Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We are not a mission field

On implications of wider unity

One of the priorities we must have is real unity among Continuing Anglicans, and that for the sake of our portion of the overall mission of the Church as Christ authorized and commanded it. This keeps the priorities of unity, evangelism and Anglican identity closely related. Having survived the recent storm, it is useful to learn from the dangerous misapplication of the whole subject of unity as it often was related to the Two One True Churches, or as it was during the controversy that enveloped Anglicanorum Coetibus, to the Church of Rome. 

It was fashionable among the contingent advocating and misrepresenting that Roman constitution, to quote part of John 17:21, "That they all may be one," in a thoroughly confusing and misleading manner. This practice belonged to the modern "soundbite" culture in which words and phrases are used to prevent rather than aid the art of thinking. The misapplied words of Christ were used to appeal to sentiment, to impart guilt, and in every way simply to manipulate adults. Inasmuch as I have already given my defense of the true meaning of Christ's words (in The Theology of Unity) I will not restate it here. Suffice to say, for now, that even a number of people simply transferring from one denomination to another, say from the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), would not bring the Universal Church even so much as one step closer to outward and political unity; it would not end divisions that date back to the sixteenth century, or to 1054 AD. 

Does this mean we should not hope for eventual outward and political unity? Anglican writers as early as Richard Hooker have always held out that hope. We would not seek to close the door to it. We do, however, see it as more practical to work on unity among our own people as a realizable goal; and it is happening anyway. 

More to the point, at this time it is terribly obvious that both Rome and Orthodoxy see unity only in terms of joining them, losing our own identity and ceasing to be Anglican, submitting to them and putting ourselves completely in their hands. To them we are not a real church in any sense (indeed, in reality they still rule out each other as the true Church, though idealistic and misinformed, indeed misinforming, individuals have convinced themselves it isn't so). Whether we deal with the Orthodox or the Roman Catholics, when we talk of unity, they think of evangelism as they see it, regarding us as a mission field. 

We are not a mission field, and our place in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is certainly no less secure than theirs; and to the degree that true doctrine is part of the Apostolic Succession, we would argue that our place is more secure. And, it is high time for all Continuing Anglicans, especially Anglo-Catholics, to acquire that security. True doctrine is the issue that divides us still, at this time, from both of the Two One True Churches, because each of them remains muddled and unclear about important elements essential to the very Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not we who need their claims about history to somehow give us perfect validity. It is they who need clarity of doctrine that goes back to "the most ancient catholic doctors and bishops" of the Church; and that clarity is more readily at hand to us.

Some will be fooled by arguments based on unverifiable claims about history, such as the entire basis for the Papal claims, mixed with just plain impossible interpretations of scripture. You may be very sure that polemicists have already lost the real argument when they come back with derisive and silly attempts to dismiss us as "merely five hundred years old." Aside form being incorrect history, it means they have no Biblical or theological point in mind. Of course, that non-argument fits a perverted kind of logic that does not recognize their own divided state, nor the fact that we have maintained the Catholic Tradition that goes all the way back to the beginning. We have merely removed the dross.

If we want real unity, we must begin with our own people. If we hold out a hope for wider unity, it cannot be by accepting the lie that we are a mission filed for either One True Church to harvest. Sadly, that was what the recent storm was all about, Anglican bishops trying to accept the status imposed by Rome on behalf of those who intended loyalty to the truth of the Gospel, faith in the Anglican way, and the understanding Affirmed in St. Louis. Those who believe they need one or other of the Two One True Churches to be valid, or have "the fullness," or whatever, may go with our prayers and charity. But, we already belong to the Church; we are not a mission field. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying what has long needed to be said.

Faithfully Christian Anglicans* do not need to cower, apologize or compromise to become Roman Catholics or Orthodox any more than Christians need to do so to Mormons, Islamists, Buddhists, Hindus, Shinto, etc or to the other popular idealog-izers of the day (LBGTQ-sexuals, environmentalists, depopulationists, anti-breeders, globalists, humanists, atheists, freedom from religionists, etc.)

*Faithfully Christian Anglicans are Christian first, Anglican second.
Faithfully Christian Anglicans:
1. Love and worship, honor GOD (as GOD has revealed Himself as Father, Son, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit) as first love (not the Church or a sect of the Church, not a leader or teacher, not a set of rituals, customs, externals, traditions, beliefs and values that differ from the Scripture or witness of the church of all ages).
2. Love and live His Truth (catholic in preaching, teaching), His Love (are evangelical and draw others to Christ through living and sharing the Gospel) and His Life (They exhibit His charism or grace and reproduce, bearing fruit through the balanced exercise of the gifts and fruit of Holy Spirit)
3. Are submitted to the counsel of the Scripture first and relying upon the Holy Spirit to interpret the Scripture as reinforced and confirmed by the witness and counsel of the universal council and teachings of the Church (east/west, ancient/modern) as much as they agree. Human reason is submitted to first the Scripture, then the counsel of the church of the ages. These will agree with one another on the major and essential points.
4. Are repentant, willing to die to sin, ask forgiveness, forgive others, surrender to God's Will and Word whatever the cost for the love of Jesus Christ.
5. Are willing to accept and enforce correction and discipline.

Jesus said, "You are my disciples if you..." 1. Love one another, 2. Continue in my word, 3. Take up Cross and follow me (abandon sin life, crucify the flesh) 4. Bear much fruit.

If Anglicans do these things, there is no reason to be ashamed, apologize or be won to Christ and His Kingdom. Despite the beliefs of some, Rome does not own the franchise or possess the authority for arbitrating all of Christendom, and neither is Rome faithful and true in either doctrine or practice.

Anonymous said...

Why only two 'one true churches'? Haven't you ever heard of the Seventh-Day Adventists?

Al Winn said...

Where I grew up in the South, the Church of Christ also claimed to be the OTC. The CoC recognized no baptism or fellowship but their own...and did not allow musical instruments in their worship. All singing was done a cappella. I'm not sure about Eucharist...or if they ever did that or did it every Sunday. Baptists and Methodists, even stodgy Presbyterians mad jokes about this claim.

Here is a statement about the (basic, essential, identifying) elements of Anglicanism that I thought was helpful:

Anglicanism, when it is operational by those of faith and whole-hearted 'first love' of Christ and when there is not so much emphasis on form, external appearance and extra-biblical agenda, Anglicanism shines with a beauty like no other expression of Christianity. simply, merely Christianity, in a Sacramental/Liturgical, Evangelical and Charismatic package without the excess, exclusivity, idiosyncrasies, divergence, pretension and imbalance and the without the emphasis on revering the institution, persons and personages that is present in some other Christian sects.

Not perfect, but wonderful, beautiful, reasonable, lively faith-building.

Al Winn said...

Another wonderful thing about Anglicanism is that it possesses NONE of the characteristics of a cult such as those groups listed in the comment by Anonymous.

There are no secret vows, no secret meetings, no coercion, exclusivity in that all repentant (in early liturgies) properly baptised people are welcome at the Eucharist and there are not (supposed to be) exemptions and exceptions of rules for anyone at any level of leadership...though sometimes that does not work very well...

RC Cola said...

One of the problems is that many in the RCC have a hard time conceiving of Anglicans outside of the official Anglican Communion, much like they have a hard time conceiving of Romans who adhere to the Traditional Mass. To them, adhering to the ancient faith is a quaint (at best) if not truly bizarre thing.
I know I have friends and acquaintances who consider Continuing Anglicans a schism of a schism.
One need only to look at the way the RCC treats the SSPX for a clue as to how the RCC will treat any Anglicans who desire to "enter full communion": my way or the highway. Either accept everything without question, or you can stay outside wailing and gnashing your teeth. The problem is that the post-Vatican II RCC is not a very compelling organization, despite the current Pope. It is a bunch of tired old liberals with big authoritarian chips on their shoulders. They will crush any and all opposition to New Church--that is, the milder form of TEC's off-the-charts neo-paganism. (Think RCC is to american cheese what TEC is to limberger.)

It's sad. Because the RCC should recognize that Continuing Anglicans are, in fact, their greatest ally in the very real fight against Satan in the modern world. But because the conservatives can't see past Leo XIII's ill-conceived papal bull and the liberals cannot endure truth in any form, we are still "out there" in their minds. That is, if they even know we exist. Most don't.

That's OK. Because maybe here on the little English life boat is a safer place than the big "Barque of Peter". Perhaps with our good example, some members of the RCC will wonder how to join us and act on upon it.

By the way, if anyone wants a good read about the RCC around the time of the Reformation, I just finished and now recommend "The Fashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700" by Robert Bireley (SJ). While he does not talk about the Anglican Church much, he does seem unhappy with Pope Leo X and clearly says at one point that excommunicating Elizabeth I was a big mistake. Written by a priest who is not a chest-thumping triumphalist.

Anonymous said...

RC Cola, we read that book in our church history class at the RC seminary I attended. It is indeed a very good book!


Canon Tallis said...

Yes, we are not a mission field, but our real need is for all of us, every single one of us without any exceptions, to become missioners. We also need to recognize the single easiest way to do that is use the fulness of the Book of Common Prayer in a way that indicated that we really believed in it every day of the year. Sundays and holy days are important, but every day is the Lord's and the Book of Common Prayer recognizes that like none other. Unfortunately too many who call themselves Anglicans, don't!