Saturday, December 31, 2011

What has been won

This year we have won a battle for truth and unity. The battle for truth came in the form of liberating some of our fellow Continuing Anglicans from the false notion that another church body, in this case the Roman Catholic Church, has some superior claim to being truly "catholic." We have witnessed the death throes of the entire spectacle of Continuing Anglicans buying a thoroughly revised version of Anglo-Catholicism, one that aggressively misrepresented itself as authentic Anglo-Catholicism, used by Abp. Hepworth and his fellow travelers to sell the idea that Anglicanorum Coetibus would lead to unity. In fact it would have led only to conversion from one denomination to another, which is all it was ever designed to do. It would have caused a bitter surprise to people, in some cases whose marriages would have been deemed invalid, by many others whose entire sacramental history would have been treated as worthless except baptism, and who would have found themselves disappointed with their new home, barred from Communion until further notice, and treated to unbearable rules made by men.

For several years in recent history a new and unrecognizable version of Anglo-Catholicism had been setting the stage for the tragedy we helped to avert. I do not say Anglo-Catholicism, not the real thing as Dr. Pusey and his colleagues saw it (who never argued that Anglicanism needed to become catholic, but that it always has been truly catholic). Instead many had accepted a modern and counterfeit version that has never amounted to much more than imitation of Rome, except when inconvenient, building in people a great inferiority complex about their own church tradition and the validity of its sacraments, and rejection of the vast wealth of its teaching and liturgy.

Finally, a good number of these people see that we have inherited a treasure that includes all the best of Christianity in accord with the most ancient catholic doctors and bishops. For years I had come across people who doubted the validity of their sacraments, who discredited the Book of Common Prayer, and who thought they should look to the bureaucratic Roman Church, despite its many scandals and disorder. They had been brainwashed and indoctrinated, had been ever learning, never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. They readily accepted the criticism of people who sought to convert them by twisting the meaning of such powerful and thoroughly orthodox liturgy as the traditional Anglican Prayer Book Holy Communion, imposing standards unknown to the Apostles and the Fathers, often with absolutely no witness in Antiquity. As a result, they were ripe to be picked.

The work of turning the light on and banishing the darkness of misinformation has come with a price, a price we have paid in some fairly minor ways - after all, no one has had us beaten or killed. But, mostly the work of this blog has come to be recognized as one of the factors that has restored appreciation of our Anglican heritage and identity. The result of winning the battle for truth is that we played a role in furthering the cause of unity. Ironically, we often were told otherwise; but the facts have been rather obvious now for several months, and we have reason to be happy with what has become clear.

The Continuing Church has a new generation of leading bishops. What I have witnessed personally is hearing Archbishops and Presiding Bishops of the major jurisdictions saying the same thing, saying it in the same room at the same event, saying it in concert with each other, making all of us the most important promise they could have made: To establish unity. None of them caused the divisions, and having inherited those divisions, they have said that they plan to end them. The one good thing that Anglicanorum Coetibus, and the push for it, has accomplished, is to give the leading bishops an occasion to end our own divisions and bring unity to the Continuing Church.

Let us pray, all of us, that in the coming year we will see it taking place by the work of the Holy Spirit.


RC Cola said...

in some cases whose marriages would have been deemed invalid

The RCC accepts marriages from other denominations as valid. The sacrament is confected by the couple, not the priest or deacon presiding at the ceremony.

RC Cola said...

To establish unity. None of them caused the divisions, and having inherited those divisions, they have said that they plan to end them.

This is great news. I look forward to more good news in the New Year. The only prelate I am remotely familiar with is Archbishop Haverland. From everything I've seen, he is a very good man and I trust his good judgment. I trust he and the others will resolve many of the issues that prevent full unity.

Speaking of full unity, have you seen any news about the talks between the SSPX and Rome regarding the proper interpretation of Vatican II? I think the key assumption that both parties use as their starting point is legal positivism. Positivism is a product of the falsely-named Enlightenment and ought to have no place in Catholic theology.
I find it funny (sad funny, not ha-ha funny) that in order to defend their practices, they should resort to the very pseudo-philosophy that undermines catholicism and Catholicism.

Really, if the RCC can't come to grips with its own Tradition, and leaves the SSPX outside the wall wailing and gnashing their teeth, how could anyone have imagined that the RCC would welcome traditional Anglicans? As far as the RCC is concerned traditional Anglicans are nothing more than a schism of a schism and therefore don't need to be dealt with plainly, honestly, and fairly, but must be "corrected" not only to rid them of the BCP, but of any semblamce of traditionalism so that the incoming Anglicans will become the kind of bland, flaccid, Novus Ordo in English Catholics that they want. Once they have succeeded in destroying their patrimony, they can destroy everything else. Hey, if the Romans cut their own throats by liberalizing with the mainline protestant churches in the 1960s-today, why would anyone imagine they wouldn't cut the throats of those coming into the RCC? "The Barque of Peter" has ships officers that have been hacking holes in her hull for years. And people want to join this mess? Sheesh!

Fr. Wells said...

A fine essay on a passing event, one which will quickly become as obscure as the career of Levi Silliman Ives. But it has been fascinating to watch certain Churchmen who lived for a quite a while with the obscenity of WO now dishonoring their own Ordinations and previous ministries, some even accepting Ordination in TAC while openly planning a subsequent (more "valid") Ordination elsewhere. But it is truly painful to watch the spasms of regret and shame in France and Canada from those who have seen a hoax exposed and a hope crushed by reality. Sincerely, our prayers are with both sets of victims. "Mankind cannot endure too much reality."

RC Cola: Fr Hart's point about marriages is well taken. Some who have had "godly judgments" or "decrees of nullity" in TEC or TAC must now face an RC Marriage Tribunal and its financial demands.

RC Cola said...

Ah! I had no idea that TEC/TAC issued decrees of nullity. It will be interesting to see if the RCC accepts the nullifications as readily as it accepts the marriages.

Colin Chattan said...

One of my favourite cartoons is one of the "Old Bill" series drawn by Bruce Bairnsfather, a British officer in the First World War. It depicts a tough, grim old sweat scowling at a young, obviously terrified and very unhappy recruit as they both cower at the bottom of a shell hole with shells, shrapnel and bullets whizzing overhead. The old geezer says to the new guy, "Well, if yer knows of a better 'ole, go to it!" Well, continuing Anglicanism has provided me with a dry, safe 'ole in the chaotic spiritual battlefield, and I don't intend to budge from it until the General orders me otherwise. My conviction has been enormously strengthened by the authors of this blog, which manifests the iron spine and martial blood that the old Crusaders would have recognized. Thank you!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The TAC has Decrees of Nullity, and the RCC will most certainly never accept them, nor those of any church body except their own. Ergo, people who are married will be seen as not married - at least not until the RCC bishop says so - and will be barred from Communion.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart wrote:

"I do not say Anglo-Catholicism, not the real thing as Dr. Pusey and his colleagues saw it (who never argued that Anglicanism needed to become catholic, but that it always has been truly catholic). "

This is an excellent point, and one that Francis Hall makes in his Dogmatic Theology.


Fr. Wells said...

As sad as this is, God in His own redemptive way can bring great good out of it. This tragi-comedy of errors and self-deceit will, I devoutly pray, become the occasion not only for the parts of the dismembered Continuum to come back together, but for us all to rediscover that the true "Anglican Patrimony" actually is. As that Curial phrase has been bandied about, it has meant little more than a precious Victorian esthetic. Gothic revival architecture, the music of John B. Dykes and Ralph Vaughan Williams, elegant and expensive vestments, Cranmeriamn prose with baroque ceremonial, a shallow religiosity which William Laud did not die for, which Samuel Johnson would have dismissed as "pious cant," which Jackson Kemper or John Starke Ravenscroft or John Henry Hobart would have found embarrassing.

The true Anglican Patrimony is a distinctive grasp of the Catholic Faith, a certain way of doing theology. We can readily discover it in the writings of (inter alia) John Jewell, John Whitgift, Launcelot Andrewes and Richard Hooker---the Fathers of the Anglican Tradition who rediscovered the mainstream of Christianity and sifted it out from inauthentic (non-Biblical) accretions.

This Reformed Catholic Faith of the Anglican worthies is the very thing which the forlorn remnant of TEC-TAC is sadly leaving behind. Esau's swap of his birthright for a mess of pottage is the best Biblical analogy. In a few short weeks we will celebrate the martyrdom of St. Charles Stuart, who faced the axe saying, "I died in the Catholick Faith of the Church of England." It is now time for us all to REMEMBER!

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr Hart and colleagues,
A happy New Year to you all.
I share your view that some things has been gained by the Ordinariate process; namely the beginning of a refinement of thought in the Continuing Churches about what they claim to stand for, and the importance for them of a united front in the face of an indifferent world and a jurisdictionally-divided Church.As for Rome's attempts to accommodate those former anglo-papalists who want union with the See of Rome at any cost, I am reminded of a terrific old movie I watched last night. Some of you may know it in the original version starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter and Larry Gates in 1956. In 'The Invasion of the Body Snatchers' a small-town doctor learns ''that the population of his community is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates''.The outward forms remain, but the distinctive juices have been sucked out. Every new victim, treasuring the new-found peace and security, becomes infected with the desire to spread the new form of life, first to the nation and then to the planet.There are so many parallels that perhaps readers of this blog could begin the New Year in a light-hearted manner by viewing the movie and copeting to write the longest list.
Best wishes,

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I believe that the Church of Rome has been honest and straightforward; a bit arrogant and above themselves as usual, utterly without humility concerning their scandals and reputation, but always laying their cards on the table.

Derril said...

I am very grateful for this blog - the excellent sermons and the other educational items. Many thanks to Mr. Land, Fathers Kirby, Hart and Wells, and Bishop Robinson. Also, thank you to readers who contribute to this blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this overview (and comments)! Several phrases struck me, in relation to each other: "unbearable rules made by men"; "inauthentic (non-Biblical) accretions"; "St. Charles Stuart, who faced the axe saying, 'I died in the Catholick Faith of the Church of England.' "

I would invite you Reverend gentleman to consider addressing as a specific topic such things as might be described as 'unnecessary but permissible rules made by men as in keeping with the Scriptures', and 'unnecessary but not necessarily inauthentic accretions'.

Something of the sort has, of course, come up variously - e.g., in discussions of the nature of the Thirty-Nine Articles and their relation to the St. Louis Declaration - but not (that I recall) as a topic in its own right.

Yet it is a very 'Anglican' matter, and as far as I can see as 'live an issue' today as when Hooker was resisting the 'Genevan'-minded, or Andrewe's the 'Roman'-minded.

Within a year-and-a-half of his father's death, the young Charles II was made by the Scots not only to swear his "allowance and approbation of the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant" but denounce both 'Romish' mother and 'Anglican' father, there being a day appointed to bewail the sins of the late King and the royal family - among which (if I am not mistaken) the 'sins' of permitting any form of worship or doctrine other than the Presbyterian.

'Anglicanism' still needs lucidly to defend not only the necessary but (so to put it) 'the Scripturally permissible', not against 'Rome' alone, but also against all manner of scions of the continental Reformation(s).