Probably, most of our readers are aware of an innovation that had arisen in the Diocese of Sydney before the end of the last century. That innovation is called "Lay Administration," which means Lay Celebration of the Eucharist. It has never seemed necessary from my home in America to spend much time and effort combating the Sydney innovation, because until recently it has been unthinkable that it might spread (perhaps our two Australian bloggers, Sandra McColl and Fr.Kirby, have run into the problem directly). After all, in the official Anglican Communion with the heresy of women's "ordination," several women have come to feel empowered-finally!-having broken through the stained-glass ceiling; and, no doubt, they'll be damned if they are going to share the "power" with just anybody.
However, some of the Sydney "Anglicans" have begun showing up in other spots, including America. Furthermore, a year after GAFCON and its American child (having appropriated a name formerly taken), the Anglican Church in North America, the Sydney innovation may come to be tolerated, helping to make it seem mainstream, conservative or orthodox compared to the Same-Sex heresies. For, sadly, that is how the re-appraisers known as "Reasserters" think: They see error as a matter of priorities that they can number in terms of their importance, rather than as symptoms of revolt against God by rejection of His word as understood according to the Universal Consensus of Antiquity.
have no concept of Antiquity, and would have to look up the term "Universal Consensus." They have a Bible, and they have modern teachers through whom they see as much of the English Reformers as those modern teachers care to let them see. Their spiritual and doctrinal epistemology jumps from the close of the first century (just the Bible), to the 16th century with a very brief stay, lest they gather more than they want, directly to the modern era. For absolute authority they have a new version of Sola Scriptura
, and it is not the kind first mentioned by Thomas Aquinas, or trumpeted by 16th century Reformers. The new Sola Scriptura
is an absolute sola
, in the sense of something destitute
. In that sense, the Reappraisers finally have no Bible, at least not the Bible recognized by the Church.
Ultimately, the Bible to them must be an original or autographa
, an actual manuscript produced by the writers. That is because Scriptura
Destitute cannot, finally, trust even so much as the scribes who copied it, inasmuch as discovery of a better manuscript has, theoretically, the power to overthrow the Bible as we know it. If you doubt this, consider that Wayne Grudem actually wrote that if a book were found, and verified to be the work of an Apostle from the First Century, we would have to recognize it as Scripture (apparently, without regard to its content).1 The logic of this must lead, as well, to the opposite conclusion: If a book could be shown not to be the work of an Apostle (Grudem's own dubious standard, inasmuch as no one knows who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews) it would have to be scratched from the Canon. An obvious problem with Grudem's view is that it places recognition of Scripture in the hands of modern day scientists and their methodologies, not in our trust that the Church has recognized the Master's voice as guided by the Holy Spirit with Universal Consensus in Antiquity (John 16:13, I Cor. 2:16).Jensen vs. the Church
How does this relate to the Sydney innovation? In every way. To be fair, we may note that Archbishop Peter Jensen wrote a defense of his position favoring Lay Administration and posted in online
. 2 In some ways it presents some good ideas that do not need to be disputed, but they always end with a twist that disregards the Reason of Anglican doctrine. At best, his good ideas are half-truths. That is not to accuse him of dishonesty, inasmuch as I cannot doubt that he really believes he is teaching the truth of God's word. The problem is not the direction he seems to be going, but rather, that he does not go far enough in that direction. Nor does he spend enough time paying attention along the way. In other words, he means to go in the same direction that the English Reformers traveled, towards the true meaning of Christian doctrine and practice, the truly Catholic way. However, he does not spend enough time with those English Reformers; he does not hear all that they say, and so he actually contradicts the very Formularies of Anglicanism that he professes to believe.
So, in the end he summarizes his position "in a box," with five points. The first is "1 Scripture is silent on the question as who [sic
] may administer the Lord’s Supper."
Once again, this presents the difference between Sola Scriptura
, and Scriptura
We all know Article VI, which opens, "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." The Article lists the Scriptures with the words, "the Canonical Books." Here we run into the genuine Anglican doctrine, because only the Church could have determined the Canon. Anyone who even so much as uses the expression "the Canon of Scripture" has already acknowledged what we call, in Hooker's terms, the Church with her authority
, in which both Right Reason and Tradition are, actually, one.3 Here we see that by having a Canon of Scripture, rather than merely a Recommended Reading List, we cannot escape the Vincentian Canon: Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est ("That which has been believed always, everywhere and by all").
In determinig doctrine, the teaching of the Church from earliest times and the Bible are interdependent. To understand the Biblical doctrine on Eucharistic Celebration, we must see the silence of Scripture on this one point as answered by the Universal Consensus of the community in which the Bible was written, handed down, and its various books recognized.
Archbishop Jensen has named Cranmer, Hooker and others, and quoted from the Articles, to try to strengthen his case, which he sets forth clearly:"It is commonly suggested that the development of lay administration of the Holy Communion is contrary to the very being of Anglicanism. Certainly it would have to be agreed that non-priestly administration would be quite contrary to some expressions of Anglicanism. But the assertion that it is contrary to the ethos of the Anglican Church really speaks for one side of the Church only. It suggests that one particular view of priesthood and of communion, and one only, is of the essence of the Eucharistic theology. Without going into the question of whether there is only one valid opinion, it is empirically true that at least two views have been evident in the Church for a very long time. According to the thinking of one such view, lay administration is impossible. Accordingly to the other view it is possible, although opinions differ as to whether it is advisable."
Whether or not what the Ordinal presents within "the ethos of the Anglican Church really speaks for one side of the Church only," must be weighed by the Rites of Ordination that have been a part of the Church of England and Anglicanism since 1550, with the clarifications of the later editions. 4 So, does he mean that only "one side" believes the Preface to the Ordinal?"It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Which Offices were evermore had in such reverend Estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried, examined, and known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same; and also by publick Prayer, with Imposition of Hands, were approved and admitted thereunto by lawful Authority. And therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in the Church of England, no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in the Church of England, or suffered to execute any of the said Functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the Form hereafter following, or hath had Episcopal Consecration, or Ordination."
To "execute" the office of priest certainly includes Eucharistic celebration. But, to get around "which Offices were evermore had in such reverend Estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except..." etc., Jensen makes this argument:"3 The priestly role is above all that of pastor of the congregation and cannot be handed over to someone else.
"4 Delegation of the various elements of the role is possible, however, and given developments in ecclesiology, desirable.
"5 The retention of administration of the Lord’s Supper as the only element which cannot be delegated detaches word from sacrament and confuses the congregation about the nature of the sacrament and the priestly role."
Earlier, he had quoted a report by the Australian House of Bishops called Eucharistic Presidency.
"As far as the English Reformation was concerned, the Report says: ‘we find the same heavy stress on the Ministry of the Word in relation to ordination, in line with the continental reformers. In the pre-Reformation Sarum rite, the candidate for priesthood was handed the chalice and/or paten as symbols of priestly office with the words, 'Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God', whereas in the 1552 English Ordinal, the Bible alone is given, accompanied by the words, 'Take thou authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the holy sacraments in the congregation.’ (para 4.42)"
On which he builds his case further:
"That is to say the two dominical sacraments depend for their life upon the explicit word of Christ and upon the fact that they visibly proclaim the gospel. In particular, the Lord’s Supper focuses us on the death of Christ with the assurance of God’s favour towards us. It is a 'Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death' (Article 28).
"There is an indissoluble connection, therefore, between the word of God and the sacraments indicated by the necessity of the sermon in the service of Holy Communion. It is not 'Anglican' to equate word and sacrament. A non-preaching communion service is a contradiction in terms, where the taking of bread and wine is removed from the context of the preaching of God’s word. It is the word of God which warrants the sacrament and explains it. The communal eating of bread and wine is the outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace, namely the grace of God towards us in Christ and at work in our lives. Despite the current emphases of Eucharistic theology, the emphasis of the Book of Common Prayer (including the Catechism thereof) dwells on the Lord’s Supper as spiritual union with Christ (the refreshment of our souls by the bread and blood of Christ) and the faithful remembrance of what Christ has done on our behalf. What is required of those who come to the Lord’s Supper is that they 'examine themselves, whether they repent them truly of their former sins; steadfastly purposing to lead a new life; have a lively faith in God’s mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of his death; and be in charity with all men' (Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer). Not surprisingly, the ordination service published with the Book of Common Prayer emphasises the priestly role of preaching and living the word of God rather than the administration of the sacraments"
The obvious, glaring problem with his reasoning is that he ignores what the bishop says in even the earliest Ordinal, when Ordering a man to the priesthood:
"Receive the holy goste, whose synnes thou doest forgeve, they are forgeven: and whose sinnes thou doest retaine, thei are retained: and be thou a faithful despensor of the word of god, and of his holy Sacramentes. In the name of the father, and of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen... Take thou aucthoritie to preache the word of god, and to minister the holy Sacramentes in thys congregacion[, where thou shalt be so appointed]."
In this earliest Ordinal it is sacramental ministry that identifies the specific Order of "priest" with the words of Scripture, "whose synnes thou doest forgeve, they are forgeven: and whose sinnes thou doest retaine, thei are retained."5
The later editions say the same thing, adding only these words to clarify, for those untrained in the use of Scripture, the specific Order , "... for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands." The words, "be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy Sacraments," and "Take thou Authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the holy Sacraments in the Congregation, where thou shalt be lawfully appointed thereunto," suffer at the hands of extremists. Some Anglo-Catholic extremists (yes, Virginia, there are some Anglo-Catholic extremists) seem only to hear the mention of sacraments, and the Sydney "Anglicans" seem only to notice the part about preaching. But, the priest is a minister of both.
As has been stated on The Continuum, more than once, efforts by some Anglo-Catholics (following an alleged Roman Catholic lead) to reduce the priestly office to its sacramental role, and thereby to under-emphasize the pastoral and teaching responsibilities and gifts inherent in that Order, is quite wrong. This I have stated in clear terms more than once, summarizing my arguments with the words of E.J. Bicknell (from a footnote):
"As we have said, the English word priest by derivation simply means 'presbyter'. But it has acquired the meaning of 'sacerdos'. The Christian presbyter in virtue of his office is a 'priest'. Priesthood is one of his functions."6
However, as we must turn neither to the right hand nor to the left, but walk within a via media that avoids extremes, and follows the advice of St. John Chrysostom not to accidentally endorse one error by refuting the opposite error,7 we must refute Jensen's view. Archbishop Jensen argues that the laity may preach, and that, of necessity, along with preaching is Eucharistic Celebration; if they may do one thay may do the other. 8 We may explore the argument itself presently, but first we must note that he tries to pin Sydney's new and novel idea on Cranmer. What he fails to see is that we cannot interpret the English Reformers accurately by drawing our own conclusions from their writings, no matter how intact our logic, unless we face the facts of what polity they insisted on, both by the full body of their teachings and by Canon Law.
In the words of Richard Hooker:
“Is it a small office to despise the Church of God? ‘My son, keep thy father’s commandment,’ saith Solomon, ‘and forget not thy mother’s instruction: Bind them both always about thine heart.’ It doth not stand with the duty we owe to our heavenly Father, that to the ordinances of our mother the Church we should show ourselves disobedient. Let us not say we keep the commandments of the one, when we break the law of the other: for unless we observe both we obey neither.” (Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, 3.IX.3)
Hooker upholds not only the teaching of the Church, but also, what he calls “her ecclesiastical authority,” not to be redundant, but to extend the meaning to include all aspects of polity.
It may be that some sort of Lay Preaching is permissible under certain conditions, and certainly no one should silence a member of the laity who can, by writing and teaching, edify and instruct us in the ways of holiness and in theology, or who may be a very effective evangelist. Indeed, and without any dispute, Deacons may preach from the pulpit if licensed by the Bishop. But, the Anglican Ordinal in the Ordering of Priests, lays specific and particular emphasis on the authority, responsibility and the gift through Ordination to be a minister of God's word in a new way that he had not been heretofore as a Deacon, and does so in a line that includes as well his sacramental role. Surely this teaches us something of substance. The priest has a duty and a charism to be that minister of Word and Sacrament, and this answers the subject Jensen raises about the connection between preaching and celebrating the Eucharist. Furthermore, it answers it according to the only practice ever permitted in the Church, both before and after the English Reformation.
Archbishop Jensen and the Sydney "Anglicans" quite rightly reject women's "ordination." But, using the same methodology of Scriptura Destitute, rejecting both the particular teaching of Anglicanism, and how that teaching is one of fidelity to Scripture via Universal Consensus and Antiquity, they promote an innovation every bit as rebellious and heretical.
1. Grudem, Wayne: Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan Publishers, 1995 Van Nuys.2. It is entitled Theological reflection on lay administration. 3. “Be it in matter of the one kind or of the other, what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after this the Church succeedeth that which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason overrule all other inferior judgments whatsoever.” (Richard Hooker, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book 5.VIII.2)4. That is, clarification of what the Rites always had meant.5. From an earlier Latin Ordinal translated by Cranmer, the first English Ordinal used verses of Scripture to identify respectively the three Orders.6. E.J.Bicknell, A Theological Introduction to The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. See Pastoral Priesthood, and The Elders that Rule Well.7. St. John Chrysostom: Six Little Books on the Priesthood.8. What does he make, then, of Cranmer's rubric from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer? "When the holy Communion is celebrate on the workeday, or in private howses: Then may be omitted, the Gloria in excelsis, the Crede, the Homily, and the exhortacion, beginning..."