Sunday, July 20, 2008

Anglican and unashamed

On a previous thread (my sermon for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, below), a reader who goes by the name Canon Tallis wrote a comment, part of which I quote here:

" for the little point about Ritual Notes being from the Alcuin Club. Nothing could be farther from the truth...Ritual Notes was the work of folks whom one would never elsewise have heard of while some of the greatest Anglican names of the last century sat on the committee of the Alcuin Club, chief among them Charles Gore and Walter Howard Frere. This is a small point and affects the argument of the sermon not at all, but those who follow Ritual Notes always seem ashamed of being openly Anglican and aped a Rome now almost completely vanished while those of us who followed the Alcuin Club publications to the point that they, too, fell to the modernists only wanted to be Anglicans and unashamed."

Whatever others may think about "Ritual Notes" or the Alcuin Club, I like that line: "Anglicans and unashamed."

On Virtue On Line, David Virtue reposted, in the Theology section, two of my articles from here ("Full, Perfect and Sufficient Sacrifice" and "Councils, Scripture and Catholic Faith"). In comments on the first article, I was taken to task for being much too Catholic, perhaps even a closet Roman. And, in comments on the second, I was attacked for being a low down Protestant worm. What did I do to be shot at from both sides, to invite a Zweifrontenkrieg, the likes of which caused Bismarck to suffer nightmares? How was I perceived as both too Catholic and too Protestant?

Simple. I did something right. I presented, clarified and defended classic Anglican formularies, and like the brave and noble Duck-Billed Platypus, I defied simplistic categories and stood on principle. Both writings were drawn from the 39 Articles and from the Holy Communion service in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. In both of them, I answered the age-old attacks on Anglicanism from Roman Catholics on one hand, and from various kinds of Protestants on the other.

To be Anglican and unashamed, as Canon Tallis exhorts us one and all, requires that we actually learn Anglicanism from Anglican sources. Imagine that. Actually reading the formularies, actually opening books by Richard Hooker and Lancelot Andrewes, and trying to appreciate the Anglican mind and ethos. After all the learning, what emerges crystal clear is that one thing makes Anglican theology distinctive: It has "no distinctive theology of its own, but only that of the Catholic Church," quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. Scripture and Tradition inform the mind's Right Reason, along with its understanding. These also form the conscience, for it is the duty of every believer to have the conscience so formed. Rome and most kinds of Protestantism are built partly on the Catholic Faith, but partly on innovations that have no basis in Scripture and Tradition. The reason to be Anglican is to be free from innovations.

Rejecting false standards

Now, to be free of innovations requires us to be firm when our own patrimony is under attack. For example, Pontificator's Fourth Law. I regard Fr. Alvin Kimmel as a friend, and we have been on the same side of fights in the past, beginning with our back to back apologetics against Inclusive Language Liturgies of the Episcopal Church some twenty years ago. Nonetheless, under his Internet name, Pontificator, he wrote a series of "laws," the fourth of which is this: "A church that does not understand itself as the Church, outside of which there is no salvation, is not the Church but a denomination or sect."

Now, the first impulse of Anglicans who have never studied their own patrimony is to feel some inner pressure to satisfy this "law." This "law" is meant specifically for Anglicans, so that we will think that somehow we just aren't really Catholic after all. We are being told, "when you get to the fork in the road, take it. Because you are not exclusive enough, you aren't really in the Church, and should stop fooling yourselves." The two One True Churches each believe they are the Church outside of which there is no salvation. But, can an Anglican say that about his Anglican Church? Of course not. But, why the "H" would we want to? The correct response from an Anglican who appreciates his patrimony, rather than trembling in his boots or wetting his drawers, is to look this "law" in the eye, laugh fearlessly with the heroic platypus, and give answer.

First of all, no one church is the Church in its entirety ("can the head say to the feet...?"and all that). We know that we belong to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. And, it is outside of that Church, not the Orthodox section of it, nor the Roman Catholic section of it, that there is no salvation. Nonetheless, if the two One true Churches want to talk about "sects" they may begin by discussing their own sectioning of themselves into two One True Churches. The Great Schism was, and remains, their idea. And, if they want to talk about denominations, then we point out that the word "denomination" means simply "of a name." Our most important name is Christian, since we are "in Christ." After that, various churches have names, such as Roman Catholic, or Greek Orthodox, or Russian Orthodox, or Anglican. But, as Juliet asked, "what is in a name?"

In other words, the logical response to Pontificator's Fourth Law is the simple phrase, "so what?"

He is an Anglican
(With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

He is an Anglican!

He is an Anglican!

For he himself has said it,
And it's greatly to his credit,
That he is an Anglican!
That he is an Anglican!

For he might have been a Methodist,
A Papist, Greek, or Bap-a-tist
Or Presbyter-i-an!

Or Presbyter-i-an!

But in spite of all temptations
From other denominations
He remains an Anglican!
He remains an Anglican!

For in spite of all temptations
From other denominations
He remains an Anglican!
He remains an Anglican!


Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

I want to echo the comments of your article; the piece on the eucharistic sacrifice simply echoes what Anglicans of the past have already written. Ditto with the piece on the councils. However, so many Anglicans today know so little Anglican theology that when you read them the Articles or the Anglican divines they don't have a clue what you're talking about. I hate to say that this is often as true in the continuing churches as it is in ECUSA/TEC/whatever. They get most of their material from modern evangelicals and Romans (much of which is good on both sides, please don't misunderstand), but they just don't know Anglicanism. For this reason they feel no compunction in cutting and pasting stuff from Rome (on the Anglo-Roman side) or talk about "rethinking infant baptism" (on the Anglo-Baptist side). If they would open up the Prayer Book and the Anglican divines they would realize that there is a valuable treasure of spirituality to be digested that is orthodox and patristic, and that really does remain true to the Scriptures and the Councils and does not add to or subtract from the Catholic Faith.

BillyHW said...

When people ask me, and I tell them I'm Catholic, they all understand exactly what I mean.

If people were to ask you, and you tell them you're Catholic, they would all misunderstand what you mean.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Billy hw:

Thank you for reading and commenting. Your point is, of course, self-evident, and part of the reality we live with all the time. It is equally true that they misunderstand the word "Anglican," which often forces me to explain that we are not Episcopalians. And, several people probably think my Orthodox brother is telling them that he's Jewish. And, my married Roman Catholic priest brother- well, that really throws them for a loop.

However, I can only ask why it should matter what people understand (before they are informed), except as part of the complications of PR. It is not significant beyond that at all.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Hart,

I realise I should have mentioned this on the earlier thread, but since you brought up the thread on Councils etc. I thought it might be worthwhile to mention the Article you did not quote, 20: "The Church hath ... authority in Controversies of Faith". This shows that it is not Scripture as privately interpreted but as Ecclesially interpreted that matters, according to the Anglican formularies. Consistent with this principle is the standard (albeit somewhat exaggerated in application here) used in Article 6to set the Canon of Scripture: those books are included "of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church". Similarly, the 1662Preface to the Book of Common Prayer notes that all suggested alterations which were "secretly striking at some established Doctrine ... of the whole Catholic Church" were "rejected". And then there is the fact that the very same Convocation which first imposed the 39 Articles simultaneously demanded that clergy "see that they never teach ought in a sermon, to be religiously held and believed by the people, except what is agreeable to the Old and New Testaments, and what the Catholic Fathers and ancient bishops have collected from the same doctrine”. These facts significantly strengthen the case that the Anglican appeal to Scripture as the necessary source for dogma is not incompatible with the admitted necessity of the Church's consensual interpretation.

It is often not realised that the Anglican insistence on the priority of Scripture and its necessity as a foundation for essential and intrinsically mandatory doctrines is utterly Patristic (as well as utterly Thomist, as you pointed out.) The following catena is from William Palmer's work A Treatise on the Church of Christ (1843).

'It was the doctrine of the Egyptian churches that the scripture contains all the articles of the faith.

Origen says :

" In the two Testaments every word that appertaineth unto God may be sought and discussed, and out of them all knowledge of things may be understood. And if any thing remains which holy scripture does not determine, no other third scripture ought to be received to authorize any knowledge, but we must commit to the fire what remains ; that is, reserve it unto God."

Athanasius :

" The holy and divinely-inspired scriptures are sufficient of themselves to the discovery of truth."

Theophilus of Alexandria :

" It is an instinct of the devil to follow the sophisms of human minds, and to think any thing divine without the authority of the scriptures"

Cyril of Alexandria :

" That which the holy scripture hath not said, by what means should we receive and account it among those things that be true ?"

The doctrine of the oriental churches was the same.

Basil says :

" Believe those things which are written ; the things which are not written seek not."

" It is a manifest falling from the faith, and an argument of arrogancy, either to reject any point of those things that are written, or to bring in any of those things that are not written."

Gregory Nyssene :

" Forasmuch as this is upholden with no testimony of the scripture, we will reject it as false."

Cyril of Jerusalem :

"Nothing at all ought to be delivered concerning the divine and holy mysteries of faith without the holy scriptures."

Chrysostom :

" The scripture, like unto a safe door, doth bar an entrance unto heretics, placing us in security concerning all we desire, and not suffering us to be deceived . . . Whosoever useth not the scriptures, but cometh in otherwise, that is, betaketh himself to another and an unlawful way, he is a thief."

The doctrine of the western churches was the same.

Ireneeus says :

" Read diligently the Gospel given unto us by the apostles, and read diligently the prophets, and you shall find every action, and the whole doctrine, and the whole passion of our Lord preached in them"

Tertullian :

" Whether all things were made of any subject matter, I have, as yet, read no where. Let those of Hermogenes'' school show that it is written. If it be not written, let them fear that woe which is allotted to such as add or take away."

Ambrose :

"I read that he is the first, I read that he is not the second ; they who say he is the second, let them show it by reading."

Jerome :

" As we deny not those things that are written, so we refuse those things that are not written. That God was born of a virgin, we believe, because we read it : that Mary did marry after she was delivered, we do not believe, because we read it not ."

Augustine :

" Whatsoever ye hear (from the holy scriptures), let that savour well unto you ; whatsoever is without them refuse." '

Interestingly, it was the view of Cardinal Newman and Tavard, the first a former Anglican and the latter a philo-Anglican ecumenist, that this was the true Catholic position and reconcilable with the Tridentine decrees. But there is no doubt that this was a minority position within the RCC during Counter-Reformation polemics. And I think it still may be in standard anti-Anglican polemics. Here is a case where it seems Anglican Catholics are right to continue to stand up (unashamedly!) for what is authoritative for them, majority teaching in the Fathers, but perhaps minority teaching (or very little emphasised) presently in the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church.

As for Pontificator's Fourth Law, well, I have said more than enough about that here before. Suffice it to say that, if it be taken to mean that the One True Chuch must always be simply co-extensive with the clearly visible outward canonical boundaries of a particular identifiable Communion of Churches, and that this particular Body will thus recognise and correctly maintain its exclusive identity with the One True Church, then the Law is demonstrably false (or at least non-obligatory) according to the facts of history as they are really understood and interpreted in the two bodies normally purporting to be the One True Church. In other words, while there may be a number of such absolutist and exclusivist claims made periodically, many other acts and statements made without censure or with official approval in those Churches (the RCC and EOC) are manifestly inconsistent with these claims. Present outward divisions shoud be treated with the same caution and reticence about making exclusive claims as past outward divisions have been.

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart, you have struck a chord.

Anonymous said...

"Anglicanism from Anglican sources. Imagine that. Actually reading the formularies, actually opening books by Richard Hooker and Lancelot Andrewes, and trying to appreciate the Anglican mind and ethos. After all the learning, what emerges crystal clear is that one thing makes Anglican theology distinctive: It has "no distinctive theology of its own, but only that of the Catholic Church," quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est."


This should be an addendum to the St. Louis Statment!

Ecgbert said...

I can grant you that Anglo-Papalists old or new weren't/aren't really Anglican but I hope have a future as an English Roman Catholic subculture.

When I say Catholic I mean something approaching the Vincentian-canonism here, which is fine in conversation much of the time because of course this Catholicity includes Rome. When I say Anglican I mean somebody whose bishop is invited to Lambeth, whether the latter is as Catholic as the Pope, as Protestant as Billy Graham, as sceptical as Richard Dawkins or a woman. That's how that communion works; for now and possibly in future that includes the Episcopalians. (So Continuers are anglican not Anglican.) A Roman Catholic is under Rome, an Orthodox in the Orthodox communion (not the soi-disant 'Orthodox' churches out of communion with real Orthodox) and an Old Catholic in the Utrecht communion.

Fr Kimel's point agrees with my understanding of the necessity of an infallible church.

Albion Land said...

Following on from Death's last comment, can someone recommend a good solid primer of classical Anglican writers, with good footnotes for further reading of the primary sources?

I have a brilliant annoted bibliography provided to me by the ACC Diocese of the South, but it is in Nicosia and I am in Jerusalem, so can't do the recommending myself.

Ken said...


Philorthodox (his site is linked on the Continuum blog) has a list of recommended works, but, alas, no primer.


Canon Tallis said...

From what he has written I could almost be led to believe that Father Hart has been sneaking into my library at night for several years and reading the books open upon my desk. Since that is plainly impossible (he is nowhere near that ancient) I must consider what I had already come to believe, i.e., that he by a course of independent reading has come to many if not most of the same conclusions which I reached over a life time of reading the classical Anglican writers and praying them through. And for that I thank him. I am especially glad that he has likewise experienced the charges of being both Roman and protestant although I have found it to make my head dizzy.

To billyhw: But do you understand what you are saying when you claim to be a "Catholic" when what you actually mean is that you are a "Papist?" What ever you may think, the part of the Churches of the Roman obedience which is not "according to the whole" - the literal meaning of the Greek roots of the word "Catholic" is everything outside of the institution of the papacy which in the last two centuries has included so much in the way of innovation that they have quite literally cut themselves off from the doctrine of the saints in their calendar. I might especially point out that Rome teaches a doctrine different from that of St Paul and the New Testament and the earliest of the General Councils on Holy Order which every the ordinary Roman seems more and more to understand which is why there are more and more deacons and fewer Roman priests.

Father Kirby seems to exactly understand in his quotes from the formularies and from the catena of William Palmer my meaning in this manner.

I would ask the young fogey to consider whether it is possible for an exact meaning of the Vincentian Canon to include Rome? Certainly the new dogmas of the 19th and 20th centuries lie outside that canon by a very great space. And where, may I inquire, does he find the doctrine of "an infallible church" in the New Testament or the Old? Or in the writings of the acknowledged fathers? I think he would do well to remember that some of the most well known cardinals, archbishops and bishops of the Roman Church in 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries were fairly well known atheists or worse including a pope who was equally well known as an astrologer. Now I know by reporting this that I have broken one of the cardinal Anglican rules which requires that you report no - or at least very little ill - of the Roman clergy.
I am sure that very few of you are aware of the interest which the bishop of Rome took in the selection of the first bishops of the non-jurors, or that any of you might know that the bishops of the French Church wrote thanking George Bull for his spirited defense of the Catholic faith while openly wondering in the same letter why a "Protestant" would do so. But if I can but arouse your interest in searching out and reading classic Anglican works of theology and spirituality, I will more than enough have served my purpose to and for the Church, Catholic and Universal, in terms such as Bishop Ken used.

tdunbar said...

"The Catholic Church is the church we mean when we say `The Church.'" - attributed to Lenny Bruce.

Anonymous said...

This thread has had some super-fine comments. For once, I found myself agreeing with Fr Kirby and read his comment twice to make sure. And I enjoyed, in a bittersweet way, this part of "an anglican cleric's" comment:

"However, so many Anglicans today know so little Anglican theology that when you read them the Articles or the Anglican divines they don't have a clue what you're talking about. I hate to say that this is often as true in the continuing churches as it is in ECUSA/TEC/whatever. They get most of their material from modern evangelicals and Romans (much of which is good on both sides, please don't misunderstand), but they just don't know Anglicanism."

So true, so sad! The reality is that it has been quite a long time since any Anglican wrote a substantial volume of dogmatic theology. I have expressed my admiration many times for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Of course we know our points of disagreement, but we have nothing to offer as a worthy alternative.
I have just waded through two hefty volumes of Hermann Bavinck's
4 volume "Reformed Dogmatics" and intend to read my way through the entire set. Nothing comparable from any Anglican writer; Bavinck makes JI Packer look amateurish.
Geoffrey Bromiley translated more book than most of us ever read, but his own output, whioe excellent in quality, was not large. There was a time when real Anglican theological giants like Charles Gore and William Temple were holding forth. But since Eric Mascall, it has been mostly silence.

So if we wish to read truly Anglican authors, who is there to recommend?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

A generation of Anglicans, Continuing Anglicans being the ones with promise, must be taught once again to bring forth from their treasure things both old and new. Primarily, that is the scriptural basis for our beliefs from the one Canon in Two Testaments. We will have our great theologians again when our people stop letting themselves be bullied by half-learned polemicists from other camps, and begin again to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the scriptures; and when they do so without kowtowing to intricate theological systems either more complex or more lenient than Scripture and Tradition teach to Rightly Reasoning minds.

They must rediscover the Anglican mind. I hope, in my humble way, to promote that Anglican mind, maybe even to convert Anglicans to Anglicanism.

Anonymous said...


Probably the best single-volume work comprising portions of original texts from the central and classical Anglican Divines is ANGLICANISM edited by Paul Elmer Morre and Frank Leslie Cross (SPCK 1951).

Although out of print (though it may be available on CD-ROM from the Prayer Book Society), every Anglican library should contain a copy this work, which provides a wonderful and enormous bibliography within the Anglican tradition for further mining.

Fr_Rob said...

I concur wholeheartedly with DB and was going to recommend Anglicanism by More and Cross myself. The Prayer Book Society does indeed offer it on CD-ROM. Off the top of my head, I'd also recommend the following books:

- Bicknell on the 39 Articles (3rd edition)
- C. B. Moss, The Christian Faith
- George Herbert, Poetry and The Country Parson
- Procter and Frere, History of the BCP
- The Study of Anglicanism (we will disagree with many things here)
- Anything by Charles Gore, E. L. Mascall, Michael Ramsay
- Martin Thornton, Christian Proficiency, English Spirituality

Anonymous said...

Excellent list by Fr. Rob.

Moss and Bicknell do the best at synthesizing the central Anglican Divines in single volumes (though Moss probably overestimates the truth value of modern science, which after all is always changing and modifying its opinions).

Thorton's book on spirituality will lead a reader to good primary works on Anglican Spirituality books too, such as Jeremy Taylor's excellent text.

A cautionary note:

Frere and Francis Hall are Anglicans that have penned well written books, not to be disregarded. BUT, they often write from within the Thomist tradition, which places them just outside the heart and soul of the Anglicanism, which is not enamored of Schoolmen.

Anonymous said...

Let me add a couple of things to Fr Rob's fine list:
Henry R. McAdoo, "The Spirit of Anglicanism" (1965)
Rowell, Stevenson, and Williams, "Love's Redeeming Work, The Anglican Quest or Holiness" (2001) The third compiler is indeed THAT Williams.

Canon Tallis said...

I would never have believed that I should kick off such a wonderful response. But having accidentally done so, let me add a few volumes to the reading list.
Elizabeth I, Works.
John Jewel, An Apology for the Church of England.
Hooker, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity
Andrewes, Works
Laud, Works
Keble, ed. The Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology.
The Tracts for the Times (in spite of the generally negative reaction to Tract 90, most are superb)
Dart, The Old Religion.

And Death Bredon should not be so hard on modern science which is an invention of Anglicanism. The scientific method was first outlined by Robert Grossteste, the 12th century bishop of Lincoln, while the Royal Academy was in its first years a collection of brilliant amateurs who were mostly English parish priests. The celebrant at the first eucharist at which I was the server was the Rev'd Dr William Pollard who was the head of the Oak Ridge Institute.

Anonymous said...

"A generation of Anglicans, Continuing Anglicans being the ones with promise, must be taught once again to bring forth from their treasure things both old and new."

That observation reminded me that my seminary used to publish a thickish booklet entitled "Basic Books for a Pastor's Library." It included (1) what every pastor should have read, and (2) reference books which he should continue to use in the preparation of sermons and general practice of parish ministry.

I humbly propose that someone more industrious than myself (both Fr Rob and Fr Hart are highly qualified and surely have the time required) should get to work preparing a similar bibliography, entitled "Basic Books for an Anglican Parson's Library."

When I was on the Board of Examining Chaplains of a diocese I no longer belong to, I prepared part of such a list. But a computer crash about two computers ago carried that list into the oblivion which it probably deserved.

Albion Land said...

Fr Wells,

You might have forgotten, but the ACC Diocese of the South has produced a very impressive annotated bibliography for aspirants, postulants and candidates for holy orders. I have a copy of it (back in Nicosia) and would strongly recommend that every parish, or at least every diocesan director of vocations have a copy of it.

Anonymous said...

Albion: you are right! I have not
availed muself of that list, but knowing who prepared it, it would be pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking of. Thanks for the reminder.

Warwickensis said...


is this marvellous list online anywhere? I should like to make some attempt to improve what scant knowledge I have.

Anonymous said...

Regarding reading lists: I just learned about this one done by Fr. Bill Klock of the REC:

A Priest's Library

You might have a look at it--I think it is very well done, and particularly strong on Scripture and preaching, which are two areas where Anglicans these days are weak.

John Dixon said...

There seems to be two books by Bicknell:A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England and the Thirty-Nine Articles.

The former is available as a download or paperback. Are these two titles the same or different books?

Albion Land said...

Hi Jonathan,

As far as I know, the answer is no. It is very professionally presented in a hard-cover ringbinder. The one for aspirants only is a small booklet. Perhaps the bishop might make arrangements for a discount for readers of The Continuum. Is he following this thread?