Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Which Way to Turn?

The following essay will appear also on the Anglo-Catholic Central Website.

The Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls, SSM

“"Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward…”

-Genesis 13:14

Several weeks ago, the Roman Catholic Church announced a forthcoming Apostolic Constitution aimed at “reconciling” Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics in particular, to the “big Church”; or, to use the language of the ever fissiparous American Continuing Anglicans, the “Holy Catholic Church-Original Jurisdiction.” The initial announcement has prompted a flurry of breathless letters speculating on the content of the Constitution which purports to proffer Personal Ordinariates to Anglican folk disaffected with the state of the imploding Anglican Communion and those “traditional” Anglo-Catholics who yearn for unification with the See of Peter.

Some of the speculation concerning the content of the document whose release has been “delayed” has ranged from merely cautious optimism, to the outright duplicitous. For example, at least one traditional Anglican bishop asserts that the “deal” with Rome is a only a communion arrangement in which Anglo-Catholics will share communion with the Roman Catholic Church, but will otherwise be autonomous. I think it fair to say that this position is disingenuous at best. Anglicans “crossing over” will be a part of the Latin Church and will have to assent to the dogma, doctrine and discipline of that body unless they are going with fingers crossed. In any event, it is anticipated that the technical work on the Constitution and Norms will be completed by the end of the first week of November, so the wait will not be long.

However, while we attend upon the final placement of road signs and line painting on the trans-Tiber highway, I have continued my own reflections on the nature of Anglo-Catholicism and where things may be headed amidst the decidedly mixed bag of reactions from its adherents. I began these reflections with “Christian and Catholic” from The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton, the great Anglo-Catholic bishop of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and have continued with this article based on his essay “Anglicanism and Reunion". [1] I again note that I have freely borrowed from the great bishop’s text (translate: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.)

Grafton began his consideration of the “reunion” issue by pointing out that the Anglican Church, at least that which was traditional, had her own glories, the first being continuity. She is not a sect of yesterday, or a man-made organization. The English Church did not begin, as is falsely asserted, with King Henry the Eighth. The bishop notes that, “He [Henry] had about the same relation to her as Pontius Pilate had to Christianity.”

An ancient church

Anglicanism reaches back in her history to Apostolic times, and the authority and spiritual powers the Lord gave His Apostles have been transmitted to her. The golden network of the Apostolic succession binds its bishops and clergy to Christ, although we have to admit that some who profess and call themselves Anglicans have a succession that is tenuous at best. In the course of the Reformation, no “new” Church was founded in Great Britain.

Simply put, the Catholic Church in England rejected the mediaeval expansion of the papacy as the great Eastern patriarchs and the Orthodox Churches of the East had done before. The ancient faith, as declared in the creeds and the undisputed Ecumenical councils, was retained. The appeal the Church made in the conduct of her reforms was to Holy Scripture and antiquity. While the general principle was correct in the undertaking, no doubt some mistakes were made, and the Church, while gaining much, suffered some loss. But no new church was created, no change made in the orders of the ministry. The priesthood was preserved; the validity of the sacraments was secured; the torch of living truth was handed on. But, where is the evidence of this continuity?

Bp. Grafton notes that one proof lies in the fact that, of the fifty-six hundred clergy who celebrated Mass in Queen Mary's reign, only about some three hundred beneficed clergy are known to have refused to accept the Book of Common Prayer and conform in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Indeed, Chief Justice Coke, in a charge delivered by him at Norwich, stated that the pope offered to allow the use of the Book of Common Prayer if the queen would only submit to his supremacy. In point of fact, the Roman Catholic Church currently allows an Anglican Use based upon the Book of Common Prayer, albeit the flawed 1979 American version. As a sidebar, we can only pray that a future “Anglican” liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church will be closer to the prayer book tradition and not cling to the tainted legacy of the 1979 iteration with its post-Vatican II novelties.

Nevertheless, “There is no point,” said the non-Conformist Professor Beard in his Hibbert lectures, “at which it can be said, ‘Here the old Church ends; here the new begins.’” The historian Freeman, the Lord Chancellor Selborne, the great statesman Gladstone, emphatically said so likewise. Judge Sir Robert Phillimore declared,

It is not only a religious, but a legal error to suppose that a new church was introduced into the realm at the time of the Reformation. It is not less the language of our law than of our divinity that the old church was restored, not that a new one was substituted.

Thus the church founded and organized by Christ and His Apostles has come down to us through the ages, bearing the majestic treasures of the Apostolic order, the life-giving sacraments, and the Catholic faith.

Diversity in Unity

We should admit that, even among Anglo-Catholics, that there are differences of doctrinal expression, ceremonial, and practices. To be honest, traditional Anglicans form a mixed bag of high and low church in liturgy and theological understanding (two versus seven Sacraments, the value of private auricular confession, and even the order of the Holy Communion service to name a few). These are often made a target by Roman critics. But the existence of different schools of theology is a sign of interest in religion.

The Western Church has its Thomists, neo-Thomists, transcendental Thomists, Proportionalists, Scotists, and Ultramontanes. So long as the creeds and dogmas proclaimed and certified by the whole Church are held, differences of opinion on subordinate points are allowable. We have some of the bitterness and party spirit as has been found existing between contending schools in Rome. There are extreme dogmatists and men of exaggerated utterances on both Catholic and Protestant wings. But the differences between the great body of traditional churchmen are not as great as they seem to superficial observers, or as interested advocates would make them out to be.

Bp. Grafton pointed out that, “It is a help in understanding these differences to remember the theological distinction between dogmatic and systematic theology.” By dogmatics we mean the great underlying and essential facts of the Christian faith, and the creeds and the accredited dogmas put forth by conciliar authority which express and guard them; by the term “systematic theology” we are calling to mind the philosophical expressions, theories, and explanations which unite them scientifically together.

Now leaving out the extremists and the woefully uneducated who populate parts of traditional Anglican or “continuing” clergy and laity, there is concerning the dogmatic faith and creeds comparatively little difference among those who at least self-identify as “traditionalists.” The Anglican Church puts the creeds and liturgy and ordinal and catechism and prayer-book into the hands of her clergy, and bids them interpret Holy Scripture according to the ancient fathers. “Where this is honestly done,” says Grafton, “men will find themselves standing not so very far apart.”

I would proffer to extreme Anglo-Catholics, moreover, that the high and low schools within the respective traditionalist bodies who properly bear the label “catholic” are not in principle antagonistic, but are supplementary to each other.

Low churchmen tend to emphasize the subjective side of religion. They dwell on the sinfulness of man's nature, and his redemption by the atoning efficacy of Christ's cross, and the necessity of conversion and a living faith. High churchmen tend to focus on the objective aspect of religion. Christianity came into the world as an institution, and an Apostolic ministry is essential to connect us with Christ's authority. The sacraments are the ordained channels and instruments of conveying grace. The two aspects do not exclude one another. The truth lies in their combination.

Cautionary note

Here is a cautionary note both to the Roman Catholic Church as it sorts out traditional Anglicans and traditional Anglicans, alike: every school, high, low, or broad, has its own danger. The subjective or low church system, unbalanced by the objective side of religion, leads to a denial of the visible Church, its priesthood, and the sacraments as instruments and effective signs of grace; the broad, or rationalizing, to a denial of all that is supernatural in God's Word, and of authority, and the Church's inherited dogmatic faith. In fact, the nineteenth-century split of the Reformed Episcopal Church from the main body, and the evangelical side of the current groups holding themselves out as “orthodox” have the precise difficulties that Grafton identified. On the other hand, the extreme Catholic or pro-Roman side, by its devotion to ceremony, yearning for authority and centralization in government, uncritical acceptance of Roman Catholic dogma and impatience with the condition of their condition (e.g. the relegation of most to small struggling continuing parishes), turns in faint-heartedness to the papacy. Essentially, this is a situation in which primarily clergy believe that a Rome-ward turn will result in their enjoyment of status and the handover of large facilities in which “ceremonial” can be “properly” undertaken once again as it was in the glory days of Anglo-Catholicism.

But Grafton believed that these errors can lead to their own cure. The divine life of the Church is no more forcibly shown than in her inherent power of self-purification. Christ is in her, and she shares in His indestructible and resurrection life. The faith is preserved in her, and extremes lead to their own elimination. So over time, the extreme low churchmen, who deny priesthood and sacramental grace, seceded from the Church and founded new sects, whether the Reformed Episcopalians of old, or the AMiA and CANA of modern times.

They tried in America to get the Church to alter the prayer-book, which they admitted was not in accord with their theology. It taught, they said, the Apostolic succession, priesthood, baptismal regeneration, and the real presence. The Church refused to change the prayer-book, and they withdrew. It was the honest course to pursue and the logical outcome of their theology. I should note here that there may be some current reversal of this trend among the members of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) who have been involved in the experiment for more than 100 years. On the other hand, the more modern groups of claimed “Anglicans” frequently are indistinguishable from non-denominational Protestant churches, and have clung in one way or another the novelty of women’s “ordination” that was the fruit of mainstream Protestant Episcopalianism.

Likewise Catholics, who have become pro-Romans, believing in the divine power of the papacy, and our duty to submit to its dominion, have naturally gravitated to Rome. They have supported a reunion because they have necessarily denied that Anglo-Catholics are somehow not “fully” Catholic and look for the “fullness of faith” in Rome.

The rationalizing broad churchmen who deny the fundamental facts of the creed, such as the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ's body have ended where Grafton’s prophetic words have said they would. They lead a double life, saying one thing at the altar and denying it in the pulpit (or perhaps espousing apostasy in both places). Without lapsing to a general condemnation as is common among us traditional Anglo-Catholic folk, I note only that it is dishonorable to eat the bread of the Church whose creed they do not teach, but have abandoned instead. It is far better for all those who do not believe in the creed and sacramental system of the Church to be outside of it. They then are at least delivered from the sin of saying what they do not believe, or not discerning the Lord's body in the Eucharist, and so eating and drinking to their own condemnation.

In Western Christendom a tremendous struggle is going on. It takes two forms, one in the Roman, another in what remains of the Anglican communion. They are alike in this, that Rome is having her struggle with the both revisionists and theological liberals bent on ignoring doctrine and remaking the Church in a political image, as well as the state in many places. For its part, the Anglican Communion has splintered under the weight of secularism and outright apostasy in the Western nations. Both churches are assailed by general unbelief in Christianity.

For all that is Catholic our sympathies must be with the Roman Catholics in their struggles, and we can but sorrow that she has been beset by priestly scandals and internal dissidents. There is, however, a difference between the struggle of traditional Anglicans to restore the Catholic faith and worship, and that between the papacy and the dissidents within. The two contests differ radically. Anglicans, with a lack of centralized authority and uniform canons, are much farther along down the road of splintering and realignment. We have been through two distinct ruptures, one theological and one sexual and moral. Anglicans are struggling to resume their spiritual rights; Rome is attempting to be all things to all Christians and upholding laudable moral and theological positions, while being hoist on the twin petards of scandal and internal rebellion.

Substantial differences

What is left of the “mainstream” American and the English Anglican Church (unlike other portions of the former Anglican communion and the traditional Anglican remnant) are failing due to their respective present connections with the culture and the State. On the other hand, while traditional Anglicans, albeit in yet small numbers, are succeeding in recovering the faith as once delivered, and by all everywhere received, the Roman Catholics are by late additions and the turning of what were once acknowledged to be but opinions into dogmas of the faith are, in many places in the Western church, failing in holding fast to it. While this latter statement may provoke cries from my Roman Catholic colleagues, I point to the simple failure of the Church to deal with massive dissent from teaching on sexual matters as but one marker of greater concern with political power than with spiritual. Is there a plausible reason why lawmakers who support the holocaust of abortion are not disciplined by the Church of which they claim to be a part?

Now on to the hot button items, the dogmas that Bp. Grafton challenged when they were yet new, but which pose barriers to reunion even today. In sum, it is a fair assertion that the Anglican Church (again, I am speaking of orthodox Anglicans) has not added to the faith, while the Roman has. In Grafton’s view and from the standpoint of many professed Anglo-Catholics. The doctrine of the papal infallibility and the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin cannot bear the test of Catholicity. Neither can that of the treasury of merits accumulated by the saints' works of supererogation, and placed at the disposal of the pope, on which the modern system of indulgences is based.

And while no one would question the marvelous grace bestowed on the ever-blessed Theotokos, the Bringer-Forth of God, the assigning to her the position and office of the neck of the mystical body through whom all graces must pass from the head to the members, is no part of the original deposit of the faith. It is not the language of the fathers to say “God has constituted Mary as the ordinary dispensatrix of His grace,” nor that it is safer to go to the Blessed Virgin than to our Lord, or that “Mary so loved the world that she gave her only begotten Son.” “Mary is the most faithful mediatrix of our salvation.” The increasing push to declare the Blessed Virgin as co-redeptorix, no matter how clever the explanation, is the disturbing outworking of Marian veneration gone to the extreme. One can only ponder what the Mother of Our Lord who uttered the words at Cana, “Whatever He says, do it” thinks of this latest innovation.

To enter the Roman Catholic Church is to fully commit to these later-developed dogmas, rather than keep them in the proper place of pious belief or heresy as the case may be. It is painful to write this, for all that is Catholic in the Latin communion we love, but in the current circumstances, loyalty to the Catholic faith requires it.

Merciful Providence
If Anglicans are ever desponding, they have only to look to the past and see how God has protected them to this point, even though by “schisms rent asunder and heresies distressed.” A branch cut off from the tree must perish, but a living branch is known by its persistent vitality and fruit. Assaulted from within, as seldom any portion of the Church of Christ has been, during the past five hundred years, it has resisted all attacks and emerged a victor, although fragmented and diminished in size (but not fervor). Neither the assaults of Rome under Mary, nor of the Puritans under Cromwell, nor the disaster of the non-jurors' withdrawal in the seventeenth, nor the Erastianism of the eighteenth century, nor all the worldly turns and combinations of the nineteenth and twentieth, have crushed out her Catholicity.

And not least of God's goodness to her is seen in two great providences. The first was the early death of King Edward VI. He was followed by Queen Mary who is the subject of unhappy memory for many, but this was temporary. Had, however, King Edward lived; the Church would have lost its Catholic heritage. “With all the tyrannous spirit of a Tudor monarch and all the narrowness and self-conceit of a reforming Calvinist,” said Grafton, “the King would have made the Church like unto the deformity of the Continental reformers.” “The continuity of the Church would have become so broken, and her Catholic doctrine so marred, that she would have largely lost her heritage and become a withered branch of Christ's Church. God preserved the Church by Edward's merciful removal.”

Another blessing Bp. Grafton deemed “great providential” was the denial of the validity of our orders by Leo XIII. This might seem a curious statement, but the pope’s action helped to unite the Anglican Church’s members, painfully revealed to us the worldly policy that governs the papacy, and impaired belief in the papal infallibility. Apostolicae Curiae helped to fill the Church with new courage, and, fixing her gaze on her true mission, to discern the mighty work of evangelization she may do for God. Had the pope decided otherwise, it is impossible to estimate the strong tide of love and trust that would have impulsively turned towards him.

But he did not so declare, and, now eyes are turned Romeward again as we wait to see how this very thorny question is treated in the forthcoming Apostolic Constitution. As noted in the previous essay, Anglicans know they possess valid orders and sacraments. We can no more doubt this than the existence of God or any essential fact of Christianity. So that when the pope decided against what Anglicans knew, with a divine certainty, to be true, they knew with the same certainty that he was not infallible. At the time of Pope Leo’s encyclical, for many, the luster of the papacy faded, and the papal curia, looked at calmly and dispassionately, was seen to be but a piece of skillfully constructed human machinery. This situation continues today, and presents a major issue for clergy who cannot deny the validity of their own Sacraments. Unless there is a resolution, corporate union with Rome, without an act of utter cognitive dissonance by Anglican clergy denying the validity of their very ordained lives, is beyond the range of human possibility, and not the terminus of the Tractarian movement, or the leading of Divine Providence.

Looking Eastward

But while this is so, there are brightening prospects in the East. There have been friendly expressions of interest from the venerable Orthodox Church in several of its expressions-the Russian Church Outside of Russia, the Antiochian Church and the Orthodox Church in America. She says, “We do not ask you, as Rome does, to ‘submit’ we only ask, “Do you hold the same Catholic faith we have inherited from the Fathers? “If you do this, we are brothers.” When we consider that the East has not had to pass through the convulsions of a Reformation, and has for a thousand years borne consistent witness for the faith once delivered, and against recent Roman accretions, “Anglicans”, as Bp. Grafton said, “should be willing to free themselves from their prejudices and somewhat self-conceit, and listen to her kindly words.”

The Church, indwelt by Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit, is a living organism, and we may trust the Voice of God speaking through her before she was rent into Eastern and Western divisions. The Voice of God speaking to the churches is not confined, as some Anglicans seem to think, to any particular centuries. But in the seven Ecumenical councils we have the Voice of the Spirit and in the seven holy mysteries, the means of grace.

I believe that the question presenting the most difficulty has to do with the Filioque clause. There is no difference in belief between many Anglican scholars and the venerable East on the doctrine of the Filioque: without Ecumenical consent it has no right to be in the Creed.

May God inspire the wise men of the Church to solve the difficulty. Each church in the case of restored intercommunion would retain its own independent government and liturgy. As was recently pointed out by a representative of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, Anglicans and Easterns must be content with agreement in the ancient faith, not in the uniformity of its outward expression. While the faith is unchangeable, the Church, as the bride of Christ, has been led to follow her Lord's life, and sometimes has been more absorbed in devotion to His incarnation, sometimes to His passion. The faith once-delivered abides from age to age; but ceremonies and practices of devotion are the fresh outcome of the Church’s love. The East and the West have their own ceremonial traditions, and the differences existing should not hinder the restoration of Christian recognition and fellowship.

If a reunion of Christendom is to be attained

We should wait patiently upon the form and content of the impending Apostolic Constitution, but it is difficult to see how the Roman Catholic Church can concede on points of doctrine and discipline Anglicans cannot accede to without ceasing to be Anglican. In the meantime, Bp. Charles Grafton urges us to look Eastward. “If a reunion of Christendom is to be attained,” he firmly believed, “it will come through the union of the Anglican and Eastern Churches. It is in this direction the safe guiding providence of God directs His people.”

Reunion of any kind will require largeness of vision and generous toleration of unessential differences, and much of the charity that hopeth all things, believeth all things, and of the faith that believes that with God all things are possible. For so glorious a consummation Anglicans must be willing to recognize the devotion and the orthodoxy of the Russian and Greek Churches. The cause of the reunion of Christendom is the dearest to the heart of Christ. What saints have longed and prayed for, let the Catholics of today labor to accomplish. We can do much by learning more of the Eastern and Western Churches and their worship, and studying their catechism. The all-availing power of the Holy Sacrifice is ours and the promise of answer to prayer in His Name. May the sacrifice of the altar be more frequently offered for the reunion of Christendom, and the prayer of blessed Bishop Andrews be more in use among us!

Bless, O Gracious Father, thy Holy Catholic Church; fill it with truth and grace; where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where it is divided and rent asunder, heal the breaches of it; O Thou Holy One of Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesu hear, Jesu bless, Jesu answer our petition, for thy Mercy's sake. Laus Deo.


[1] Based upon The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 1), edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 355-367. This is the second reflection based on Blessed Charles Grafton’s works. These essays are dedicated to the Reverend Canon David F.T. Rodier, SSM. Si Deus pro nobis quis contra nos?

Rev. Canon Charles Nalls is a priest of the Anglican Catholic Church and military chaplain. As well, he serves at the Church of the Ascension, Centreville, Virginia, and is the director of several charitable and academic organizations including the Canon Law Institute® in Washington, D.C.


Canon Tallis said...

There must be something supernaturally right with the Continuum that it should be able to boast such fantastic theologians and priests as the Reverend Fathers Nalls, Hart, Kirby and Wells. I can hardly express my thanks for such blessings.

Anonymous said...

"But while this is so, there are brightening prospects in the East. There have been friendly expressions of interest from the venerable Orthodox Church in several of its expressions-the Russian Church Outside of Russia, the Antiochian Church and the Orthodox Church in America."

Okay, now I am getting nervous. Just because I know full well why I cannot accept any current Roman offers, for reasons Fr Nalls has stated eloquently and correctly, this does not mean I am about to "marry on the rebound," lest "the last state shall be worse than the first."

As presently constituted in North America, EO is exceedingly divided, as much so, perhaps more so, than the "fissiparous" Continuing Churches. The infighting of different EO jurisdictions is well known, for example, the spat between the Patriarchs Constantinople and Moscow over jurisdiction in Estonia. In the southern city in which I live there are Greek, Antiochene, OCA parishes, with a couple of minor nationalities thrown in. I do not know that they enjoy cordial relations.

Yet we are asked to believe that Orthodoxy is the "undivided" Church.
And these people are unable to agree on whether to use the Julian or Reformed Julian calendar. Something is wrong in this picture.

The various EO jurisdictions seem to have rather different notions about the place of "Western rite" Orthodoxy. Sometimes the concept is promoted, sometimes not. If Anglicanism can be criticized for lacking a central magisterium, where is the central magisterium in EO? Different attitudes seem to co-exist regarding married bishops. I am not holding my breath waiting for universal change on that issue.

While I am about as wary of the current Roman invitation as anyone, I cannot forget that Anglicanism is heir to the theological tradition of Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, Bradwardine, the 16th century Reformers, and all the rest. Whatever issues we may have with Rome, we still belong to the Western tradition.

Therefore, in resolving such issues as the Filioque and the date of Easter, I will look to the Patriarch of the West for guidance, not because he is infallible, but because he is nearest and next of kin.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

It is significant that in Dominus Iesus(2000) Rome quoted the Nicene/Constantinoplitan Creed without Filioque. I believe that suggests that Rome knows that such a later addition ought to be deleted if it stands in the way of reconciliation.

I believe that Fr. Nalls' point is not that everything is right with all of the EO jurisdictions, but simply that they may be engaged in discussion again, if they are willing, on the same terms that did exist between 1922 and 1976. Some of them have what I consider to be a weak understanding of atonement; but that is neither written in stone, nor is it actually the authentic EO view. It is more often than not a muddle-headed "former western" view held by "converts." In the context of Bp. Grafton's writings, his friend St. Tikhon was not an enemy of the western tradition, apparently not even an enemy of St. Anselm. Of course, it is my younger brother who was able to explain why Anselm's writings are completely compatible with the ancient Greek Fathers, and therefore with Orthodoxy. That chapter from his first book, The Beauty of the Infinite, earned him praise from Fr. Thomas Hopko, who learned from it.

David said...

LKW, Have you forgotten your history? The Anglicans started in the East and ended up in the West. What about the coptic influences? As far as the EO being divided not all divisions are equal. I have never heard are seen he type of theological divisions in Orthodoxy as I have seen amongst the Anglicans. I want to be Anglican, it would be a heck of a lot easier to accept the pope (I have thought about being lazy and just doing it but this crazy voice in my head keeps telling me "danger, danger, danger"). The lack of evangelism in Orthodoxy hurts me however when I offered to pay for an ad for a local Continuing Anglican parish the parish declined, so they sit only a handful of seniors with a priest who preaches about the Declaration of Independence and Secular political ideology.

We are all falling short of the glory of God. Where there needs to be unity is in not a truth or individual truths but THE Truth. Rome and the East seem to grasp that, I think by reading Fr. Hart that many Anglicans grasp that while others just want to have unity at the expense of THE truth.

Anonymous said...

The first TAC Church has now voted at its national Assembly to accept the Apostolic Constitution. See the announcement under 'Communications, on the website of The Traditional Anglican Church (UK).
In one place, the response is described as 'interim'.

Fr. D. said...

As one not always in agreement with Fr. Wells, he has hit this out of the park, so to speak!
Serving in a city cluttered with onion domes including various Uniates and as one who enjoys cordial relations with various E/Os I have no intention of embracing the chaos within Eastern Orthodoxy and abandoning our Western heritage nor St.s Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas and Anselm!
Fr. D.

Deacon Down Under said...

I agree with Canon Tallis that this is a superb article. The issue of authority is one that the ACC needs to consider further. Should the Original and Second provinces together constitute one Holy Synod? The strength of the ACC is the juridical links between all diocese of both provinces, and it seems to me that Archbishop Haverland would make a fine Primate of the ACC. Perhpas his title could be Metropolitan.

The language of "Metropolitan" fits with Church of England nomenclature for the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and fits our Eastern Orthodox brethren too. Indeed "Holy Synod" is a term that they use and know, and it would be beneficial to use this also.

Canon Tallis said...

Those of us who value St Tikhon as I do should know that after the great earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906 he sent his personal chalice and paten to the Church of the Advent of Christ the King, an Episcopal parish whose building was destroyed in the fire. The last time I checked they had it still.

Since Rome has now discarded its ancient title of Patriarch of Rome and of All the West because it was a reminder that there were other ancient patriarchates which represented a vision of the unity of the Church which they have discarded, I believe we need to forget them as having any useful vision for us or indeed the whole of Christianity until and if they make a concerted attempt to again learn to "hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" the actual demands of Holy Scripture. And that would also include the fathers and the General Councils. In the meantime, we as Anglicans should remember that the Church was already in Britain when Augustine arrived and that without the mission of the Greek, Theodore of Taursus, might never have made common cause with Rome. We need also to remember that Anglicanism from the time of the non jurors has made common cause with the Orthodox in many ways. We have learned from them and they from us. And we have done so without either trying to behave as the Roman Church has done for the last thousand years.

Anonymous said...

Let me hasten to add that I truly appreciate Fr Nalls' article. Much good material and food for thought there.

But to answer his question "Which Way to Turn?", my response (which I hope does not seem facetious) is simply "Why Turn At All?"

Rome for me is not an option, for reasons stated ad taedium. But neither is Orthodoxy. When I seriously considered it years ago, I read the books of Timothy (now Bishop Kallistos) Ware. When I encountered a system which denies Original Sin, the Atonement, and Justification, I knew for sure that was not for me.

I have come to believe that if classical Christianity, as defined by the New Testament and the Patristic period, is to survive beyond AD 2009, it is now up to us. For better or worse, classical Christianity survives not exclusively but principally in classical Anglicanism. "Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

As for the Filioque, the CCC paragraphs 246, 247, and 248 make Rome's position pretty clear. They courteously acknowledge the concerns of EO, but do not budge an inch. The Council of Florence, 1438, is plainly affirmed.

As for me, when Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth agree on a point, I retreat to the sidelines of debate.

Brian said...

I have to say that the misty-eyed look eastward which winds up an otherwise exemplary essay is hardly more logical than the longing for the Vatican. While there is much in the East to respect and cherish and learn from--I personally make regular trips to the local Greek Orthodox shrine of St. Photios--we have to acknowledge the very real barriers and differences.

She says, “We do not ask you, as Rome does, to ‘submit’ we only ask, “Do you hold the same Catholic faith we have inherited from the Fathers?

Well, if that Catholic faith includes St. Paul's doctrine of justification, then no, we don't share it because the East has abandoned it. I think we need to focus on being the best Anglicans we can be, and end the divisions within the Continuum, rather than wringing our hands over what either of the One True Churches thinks about us.

Fr Tom said...


Archbishop Haverland is already the Metropolitan of the Original Province of the ACC.

Article IX, Section 1 of the Constitution of the ACC provides that 'Upon the attainment and establishment of three (3) Provinces of this Church, there shall be formed a Holy Synod..."

"The Primate of this Church shall be the senior Metropolitan willing and able to undertake the duties and Office of the Primacy of this Church, except that the first Primate shall be chosen by two-thirds vote of the Council of Bishops and consented to by two-thirds vote each of the Senate of the Clergy of the Holy Synod and of the Assembly of the Laity of the Holy Synod." (Article VIII, Section 1)

RSC+ said...

David Gould,

As it happens, Abp. Haverlnd is the Metropolitan Archbishop of the ACC.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The first TAC Church has now voted at its national Assembly to accept the Apostolic Constitution. See the announcement under 'Communications, on the website of The Traditional Anglican Church (UK).

Without seeing it? Such blind trust in princes! They will make good Romans.

Canon Tallis said...

And again Father Wells says what I now feel that I should have said. He is so, so right. Our task is to be the very best classical Anglicans that we can be. We have a great deal of living up to the prayer book tradition to do, but I am convinced that we can do so.
Step one. Read the classical prayer books page for page and mark down what they require and your parish as yet fails to do.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Archbishop Haverland calls himself Acting Metropolitan, and that is because there is not yet a third province; or so I understand the case to be.

About the essay I wonder if we are all reading the same one. I see Fr. Nalls reminding us that Anglicans have had good relations in the past with the Orthodox (indeed, if I may add, dating back really to Lancelot Andrewes), and that have proven easier to talk with than Rome. I know that east is east and west is west; but even with our Filioque, inherited as it was from Rome without much ado in the 16th century, it was the Orthodox who came to recognize our orders and allow their people to receive Communion from the hands of Anglican clergy until the heresy of women's ordination in 1976 (whether or not Kallistos Ware tries to explain away historical fact). Their people were never allowed, and still are not allowed, to receive Roman Catholic sacraments (as a matter of fact, like it or not).

Hoping for restoration of a level of communication with our Orthodox brethren that was lost by the Canterbury Communion would not mean being told we have to submit first, and then be recognized. With Rome it would. That is the point Fr. Nalls was making. Frankly, we should want restoration of every good thing that was lost by Canterbury, as we are the true heirs of genuine Anglicanism.

About Filioque, Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon once wrote a piece that came to this conclusion: Filioque has never really been a cause for division between eats and west, at least not to those who know the facts of history. The legitimate complaint of the Orthodox is that the pope, strictly on his own authority, presumed to add a word to the Creed of the Universal Church.

By Fr. Reardon's logic, it seems that the theology defended at The Council of Florence (1438) is not at issue (the same Council, by the way, that infallibly declared that the pope is not infallible). The issue is, in the Orthodox mind, a separated patriarch, who presumes to rule over the Universal Church, took it on himself, strictly by his own judgment, to add to what had been authorized in Ecumenical Council centuries earlier.

The issue, therefore, of Filioque is not really theological - that is, when examined thoroughly - but rather about how much authority is invested in the Roman Patriarch. Therefore, even if we restore the Creed to its original state, we may teach the theology in the word Filioque. I suppose that means we would entertain debate among brethren, because the issue is not settled to everyone's satisfaction universally. But, at least we could separate one issue from the other.

Brian said...

I would think the differences of soteriology are--or should be, considering the gravity of the topic--a much bigger issue than the filioque.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

They are. But, those matters are less to do with Orthodox doctrine than with the idiocy of many "converts." My baby brother has lost much of his hair, and I think that trying to teach his fellow Orthodox what their Church really has always taught from antiquity, is part of it.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have this clarification from Archbishop Haverland in my email:

"I am the Metropolitan of the Original Province.

"Until there are three Provinces and the three Metropolitans elect one of their number to be Primate, the Metropolitan of the Original Province also is the Acting Primate of the ACC. Likewise the Provincial Synod and Court of the OP act as the Synod and Court of the whole ACC until there are three Provinces and the final layer of the ACC's constitutional arrangements come into separate existence.

"I don't usually use the title Acting Primate because normally I am speaking for the Province, not the whole Church. On the occasions when I am representing the whole Church - as for instance when I wrote the Primate of the TAC in 2007 - I use the broader title.


Anonymous said...

One problem with EO is the lack of clarity as to who is their accredited spokesman. I may disagree with the Pope, but at least there is someone in place to give definitive answers about Roman theology.

Their use of the Filioque to take yet another pot-shot at the Pope really is not fair. The Filioque (reflecting doctrine taught by Augustine and even earlier) first entered the liturgical Creed in Spain, and was not accepted in Rome until ca AD 1000. Rome was always liturgically conservative. If they wish to object to a liturgical adaptation of the Creed, they may have a case. But using the Pope as whipping boy is out of order.

David said...

I have to chuckle when people say that the Orthodox have abandoned biblical teaching on Justification. What you don't understand is that the Orthodox of the East and West testify to the not just a verse here and there but the totality of teaching, there isn't a one view vs. the other like you have amongst evangelicals but rather the proper balance that is the teaching on justification. It is neither something we can intellectually ascend to nor is it fatalistic.

I don't think that Orthodox Anglicans need to do anything to become Orthodox, they already are. However for the sake of a witness to the world we need to be clear we are on the same page in our beliefs.

Anonymous said...

"I have to chuckle when people say that the Orthodox have abandoned biblical teaching on Justification."

"Abandoned" is indeed the correct term, whether you chuckle or wince. Thomas Oden (editor in chief of the Ancient Christian Commentary and professor of systematic theology at Drew University Theological School) has published a splendid book entitled "The Justification Reader" which largely consists of quotations from the Fathers both Eastern and Western. He effectively proves that the doctrine of Justification which is commonly taken to be an invention of Luther and Calvin
is deeply rooted in Athanasius, Chrysostom, and all the rest. Oden writes, "I will show that key texts on Justification, Ephesians 2 and Romans 3,
were thoroughly and critically examined by the ancient Christian writers and understood in much the same way that they were later discovered by Reformation writers in their struggle agaanst the mediaeval distortions."

Fr. Robert Hart said...

But using the Pope as whipping boy is out of order.

The pope decided he had the power to add words to the Creed of the Universal Church. Why would the Eastern Patriarchs not see this as anything other than just one more example of his bloated claims? Through their eyes, his decision was no reason to accept the liturgical revision. But, for Anglicans, being western, in the 16th century, keeping the words "and the Son" was conservative, and they also resisted a liturgical change. This is just plain ironic, and typical of the strange twists and turns that happen in real history. Just how theological the debate really is, is the question.

I have to chuckle when people say that the Orthodox have abandoned biblical teaching on Justification.

It depends on who you read. If you read 18th century Greek Orthodox literature, you would think that they were reading parts of Calvin, Luther and even some of our Anglican Divines (which, in the latter case, some of them were) as consistent with the whole tradition of Orthodoxy. If you read some of the hair-brained nouveau-Orthodox of today (mostly "converts" who hate their own western heritage), including some who think they are teaching what their Church has taught for 2,000 years, you will even find a flat denial of the Atonement itself. They have no Suffering Servant, but only a Christus Victor-no cross of suffering and death, no sacrifice, no Lamb of God, but only Easter, with the context of Good Friday lost. These nouveau-Orthodox are heretics, and we cannot accept their teaching. But, they are out of line with Orthodoxy itself, and are just plain too ignorant to know it.

Canon Tallis said...

That being the case, Father Hart, and I believe it is, I am very glad that in my late teens and early twenties I read the old Orthodox theologians and not the newer ones. But then the newer ones were not yet around. But you will find evidence of their influence in groups such as Celtic Orthodoxy.

So with C. S. Lewis, we should read old books, very old books. My rule is two old books for every new one.

Veriword: "demon"

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Well, even though he writes now, and is justa kid in his 40s, by this definition David Bentley, my "theological rock star" brother (as one reviewer labeled him) is one of the old ones.

Anonymous said...

"The pope decided he had the power to add words to the Creed of the Universal Church."

Okay, which pope, what year, what decree?
Let's get specific with this charge.

As I have already pointed out, the liturgical adaptation of the Creed originated in Spain and was adopted at the Third Council of Toledo in AD 589. This had to do with the renunciation of Arianism in Spain. At this point, the Creed was began to be used liturgically in regions foremrly Arian. Since Rome had never been Arian, it was slower to adopt the Creed into the Mass and did not adopt the Filioque until ca AD 1000.

Maybe the Pope is Antichrist. Maybe the Filioque is the most damnable of heresies. But history does not tie the two together, in spite of EO polemic.

My source for historical facts is the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

To the EO mind, whatever was approved in the west without Universal approval, was ultimately the pope's decision. That is their perspective, and it is the real sore point. It was not sore enough, however, to cause the Great Schism, no matter what bad historians are telling us (all the time). Again, the only real issue is adding to the Creed, not the theological discussion on Filioque.

Frankly, the whole subject of Filioque is a false issue on both sides. It is not a difference of theology and doctrine, and never has been. Certain Little League EO wannabe theologians pretend it was the heart of the matter in 1054. But, it was not.

To some in the west Filioque guards against Arianism, and to some in the east it causes Pneumatomachianism. But, as the Trinity is affirmed both by east and west, this charge/counter charge cannot stand up.

Anonymous said...

When I compare the version of the Nicene Creed printed in our Prayer Book to that in the Divine Liturgy of St Jno Chrysostom, I find the following differences:
(1) BCP adds "God of God," not found in original.
(2) Where Div Lit has "was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary," BCP, like the Roman Mass, has "was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary."
(3) And of course the BCP omits "Holy" as an attribute of the Church, which we all know was a mistake made in our earliest BCP, that of 1549.

Both Eastern and Western liturgical forms make the following changes from the original Creed issued by the Councils:
1. "We believe" is changed to "I believe."
2. The anathemas at the end are omitted (although I have been told the Russians include these but am not certain).

So it would seem that both East and West have seen fit to make liturgical adaptations to the Creed coming from Nicaea and Constantinople I. It would also appear that EO is a bit selective in which liturgical adaptation it wishes to make a scene over.

Apart from the dreadful illegal insertion of Fiioque, I hear vastly different things about how EO views the doctrine itself. That lack of consistency does not earn my respect.
Will the real EO Church please stand up?

Fr Hart writes:
"To the EO mind, whatever was approved in the west without Universal approval, was ultimately the pope's decision. That is their perspective..."

But there is a difference, Father, between a "perspective" and a "fact." For example, from the Roman "perspective," Henry VIII founded the C of E.

Here we are getting into subjective areas. Some EO literature I have perused shows an anti-Roman, anti-papal bias strongly reminiscent of virulently Protestant Chick publications. I am not willing to alter a 1000 year liturgical tradition, securely grounded in very early Patristic teaching, just to humor that bias. (See the Catholic Encyclopaedia for documentation.)

So the Filioque will have to remain an area where we must agree to disagree, like leavened or unleavened bread at the Eucharist, consecration by Epiclesis or Dominical Words, the Julian versus Gregorian calendar, or the Date of Easter. (And it was not modern EO dilletantes who pronounced the Western Mass invalid for using unleavened bread.)

And by the way, how many people died of cancer yesterday?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Here we are getting into subjective areas.

That is exactly what I have been trying to point out. The whole escalation of the Filioque debate into a dividing issue, from either side, is not worth the cost. It is not as if we really could ever understand the eternally begotten Son or the eternally proceeding Spirit, or just how co-equal Persons of the Godhead have the Father as the source of their Being. The words we are given, mostly by John's Gospel, are just enough of a revelation to let us know how hopelessly ignorant we really are; knowing God is not the same as figuring Him out.

poetreader said...

The problem is not in trying to understand divine mysteries, but in thinking that we do -- or can.


Anonymous said...

"The whole escalation of the Filioque debate into a dividing issue, from either side, is not worth the cost."

I agree with everything you say in your last, but we were discussing the habit of making the Pope accountable for the Filioque. You are right, completely right, that it is not worth the cost in terms of a divided Christendom. But the escalation took place along time ago and we have to live with it and the price it entails.

It is factually incorrect to hold the Pope accountable for the Filioque in the way his office is accountable for IM and dubious papal claims. I do not dignify anto-Roman polemic from Protestants; why should I tolerate it from EO?

We should be very cautious about giving up the Filioque at this moment of history because it would create yet another barrier between us and Rome. (Could there be an anti-Roman axe under somebody's coat?)

If we humor the EO's on the Filioque, what will they ask for next? There was a continuing church nearby named for St Charles the Martyr. When it went Western Rite Orthodox, it was required to change its name, as Charles Stuart was post 1054. As far as EO is concerned, every Western saint after that date is off the kalendar. Too bad for Francis, Dominic, Aquinas, and Mother Theresa.

The ecumenical developments between the Vatican and EO, particularly the Russians, are immensely interesting. Perhaps Rome and the EO Churches could agree to follow the EO date of Easter, allow local option on the Filioque and other issues. When they agree on married bishops, perhaps all of this will happen.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

We should be very cautious about giving up the Filioque at this moment of history because it would create yet another barrier between us and Rome.

Rome, however, shows signs of considering the same thing-as regards the Creed that is. The document Dominus Iesus quotes the Creed without Filioque. I find that very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is interesting and possibly significant, although the document retains the Western version "conceived by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary," not the EO and original "and the Virgin Mary." Why that subtle change has never been protested puzzles me. The whole synergist/monergist debate lurks there. Original or not, the western versin is more Biblical. "In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of the Woman, born under the Law...." The Incarnation was not a cooperative project between two partners, Divine and Human.

EO and RC theology has differed on the matter of who is the minister in the sacrament of matrimony. Western theology holds that the couple themselves are the ministers, and the priest is merely God's witness. EO theology makes the priest, conferring a sacerdotal blessing, the primary minister. The CCC sets forth both views as acceptable.

On the Filioque, I would prefer to be guided by the Patriarch of the West. Perhaps I am an Anglo-papalist at heart!

Canon Tallis said...

However, Father Wells, there no longer is a Patriarch of Rome and All the West. Rome has divested himself of the title because he and his predecessors aim at something greater. But it is something which stands outside the tradition of Holy Scripture, the undoubted teaching of the earliest bishops and Catholic fathers or of the General Councils themselves. And what they aim for, what they are determined to have is nothing less that a complete repudiation of the ecclesiology of the undivided Church, of the Church as a sacramental representation of the mystical body of our Lord.

I realize that since so few read the works of the 19th century English Church that few would know that a priest of the Society of St John the Evangelist made a presentation to the Russian synod on why our retention of the filioque meant no divergence from their theology of the divine procession, a position which they accepted at that time.

webmasterNW52HR said...

I urge readers to obtain and read the Saint Colman Prayer Book which is authorised in the Russian Orthodox Church for use by those using the Western Rite.

There are already within Russian Orthodoxy, three Western Rite monasteries, one in Canada, one in America, one in Australia, the latter also operating in England. The "Russian" Western Rite is largely monastic-led, with the monasteries all answering directly to the Primate, and he having jurisdiction over all Western Rite.

Those people in England having an interest in working with us shoiuld contact me, Fr. Michael at frmichaelnw5 -at- We have a Monastery Mission in Bournemouth, services in London and likely missions in Yorkshire and Wales.

Fr. Michael