggest that if in your opinion our faith should require strict adherence to the AOR, then please offer that as a resolution at the next ACC General Convention so that we like the folks in 1801 can have a lively debate and the ACC can vote as to whether the AOR are normative or not today.

Canon John

Anonymous said...

Discouraged:

I am all too familiar with the type of churchman which is bugging you: those who dismiss doctrinal questions breezily, "I have no dog in that hunt," but will talk your ears off about the proper design of vestments, who do not know the Chalcedonian formula from the recipe for baklava, but will scream like a stuck pig over the authority of Ritual Notes vs The Parson's Handbook. But I assure you that the ACC has no monopoly on these creeps. Having made quite an oddyssey before arriving on the sunny shores of the ACC nearly five years ago, I know whereof I speak.

Obviously you have a problematic local situation. But having attended 5 diocesan synods and 1 Provincial Synod, I am simply delighted with the ACC. My only regret is long time it took me to arrive safely, while still bleeding from experiences elsewhere.

Canon Westcott: If you argue that the Articles are not "normative," then would you take the next step and conclude that the the Bibical-Patristic-Augustinian tradition behind them is not normative either? Please remember, the Latitudinarians never liked the Articles very much and the Revisionists simply abhor them. Please do not get into bad company.

In about a month, we will celebrate the Martyrdom of King Charles the Martyr. All who revere his memory should read his opinion of the Articles and of those who despise them, in "His Majsty's Declaration" printed with them in the 1662 BCP.
LKW

charles said...

Thanks Fr. Hart!
Last night I picked up my copy of the 1662 which was recently purchased and shipped from Britain. The title page reads like the 1928 but also mentions the psalter and ordinal. This certainly makes Frere's point and was probably what he was referring to. But then I went to justus.anglican.org and downloaded the title pages of the 1662 bcp's provided there. Neither the 1762 and 1717 mention the ordinal (though the psalter is listed).

The binding together of authoritative texts was common during the 16th and 17th centuries. Part of this was to stem the influence of continental manuscripts. I know several combinations. The 1536 injunctions were bound with the Great Bible. The ten articles and Henry's various catechisms were likewise provided as a single book. Early versions of the KJV included portions of the prayer book (before the prayer book incorporated sentences from the KJV), usually the order of the psalter w/ tables and calendar. And,under Elizabeth, Nowell's catechism was appointed to be bound with Articles. Various societies would do the same, and in a church library I recently found the Homilies bound with 39 Articles and 1604 canons. Happily, APA has continued this practice by binding prayer book with KJV.

cont'd

charles said...

cont'd
Anyway, Prayer Book follows the same fashion. It binds together numerous books which are not the 'prayer book' per se. These would be the Psalter, Articles, and Ordinal. Note the term "together with". Lesser documents might be the Majesties Declaration, Table of Kin Relations, but these are not in the American. Others not mentioned in the title page are probably assumed, and just because something is not mentioned doesn't lessen it's authority, etc. We might have to look elsewhere, and this is why C&C's are important because they should clarify much in the manner Whitgift required the 3pt oath, distinguishing prayer book, 39 articles, and Supremacy. Consequently, are more sound situation would see standards mutual reinforcing each other, both implicitly (like Cosin's editing of the 1662 BCP by using 1611 KJV, or the example of shared bindings like Nowell and 39, or what stood in the churches for use) and explicitly (like Whitgift's 1538 articles or Acts of Uniformity).

Though Frere's point is more readily taken with the 1662, it makes us wonder, "what is the prayer book?". Formally, the title page defines it. But the binding implicitly includes Articles.

Father Wells brings up a good point about 'latitudinarianism'. This needs to be really asked. Which view of the circumstance clause to Anglicans approve? Are we following the 1785 opinion of Smith and White? Or, are we living in the tradition of Seabury?

If New England is really our 'american patrimony' or forefather, then certainly that means we should be appropriating far more from English ritual/theology, circa 1785, than we do presently when facing converted poitns! I think this is our necessary mandate for such things as the Ornament's Rubric, Longer Catechisms, as well as polity/bishopric. AB Robinson has thinking along somewhat similar lines (thinking about the Continuum historically): http://theoldhighchurchman.blogspot.com/2010/11/some-thoughts-on-episcopacy.html

At least, let's acknowledge Seabury an indispensable hinge that our own churchmanship ought repeatedly and loyally reference.

sincerely, Charles

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Canon John:

If you are Canon John Westcott then don't blame me that your comment attributed the Thirty-Nine Articles to the Episcopal Church, and identified the time of their composition as 1801 (seeming to come from the date of the Solemn Declaration in the Canadian BCP). I read the comment seven or eight times, and then backwards and forwards, upside down and inside out. I just can't make it mean anything else. Furthermore, it was you who said that catholic Anglicans reject the Articles, more than implying that many of us are not really catholic. So, yes, it was an insulting use of the word, and quite inaccurate.

Regarding your suggestion about voting on the authority of the Articles, there are three reasons not to consider any such thing.

1. Their authority will remain intact with or without legal status, because canon law cannot take them away from the hearts and minds of the people.

2. The question is moot, because the Affirmation of St. Louis is in the foundation of our constitution.

3. Such a vote appears to be the method of Beetlejuice the Bio-Exorcist. A vote in favor of your stated position would drive a very large (and heavily contributing) number of good people out of the ACC. It would be utterly irresponsible even to suggest the idea.

Finally, what you said about the content and meaning of the Articles is the very kind of thing our work is meant to correct. Unless you can explain your comment in a way that makes sense, it appears that you cannot even correctly identify the historical context in which the Articles were written, in which case you could not fail to misinterpret much that is in them. I recommend, therefore, that you read what I have prescribed. It is for your own good.

Anonymous said...

I call for peace between Fr. Hart and Canon John Wescott.

Please. ISTM that the both of you have something important to say.

Then again, what do I know?

Well, I know, at this juncture in my sojourn anyhow, that I must affirm the findings of the 7 Ecumenical Councils.

In concert with the Affirmation of St. Louis.

I know as well that this "via media" thing is something at which I cannot sneeze.

I know as well that the Reformers were on to Something. English as well as radical.

I am a subscriber to Touchstone magazine, and the "Mere Christianity" concept on which it is based, exactly because I desire this concord between apostolic and catholic Christianity.

I pray, please don't disappoint me. Not that you should subordinate your understanding of truth to mine. Just that you should be very careful in what you post here, for my sake and others'.

Caedmon

Anonymous said...

Grumbling about the Articles of Religion isn't anything new. In fact, I'll lay odds that many Anglicans who lack confidence in our patrimony would be surprised to discover that the earliest bitchings came, not from catholic Churchmen, but from disgruntled, Puritan hotspurs, during the reign of Elizabeth I. (And so it continues today: take some time and peruse the blogs of the more rancorous Anglo-Calvinists; theyr'e still whining about the CoE's failure to embrace the Lambeth Articles).

There has also been a historical tendency among Anglican Evangelicals to bifurcate the formularies, with the predictable result of according the 39 Articles sole power of doctrinal definition (19th-century churchmen like Goode and Ryle did this all the time).

This betrays a vast distrust in the BCP as an authorative source of Anglican doctrine; it also bludgeons to death the principle of Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi (How could the liturgy possibly be the law of beleiving, if its glories as a doctrinal standard are denied)? Furthermore, such a principle contradicts Article XXXVI, which views the Ordinal-and, by consequence, the rest of our liturgy, as a valid doctrinal authority.

The 39 Articles-a superb didactic treatment of New Testament teaching-does not stand alone, and was never meant to stand alone (Anglo-Calvinists, who prefer it over the BCP, and Anglo-Papalists who disparage it altogether, might bristle at the thought, but it is true). They are one of a series of definitive fomularies that lend Anglicansim its unique shape and contour, as a preeminently scriptural expression of primitive Western catholicism.

Catholic churchmen have praised the Articles in the past (Think of William Beveridge's commentary, or the superb expositions by Browne, Gibson and Bicknell) and they still do today. If you don't believe men, read essays and articles by The Rev. Dr. Robert Crouse, Frs. David Curry and Gavin Dunbar, Bp. Anthony Burton and the Rev. Dr. Michael Carreker (Is it any wonder that most of these men are Prayer Book Catholics from Canada, who live and breathe the prinicples of the Solemn Declaration)?

Anonymous said...

Fr Westcott: You are echoing a familiar assumption that those "of a more catholic persuasion" somehow have a lower respect for the Articles than their fellow-Churchman.

It is not necessary to debate their canonical standing in the ACC or elsewhere. Thanks to the rise of liberal Protestantism within the Episcopal Church from the late 19th century, the Articles had become, legally speaking, a dead-letter. We know that well. It is simply ironic that the theological posture of the Revd Mr Reasonable (see CS Lewis, Pilgrim's Regress) has become all too common within the Continuum. He has learned to wear lots of lace and follow the finer points of Ritual Notes, but he is the same old Mr Reasonable (oops. now he is Fr. Reasonable).

Your suggestion that the ACC Provincial Synod vote on adopting the Articles (is this some sort of veiled threat?) is almost like proposing that the US Congress vote on the legal status of the Gettysburg Address. Whether it is officially adopted or not is neither here nor there. The document is a classic in its own right, adopted or not.

In the spirit of Christmastide, I would respectfully suggest that you spend less time worrying about the authority of the Articles and devote yourself to learning more about their actual content and their deep rootage in the
great tradition. That, after all, is what being a Catholic Churchman is all about.
LKW

Fr.Jas.A.Chantler said...

One of our anonymous 'Anonymous' posters has given readers of this thread sage advice:
"If you don't believe me, read essays and articles by The Rev. Dr. Robert Crouse, Frs. David Curry and Gavin Dunbar, Bp. Anthony Burton and the Rev. Dr. Michael Carreker (Is it any wonder that most of these men are Prayer Book Catholics from Canada, who live and breathe the prinicples of the Solemn Declaration)?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Caedmon:

I certainly do not want to disappoint you.

What I suggest to Canon Westcott and any laymen who look to his guidance, is to be more respectful of differences of opinion, and to be willing to learn from those who differ from them. Both Fr. Wells and I have done our homework, and we don't need to be told that our views are not of "a catholic persuasion."

I am afraid it is possible that Anonymous was not the obnoxious Rdr. James after all, but the layman Canon Westcott mentioned. If so, he has much to unlearn, much brain washing to be freed from, and much genuine learning yet to acquire. The unfortunate series of Anonymous comments treated ignorance as if it were erudition, misinformation as if it was wisdom, and treated honorable things as base.

On top of this a fellow clergyman has assumed a position of superior learning, all the while appearing not to know even so much as what century, and in which country, the relevant 39 Articles were written. This would make accurate understanding impossible for him, especially about the Articles that correct sacramental abuses and restore true catholic doctrine and practice (such as XXV. Historical context is absolutely necessary for true understanding, and without it, true understanding is impossible).

Faced with this combination of attitude and need, I really don't know how to respond without hurting someone's feelings. I would like to find a way, but it may not be possible. I do not require everyone to agree with me, but if someone wants to disagree openly, he ought to take the time to understand the context in which we have offered and continue to offer our labors.

Fr.Jas.A.Chantler said...

Dear Brethren :
A great number of excellent resources from St.Peter Publications are available to us such as The Recollected Pastor (the writings of The Rev. Dr. R. Crouse);Fr.John Pearce's Publications; The Atlantic Theological Conference's Papers etc.I urge you to check them out.Sadly those outside of Canada only hear about heretical things emanating from the Canadian Church and that is a shame for the orthodox remnant here has always 'punched above its weight class' and made huge contributions in the effort to preserve and grow traditional Anglicanism.

Anonymous said...

I really wish the anonymous Anonymous had signed his post, since it is an unusually fine one.
LKW

Brendan said...

I for one am very grateful to Frs Hart and Wells for their efforts. I have recently been admitted into the ACC after being confirmed (in adulthood ) into the RC church and in recent times attending the Anglican church of Australia. What I find refreshing and enlightening is their great understanding of history within the Church and their grasp of theology. I think these Articles are vitally important to understand and inwardly digest. As often happens, history repeats itself, and looking at the RC church at present it is beset with extreme liberalism on the one hand and 'superstitious' and highly questionable theology on the other.These articles were written at a time when similar things were occuring!

Anonymous said...

Alright, gentles, let me emerge from the shadowy depths of anonymity and introduce meself: if you live south of the Mason-Dixon line, y'all can call me Mark; if not, no worries; call me Mark anyway, youse guys.

Now back to the Articles. Certain catholic brethren would like nothing better than to see them consigned to the deep. Anglo/Calvinists, by contrast, exalt them to the high heavens, far above the BCP (a splendid liturgy, no doubt, but entirely unsuitable as a systematic articulation of doctrine).

Reasonably do they ask: "We have our binding doctrinal confession in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. Why confuse things by transforming a mere service book into a parallel standard of faith and doctrine?"

To which I retort "Why have more than one creed?"

Take the Apostle's and the Nicene creeds; both symbols explicate the same catholic and apostolic faith, once delivered; but how much more explicit is the latter (especially when it comes to the all-important minutiae of christology and pneumatology)?

There is a similar relation between the Articles and the Prayer Book. Both are superb articulations of the Reformed Catholic faith of our "Dearest Mother"; the former comes to us with the left-brain concision of discursive theological statements; the latter simply takes those technically precise doctrines and translates them into the language of the heavenly liturgy; it also fills in the former's gaps:

Art. XXXI famously denounces the blasphemy and deceit of the "Sacrifice of Masses"; a late medieval error, which has no place in the Prayer Book liturgy. However, nothing could be clearer in our Communion rite than the fact that the Eucharist is a sacrifice.

Besides our alms, the "Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church" beseeches the Almighty to accept our "oblations"; a catch-phrase, perhaps, for the entirety of the eucharistic action, but one that must entail, as well, the more specific memorial sacrifice of Christ's death and passion, offered up during the Oblation in "these thy holy gifts" (the "gifts and creatures of bread and wine" in the Invocation).

But our "sacrifice of praise and Thanksgiving" includes the all-crucial self oblation of the priest and people: "our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonble, holy and living sacrifice", which can only be offered in the virtue and power of Christ's "one oblation of himself, once offered"; made present during the celebration in a mystery and with the plenitude of grace, mercy and salvific power. Otherwise, you'll have a Holy Communion with Pelagian pretensions.

Our Reformers knew what they were doing, and each one believed in the sacrificial nature of the Lord's Supper. (How do you explain Ridley telling his Marian interrogators that Christ is truly offered up in the "unbloody sacrifice" of the holy Eucharist, but in a mystery)?

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Fr. Chantler for his endorsement of St. Peter's Publications and the splendid Canadian Prayer Book Society. Here's a link to a superb reflection on Anglican Sacramentalism, by the Rev. Dr. Crouse.

http://www.prnd.ca/PRNDcrousesacramentalism.html

Enjoy,

-Mark

Anonymous said...

"looking at the RC church at present it is beset with extreme liberalism on the one hand and 'superstitious' and highly questionable theology on the other."

Well said, Brendan! This sums up in a nutshell why so many of us do not care to be sucked into the so-called "Ordinariate."

LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Mark wrote:

Art. XXXI famously denounces the blasphemy and deceit of the "Sacrifice of Masses"; a late medieval error, which has no place in the Prayer Book liturgy. However, nothing could be clearer in our Communion rite than the fact that the Eucharist is a sacrifice.

Regular readers of The Continuum already know what the answer is, because we have gone over it many times.

Mark (and we know which Mark you are not), have you noticed the double plural? The Article says nothing against Eucharistic Sacrifice, and the Prayer Book Holy Communion service shows why it could not say anything to denounce Eucharistic Sacrifice. For, our liturgy is certainly quite clear.

Even Newman, who later would become an apostate of sorts (for he never left Christ and the Church, though he fell into specific errors) explained in Tract 90 what the "Sacrifices of Masses" were in their historical context, thus defending the Article. In fact, the "Sacrifices of Masses" is not, properly speaking, even so much as a true form of Eucharistic Sacrifice.

The priests were paid money to hold private Masses to be "expiatory" sacrifices for sin; and the more such sacrifices the better, they supposed, for each one added more expiation. Also, the people were not expected to receive the sacrament, which made the whole exercise invalid anyway, from the standpoint of what Christ commanded in the words "do this," after giving the sacrament to all present.

And, as long as people put their hope in separate expiatory sacrifices and other means to shorten time in some mythical land called Purgatory, then no repentance, no faith and no real Gospel could be proclaimed.

So, in historical context, Article XXXI was understood within the larger context of English Reform. We need it today as well.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Mark also wrote:

...far above the BCP (a splendid liturgy, no doubt, but entirely unsuitable as a systematic articulation of doctrine).

If you mean to say that liturgy alone is not enough to teach doctrine all by itself, then I agree. If you mean to say that the BCP liturgy (by which you appear to singling out the Holy Communion) is deficient, then I very strongly disagree.

charles said...

Hello fathers,

The anglo-reformed crowd do not elevate the 39 articles. In fact, they do not particular esteem them unless attached to the Lambeth articles and WCF. Moreover, they treat protestant confessions as a single 'lump' ignoring important differences between manner of worship, sacrament, and soteriology. Anyone who has studied the English Reformation knows the Puritan complaint goes all the way back to Cox vs. Knox in Frankfurt and remained constant into the Hampton court and signing of the Solemn League and Covenant. The inability to sumperimpose Anglicanism also was evident in the reforms introduced by James I and his son, Charles, in Scotland. At Aberdeen and Perth the 1604 canons and prayer book calendar was thrown in his face, and we know the story of the 1637 bcp which launched the civil war.

Thus, the reformed anglicans commit the same error as Anglo papists. They can't read Anglican standards within the context of other authoritative Settlement documents. Rather than appeal to Trent and examples of recusancy in England, Anglo-reformed appeal to WCF and conventicle dissent. They are really two sides of the same coin, and expose themselves whenever they begin quoting WSC or other regulativist/predestinarian literature without any kind of knowledge of where the CofE stood on second commandment or disciplined restraint on the q's of election. They also tend to reject royal seal, so this makes any discussion about authoritative or appointed texts next to impossible. Not much changes over time...
sincerely,
charles

Anonymous said...

Dear, Fr. Hart

I heartily concur with your comments on Article XXXI.

As for the Prayer Book being "a splendid liturgy", but altogether "unsuitable as a systematic articulation of doctrine", please understand that this is not my opinion; it was my attempt to verbalize the rationale behind denying the BCP a parallel status with the Articles of Religion as a doctrinal formulary.

God forbid I should regard the Holy Communion, or any other part of the Prayer Book, deficient. The BCP is just as sufficient as the Articles, when it comes to doctrine (I also agree with M. F. Sadler that, of the two, the Prayer Book is more biblical.

Er, could ya fill me in on which Mark I am not?

-Mark

John said...

Thanks for the caustic and cautionary responses to my initial comment and follow-up.

Canon John Westcott

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Er, could ya fill me in on which Mark I am not?

-Mark


I am assuming, if only due to style, that you are someone other than our Archbishop.

charles said...

Hello Fr.Hart,

Taking these matters to synod is not the worst idea. Synods are for deliberation of contested points. They have their time and place, and therefore should not be dismissed as means of serenity (at least of last resort).

However, resolving contention by disputation, colloquy, conference, and otherwise constant teaching are also laudable ways, and probably even better since it gives a subsidiarian alternative or 'first course of action' to the more drastic appeal to council. Anyway, I think the project you have envisioned might be better nourished on a parish by parish level.

However you arrive to it, let's not assume everyone will treat to the 39 articles as normative. Confessions/symbols approved by synod have the benefit of quickly explaining where a church stands in relation to others, so that there is no (or minimal) confusion and disagreement. They are needed.
sincerely,
charles

Anonymous said...

Charles,

Thanks for your clarification. The Anglo-Reformed generally speaking don't hold the Articles in high regard, and on those occasion when they appeal to it, they tend to read it through the filter of the WCF. I should have said Anglican Evangelicals.

Anglo-Papalists and Anglo-Calvinists; can you imagine a more diametrically opposed and mutually hostile pairing? And, yet, they are bedfellows in their shared disillusionment with classical Anglicanism.

Fr. Hart

Oh, that Mark. I actually had the pleasure of meeting his grace about six months ago, when he preached and celebrated at an ACC parish where I serve as cantor. A truly impressive fellow.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Taking these matters to synod is not the worst idea. Synods are for deliberation of contested points.

I have to disagree. This matter cannot be legislated, and the attempt would create disastrous results no matter what was decided. And, the vote would be moot because the Affirmation of St. Louis either means what I say it means, or it does not. But, a majority vote would not change my mind, neither confirm it, on an issue of truth.

The real issue of the 39 Articles is understanding, and therefore of teaching. The people, like Anonymous, who react upon their mention, and who want to drive them out of Anglicanism (which is like cutting the heart out of a living man, and expecting him not to notice) obviously misinterpret the Articles altogether. Generally this is because they buy the interpretation that Reasserters and Rome agree on. That is, they read them as standing in opposition to the Seven Ecumenical Councils, or against Real Presence, or against seven sacraments, or against Eucharistic devotion.

But, that interpretation is bought by people who, when it comes to history and theology, are functionally illiterate-as is Anonymous. The answer, therefore, is not a vote by people, some of whom are functionally illiterate in the disciplines that matter. The answer is for men like Fr. Wells and me to teach patiently,and provide a resource that clarifies what the Articles actually mean (and I am confident we are the ones to do it).

Why should we bother? Because, ultimately, people whose knowledge is as poor as Anonymous', will leave Anglicanism for either of the Two One True Churches. Late model Anglo-Catholic clergy had better wake up to this: People who have no confidence in Anglican heritage will not remain among us, and clergy who lack such confidence usually cannot build strong congregations that last.

So, the answer is teaching. The answer is to show why the 39 Articles are perfectly in accord with the teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church (comprehensive? No. Sound? Yes). This we will do, and spread some good Bible learning along the path.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

By the way: The Anonymous I am referring to is not the writer of the comment just above mine (at least I don't think so), but the fellow with kin-as in the title.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, the reprint of the Prayer Book by the official publishing house of the ACC, (which did make a couple of changes, like the name of the Church on the vtitle page, and inclusion of the original 1928 lectionary) retained the Articles.
LKW

Fr.Jas.A.Chantler said...

Re : Disappointment in or disillusionment with the ACC.There were some in the Continuum, in Canada, who asserted that the Articles were uncatholic and those same people were not called to account.They weakened the Church and when traditionalists checked us out they would point to the Anglo-Papalist 'fifth column' in our midst as the reason why they could not join us.This was frustrating for the 'oldbeliever' Anglicans in the ACCoC for we knew that the Catholic Anglicans interested in us had reservations which were reasonable and valid. Eventually the Anglo-Papalists seized control of the Canadian Church and tried to force acceptance of their scheme
to abandon our goodly inheritance and submit to Rome.It was a very difficult time and many of us had to leave (I suspect more will also leave).Most of those who left have been welcomed into the ACC under the Patrimony of the Metropolitan while a minority are,for now,being looked after by His Grace James Provence of the APCK.The Canadian loyalists who rejected the terms of the Apostolic Constitution feel blessed to have been given sanctuary by Archbishops Haverland
and Provence and are confident that they are committed to traditional Anglicanism.By the way,all the Canadian congregations who chose to remain Anglican are neither extreme Anglo-Catholics or
'hot-prots'.The ACC is the only global traditional Anglican Communion and we Canadian loyalists are glad that we have been reintegrated with her and her sister Churches in the USA: the APCK and the UECNA.

Donald said...

Dear Fathers, Hart and Wells,

Thank you so much for this work on the 39 Articles, and for all your work on The Continuum. It is like water on parched ground, nourishing more than you'll ever know in this life.

God bless you both.

Don+

charles said...

hello Fr. Hart,

Confessions are good ways to govern churches. I agree an intensive teaching campaign is needed before all else. But when such things occur, what is taught? How do you know it's the mind of the church? How does the church receive scripture much less five or more centuries of catholic history! Where do we stand in relation to other branch churches, etc.?

Two examples of Anglicans leaving the church due to alleged abuses are the REC, Methodists, and to some extent PEC. When they left, they had a relatively high opinion of the Articles, and so continued using them, but omitting what either was unimportant or disagreed upon. REC ended up with 35 articles. In time they came back to fully receiving the whole 39. However, at least it made the church transparent, and you could know where the REC stood w/ respect to PEC or the Settlement. The methodists 'simplified' the articles, pruning them to 25, though tacitly agreeing to all 39. PEC would somewhat follow the Methodist example, modifying article 37.

This is what ACC should do. As it is we don't know if the ACC, as a church, lives by all 39, only 25, or none? We assume a lot because the ACC uses the 1928 bcp and uses the the word "Anglican". But, as it is, there's no way to ensure the 39 articles as a secondary standard, and things can vary wildly parish-to-parish. There has to be accountability, ya know, something half-way explicit to hold people's feet to the fire. When you said, "And, the vote would be moot because the Affirmation of St. Louis either means what I say it means, or it does not", I hope you know this cuts both ways, and that kind of individual licence by Anglo-papists, et al., presently is the problem!

At some point, a more definitive statement regarding the Settlement will have to come about. Perhaps now is too premature or not the time. It's no small matter. And, this was well said, proving how critical clergy/bishops/authority are to mission and the future of the church, "Why should we bother? Because, ultimately, people whose knowledge is as poor as Anonymous', will leave Anglicanism for either of the Two One True Churches. Late model Anglo-Catholic clergy had better wake up to this: People who have no confidence in Anglican heritage will not remain among us, and clergy who lack such confidence usually cannot build strong congregations that last."

Thanks Fr. Hart. Look forward to articles VII, XXV-XXVI, and possibly XXXVII.

sincerely, Charles

Anonymous said...

Charles, the last thing I desire to accomplish in writing on the Articles is to force the issue of "Confessional Subscription" within the Continuing Churches. The statements of the Canadian and US Prayer Books, the clear inference from the Affirmation of St Louis, the editorial practice of the ACC, are quite enough for me.


You are suggesting a degree of Confessional subscription required in
our sister churches of the Reformation, the Lutherans and the Presbyterians. I happen to be quite familiar with the endless squabbles in those traditions over how many points a minister may decline to affirm. The Lutherans and Reforemd Churches are tougher and tighter than Anglicans EVER were, in Elizabeth I's time or later. But this has done absolutely nothing to stop a slide into revisionism since the 18th century.

And to be honest, if the ACC attempted Calvinist-type subscription to the Articles, I would probably be the first casualty. Visit my parish church and you will see all manner of ceremonial practices (just for starters, "lifting up" of the consecrated Bread and Wine) which the Articles condemn.

As we go along in reviewing the Articles, a distinction will emerge between the Biblical/Patristic faith contained therein and the 16th century polemic which at a very few points disfigures them.

The suggestion of adopting only certain Articles (in the manner of the Methodists or REC's) is particularely abhorrent to me. For all the warts, the Articles happen to be a historical document of monumental proportions. They should not be subject to bowdlerization, like "The Family Shakespeare."
LKW

charles said...

Dear Fr. Wells,

I should pull out Hardwick to be more accurate on the history of subscription in the CofE. Subscription no more blots out catholicism than the Articles. It really depends on the confession itself, not if clergy are to bind themselves to it. As pointed out by others, laity, in general, have never been required to subscribe to the 39. Only what they vow in the short catechism as found in the BCP, namely, the creed, 10 commandments, use of lord's prayer, and know the sacraments. That's the only condition imposed on laity.

However, for lay readers/clerks, deans, schoolmasters, and those non-ordained involved in religious education of one aspect or antoher, historically speaking, from the time of Cranmer to well past Cosin, into the 19th century, subscription not only the the 39 articles but the Oath of Allegiance was indeed required. I think Parliament also had a similar criteria, mainly because to gain the force of law, legislators did vote on religious matters from time to time.

And, the clergy were absolutely required to subscribe, not only during Elizabeth but following Whitfigt's three articles-- bcp, articles, and supremacy.

So, there is somewhat a myth that England has never pressed nor enforced her Articles of Religion or Settlement upon her clerics.

Again, it's not subscription that is wrong. Nor is it wrong to have expressed standards that clarify areas of disagreement. The difference between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans was not that one had discipline and the other didn't, but it was precisely in the material of their respective confessions. The 39 Articles and other most authoritative standards, unlike WCF and to some extent event the Lutheran, stand out according to their extremely conservative appropriation of not only the Western patristics but preserving some continuity with the medieval as well. The anglican stands out not because it had minimum discipline. Indeed, its form of discipline could be just as stringent as the Calvinist, but what it confessions/standards bound men to believe. In this final respect, it is entirely different.

In dismissing discipline, you conflate, in my opinion, two separate questions. 1. If Anglicans should or should not enforce their own standards by public oath for clerics? 2. If those same standards should be either calvinistic, lutheran, or Anglican?
Number 1) I feel strongly that if explicit standards aren't required, then something else will naturally fill the gap, for instance RCC. Number 2) I would reject anything that read like the WCF or Formula of Concord. et al. If you have number one, then you must have specifically Anglican standards. These standards are Western patristic and even continue much medieval unlike others mentioned.

sincerely,
charles

Anonymous said...

Charles writes:
"In dismissing discipline, you conflate, in my opinion, two separate questions. 1. If Anglicans should or should not enforce their own standards by public oath for clerics? 2. If those same standards should be either calvinistic, lutheran, or Anglican?"

No, I am not conflating anything at all. If you think I am urging the adoption of Lutheran or Calvinistic standards, you have not read me with any care.

I have simply pointed out the obvious, that subscription to the Articles (no matter what laws were on the books) has never been enforced with any degree of consistency. You could contradict me by pointing out one or more trials for heresy. But for weal or woe, the C of E rarely has worked that way. You might mention the Colenso affair, but what that a matter of violating the Articles? I am too vague on the details, but his errors dealt with matters of Biblical criticism which the Articles do not address.
LKW

charles said...

Hello, again, Fr. Wells,

I certainly look forward to upcoming sections on the layman's guide.

I'd like to correct something you said earlier, at least from what I recall from the Presbyterian (OPC) church. You said, "The Lutherans and Reforemd Churches are tougher and tighter than Anglicans EVER were, in Elizabeth I's time or later. But this has done absolutely nothing to stop a slide into revisionism since the 18th century."

The 'failure' of confessionalism was not the confessions. It was the lack of enforcement thereof and the parallel rise of democratic movements in parliament. The story pertaining to presbyterians and lutherans is the same for Anglicans. In America, the weakening of confessionalism occurred by attempts to hold together revivalist thinking with protestant standards. This didn't work too well, and it turned out the best way to preserve unity was not enforcing certain points. Laxity was then taken advantage of by slippery modernists who equivocated language in sometimes bearable and sometimes openly heretical ways. By the early twentieth century confessionalists found themselves as minorities in church committees and outside the immediate juries of power. Conservatives 'reacted', too often, by leaving rather than put up a long fight. Thus, in 1937 the OPC formed, and in the 1970s PCA. The Lutherans follow a trajectory much closer to the PEC, battling over revision of their hymnal. Confessional lutherans left in the seventies, w/ revision and exodus occuring nearly at the same time(s) the St. Louis saga unfolded in TEC.

It is interesting how the march of modernism happened on the same tempo throughout the western church, both catholic and protestant. The failure of confessionalism was not in the confession themselves but the unnecessary 'grey areas' encouraged to avoid conflict. At first, difference might have been mild and even tolerable, e.g., synergists vs. monergists, or even low vs. high sacramentarians. But soon it was less forgivable, the same comprehension given to abject heretics who used talented equivocation to sneak between the cracks w/ a certain political backing in seminaries to boot. The failure to draw lines at critical junctures, nipping certain problems in the bud, was the root of the problem, i.e., a 'democractic' approach to ecclesiastical non-discipline. Contrast this to Queen Elizabeth who had no problem reigning in parties within the church at those some critical junctures. Lot's of factors to account for, but one certainly was the rise of 'democracy', culturally as well as politically. But this was 'external' and against the grain of confessioanlism, and whatever happened in the other mainline denominations also occurred in PEC. Finally, what did occur has left a fall out and legacy that ACC must deal with. Either the standards are something we live and profess by, or they are worthless.

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Wells wrote:
The Lutherans and Reforemd Churches are tougher and tighter than Anglicans EVER were, in Elizabeth I's time or later. But this has done absolutely nothing to stop a slide into revisionism since the 18th century.

This is true to a degree. There are "continuing churches" in Presbyterianism (OPC, UNRC, etc.) and Lutheranism just as with Anglicanism. But is that a reason against subscription? The Bible and the Creeds have been held as indispensable and yet have not stopped a slide into revisionism throughout every corner of the Church. I don't think the purpose of subscription to a confession is to primarily prevent declension, but rather to clarify orthodox belief and practice in order that clergy and laity may more faithfully and effectively contend for the faith once delivered.

If the Articles are to be accepted as essentially "historical documents" with no official standing regarding orthodoxy, then each clergyman is free to interpret, accept, and reject that confession as he wishes. As one example, some reject the clear meaning of the words in Art. XI - "Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine" - as too Lutheran. If the Articles had a more official status as a necessary confession of faith then a central doctrine like "justification by faith only in Christ alone by God's grace alone" would have to be grappled with by clergy seeking ordination. At present that isn't the case.

Again, thank you to both Fr. Hart and Fr. Wells for these teaching on the Articles.

Jack

Fr.Jas.Chantler said...

I think Charles was correct in stating that the Confessional Churches were eventually taken over by revisionists and heretics.His assertion:that their respective Confessions were ignored by those who wished to usher in the new 'worldly' religion (and that the conservatives would not confront them over this) was the major reason the take over was successful,is also spot on.I don't think embracing the Affirmation of St.Louis or The 39 Articles or our other formularies cause us to be counted amongst the Confessional Churches.The Articles did not carry the same weight everywhere in the Anglican world; for instance South Africa.I,like the majority of traditional Churchmen,consider them to be an indispensable part of Anglicanism and think Fathers Hart and Wells (amongst others) are going about things in the right order. Teach, teach and then teach some more.I suspect that the minority view such as was articulated? by that Canon from the ACC in the USA will survive but will become increasingly marginalized.This will become more apparent as the ACC grows as an international Communion of traditional Anglicans attracting more godly and learned priests such as Fathers Hart and Wells.There are still a good many 'oldbeliever' Anglicans in the impaired Church ie: The Anglican Communion.With their and the Continuum's fifth column of AngloPapalists decamping for Rome things are looking up for us and we need each other's help to reach out beyond our own Anglican communities to a world hungry for the faith of our fathers.

charles said...

Dear Fr. Wells,

I would never accuse you of crypto-calvinsim or lutheranism. Indeed, I believe you want a specifically Anglican ethos. However, canons and ethos ought to inform one another. The problem is IF a churches says "xyz" are standards, and clerics indeed give public oath to the same, then is it right or wrong to let them break their oaths and teach/pray "abc" rather than allegedly vowed, "xyz". ?

You said, "I have simply pointed out the obvious, that subscription to the Articles (no matter what laws were on the books) has never been enforced with any degree of consistency. "

You are essentially arguing against your own position. If I am correct, Fr. Hart and yourself are claiming the Articles have normative authority(together with other standards, like the prayer book, et al.) by virtue of the ACC canons. If this is the case, then what matter is it if priests teach contrary to such standards?

Furthermore, the myth that the 'anglican way' is really "tolerance" has been propounded by liberal catholics like DD. Moorman in books like, "The Anglican Way" or Anglican Spirituality, etc. You are somewhat chasing your own shadow until you tackle liberal catholicism itself. LC needs to be understood as a fundamental renegotiation of the Settlement away from the three articles to 'creeed and eucharist'. As said before, this defined the CofE in 'universal' rather than 'provincial terms', evaporating differences between Romans, EO, and Anglicans. Part of the argument made by LC is just as Moorman says, that Anglicanism is really an ethos or practice rather than anything 'doctrinal'. With this came an overemphasis of incarnational theology which TEC uses all the time against the theology of the cross. Modernists, of course, readily identified with such, and joined AC's in overthrowing Settlement norms against 'evangelicals', making possible prayer book revision in the more 'catholic' direction. What finally occurred was an erosive and self-negating ecumenicalism that ACC and other jurisdictions continue to propagate. In this respect, TEC, the bulk of ACNA, and ACC differ little in fundamentals. All define themselves by 'creed and eucharist' at the expense of the older three articles, and the Settlement has been left as a local option, privileging a rather undefined and elusive 'catholicism' which has little interest in the earlier and most perfect catholic reform of the 16th century.
sincerely, charles

charles said...

Hello Fathers,

Fr. Jones' post was optimistic. In predicaments like this, the only option is to teach, teach. When it comes to the future, everything is rather hypothetical. However, my beef is how we understand and apply history, say 1532-1870, admitting a range of cut-off dates for Anglican orthodoxy (without accepting that 1547 one!)

A good friend who follows this blog but has trouble posting (technical troubles) gave me permission to include a portion of email sent. This is from our dear Benton Marder,

"I had read this post when it first came out. Only a very few comments then.

Their treatment of the Articles having liturgical significance will be interesting. I want to see how the overthrowing of the established traditions (BCP by missal and Tridentine ceremonial) is explained away.

Now, the interesting point about the mention of 'oblations' in the opening of the Prayer is from 1552, not 1549. If the ACs use 1549 straight up, they don't have anything of an offertory prayer other than 'prayers'

I marvel that these people do not make the inherent connection between BCP and Articles. Look at the mutual authorship. Also, look at the authorship of the Homilies. During the Edwardine and Elizabethan periods, the same men were involved. Did they write one thing for BCP and another for Articles and another for Homilies? Alas for many of our brethren, there is a unity in all three.
Reasons why I have trouble with the Affirmation are the magic number theses: Seven Councils, Seven Sacraments. The CofE rejected the Seventh Council, period. The CofE rejected the notion of the Five as on any level with the Two.
I have said this before and I have never had an adequate explanation from anyone on this head: Why do ACs deem Bicknell the end-all and be-all on the 39. In these comments, I finally see mention of Browne and Gibson. No Forbes yet, though he is probably the best reading for ACs. Yes, I am pleased that someone mentioned Beveridge. However, rigour of thought requires the inclusion of Griffith Thomas and Burnet. Similarly, such rigour requires Jewel, Cosin, and Laud along with Hooker. We all have a tendency to cherry-pick the writings that serve our purposes or agree with our own pre-conceptions." (by Benton Marder)

sincerely, Charles

Anonymous said...

"You are essentially arguing against your own position. If I am correct, Fr. Hart and yourself are claiming the Articles have normative authority(together with other standards, like the prayer book, et al.) by virtue of the ACC canons."

You might have a point here, Charles, my friend. But I believe there is a distinction between doctrinal authority and canonical enforceability.

In response to your penultimate and very good post, let's take the year AD 1789 as ground zero. The Presbyterians had a fervent loyalty to the Westminster standards. The Episcopal Church was still dithering around about adopting ther Articles (and managed to do so, only with much compromise, in 1801). The mainline bodies in each tradition had wound up 200 years later in about the same apostate position.
The moral I draw is that tough Confessional subscription did not work effectively.

Now you can argue, and I would agree, that the Presbyterian/Lutheran devotion to their dogmatic symbols at least gave a solid doctrinal bedrock for viable "continuing" bodies. The Anglican Continuing Church movement splintered largely because it was lacking in theological fiber, strong enough to hold it together. But the continuing Presbyterians of Machen's era and later. have had their difficulties also.

If the doctrinal content of the 39 Articles is taught, clarified, defended and exalted, then the problem of subscription will take care of itself.
LKW

charles said...

Dear Fr. Wells,

I guess we agree. In this teaching, a reconciliation and understanding of Protestantism, and therefore, early confessionalism I believe is in order. Part of the problem is letting Rome and EO define protestantism for us, which is never very flattering. There are so many misconceptions of early protestantism it is a formidable task to untangle them from historic fact. Nonetheless, the period 1526-1560's is pivotal. By the mid-1570's you enter a consolidation and hardening of confessional positions which is perhaps what most AC sadly identify protestancy with. For Anglicans this has some especially harmful consequences given the foundation of the 39 articles were really laid under Henry not Elizabeth, and thus we belong to an earlier period and were willing with the Germans to make some reproachment with Rome. Secondly, as we necessarily distinguish ourselves from Luther and Calvin, we too often forget a segment of German Protestant-catholics, often including bishoprics who cleaved to high ceremony, & though they agreed with the Augsburg, they were ejected after the German 1577 Concord. These men, along with some of the Danish and Swedish episcopates, are rarely discussed. The result is radical diminishing of 'northern catholic' identity, properly excluding the gnesio-lutherans and most Reformed, yet best represented by 39 articles and the most early (before Trent) protestant confessions/ordinances. Perchance if northern catholic identity was stressed, we'd less often think ourselves as some tortured variant of eastern or Roman catholicism?
sincerely,
charles