Monday, June 20, 2011

A Modest Proposal

'A Modest Proposal" is the title of one of Dean Swift's more aggressive satires on the Engish government in Ireland, which, in satirizing Dublin Castle's inept administration makes the suggestion that Ireland's problems with over-population and hunger could be solved by the practice of cannibalism. Of course the Dean was not being serious, he was just trying to illustrate the fact that many of Dublin Castle's policies were just as ridiculous as his modest proposal. Unfortunately for the Dean, and for Ireland, his serious suggestions for reform did not get very far, and I rather suspect that what I am going to propose in this posting will suffer a very similar fate to the literary Dean's suggestion for the Reform of the 'Castle.'(1)

Over the last few months I have spending a certain amount of time recently cogitating on the peculiarities of the Affirmation of St Louis, the way in which they might have distorted the development of the Continuing Anglican movement, and whether our present divisions owe something to the Affirmation. Furthermore, I have been thinking about what could be done to reduce the amount of argument that goes on over its provisions, and reach a consensus sufficient to eventually bring about the reunion of the Continuum.

At the very outset I have to say that, in my researches over the years, I have not come across a complete and orderly account of how the Affirmation of St Louis was drafted, nor an explanation of the precise aims of its framers. In absence of such an account I need to take the Affirmation at face value, and let it speak for itself.

It seems to me that the basic intent was to maintain 'business as usual' as understood by orthodox churchmen in both the Episcopal Church, USA, and the Anglican Church of Canada. There was no intent to exclude any Churchmanship - Catholic, Broad, Low or Evangelical - from the original Anglican Church of North America (Episcopal), and lastly, there was no intent to depart from the faith received from the Church of England. On the other hand, there was an intent to close several loopholes, particularly those concerning the number of Ecumenical Councils accepted by the Anglican Church, and the character and method of selecting those to be ordained. There is also a protest in favour of traditional Christian morality, which, given the way society has moved on in the last 34 years, seems almost prophetic.

Unfortunately, like most documents drawn up in a hurry, and passed with very little debate(2) the Affirmation of St Louis has a couple of slip-ups in it, both of which look as though they are intended to allow the Continuum to morph into a narrowly Catholic - read quasi-Tridentine - body.

The first of these is the provision concerning the seven Sacraments. All Anglicans would agree that Baptism (including Baptism by desire) and the Eucharist were directly instituted by Our Lord, and are generally (that is, universally) necessary to salvation. Most would agree also agree that the other five - confirmation, penance, holy unction, marriage, and orders - are sacraments, though instituted by the Church rather than Christ himself. The real snag is that the Western Church left the number of sacraments undefined until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1214. This Council also defined Transubstantiation, and several other things generally (in the modern sense) unpalatable to Anglicans. It also gives the impression that the Affirmation tacitly accepts some parts of Lateran IV, which might lead to some folks seeking to repudiate the whole Affirmation, and might lead others into acceptng the whole of that Papally convened council.

Now you will note that in what I have written above I am not repudiating the idea that there are seven Sacraments - an idea that has wide support in both the Eastern and Western traditions. However, I am expressing a certain nervousness as to the way in which it has been done in the Affirmation of St Louis, and a desire to make clear its basic theological thrust. Like the other sevens in catholic teaching - the works of corporal mercy, deadly sins, etc. - it is a very handy teaching tool, and is backed by a good deal of tradition, and even, in the case of seven Sacraments garnering some support from the Articles of Religion, but it is not a rigid dogmatic pronouncement. The Articles use the term 'commonly called' when referring to what I grew up calling the 'Lesser Sacraments' (or, if we were feeling facetious, Looser Sacraments), which is a simple statement that they are commonly accepted as sacraments, being the outward signs of inward spiritual grace. I assume that the framers of the Article simply wished to point out that, unlike Baptism and the Eucharist, they did not have direct Dominical authority in Scripture.

The other provision that has caused some difficulty is that allowing liturgical forms incorporating the Book of Common Prayer. This has led some to behave as though there is, in fact, a double standard, and that the BCP was retained only for sentimental reasons. I have often had to listen to clergymen justifying their use of the Missal on the basis of the BCP being in some undefined way 'uncatholic' that to some extent I now have an aversion to giving the Missals any sort of official status. However, that is an aversion I am prepared to set aside in the interests of unity, along with my title of Archbishop. However, it is clear from the way in which this provision of the Affirmation of St Louis that the Book of Common Prayer, and no other liturgy, is the standard in this Church. The Missals are allowed, but have no right to supercede the Book of Common Prayer except as a matter of parochial custom.

This brings me to my modest proposal that, as part of the on going process of reconciliation and reunion, the Houses of Bishops of the uniting jurisdictions authorize a statement which in essence states the following two positions:

Firstly, that after Holy Scripture and the three ancient Creeds, the Seven Ecumenical Councils constitute the doctrinal authority in this Church. The Articles of Religion (1571/1801) and the Affirmation of St Louis (1977) and are, in all respects, to be interpreted in accordance with the said seven Ecumenical Councils.

Secondly, that liturgical books incorporating the Book of Common Prayer, do not constitute a liturgical or doctrinal authority or standard, alternative, or supplementary, to the standard editions of the Book of Common Prayer. In certain circles there seems to be a certain tendancy to discount the Prayer Book in favour of the Missals even though the former is the official standard of liturgy in the Continuum.

To reference another one of Swift's satires, the disputes between the Catholic Anglican and Anglo-Catholic factions in the continuum often resemble the hostilities between the Big Enders and the Little Enders in Gulliver's Travels. Hopefully, a reaffirmation that the Seven Councils and the Prayer Book are the standards after Scripture and the Creeds would cut out a lot of that fractiousness, and reaffirm the clear intent of the Affirmation of St Louis to reaffirm the theological character of the Anglican Church as that of the Catholic Church before the disunion of East and West without Papal additions or Puritan subtractions.

(1) "The Castle" was common slang for the pre-1922 Irish government which was largely housed in Dublin Castle.
(2) The survivors of the St Louis Congress that I have had the opportunity to talk with have all suggested to me that the Affirmation was prepared before the Congress, and was passed with very little discussion and no amendments even though some Central and Low Churchmen had questions about the two provisions which I am discussing in this post. The fact it passed was a reflection of its fundamental soundness, and the desire of all present to maintain a united front against the bigger enemy - revisionism.

129 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bp. Peter, would you elaborate, please, the intended consequences of your second proposed statement, the one addressing, "liturgical books incorporating the Book of Common Prayer"? Just what does this intend to say?

+ Peter said...

Essentially, there are no cnsequences, but rather it is an exercise in heading off at the pass those who try and set up the Anglican/American Missal as an alternative standard in doctrinal matters.

Fr. Wells said...

As liturgical resources, the Anglican/American Missals have proved their value (particularly for the minor propers and for the enlarged kalendar). As a liturgical resource the Missals are recognized in both the Affirmation of St Louis and Constitution of he Anglican Catholic Church. However, I do not find them so recognized as any kind of docrinal norm or dogmatic authority. That would leave us staring into a bottomless pit full of theologicial monstrosities, not the least of which is the false docrine of merit.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...not the least of which is the false docrine of merit.

Amen twice over! Thank you Father.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Wells, where is this heresy/monstrosity found in the Missal? (Or did I misunderstand your words?)

Just seeking clarification.

Steven Augustine
ACC Layman

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Wells is referring to certain collects on specific saint's days. Some of the collects ask that we be given grace through the merits of the saint. I cannot and will not utter those collects, and I am not alone. Fr. Wells also cannot pray that way.

I also think the Missal is useful in the same way the hymnal is. It can embellish services beautifully. But, it cannot become a standard of teaching; or, to put it another way, it is not a standard of teaching.

Sean W. Reed said...

J.M.J.

The Missals are also problematic for those of your "Classical Anglican" perspective in terms of the propers for the Requiem Masses.

SWR

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

I understand your concern, but what about the fellow priests, bishops, and churchmen who do utter and understand those prayers along the lines of Tract 90, section 6 (I know, I know, some absolutely hate Newman's tract)... surely if you thought us (I can and do utter those prayers because they are interpreted Christologically) in danger of heresy, wouldn't it be your place to pursue discipline against us, and possibly excommunicate, because of this?

By the way, I value your opinion on the matter, so please do not take my questioning as a form of irreverence or haughtiness.

Blessings,

Steven Augustine
ACC Layman

Fr. Wells said...

Steven SAugustine: Well, for starters,
take a look at Anglican Missal page B-29.

"We beseech thee, O Lord, by the merits [of thy Saints whose relics are here, and]
of all thy Saints, that it may please thee to forgive me all my sins. Amen."

Or take a look at the Secret (i. e., the Offertory Prayer) for St Ignatiius, BM, Feb 1:

"We beseech thee, O lord, graciously to accept this our sacrifice which we offer unto thee, pleading the merits of thy holy Martyr and Bishop, Saint Ignatius, trhat the same may effectually avail for our succour unto everlasting life...."

It would be tedious to collect sall the numerous examples.

The American Missal (which generally seems to be a more scholarly product with greater theological sensitivity) has a footnote saying that the word "merit" means "victory." That helps a little, but this still dishonors the unique, perfect, and final sacrifice of Christ, who alone is meritorious, and on whose merits alone we depend.

Sean W. Reed said...

J.M.J.

Fr. Wells wrote:

"...The American Missal (which generally seems to be a more scholarly product with greater theological sensitivity) has a footnote saying that the word "merit" means "victory." That helps a little, but this still dishonors the unique, perfect, and final sacrifice of Christ, who alone is meritorious, and on whose merits alone we depend..."

The Anglican Missal/American Edition from the Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation reflects a much more unapologetic translation of the propers from the Roman Missal.

Canon Douglas in the American Missal (at least the latter edition) did try to blend some things in where they did not stand out so sharply.


But of course these Missals all better reflect the Mass prior to the BCP and indicate what was normative in England. The Sarum Missal in particular comes to mind.

The "new" BCP and Classic Anglican Theology was, right or wrong, a new direction from what had gone before. For us that always comes so very clear when we have a Mass according to the Sarum Missal (and yes, in Latin.)


SWR

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Hart wrote: That helps a little, but this still dishonors the unique, perfect, and final sacrifice of Christ, who alone is meritorious, and on whose merits alone we depend.

And certainly one would think, on that point, that there can be no equivocation for an Anglican, lest Cramner, Ridley, et al died meaningless deaths.

Fr. Wells said...

Steven: We all know it is possible, though semantic gymnastics, to impose a Newman-style interpretation on the term "merit." But let me ask a couple of questions. Do you believe such was the original meaning of merit in the Latin, or is this an interpretasion of convenience?

Do you believe that such a spin is helpful to the whole congregation, who will surely interpret the word "merit" exactly as the dictionary defines it. (Please remember we are talking about corporate worship, not private devotions.)

And finally, what will you do with the numerous Collects in the BCP which speak of "the merits and mediation of thy Son."

The Prayer Book has a strong doctrine of Christ's merits, earned through His sacrifice on the Cross. This is His unique and awesome glory. Are you willing to evaporate Christ's accomplishment by an artificial spin on the term "merit"? The honor of Christ is at stake here.

Fr. Wells said...

Here is the definition of "Merit" in the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

"By merit (meritum) in general is understood that property of a good work which entitles the doer to receive a reward from him in whose service the work is done."

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jack Miller:

I wish I had said it; but, it was Fr. Wells.

SWR:

Why should we assume that these collects reflect that? Some of the things in the Missal reflect 19th century Roman practice. Even so, the issue is true doctrine, and the Middle Ages is not the place to go for that first millennium orthodoxy we give such lip service to. That is why England needed a Reformation in the first place.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Steve Augustine:

I do understand Tract 90 and the Christological interpretation. The average layman probably does not.

Anonymous said...

Dear Frs Hart & Wells,

If I understand you correctly, your objection isn't petitioning the saints per se, but the language of merit associated with them, as if it might cause the average layman to regard the saints as having merit above the required merit to supply to us lack it. But I never found any high churchman to think along these lines. Any liturgical text taken in isolation or separated from other theological verities can breathe heresy. Jesus said, "The Father is greater than I.". Do we shy away from the text or embrace it in context? We exegetes and systematize to preserve it's truest sense.

I for one say we preserve the prayers and explain them properly.

Blessings to you both.

Steven Augustine

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The Missal collects in question don't commend themselves to me as worth using at all. I simply cannot say them myself.

Anonymous said...

Let's just finally admit that the Affirmation of St Louis was never suited to Anglicans outside of the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

It does not represent the broad tradition of Anglicanism, and certainly does not represent the Evangelicals.

If we are to get serious about really continuing Anglicanism int he broad sense, then a better affirmation is required. While St. Louis does form a good beginning, it really reflects a movement that alienates many Continuers.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

First, regarding Merit.

That Christians merit was taught in the Western Church from primitive times, the word and concept being used by, for example, Ss Cyprian, Augustine, the Council of Orange. It is not a mediaeval innovation.

The teaching of the RCC is that the word merit is meant as a synonym of the biblical word "reward" (as Aquinas made clear), and that the merit that accrues to a Christian because of their good works is due solely to God's promise to reward the good works of the faithful eternally, NOT due to a proper equality between the work done in its human aspect and the reward given. This point is repeatedly made in their Catechisms and doctrinal explanations, This is all perfectly consistent with the teaching of the Collect of the Sunday next before Advent in the BCP. Also, it is asserted that only by grace preceding, enabling and working with the Christian doer are good works done and merit won. None of this is erroneous, even if the word is misleading without qualifications. That Christ and St Paul taught Christians to work expecting promised eternal reward, and thus even to consider their charitable deeds "investing" in eternity is undeniable (e.g., Matthew 6: 4, 6, 19-20; Galatians 6:8-9).

The Missals in their use of the word merit merely reflect this biblical concept along with the principle that "the prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). The merits of the saints help us not by direct application against the guilt of our sins (which the RCC does not teach) but by empowering intercession. The prayer at the beginning of Mass that so offends Frs Hart and Wells may thus sensibly be "parsed" as follows: "We *beseech thee, O Lord, by the merits of all thy saints* [our request strengthened by their holier prayer, praying with us] that it may please thee to forgive me all my sins." In other words, the phrase regarding merit should be taken as an adverbial clause qualifying the preceding verb "beseech" rather than the later verb "forgive". If one kisses the altar immediately after the second asterisk above, this pause makes the fellowship-of-intercession interpretation the natural one. As it happens, this is precisely the point at which the American Missal says to kiss the altar!

This interpretation of how the merits of the saints avail for the Church Militant more generally is also found in respected Roman Catholic theologians and even papal statements.

Therefore, the Missal's use of the word "merit" cannot so easily be dismissed as heterodox. Open to misinterpretation, yes. The answer to that is either to use a preferable synonym with permission or explicitly teach the people the necessary qualifications or theological framework.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

And the beauty of liberty within our common prayerbook tradition is the strength of our Anglicanism. I accept there might be certain ideas or opinions in the Missal not of equal value or use (an analogy might be the book of Tobit is of value and use, but let's not kid ourselves and think it of the same importance and weight as the Gospel of John), so I would feel quite at home with a parish that omitted such prayers... I just wanted to guard against an overly harsh opinion of those who accepted those portions of the Missal.

In Christ,
Steven Augustine

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Second, regarding the status of the Missals.

The Affirmation of St Louis does not mention the Missals explicitly. It says that "only the Book of Common Prayer and service books conforming to and incorporating it shall be used". The ACC in her Constitution (Article XIV, Section I) has specifically identified the Anglican, American and English Missals as fitting this description. But it has gone further and made them coordinate standards of worship. How could it do this after the Affirmation said the following? "[T]he Book of Common Prayer is (and remains) one work in two editions: The Canadian Book of 1962 and the American Book of 1928. Each is fully and equally authoritative. No other standard for worship exists."

Well, quite easily and appropriately. That statement was never meant to deny the authoritativeness then or in the future of other BCPs for example. It was just that the Church at that stage was purely North American and picking up liturgically and jurisdictionally from ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, so it was a statement of fact of what was the case at the time. However, once the Church came into existence as a functioning legislative entity and spread beyond North America by necessity, two things naturally happened. One, the Church incorporated other orthodox BCPs as equivalent to the 1928 American and 1962 Canadian. Two, it specified what other liturgical sources were equally orthodox that incorporate BCP material, and had the authority to elevate them to being standards as well. So, the special position of the first two named BCPs mentioned in the Affirmation is historically conditioned, not an eternal dogmatic fact or restriction.

The Archbishop's claim that there is or was an attempt to set up the Missals "as an alternative standard in doctrinal matters" is false. There was never any question of an alternative standard, as the Church has identified the BCPs and Missals as mutually conformable. They are one standard, and I do not accept that they are in conflict any more than the Church does in its Constitution. Therefore, the claim rests on a premise we officially reject, the opinions of individuals notwithstanding.

Any attempt at this stage to downgrade the status of the Missals, especially in the name of asserting a conflict between the BCP and Missals that the BCP must win, will not be a move towards unity, but an offence to many in the ACC and thus a potential cause of more disunity.

Similarly, any attempt to "correct" the Affirmation is dangerous and unnecessary anyway. The Affirmation already itself submits "all Anglican statements of Faith and liturgical formulae" to a set of Principles which includes the essential nature of Scripture and Tradition, particularly the Seven Ecumenical Councils and patristic consensus. By this statement it thus automatically submits itself and the BCPs and the Missals to Scripture as understood by Holy Tradition.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Third, regarding the article itself.

The statement "I need to take the Affirmation at face value, and let it speak for itself" is not consistent with the later assumption that "the basic intent was to maintain 'business as usual' as understood by orthodox churchmen in both the Episcopal Church, USA, and the Anglican Church of Canada ... [not] ... to exclude any Churchmanship - Catholic, Broad, Low or Evangelical".

Many present would have been aware, as they could hardly fail to be, that 'business as usual' had brought them to the crisis. It is no good pretending that there were not weaknesses in the Church before that had allowed heresy to take hold so effectively and definitively. It is, a priori, extremely improbable that many or even most present did not realise this.

But, more importantly, it is notoriously the case that, while no part of the Affirmation would have looked heterodox to Anglican Catholics, a number of sections were quite inconsistent with common or popular conceptions and presentations of Evangelical or Broad Churchmanship. In particular, the affirmation of Tradition as essential and as something to which all Anglican teaching and liturgy must conform, the bold assertion of Eucharistic Sacrifice and Apostolic Succession, and the later implied restriction of the search to re-establish communion with other Churches to those with Apostolic Succession, are hardly natural affirmations of the Low and the Broad. Quite the contrary is the case, historically, if we are to be honest. One need only to peruse a volume such as the late Rev'd Toon's on Evangelical theology during the Nineteenth Century to see that the Evangelicals were consistently, persistently, and vehemently opposed to such principles.

The Broad Churchmen were trying to dump the Athanasian Creed that we affirmed at St Louis in the same Nineteenth Century.

Assuming, as is reasonable, that the Affirmation said what it meant and meant what it said, it did in fact intend to exclude a significant number of theological positions that had been common and tolerated in the precursor churches. That the ACC believes so at a corporate level is seen in the disparaging remarks about doctrinal "comprehensiveness" that were part of the official statement on unity of Athens from 1995.

Finally, with regard to the number of Sacraments, while I have no problem with most of what the Archbishop says on this matter, it seems to me that the Affirmation does make a distinction between the 2 and the 7, so to speak. After all, it says: "In particular, we affirm the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (where they may be had)". So, it takes pains to underline the great two sacraments, and does so in terms of their "necessity", just as the BCP Catechism does ("two sacraments ... generally necessary to salvation")!.

In consideration of all of the above, I do not believe it is necessary or desirable for any new affirmations, so to speak. The ACC, through the Affirmation of St Louis and its Constitution and Canons, has already committed itself manifestly and irrevocably to the Catholic way, to the East/West consensus referred to by the Archbishop. The UECNA and APCK by their acceptance of the Affirmation, and no doubt by their other formularies, have done the same. Active fidelity (in the love, power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit) to this path already laid out is, I think, what is needed for growth and unity.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,

Amen to all your posts, and eloquently put. I too noted that the lower churchmen are typically uncomfortable with the wording of the Affirmation.


Nothing's wrong with the Affirmation as it stands.

Blessings,
Steven Augustine
ACC Layman

Anonymous said...

Fr Kirby,

I certainly understand what you are trying to say but the presence of the word "merit" without your stated qualifications certainly can lead (and has led) to confusion among the laity, as the distinction between the meritorious work of Christ and the intercessions of saints is blurred in the minds on many. Wouldn't you agree that this confusion led in the middle ages to so many of the abuses that the reformers rightly protested? That's why I prefer the language of the Prayer Book and Articles, carefully distinguishing as it does the merit of Christ and our works, which are the fruits of a "lively faith". And though the concept of 'merit' as applied to human work can be found in the West as far back as Tertullian and Cyprian, it would seem to me that since such wasn't specifically emphasized in the East (to my knowledge at least), perhaps this is another good reason to avoid such an application.

Doubting Thomas

Fr. Wells said...

In response to Steven:

"Any liturgical text taken in isolation or separated from other theological verities can breathe heresy. Jesus said, "The Father is greater than I.". Do we shy away from the text or embrace it in context? We exegetes and systematize to preserve it's truest sense.

I for one say we preserve the prayers and explain them properly."

A noble effort, but it leaves me wondering: What is it about this word "merit" that makes you go to such lengths to defend it? What advantage does it offer, to compensate for its obvious disadvantages?

I think not only of the shocking "treasury of merit" and its resulting indulgence system, but of the popular "quid pro quo" notion that "I've been a nice person all my life and God is obliged to let me into heaven."

Our task is to communicate the Gospel with all the clarity we can muster. To the secular or unevangelized man (which describes many pew-sitters these days), the word "merit" means exactly what the Catholic Encycodaedia so clearly asserts.

It is undeniable that the NT teaches that God gives rewards. The term "misthos" and its cognates are prominent in the Synoptics and are not missing from St Paul, who was fond of the race-and-prize metaphor. But the point was always the amazing disproportionality between the work and its reward. Those who labored in the vineyard, bearing the burden and heat of the day, thought in terms of merit.
They were told, "take what is yours and go." (The implied destiny is frightening.)

Please consider the most familiar use of "merit" in the Common Prayer tradition, which comes at the end of the Prayer of Consecration (a phrase derived from the Roman Canon), "not weighing our merits but pardoning our offenses."

Anonymous said...

Fr. Wells,

A hearty amen to your response to me. I think the key is to realize precisely how much the merit language in the Prayer Book and the Missal in fact points to our Lord's life and ministry. I don't deny there could be a misunderstanding, but I think anyone who sits under robust Anglican teaching would be disabused of the notion that God's love can be leveraged because of something good He sees in us.

"For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us..."

I also believe certain theological expressions can be softened or strengthened depending on the audience and need. For example, St. Athanasius said, "God became man that man might become God." This is theologically true, but it's probably not the best way to proceed in Salt Lake City, Utah if you're reaching out to Mormons. But it's not to say this truth cannot or should not be elucidated in its proper time or place with the converts from Mormonism.

In Jesus,
Steven Augustine
ACC Layman

Fr. Steve said...

I think the inherent problem with using the Missal, and leaving the Prayer Book to the side, is that you loose your Anglican identity, and become (as Robin Jordon contends on his blog Anglicans Ablaze) nothing more than Independent Old Catholics. We are in a fight for Anglican identity, and the Missal moves us away from that. I know. I've worshiped with the Missal for the last 5 years at an Independent Old Catholic church. I am now in the process of beginning a new mission, and that mission will, by design, be a Prayer Book parish.

What I think is lost in turning to the Missal, which is nothing more than a 19th Century Roman Missal with the Collects from the Book of Common Prayer. If you're going to go with a Missal, at least go with one that is English in character. Translate the Sarum Missal and use that, since it is from that service that the original Book of Common Prayer of 1549 was written.

But it does beg the question. Why would you so quickly rush back to the Medieval Church and its superstitions, when the whole point of the reformation was to do away with said superstitions.

The answer, I think, is that many in the Continuum see the Book of Common Prayer, and the Articles of Religion contained therein as archaic and unimportant, which is ironic since they at the same time hearken back to the church immediately preceding the English Reformation.

So my question then becomes, are we going to be Anglicans (ie, the Continuing Catholic Church of England), or are we going to be something else? I submit that to return to the superstitions of pre-reformation England is no different than a return to Rome. The results are the same, except one doesn't have the Pope.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Steve,

What superstitions have you noted?

And who is advocating the setting aside of the English Reformation?

Anything can be unhinged from its context and abused. Many Pentecostals could rightly be accused of hinging the Holy Spirit's ministry from Church and Christ, and even using Him in a superstitious way, but the way out of this problem isn't to discard the Holy Spirit.

Blessings.

Steven Augustine
ACC Layman

Jack Miller said...

- the merit that accrues to a Christian because of their good works is due solely to God's promise to reward the good works of the faithful eternally, NOT due to a proper equality between the work done in its human aspect and the reward given....

If we are rewarded according to the merit of our works, then even as faithful believers we still fall short as our best works (in and of themselves) are imperfect and affect nothing except condemnation. If we are receiving a reward that is NOT due to a proper equality between the work done in its human aspect and the reward given then the reward we (or so-called saints) receive is solely by grace and only through Another - the merit and mediation of Christ alone. As Jesus said (and is echoed in Article XIV), "When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants." It seems that it is the Biblical concept of "merit" that is and should be the definer of that word in any prayer or collect not RCC redefinitions.

"We *beseech thee, O Lord, by the merits of all thy saints* [our request strengthened by their holier prayer, praying with us] that it may please thee to forgive me all my sins."

Despite attempts to reconcile the above with orthodox doctrine, the clear reading is that by the "merits" of saints gone before us, we can invoke their prayers [made holier(?) due to their merit(?)], in order that their prayers will mediate or advocate on our behalf before God that he may be pleased to forgive all our sins. This avails nothing for the believer and again confuses the gospel which is repeatedly echoed in the words of many prayers and collects in the BCP:

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.
The Collect.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Wells said...

I have probably said enough on the topic of "merit" but feel obligated to answer a couple of other undercurrents in this discussion. (1) It is less than correct to suggest that the Affirmation of St Louis is unpalatable to Evangelicals. Since I was not a child in diapers when the Affirmation was written, I signed it within hours after Lou Traycik read it, before a Congress led by such worthies as Perry Laukhuff, Dotty Faber and Carroll Simcox. I was already steeped in the theology of J.I.Packer and Philip Edgcombe Hughes. I checked the document carefully to make sure that no Anglo-papalist errors had worked their way into it. Had I found such, I would not have signed it. (2) The Affirmation as it stands is just fine. It does not need any revisions.

Sibyl said...

A cherished prayer came to mind while reading this wonderful and thorough discussion of merit:

Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord,
Thy Church with Thy perpetual mercy;
and, because the frailty of men without Thee, cannot but fall,

keep us every one by they help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.
(BCP)

This prayer and all such fervent, effectual prayer is offered to the Father

through the One Mediator, the Son and with the Holy Ghost

by the people of God, who know
that the only merits that heaven knows are those of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Dr. Peter Toon, c. 2003

Sibyl said...

Sorry - typo on this line -
keep us every one by Thy help from all things hurtful,

Our church prints the whole liturgy of the day and the Scriptures on a separate sheet, usually leaving room for sermon notes and another sheet with announcements and prayer requests. Thus, the bulletin serves as almost a Missal and it serves as a good review, Bible study and devotional aid for during the week.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I am quite happy for the intercession of saints - both living and departed.

Fr. Wells wrote:

I think not only of the shocking "treasury of merit" and its resulting indulgence system, but of the popular "quid pro quo" notion that "I've been a nice person all my life and God is obliged to let me into heaven."

Our task is to communicate the Gospel with all the clarity we can muster.


As usual, my "partner in crime" speaks for me too. At the end of the day, are we furthering notions that departed and canonized saints have earned, by works of supererogation, a credit that God owes to fallen mankind, to weigh against our sins? For, that is what the Romish doctrine of purgatory, and the whole treasury of merits was about. Should we not do all that we can to prevent the spread another gospel (the Gal. 1:8,9 sort of "other gospel")?

I find it easier to use the collect for "a saint's day."

But, Fr. Steve:

I cannot understand your objection that the Missal is "is nothing more than a 19th Century Roman Missal with the Collects from the Book of Common Prayer." Which Missal is that? The big red one that I see in most Continuing churches contains the entire service of Holy Communion from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and the entire 1549 service as well. There are parts of it, which I have mentioned, that I don't use. But, let's be fair in our evaluation.

(And, be careful about Robin Jordan. He was trying to argue that the C of E Reformers did not really believe in Apostolic Succession, a point of view that is popular but completely wrong.)

+ Peter said...

I seem to recollect that Bishop Manning of New York, who was somewhat of 'Lux Mundi' school of Anglo-Catholicism, forbade the use of the American Missal in the diocese of New York because it "misrepresent" the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer. I am not sure whether in a legal sense that contention can be proved, but it is certainly one that one hears with a certain degree of frequency. Personally, I am somewhat indifferent whether the Missal is used or not provided it is not set up as having doctrinal authority apart from and in addition to the BCP. I have celebrated Holy Communion from the Missal in the past with the usual ceremonies, and will no doubt do so again in the future, ut under normal circumstances I use the 1928 Altar Service Book and Lesser Feasts and Fasts. In the UECNA we have found it expedient to forbid the introduction of the Missal in a parish that has not hitherto used. This mainly because its introduction has, in the past, proved to be high devisive to the point of parishes being divided even destroyed by a priest forcing precisely that issue. On the other hand, if a parish near unanimously requested permission to use the Missal, then there some possibility that in such a case a concession might be granted provided only the BCP Prayer of Consecration were used. The danger with the use of the alternative Canons in the Missals is that they give the impression of even greater liturgical incoherence than that given by using the Missal as a supplement to the BCP. I would also point out that so far as any reasonable approach to the liturgical law of the Churchis concerned the use of the Introit, Gradual, etc, with the BCP is perfectly in accordance with the Canon on Church music in the older PECUSA codes, so the argument really focusses on whether or not it is expedient to insist using the ceremonial and private prayers of the celebrant in their very late mediaeval and counter-reformation forms, and likewise, whether or not it is expedient to blindly feasts authorized relatively recently solely or mainly on Papal Authority. No matter which side one takes in this discussion one has to say that the use of the Missal can prove extremely devisive.

Anonymous said...

I see that many are concerned about "papal errors", but I would like to see that many are just as concerned about Reformational innovations. Calvinism is harder to stomach than anything uniquely Roman Catholic.

Matt Andrews said...

If you are going to use a missal, then use the American Missal. It has been reprinted in a beautiful way by Lancelot Andrews Press. As this book includes all the prayer book material it assumes the peoples book in the pew is the 1928BCP as it should be.

Jack Miller said...

(And, be careful about Robin Jordan. He was trying to argue that the C of E Reformers did not really believe in Apostolic Succession, a point of view that is popular but completely wrong.)

Not that I'm defending Jordan's position, but there are more than a few historical writings of the English Reformers that would take issue. Keble quotes Hooker's patron, Archbishop Whitgift, clearly asserting that “no certain manner or form of electing ministers is prescribed in Scripture and that every Church may do therein as it shall seem most expedient.” And C. Sydney Carter writes in cases where it is not possible to secure a bishop for ordination, Hooker admits that the ordinary institution of God must be waived. And so he [Hooker] adds: “we must not simply without exception urge a lineal descent of power from the Apostles by continued succession of bishops in every effectual ordination.” This is one of the several reasons why the English Reformers, in fact, recognized the Continental churches as true churches.

But that is another discussion and certainly hinges on one's definition of A.S.

by his grace...

Jack Miller said...

Sorry, but this excerpt is from a rather long and fascinating online "debate" between Michael Horton and Bryon Cross:

Horton writes:

"Even Pope Benedict XVI, as well as Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas, acknowledge that presbyterian government was the earliest form of polity (see John Zizioulas, Being as Communion [Crestwood, NJ: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997], 195: “On the one hand [the bishop] was understood as a ‘co-presbyter,’ i.e. as one—presumably the first one—of the college of the presbyterium. This is clearly indicated by the use of the term presbyters for the bishop by Irenaeus [Haer. IV 26:2]. This should be taken as a survival of an old usage in the West, as it can be inferred from I Clement 44, 1 Peter 5:1, etc.” [195, fn. 85]. In Called to Communion [trans. Adrian Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996)], Pope Benedict [then Cardinal Ratzinger] acknowledges that presbyter and episcopos are used interchangeably in the New Testament [122-23])."

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/11/sola-scriptura-a-dialogue-between-michael-horton-and-bryan-cross/

Jack

Glenda Lough said...

Dear Bishop Peter, well done! Given that Americans, through no fault of their own, (obviously its cultural) simply don't 'get' irony it was lovely to have you quote Dean Swift, and apparently understand him. Ten out of ten from this denizen of the Fair City! -Glenda

Timothy said...

I'm very grateful for this post. I have appreciated not only the content, but the tone as well. +Peter, your comments about the missal reflect a high degree of pastoral sensitivity, which I admire. I have some decisions to make soon whether to investigate the Continuing Church(es), and this post has helped quite a bit. Thanks

Fr. Steve said...

Fr. Hart,

The Missal (the big red book) does have the BCP service in it. But the main Mass contained therein is the Roman Mass of the late 19th Century rendered in Elizabethan English, complete with a lot of the Roman Theology. The Missal even includes the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

If it were, indeed, based on the Sarum Missal, it would be a different book entirely. The rubrics alone would give the Mass a different flavor to the one contained in the Anglican Missal. I do like the chant settings out of it, though.

And to Steven Augustine,

The superstition of prayer to the Saints, the Immaculate Conception, and quite a few other Roman innovations from Trent.

palaeologos said...

I would go further and characterize Robin Jordan as a Presbyterian with a Prayer Book, and suspect due to his association with a certain Christian of Reason.

Keep Sydney "Anglicanism" south of the Equator, I say.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jack Miller wrote:

Keble quotes Hooker's patron, Archbishop Whitgift, clearly asserting that “no certain manner or form of electing ministers is prescribed in Scripture and that every Church may do therein as it shall seem most expedient.” And C. Sydney Carter writes in cases where it is not possible to secure a bishop for ordination, Hooker admits that the ordinary institution of God must be waived. And so he [Hooker] adds: “we must not simply without exception urge a lineal descent of power from the Apostles by continued succession of bishops in every effectual ordination.”

The first quotation is about election of bishops, not about the practice of consecration; so, it has no bearing on the subject of the Apostolic Succession.

The second quotation seems quite incomplete without a context. On the face of it, it would contradict Hooker's position as stated so clearly in Book VII. In context, it probably meant nothing other than the theory prevalent at that time: That the C of E need cast no judgment on the practices of the continental churches, except when it came to the question of foreign ministers coming into the Church of England. The theory was simple: We may hope that where people needed to act, God gave His grace in an extraordinary (pun avoidable) way. But, in the C of E, they needed episcopal ordination (a clear fact of Canon Law if nothing else).

"Even Pope Benedict XVI, as well as Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas, acknowledge that presbyterian government was the earliest form of polity...

This seems to be a bit careless on the part of Horton. After all, the local churches were governed by presbyters, and still are. But no one among the RC, Orthodox and Anglican scholars doubts that Titus and Timothy were the bishops of Crete and Ephesus respectively. While St. Paul was still alive, we see the practice of Apostolic Succession of bishops, complete with laying on of hands, in the Pastoral Epistles.

Peter, Apostle that he was, also identified himself as a presbyter (I Pet. 5:1); so, it should not surprise us that Apostles and their successors, who came to have the title bishop (ἐπισκοπή) reserved to them, were also presbyters. This is still the case, that every bishop is also a deacon and a priest for ever. The overlap of titles is really quite in keeping with what the Church has always practiced.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anonymous wrote:

I see that many are concerned about "papal errors", but I would like to see that many are just as concerned about Reformational innovations. Calvinism is harder to stomach than anything uniquely Roman Catholic.

If Anonymous would make use of a name or "handle," perhaps he could define the word "Calvinsim." I find that most people who use the word have no idea what it means. Generally, they attribute very commonly held RC and western positions, that were very widely taught centuries before Calvin was born, to Calvin.

What the C of E could not allow was the Geneva Discipline. I wonder if Anonymous meant that.

Anonymous said...

Regarding merit, here are the sagacious thoughts of Abp. John Bramhall addressing a Roman controversialist's attempt to convince the English monarch to renounce the Church of England and pope. I think his points are eminently biblical.

Concerning justification, we believe that all good Christians have true inherent justice, though not perfect, according to a perfection of degrees, as gold is true gold, though it be mixed with dross. We believe that this inherent justice and sanctity doth make them truly just and holy. But if the word 'justification' be taken in sensu forensi , for the acquittal of a man from a former guilt, to make an offender just in the eyes of the law, as it is opposed to 'condemnation,'-"It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth?"-then it is not our inherent righteousness that justifieth us in this sense, but the free grace of God for the Merits of Jesus Christ.

Next for Merits, we never doubted of the necessity of good works, without which faith is but a fiction. We are not so stupid to imagine that Christ did wash us from our sins, that we might wallow more securely in sin, but that 'we might serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.' We never doubted the reward of good works;-'Come, ye blessed of my Father, '&c.'for I was hungry, and ye fed me:' nor whether reward be due to them in justice;-"Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the just Judge shall give me in that day;" faithful promise makes due debt. This was all that the Ancient Church did ever understand by the name of Merits. Let Petavius bear witness;-"Antiqui Patres omnes, et procaeteris Augustinus, cumque iis consentiens Romana et Catholica pietas, agnoscit merita eo sensu, nimirum ut neque Dei gratiam ulla antecedant merita, et haec ipsa tum ex gratia tum ex gratuita Dei pollicitatione tota pendeant;"-"All the ancient Fathers, especially St. Austin, and the Roman and Catholic Faith consenting with them, do acknowledge Merits in this sense, that no Merits go before the grace of God, and that these very Merits do depend wholly on grace and on the free promise of God." Hold you to this, and we shall have no more difference about Merits. Do you exact more of us, than all the Fathers, or the Roman and Catholic piety, doth acknowledge?

It is an easy thing for a wrangling sophister to dispute of Merits in the schools, or for a vain orator to declaim of Merits out of the pulpit; but when we come to lie upon our death-beds, and present ourselves at the last hour before the tribunal of Christ, it is high time both for you and us to renounce our own merits, and to cast ourselves naked into the arms of our Saviour. That any works of ours (who are the best of us but "unprofitable servants;" which properly are not ours but God's own gifts; and if they were ours, are a just debt due unto Him, setting aside God's free promise and gracious acceptation) should condignly by their own intrinsical value deserve the joys of Heaven, to which they have no more proportion than they have to satisfy for the eternal torments of Hell;-this is that which we have renounced, and which we ought never to admit.

-Mark

Sean W. Reed said...

J.M.J.

Father Hart wrote:

"...At the end of the day, are we furthering notions that departed and canonized saints have earned, by works of supererogation, a credit that God owes to fallen mankind, to weigh against our sins? For, that is what the Romish doctrine of purgatory, and the whole treasury of merits was about..."

You seem to be implying that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Treasury of Merit is all about the Saints and not about Calvary.

In the interest of being precisely correct in terms of what you are denying, I would offer the following to state clearly what the Treasury of Merit is about:

1476 We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury, which is "not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the 'treasury of the Church' is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ's merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy."88

1477 "This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body."89


SWR

Little Black Sambo said...

"... a concession might be granted provided only the BCP Prayer of Consecration were used."
That seems a little intolerant. The sheer antiquity and continuous history of us of the Roman Canon gives it an authority greater than that of any who would seek to ban it.

Fr. Wells said...

Abp Bramhall's statement is exactly right. It is particular helpful in its careful distinction between two senses of justification (which this thread has not yet touched on). It also brings the concept of "merit" into perspective:

"when we come to lie upon our death-beds, and present ourselves at the last hour before the tribunal of Christ, it is high time both for you and us to renounce our own merits, and to cast ourselves naked into the arms of our Saviour."

("Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling," as Augustus Toplady wrote in "Rock of Ages".)

But unfortunately, the following is not quite the case:

"This was all that the Ancient Church did ever understand by the name of Merits."

If that was true of the Patristic Church, that is not the case in such prayers as "We beseech thee, O Lord, by the merits of thy saints...."

This "prayer" simply states that by "merit" we have some claim on God, some right to make a demand, some browney points which we may cash in. This is an unacceptable idea, and I hope we preach against it every Septuagesima Sunday.

But the quote from Bramhall is a fine contribution. It illustrates the REAL Anglican patrimony, which I pray we will never abandon.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

SWR quoted the CCC:

1477 "This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body."89

Here we see something added to Christ's own work, in the context of applying these merits to sinners. The real contradiction to the Gospel in this is a matter of Christology.

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Hart, I think your take on Hooker's quote is fair. The point Hooker and others (Jewell, Whitgift, etc.), as shown in their writings, held was that the episcopal polity, though necessary in England and even most agreeable with Scripture, was not an indispensable mark or note of a true church. This seems clear from their correspondence with the Continental reformers as well as some of their published writings. Thus what I wrote:

But that... certainly hinges on one's definition of A.S.

I don't think Horton is careless on this point. Zizioulas' quote speaks for itself. The bishop was originally the leading presbyter among several co-presbyters in a local church. The terms bishops, overseers and elders were often used interchangeably - even within the same passage. The point being they weren't then distinct offices as they eventually became. I don't think Horton wouldn't disagree with your statement...

While St. Paul was still alive, we see the practice of Apostolic Succession of bishops, complete with laying on of hands, in the Pastoral Epistles.

... except for how one defines Apostolic Succession. The pattern of the orderly ordination of bishops/overseers/elders with the laying on of hands in the New Testament is not in dispute.

Whether my thoughts have any "merit" they surely are a detour from the topic at hand.

Blessings-

Sean W. Reed said...

J.M.J.

Fr. Steve wrote:

"If it were, indeed, based on the Sarum Missal, it would be a different book entirely. ...
The superstition of prayer to the Saints.."

Not quite. I have alway liked the Secret from the Common of Many Confessors from the Sarum Missal:

"Be present, O Lord, with the prayers and gifts of Thy people; and let the oblations of the holy Mysteries, at the intercession of Thy Saints, be pleasing in Thy sight. Through."


The Theology of the Anglican Missal/American Edition or The American Missal has more in common stated and articulated theologically with the Sarum Missal than does the simple BCP Communion Office.

The is plenty in the Sarum Missal to give as much discomfiture to "Classic Anglicans" as is in the Missalae Romanum of Pius V.




SWR

Jack Miller said...

From Fr. Hart's linked essay:

To suggest that we have any need of a treasury of saintly merits from redeemed sinners and objects of the same mercy we have received, as if God owed a credit to sinful mankind due to alleged merits by the objects of his mercy and grace, is a frank denial of the Faith of the Church concerning Who is was that died for us and rose again.

Amen.

Anonymous said...

Bramhall's appropriation of Petavuis, I am certain, was in reference to the early Patristic Church of the Latin West. In any case, his distinction between an imparted justice or sanctity, making the baptized "truly just and holy", and justification "in sensu forensi", acquitting a man of guilt and making him righteous "in the eyes of the law", is reminiscent of the opening paragraphs of Hooker's "Learned Discourse"

There is a glorifying righteousness of men in the world to come: and there is a justifying and sanctifying righteousness here. The righteousness, wherewith we shall be clothed in the world to come, is both perfect and inherent. That whereby we are justified is perfect, but not inherent. That whereby we are sanctified, inherent but not perfect. This way openeth a way to the plain understanding of that grand question, which hangeth yet in controversy between us and the Church of Rome, about the matter of justifying righteousness.

A few paragraphs later, he fleshes this out by continuing:

You see therefore that the Church of Rome, in teaching justification by inherent grace, doth pervert the truth of Christ...Now concerning the righteousness of sanctification, we deny it not to be inherent; we grant, that unless we work, we have it not; only we distinguish it as a thing in nature different from the righteousness of justification: we are righteous the one way, by the faith of Abraham; the other way, except we do the works of Abraham. Of the one, St. Paul,"to him that worketh not, but believeth, faith is counted for righteousness." Of the other, St. John..."He is righteous who worketh righteousness." Of the one, St. Paul doth prove by Abraham's example, that we have it of faith without works. Of the other, St. James, by Abraham's example, that by works we have it, and not only by faith. St. Paul doth plainly sever these two parts of Christian righteousness one from the other..."Being freed from sin, and made servants to God, ye have your fruit in holiness, and the end everlasting life." "Ye are made free from sin, and made servants unto God;" this is the righteousness of justification: "ye have your fruit in holiness;" this is the righteousness of sanctification. By the one we are interessed in the right of inheriting; by the other we are brought to the actual possesing of eternal bliss, and so the end of both is everlasting life.

For both authors, and for Anglicanism in general, intrinsic righteousness is a gift of grace imparted to the believer by faith and the sacrament of baptism. Hooker, in fact, seems to tie it with a real infusion into the soul of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Fr. Steve said...

"I would go further and characterize Robin Jordan as a Presbyterian with a Prayer Book, and suspect due to his association with a certain Christian of Reason."

I once called him that. He didn't like it too much.

Fr. Wells said...

Mr Sean Reed tries to convince us that the Roman doctrine of merit is Christ-centered, even when 99% of the Missal references of merit speak specifically "of the saints." But even the pious monogram, which Mr Reed so tiresomely uses with every posting, proves otherwise. He promotes a religion of "Jesus, Mary, Joseph" as co-equals. He argues against the Gospel of Christ our only Mediator and Advocate." When he drops the sophomoric habit of writing "JMJ" then he might gain a decree of credibility. That would be a small start.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I ommitted my name from that response to Fr. Wells on Bramhall (the one with the quotations from Hooker's "Learned Discourse"). My apologies.

-Mark

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jack Miller wrote:

The point being they weren't then distinct offices as they eventually became.

By the time of the Pastoral Epistles the offices were distinct. What appears to have changed is the definition of episkope (bishop). It is commonly held that it was later reserved for those who succeeded the apostles.

... except for how one defines Apostolic Succession. The pattern of the orderly ordination of bishops/overseers/elders with the laying on of hands in the New Testament is not in dispute.

The whole process of ordination itself was under the direct authority of Titus in Crete and Timothy in Ephesus. Each man was given the same authority that Paul, as an apostle, had held before leaving them in charge. Today we call them bishops.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

At the risk of sounding dense, are you the same Mark Haverland, Archbishop, of the ACC?

I couldn't resist asking lest I miss an opportunity to greet my Metropolitan. Otherwise ignore my ramblings.

In Christ,
Steven Augustine
ACC Layman

Sean W. Reed said...

J.M.J.

"Fr. Wells" wrote:

"...Mr Sean Reed tries to convince us that the Roman doctrine of merit is Christ-centered, even when 99% of the Missal references of merit speak specifically "of the saints."..."


There is not a "Roman Doctrine of Merit." I am not sure if you are still speaking about the Treasury of Merit or Merit in general, but the CCC makes plain about merit in general:

2025 We can have merit in God's sight only because of God's free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man's collaboration. Man's merit is due to God.


As to your comment about "99% of the missal references," you seem to be attempting to imply a proof to your point based upon a sum total of times the subject is mentioned.

Your claim would have logical standing if you were making reference to the Ordinary of the Mass. To make reference to the entire book, which is an encyclopedia/catalog of the propers for every Mass - either through the Common or the Proper, it does not statistically prove anything.

The common theme of the secrets, which is more or less strongly stated is well represented in the Secret I quoted yesterday from the Sarum Missal.

The Mass before the so-called "English Reformation" resembles the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass promulgated by the Holy Council of Trent much more that the prayer book "Office of Holy Communion."



SWR

Jack Miller said...

Regarding Hooker, "inherent" shouldn't be confused with the RCC teaching of "intrinsic or infused" righteousness...

As for the councill of Trent concerninge inherent righteousnes, what doth it here? No man doubteth but they [Rome] make another formall cawse of justification then we do, in respecte whereof I have shewed alredye that we disagree aboute the verye essence of that which cureth our spirituall disseas... and...

The Schoolmen which follow Thomas, doe not only comprise in the name of justifying grace, the favour of God, his spiritt and effect of that favour, and saving vertues the effects of his Spiritte, butt over and besides these three a fourth kind of formall habite, or inherent qualitie which maketh the person of man acceptable, perfecteth the substance of his minde, and causeth the vertuous actions thereof to be meritorious. This grace they will have to be the principall effects of Sacraments, a grace which neyther Christ, nor any Apostle of Christ did ever mention. The Fathers have it not in their writings, although they often speake of Sacraments and of the grace wee receive by them.

Nowe concerning the rightuousnes of sanctification, we deny it not to be inherente

is qualified by Hooker's earlier comment:

that whereby we are sanctified, inherent but not perfect...

i.e. - an imperfect righteousness, different than the perfect righteousness of God (which is of faith alone), not possessing any merit before the Law or deserving in of itself any acceptance before God.

...we distingusihe it as a thinge in nature differente from the rightuousnes of justification....

which righteousness of God is that which saves through faith in Christ alone and one day we will be confirmed in.

The righteousnes wherewith we shalbe clothed in the world to come, is both
perfecte and inherente: that whereby here we are justified is perfecte but not
inherente: that whereby we are sanctified, inherent but not perfect.

Fr. John said...

Archbishop Peter wrote:

"The danger with the use of the alternative Canons in the Missals..."

Do you mean the Gregorian Canon? I don't know a single priest who uses it.

Which Missals have alternative Canons? I'm having problems finding any "alternative Canons" in the American and Anglican Missals other than the one I've already noted. Your use of the plural makes me wonder what other "alternatives" are out there. I haven't encountered any.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The Mass before the so-called "English Reformation" resembles the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass promulgated by the Holy Council of Trent much more that the prayer book "Office of Holy Communion."

So-called? I know if no one who would deny the historical fact of the English Reformation.

In any case, it was not the goal of the Reformers in England to make the Holy Communion exactly identical to late Medieval practice, but to bring it back into doctrinal focus that was truly catholic by ancient and most certain standards.

Fr. Wells said...

Jack Miller wrote:

"Regarding Hooker, "inherent" shouldn't be confused with the RCC teaching of "intrinsic or infused" righteousness..."

Jack, my impression is that "inherent" (as Hooker used the term) is equivalent to "infused." You will remember that the Westminster Larger Catechism, in its contrast of justification and sanctification, states clearly that in Justification, righteousness is imputed but in Sanctification righteousness is infused. Imputation is a change in external legal status; infusion is a change in internal spiritual condition.

Roman theology did not make this distinction, and (what is worse) imagines that infusion takes place in a quasi-magical way through Baptism and the other sacraments, apart from faith. But Reformation theology does indeed acknowledge the gradual and progressive infusion of God's love which slowly transforms sinners into saints.

Jack Miller said...

Fr.Wells,

WLC
Question 77: Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

Answer: Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ;in sanctification his Spirit infuses grace [not righteousness], and enables to the exercise thereof [i.e. righteousness]; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued:the one does equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

I think this is in agreement with Hooker.
God imputes the righteousness of Christ for our justification... The Spirit continually imparts or infuses "grace", i.e. a renewed and repentant heart and, as Cranmer wrote, a new right-will, by which grace our growth in obedience and imperfect works of righteousness are now acceptable to our Father; the Spirit's work of sanctification conforming us to Christ. The grace of justification is thus the ground of the Spirit's work of sanctification.

At least that's how I understand it through the lens of both Cranmer and the other Reformers. I have no real quibble with your take:

But Reformation theology does indeed acknowledge the gradual and progressive infusion of God's love which slowly transforms sinners into saints.

You're one of my ACC heroes. Keep fighting the good fight! ;-)

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Bramhall's description of the doctrine of Merit i precisely the official doctrine of the RCC anyway. So, what does he deny?

"That any works of ours ... should condignly by their own intrinsical value deserve the joys of Heaven, to which they have no more proportion than they have to satisfy for the eternal torments of Hell;-this is that which we have renounced, and which we ought never to admit."

Well, what he has denied the RCC denies as well. Condignity is ascribed in the Angelic Doctor to a meritorious work insofar as it proceeds from God's Spirit working in the Christian, not in its human aspect.

The prayers appealing to the merits of the saints are theologically no different to the prayers appealing to God to bless us in consequence of their prayers. The power of their prayers is, as both East and West have constantly taught, related to their sanctity and degree of union with God. That this degree of union is fundamentally utterly dependent on grace is not disputed, but neither is the fact that the Saints' cooperation with that grace has been a secondary cause. The Fathers teach that the degree of sanctification depends on, inter alia, cooperation with God. Therefore, the merit of the Saints, as that term is understood according to the authoritative doctrinal sources, is inextricably tied up with their intercession.

As for whether this human merit (other than Christ's) is applied to forgiving sin in Roman teaching, this is inconsistent with Tridentine statements. E.g., that the only "meritorious cause" of justification is said to be Jesus and his "satisfaction" offered to God on the Cross.

Fr Hart asks:"At the end of the day, are we furthering notions that departed and canonized saints have earned, by works of supererogation, a credit that God owes to fallen mankind, to weigh against our sins? For, that is what the Romish doctrine of purgatory, and the whole treasury of merits was about."

The answer is, no, we are not teaching this, as long as we are teaching at all carefully. In fact, the longest RC explanation of the Treasury of Merits, Indulgentiarum doctrina, makes precisely zero reference to supererogation. Supererogation was a theological opinion within the RCC, never a dogma. Similarly, it is not a matter of weighing good works against sins. Purgatory is about purifying discipline as a normal path of sanctification extending beyond bodily death (Mal. 3:3, Mark 9:49, Heb. 12:5-11, 1 Co. 3:15). The Treasury of Merits is a way, if a somewhat awkward way, of describing the benefits of the Communion of Saints, where the prayers and associated spiritual sacrifices (cp. Heb. 13:16) of the "holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5) of saints living and departed build one another up (cp. Eph. 4:16). One of the ways they aid one another in mutual charity is to enable sanctification to occur without or with less of that painful discipline after death.

And, quite apart from the implicit Biblical teaching about the Communion of Saints, the priesthood of all believers, and intercession empowered by faith active in love, we have the early Tradition. In the early Church, good works were united with prayer as an "offering" to God for the departed, and the confessors and martyrs were felt to have special intercessory strength.

Through all of this there is the acceptance that it is really Christ working and interceeding through his Body, so that all rests radically on grace.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

As a footnote, I should also remind readers of something obvious but apparently forgotten in this thread. The prayers appealing to the "merits of the saints" in the Missal are precisely that, prayers. Therefore, there can be no question of "claiming" as a "right" anything in them. "We beseech ..." is not "I absolve ..."

God is under no intrinsic or absolute obligation from the saints' merits, he has instead placed himself under a voluntary obligation to reward works of faith and grace and to include in this positive answers to prayers. The specifics of this "obligation" are known only to Him.

Bcpanglican said...

After following these comments for several days, I am impressed by the great theological learning of those posting. However, I must add that I am also disheartened by all the tangets that have ignored the central issues raised by "A Modest Proposal." Those issues concern greater unity among those who wish to remain continuing Anglicans (so the issues about the meaning of the contemporary Roman Catholic Catechism are beside the point).
The two key issues seem to be 1) can continuing Anglicans agree on the theological authority of the seven Ecumenical Councils? and 2) can continuing Anglicans agree that historic Books of Common Prayer (such as 1549, 1662, 1928, 1962) are basic standards of both liturgy and doctrine while other service books such as the Anglican Missal are permissible resources?
At least that's what I got out of the original post, and that is what I would like to hear committed Anglicans discuss.

Sean W. Reed said...

J.M.J.

Fr. Hart wrote:

"...n any case, it was not the goal of the Reformers in England to make the Holy Communion exactly identical to late Medieval practice, but to bring it back into doctrinal focus that was truly catholic by ancient and most certain standards..."

That sounds very much like the "spirit" of Vatican II.

The BCP Office of Holy Communion certainly seems to represent a significant change and innovation from Catholic practice in England.

If you were to quantify the changes - would you say there was a greater or lesser break with what was before in the transition from the pre-reformation Mass to the BCP or from the 1928 BCP to the 1979 Book of Prayers? Which was innovative to a greater degree in your opinion?


SWR

Jack Miller said...

Hebrews 4:
14Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

10: 19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 1And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith...

1 Tim. 2: 5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

I apologized for all the Scripture quotes, but these are but snippets of the truth that we come to the Father through Christ alone, both for forgiveness and for prayer. Notwithstanding RCC tradition, God readily hears our prayers through Christ alone. For what need or to what purpose is an advocate other than Christ required or or to be sought after when we pray?

John 14: 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

... our only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Litany)

Fr. Robert Hart said...

SWR:

There was nothing innovative about the authentic BCPs. You confuse medieval innovations with the catholic Tradition, and so make much ado about nothing - that is, nothing we could call genuine innovation.

Say hi to the holy Family for me.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

BCP Anglican wrote:

However, I must add that I am also disheartened by all the tangets that have ignored the central issues raised by "A Modest Proposal." Those issues concern greater unity among those who wish to remain continuing Anglicans...The two key issues seem to be 1) can continuing Anglicans agree on the theological authority of the seven Ecumenical Councils? and 2) can continuing Anglicans agree that historic Books of Common Prayer (such as 1549, 1662, 1928, 1962) are basic standards of both liturgy and doctrine while other service books such as the Anglican Missal are permissible resources?

It would seem to me that the BCP and Missal thing is very important on the subject of unity.

The whole seven/seven subject can be stated in a manner that makes it too simplistic. Like most important subjects, I have written and posted my thoughts on it here.

Anonymous said...

Dear ACC layman.

Alas, I am no Archbishop. I am a mere Anglican layman and theological dilletante. Nice to make your acquaintance, though.


Dear Fr. Kirby,

Yes, Bramhall's soteriology includes condign merit. This is especially evident in the phrase "Gracious promise makes due debt." But he seems to use it in terms of Sanctification (in the classic Protestant sense)rather than Justification; since the latter, as a forensic sanctity ("in sensu forensi"),based in the "free gift of God, for the merits of Jesus Christ", is that which makes the offender "just in the eyes of the law."

Dear Jack,

(Hooker continued): We have already shewed that there are two kinds of Christian righteousness: the one without us, which we have by imputation; the other in us, which consisteth in faith, hope, charity, and other Christian virtues; and St. James doth prove that Abraham had not only the one, because the thing he believed was imputed unto him for righteousness, but also the other, because he offered up his son. God giveth us both the one justice and the other: the one by accepting us for righteous in Christ; the other by working Christian righteousness in us.

The proper and most immediate efficient cause of this latter, is the spirit of adoption which we have recieved in our hearts. That whereof it consisteth, whereof it is really and formally made, are those infused virtues proper and particular unto saints; which the Spirit, in that very moment when first it is given of God, bringeth with it: the effects thereof are such actions as the Apostle doth call the fruits, the works the operations of the Spirit; the difference of which operations from the root whereof they spring, maketh it needful to put two kinds likewise of sanctifying righteousness: Habitual and Actual. Habitual, that holiness, wherewith our souls are inwardly endueed, the same instant when first we begin to be Temples of the Holy Ghost; Actual, that holiness which afterward beautifieth all the parts and actions of our life...If here it be demanded, which of these we do first recieve; I answer, that the Spirit, the virtues of the Spirit, the habitual justice, which is ingrafted, the external justice of Christ Jesus which is imputed, these we recieve all at one and the same tim; whensoever we have any of these, we have all; they go together.

Yet...we must needs hold that imputed righteousness, in dignity being the chiefest, is notwithstanding in order the last of all these, but actual righteousness, which is the righteousness of good works, succeedeth all, followeth after all, both in order and in time. Which thing being attentively marked, sheweth plainly how the faith of true believers cannot be divorced from faith, hope and love; how that faith is a part of sanctification, and yet unto justification necessary; how faith is perfected by good works, and yet no works of ours good without faith: finally, how our fathers might hold, We are justified by faith alone, and yet truly hold that without good works we are not justified. Did they think that men do merit rewards in heaven by the works they perform on earth? The ancient Fathers use meriting for obtaining, and in that sense they of Wittenburg have in their Confession: "We teach that good works commanded by God are necessarily to be done, and that by the free kindness of God they merit their certain rewards."

-Mark

Fr. John said...

Where can I find an alternative Canon of the Mass? Will any cleric reading this post fess up to using an "alternative?"

Fr. Wells, I deeply appreciate your postings here. Very clear, precise, and expressing sound doctrine.

Fr. Kirby, your writings too, are most excellent,and edifying, as well as beautifully composed.

Personally,I don't use those collects that refer to merits of the saints. I have explained to my people that we have no merits of our own, that Jesus really did pay it all, and we can't even leave the tip, he already took care of that too. So using those prayers would require an explanation each time they occurred,in my opinion. However, I agree with Fr. Kirby's assessment of the theology behind the prayers.

Sean W. Reed said...

J.M.J.


Fr. John wrote:

"...Where can I find an alternative Canon of the Mass? ..."


http://www.andrewespress.com/aam.html

The Gregorian (Latin and English) and the American Canon according to the current Antiochene usage are all there.



SWR

Jack Miller said...

"... and yet no works of ours good without faith...

"We teach that good works commanded by God are necessarily to be done, and that by the free kindness of God they merit their certain rewards."



Yes indeed. Those "works commanded" or works of "righteousness" we do in obedience to Christ are not righteous (good) without faith. For it is faith resting in Christ's work of perfect obedience and fulfillment of the Law on our behalf that "justifies" or sanctifies our works. Thus our works merit certain rewards only by the free kindness (grace) of God.

In short, I affirm, that not by our own merit but by faith alone, are both our persons and works justified; and that the justification of works depends on the justification of the person, as the effect on the cause. (John Calvin, Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote)

So that we can say with Paul the Apostle:

"But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories [boasts], let him glory in the LORD.”

Fr. Robert Hart said...

SWR:

Fr. John asked a hypothetical question. Neither he nor any of us need your suggested resource.

Fr. John said...

Dann werden die kanonen sprechen.

Dr. Surik said...

This idea that there is a great "Missal vs. BCP" division within the continuum is largely an invention of the few anti-Catholics one encounters here and there, usually amongst the laity, doing their best to do the work of the adversary by stirring up conflict. I am surprised to find that spirit here.

Dr. Surik said...

@ Fr. John: the Anglican Missal in the American Edition includes the American Canon, the Gregorian Canon, and in the peoples' edition, the 1549 canon. I have celebrated all three and prefer the Gregorian, which has none of the unpleasant ambiguity of the American Canon. The English Missal, IIRC, contains only the Western Canon.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Dr. Surik wirote:

This idea that there is a great "Missal vs. BCP" division within the continuum is largely an invention of the few anti-Catholics one encounters here and there...

I have not seen evidence of strife, as it was in the old days (about which Screwtape boasted that they had prevented the variety of usage from becoming a hotbed of charity).

I am surprised to find that spirit here.

If you think that then you have a strong imagination, or have not been reading carefully. What you have found here is open discussion about how and where to use the Missal.

1. How?: As a resource equal to the BCP in authority, or as an embellishment to it?

2. Where?: Should it be forced on congregations who do not want it?

This is not the adversary stirring up anything. Here different people have discussed a subject that is always relevant. I have seen men scatter their congregations and lose them by trying to force the matter. I have seen others react to every use of the Missal in a knee jerk fashion. But, here I have read only peaceful discussion.

Fr. John said...

In reference to the Gregorian Canon, I don't know a single priest who uses it. Additionally, I would be surprised to learn of an ACC priest who publicly, or in a high profile way, used it.

I do not perceive any ambiguity in the American Canon.

The Missals are a great resource. In my parish we have both the 1928 BCP, as well as the People's Anglican Missal, in the pews. It is easy to follow the service using either tome. I notice both books being used, except on the first Sunday of the month, when we recite the Decalogue, then everyone is using the Prayer Book.

I have not encountered any divide in the ACC over this Missal vs. Prayer Book thing. I am sorry it seems to be an issue for others.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Wells,

Accepting the cleverness of your diapers gibe and associated appeal to your own affirming of the Affirmation, I am afraid I still find the claim that the Affirmation of St Louis sits comfortably with Evangelicalism utterly implausible. The reason should be very obvious. The fact that you were happy to sign it proves nothing about whether it is "palatable" to Evangelicals generally, since almost no other Evangelicals hold to the particular combination of ideas that you do.

What proportion of Evangelicals, like you, accept the legitimacy of prayers like the Angelus and a feast such as Corpus Christi, which is devoted to celebrating, among other things, Eucharistic Adoration and the Real Objective Presence? What proportion of Evangelicals are comfortable with "Seven Sacraments and Seven Councils" and the doctrine of Apostolic Succession? If you wish to redefine the word "Evangelical" so that it fits you but ceases to fit the other 99+% of those normally termed Evangelicals, who notoriously reject as heretical or dangerous those things abovementioned, that is your prerogative. However, that will make any statements you then make about what Evangelicals are happy to affirm of very limited use to anybody else!

(Not that I am criticising those beliefs or you holding to them, as you well know. I just cannot take seriously the claim that they come naturally to Evangelicals. All the other ones, that is.)

You invoke J. I. Packer. Until 2008 he was content to remain a clergyman licensed in a schismatic and heretical jurisdiction from the Catholic perspective, the Anglican Church of Canada. Thirty years after the Affirmation, which included Canadian Continuers ab initio, he remained with the heterodox and did not join the Continuing Church. Rather than properly remedy this situation in 2008, he has apparently joined the Southern Cone Province, which tolerates the ordination of priestesses within it. It's pretty obvious that he is not supportive of the Affirmation, and that his ecclesiology and theology of the sacraments, at least, are deeply deficient and opposed to the Affirmation. (I'm not interested in attacking him as a person, and am willing to accept he has followed his conscience in all of this. But that which he conscientiously followed was not the Faith of the Affirmation of St Louis, that's the point.)

The same, mutatis mutandis, could be said of other representative Evangelical Anglican leaders such as John Stott or Leon Morris.

It is, therefore, your dissimilarity to these and to other common, garden-variety Evangelicals that accounts for your loyalty to the Catholic Faith of the Affirmation.

The most influential and powerful Evangelical centre in the Anglican Communion for decades has been the Archdiocese of Sydney. Let's see how the Affirmation fares there, in the land of lay presidency. Or not.

If I was going to be mischievous, I might say that you were not so much an Evangelical, Father Wells, as a Catholic with a weakness for hyper-Augustinianism. But that might be far too naughty, so I'd better not say it.

:-)

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Jack,

If it is claimed that faith "justifies" our graced works in the sense that they are in fact really sinful but merely imputed as holy by a legal fiction, this is nominalism and a denial of the real ontic and essential change due to grace. That would thus be a denial of the consensual doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, of the teaching of the Fathers, including Augustine, and of Hooker, who spoke of "that holiness which afterward beautifieth all the parts and actions of our life", as Mark reminded us. In short, it would be contrary to Catholic teaching.

Christ is our righteousness and sanctification, but by a genuine union and incorporation that "informs" the character of what we are and do, not only by imputation of his innocence.

You also said: "I apologize for all the Scripture quotes, but these are but snippets of the truth that we come to the Father through Christ alone, both for forgiveness and for prayer. Notwithstanding RCC tradition, God readily hears our prayers through Christ alone. For what need or to what purpose is an advocate other than Christ required or or to be sought after when we pray? "

All your Scripture quotations and your argument above either prove nothing relevant or prove too much. Nobody denies that Christ is the Sole Mediator, through whom all prayers must be offered. But this does not prevent other Christians from being intercessors, even to the point of aiding our forgiveness (1 John 5:16). If the departed Saints cannot further our justification and sanctification by their intercession without trespassing on Christ's Mediatorship, then neither can living believers, which no Christian is silly enough to claim, against the Biblical evidence.

What is the difference between Christ's Mediation and the intercession of the Saints?

What Christ does is less a verbal prayer and more a "power of presence" (cp. Heb 9:24b), so to speak. He mediates not so much by what he now does, but by what he once-for-all did, and how that constitutes what he now is, the Propitiation (1 John 2:2).

The Saints, on the other hand, pray "under the altar" (cp. Rev. 6:9), that is, through the Cross, covered by the Blood. However, even here they appeal in a secondary sense to their own sufferings for God as a basis for God to act (Rev. 6:10). And St John also makes clear that obedience and works pleasant to God generally lead to answered prayer (1 John 3:22). So, yes, the holier the Christian, as a general rule, the more effectual the intercessor. The "merit of the saints" is not an independent righteousness or propitiation they offer, communicate or achieve, it is an expression and effect of their sanctification through cooperation with God's grace, within the communion of saints. And it is all sourced in Christ, as He is the vine, we are the branches.

So, yes, as St Augustine taught, God's graces become our merits. And He deigns, furthermore, to allow what we receive from Him, and what we achieve through this reception, to help save others (e.g., Col. 1:24,29).

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Kirby,

wrote: If it is claimed that faith "justifies" our graced works in the sense that they are in fact really sinful but merely imputed as holy by a legal fiction, this is nominalism and a denial of the real ontic and essential change due to grace.

It is faith in Christ alone that justifies the person through union with Christ by his Spirit. It is no legal fiction, but a vital, relational reality. Our works are now acceptable, now being done in faith which looks to Christ and trusts in his works, not our own, for merit of acceptance. In and of themselves our works fall short of the perfection of righteousness and therefore, in and of themselves, are not holy and perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect which is the standard Jesus set for righteousness.

XII. ALBEIT that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

Our good works are not evidence of our righteousness (which in this life will always be imperfect), but evidence of a true and lively faith in Christ's blood and righteousness.

Jack

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Kirby,

wrote:
If the departed Saints cannot further our justification and sanctification by their intercession without trespassing on Christ's Mediatorship, then neither can living believers, which no Christian is silly enough to claim, against the Biblical evidence.

Scripture, as you note, clearly teaches that fellow "living" saints are to pray for each other, i.e. to intercede on each other's behalf. Nowhere in Scripture is it taught that living believers pray to departed believers to intercede on their behalf before the throne of grace. So your logic is flawed. Disallowing the second does not invalidate the first.

Additionally, nowhere is it taught in Scripture that our justification or sanctification is furthered or secured by anyone save Christ Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The prayers of saints from under the altar in Rev. 6:9 are not intercessory, but prayers on their own behalf. So this really has no bearing on the question. We know that departed saints (the spirits of just men made perfect) enjoy access to the presence of God. We have no teaching that they have access or communication with us, the living.

And finally (hate to be a stickler on this but it is crucial), Christ is not only the "source" of our merit or righteousness, he is our merit and righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30).

And as an add-on to my previous comment: It is the gift of faith in Christ which justifies our person and through the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit which also sanctifies our good works, being also counted also counted as righteous through faith in Christ. So as we are led by the Spirit in grateful obedience, we show forth the evidence or fruit of God's gift of righteousness in Christ.

Best regards in his grace...

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Kirby wrote:

The fact that you were happy to sign it proves nothing about whether it is "palatable" to Evangelicals generally, since almost no other Evangelicals hold to the particular combination of ideas that you do.

Obviously, Father, you have never been to the United States (where St. Louis just happens to be). Obviously, you have steered clear of the UECNA. Finally, you obviously do not have a proper definition of the word "Evangelical" in any standard Anglican sense whatsoever (and that standard Anglican definition does not include, at all in any way, the errors of Sydney. Look up the name Graham Brown, Church of England circa 1930 to begin your research).

In short, your line I quoted above is one of the most distressing bits of misinformation I have seen in many years.

Fr.James A.Chantler said...

Father Kirby would probably be surprised to know that The Anglican Catholic Church Of Canada(which had been around since the earliest days of the Continuum) was a member of the Evangelical Fellowship Of Canada until the ACC(C) was hijacked by the Paplist cabal led by Archbishop Hepworth.The once thriving ACC(C) is now shattered but,thanks be to GOD,a faithful remnant survived which has been reunited with the ACC/OP under the Patrimony of the Metropolitan. Many Churchmen such as Fr.Roland F.Palmer SSJE,a faithful Churchman to be sure, did not(and in our own time do not) recognize the sectarians' exclusive claim on the the word Evangelical any more than they would recognize Rome's exclusive claim on the word Catholic.

Fr. Wells said...

Fr Kirby has suggested, in just pne comment, that (1) the terms Evangelical and Catholic are mutually exclusive; that
(2) Evangelical is defined by certain Australian extremists; that (3) there is no place in the Anglican Catholic Church for Evangelicals; and that (4) I do not know the correct name for my own theological position.

I am simply breathless.

Fr. John said...

Jack wrote:

"The prayers of saints from under the altar in Rev. 6:9 are not intercessory, but prayers on their own behalf. So this really has no bearing on the question. We know that departed saints (the spirits of just men made perfect) enjoy access to the presence of God. We have no teaching that they have access or communication with us, the living."

That they were "prayers on their own behalf," is a really bad guess. These are saints, praying under the high altar in heaven, what else could be added unto them? Unless you believe in the Romish doctrine of purgatory, what could they ask for on their own behalf?

Obviously they are praying for us, the church militant, this earth is where the battle field is, heaven is at peace. The body is in touch with itself, we are knit together in the Body of Christ, dead, living, and those yet to be born. The Communion of Saints is not an idea, but a reality. The closer our union with Christ, the closer our union with one another. Why is it so hard to accept that Christ is a bridge between the living and the dead?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The actual text seems to be about eschatology and the justice to be rendered in the final judgement.

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. Rev. 6:9-11

I cannot perceive of the prayer to be avenged as anything we normally associate with saints at all. But, there it is. It must be about justice on a higher level than our earthly minds understand. This prayer is neither for themselves nor is it intercession.

For the Communion of saints we need to look instead at Heb. 12:1, which includes these words:

...we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses...,

and compare that to the close of Romans chapter 8.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are surrounded by those who have gone before us with the mark of faith (in context faith is the key), who are themselves not separated from the love of Christ. What we know of that love does seem to be indicate that they may be praying for us. What we are not given is revelation that any specific saint hears any specific requests. Nor can we prove that any one of them has Divine powers to hear millions of requests from all over the earth, which would require omnipresence.

Nonetheless, though the details are mysterious and hidden, the basic fact of the communion of saints is undeniable. There is but one Church, and its members include saints both militant and triumphant.

Fr. John said...

This from the Geneva Study Bible;

"The sixth sign is that the holy martyrs who are under the altar, by which they are sanctified, that is, received into the trust and teaching of Christ (into whose hands they are committed) shall cry out for the justice of God, in a holy zeal to advance his kingdom, and not from any private disturbance of the mind, in this and the next verse, and that God will comfort them in deed, sign and word; Re 6:10."

I can only conclude that they are praying about specific events and situations in the work of the church militant when I read,"in a holy zeal to advance his kingdom, and not from any private disturbance..." God has no need to advance His kingdom in Heaven, it is a complete, perfected work, the action of advancing the kingdom occurs here, in time and space.

If one wants to believe that these saints are praying about our activities in advancing the kingdom in a general way, I have no problem with that, for they are still praying for us. Thanks be to God!

Jack Miller said...

Hello Frs. John and Hart,

Ah, the downside of the "too-quick" reply on blogs!

Yes, I would agree that "on their own behalf" is inaccurate... a poorly chosen phrase on my part. My focus was far less on what they were doing (carelessly) and more on what they weren't doing, i.e. the idea that Rev6:9 describes intercessory prayers of heavenly saints on the behalf of earthy believers, initiated by their prayers to them. My point was simply that the text doesn't seem to support that.

I think Fr. Hart gets to the 'heart' of it when he writes:
I cannot perceive of the prayer to be avenged as anything we normally associate with saints at all. But, there it is. It must be about justice on a higher level than our earthly minds understand. This prayer is neither for themselves nor is it intercession...

and I can easily accept Fr. John's possible interpretation:
If one wants to believe that these saints are praying about our activities in advancing the kingdom in a general way, I have no problem with that, for they are still praying for us. Thanks be to God!

Fr. John, thank you for "calling me" on this.

God bless...

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

To take the last point first, Fr John's interpretation of the passage from Revelation was the one I was assuming. It seems clear that those "under the altar" are praying for the vindication of the People of God, not just a private vengeance. Since such vindication, whether partial and temporal or complete and eschatological, is a undeniably a benefit to the Church Militant as well, it is inescapable that their prayer does indeed have an intercessory effect and aspect.

Jack, I am afraid that there is no room for a Catholic to reject either the fact of the intercession of the Saints or the legitimacy of asking for the benefit of their prayers, whether by addressing them or God. It is forbidden for a Catholic to claim that the whole Church has taught doctrinal error for centuries, with orthodoxy only re-established by a later restorationist minority. Such an assertion would be a precise and pure contradiction of fundamental Catholic epistemology. But this is undeniably what is involved in the outright rejection of the invocation of Saints, since all parts of the Church, Eastern and Western, defended this practice and the theology behind it right up to the Reformation.

As for the Scriptural evidence, I have given it in greater depth here: http://members.ozemail.com.au/~frmkirby/commsaints.htm

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fathers Hart, Wells and Chantler,

I am sorry, but your responses simply provide another example of what I was pointing out. You are using a definition of the word "Evangelical" that only a tiny proportion of Evangelicals now or in the past would recognise as normal, even in the Anglican Communion.

Words have meaning, and those meanings in practice are effectively set by history and majority usage.

The vast majority of Evangelicals throughout the world, according to the conventional definition of the word, which is what I am interested in, reject definitively and overtly the doctrines of Apostolic (Episcopal) Succession, the Real Presence, the Sacrifice of the Mass and the related Sacerdotal aspect of the Pastoral ministry, prayers for the faithful departed, and the invocation of Saints, for example. But this is not just a matter of "majority rules". In the 19th Century, those universally identified as Evangelical Anglicans explicitly and persistently rejected these doctrines and disparaged as papist heresy the specifically "Puseyite" doctrines. Read Toon's book, if you really were not aware of this. And those who were Evangelicals outside the Church of England were no more friendly to such Catholic teachings either.

Do any of you deny any of these statements in the above paragraph? Can you? If not, what are we arguing about? If you want to say, "But we are not that kind of Evangelical Protestant, we are Evangelical Catholic Anglicans who receive with reverence both the High and Low Church traditions", go right ahead. But please, let us not pretend that the vast majority of Evangelicals past and present (including representative Anglican teachers such as T.C. Hammond, W.H. Griffith Thomas, J.I. Packer and J. Stott) are that kind of Evangelical, or would be happy with the Affirmation of St Louis.

If you want to claim that only your type of Evangelical is a "true" Evangelical, that is your prerogative, and you can have that battle with other people calling themselves Evangelical Protestants, as I have no dog in that fight. But it might help future conversations if you signal when you are using your distinctive definition and when you are using the conventional one.

Is stressing the importance of personal conversion, living faith in Christ, and of trust in his Atonement as the only basis for the forgiveness of sins sufficient to be termed Evangelical? Then all Anglican Catholics are or should be Evangelicals by their own principles. But so should Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, based on their official teaching. However, it was my understanding, and that of most Christians, that Evangelicals are identified by which ancient Catholic teachings they overwhelmingly reject, and not only by those they affirm and emphasise.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Finally, Jack, you said:

"Our good works are not evidence of our righteousness".

Whereas St John said "He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous." (1 J. 3:7)

Good works are, therefore, evidence of righteousness, but not causes of it. That our good works are not perfect does not make them "actual sins" in the proper sense, and nobody claimed good works took away our sins anyway. This is not what the RC teaching about merit means either.

You also said "nowhere is it taught in Scripture that our justification or sanctification is furthered or secured by anyone save Christ Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit".

St James said "My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20)

St John says "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life". (1 J. 5:16)

St Jude says to his readers, "others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire" (v. 23)

Therefore, Christians do assist (as instruments) the salvation of others by their prayers and deeds, which salvation obviously includes justification and sanctification. They are obviously not primary or "efficient causes", and nobody ever claimed they were.

Fr. Wells said...

Fr Kirby asks:

"Do any of you deny any of these statements in the above paragraph? Can you? If not, what are we arguing about?"

A review of the thread shows that this discusssion arose out of your claim that Evangelicals are ineligible to sign the St Louis Affirmation, and your allegation that the Syney Error of Lay Presiency typical of the Evangelical position.

As for the second, this is a Falsehood. Whether it originates through ignorance or malice on your part, I have no opinion.

As for the first assertion, permit me to remind you that you were not present at St Louis. Had such a partisan assertion been made in that hall, the meeting might have collapsed an thre Afirmation would have been DOA. Your attitude is not helpful in furthering Anglican unity.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Kirby wrote:

You are using a definition of the word "Evangelical" that only a tiny proportion of Evangelicals now or in the past would recognise as normal, even in the Anglican Communion.

That is simply wrong. It is so far from being accurate that I am shocked to read it. The word "Evangelical" has suffered many hits in recent years; but, that does not justify furthering the mis-definition and confusion, all too partisan in nature.

Do any of you deny any of these statements in the above paragraph? Can you? If not, what are we arguing about?

I deny those statements, as Anglicans used the term. Again, look up Graham Brown and the details about his consecration to the episcopate.

Then all Anglican Catholics are or should be Evangelicals by their own principles.

Gee, I sure would hope so.

However, it was my understanding, and that of most Christians, that Evangelicals are identified by which ancient Catholic teachings they overwhelmingly reject...

To see this kind of mistaken definition is quite disheartening.

St James said "My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him...

Yes, convert him back to Jesus Christ. This does not refute Jack Miller's point.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Kirby wrote:

However, it was my understanding, and that of most Christians, that Evangelicals are identified by which ancient Catholic teachings they overwhelmingly reject...

The more I think about this statement the more I hate it. Fr. Kirby, because Fr. Nalls has withdrawn (I believe temporarily) due to other responsibilities, you are the lone Anglo-Catholic voice on this blog. We need your perspective to maintain balance and to represent fairly Continuing Anglicans.

But, this remark is beneath you. You must know that a convinced Evangelical would say, with equal conviction (and with equal truth on his side) the same thing about a modern school that calls itself Anglo-Catholic. But, the simple fact is, Anglicanism is both Catholic and Evangelical; without that balance it morphs into something else.

I remain convinced that a truly Catholic believer must be truly Evangelical as well, and vice versa. Otherwise, he is not, in any genuine sense, Catholic or Evangelical.

Nonetheless, this is not the venue for partisanship, especially not of the prosecution type. I believe your remark serves to perpetuate disunity, to prevent understanding and to further the cause of misunderstanding. Besides which, it is simply not true at all.

Fr. Wells said...

"However, it was my understanding, and that of most Christians, that Evangelicals are identified by which ancient Catholic teachings they overwhelmingly reject..."

Suppose I had written, "it was my understanding, and that of most Christians, that Catholics are identified by which parts of trhe Gospel they overwhelmignly reject," I would sound like a backwoods bigot spouting the falsehoods of Jack Chick tracts. That would sound like something coming from Westboro Baptist Church.

In the first place, it is amazing that anyone would identify his private opinions as the Christian consensus. Even the Roman magisterium does not display such adolescent arrogance.

What we all lose sight of is that the terms "Catholic" and "Evangelical" belong to different departments of dogmatic theology. Catholicity is an attribute of the Church; the term belongs to the doctrine of the Church. "Evangelical" refers to the Gospel and pertains to the Doctrine of salvation.
Unless one suffers a warped mind, there is therefore no tension between the two. There have been many illustrious Anglican theologians who described themselves as Evangelical Catholics, men who simultaneously taught Justification fide sola and the Real Presence, who saw no inconsistency between the primacy of Scripture and apostolic succession. No matter what sort of religion is practiced in Australia, the American vision of Anglicanism from the time of Hobart and Ravenscroft has been "catholic at the altar, evangelical in the pulpit." That is the Anglicanism which produced the Affirmation of St Louis.

Since Fr Kirby feels that Evanglicals cannot honestly sign the Affirmation of St Louis, the inevitable logical inference is that Evangelicals have no place in the Anglican Catholic Church. The ACC has suffered many cruel blows from such an exclusivist attitude but has experienced recovery over the last five years or so. So Fr Kirby, tell us, are you willing to follow out the logic of your claims?

Jack Miller said...

Hello Fr. Kirby,

your wrote: It is forbidden for a Catholic to claim that the whole Church has taught doctrinal error for centuries, with orthodoxy only re-established by a later restorationist minority.

Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer might beg to differ regarding the doctrine of justification by faith only, the errors of transubstantiation - celibacy of priests - and the Supremacy of of the Pope.

and: Whereas St John said "He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous." (1 J. 3:7)

Yes and no. John is not saying here that we are righteous in the same way the Christ is righteous. Rather we, through faith in Him, now have been really and truly accounted righteous with His righteousness as if it was indeed our own. So, I stand by my statement that necessary good works are evidence not of "our righteousness" but fruit (or evidence) of our true and lively faith by which we are accounted righteous for Christ's sake. There is no such thing as 90% (or any percentage) pure righteousness whether in our acts or persons. Only complete righteousness is acceptable, and our works of "faith working through love" are acceptable as righteous by God due to his grace alone and our union with Christ.

by His grace...

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Kriby,

finally, you wrote: Therefore, Christians do assist (as instruments) the salvation of others by their prayers and deeds, which salvation obviously includes justification and sanctification.

I never claimed otherwise. The topic was earth-bound believers praying to saints in heaven for effectual assistance via the saints' intercessory prayers. The question was to whom do believers pray for the effectual means of furthering and securing our salvation. We pray to our Father in heaven through Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate.

Though I would argue that while living believers (even Apostles) do assist other believers in their walk and that their help is used of God, in no way is that help the actual furthering or securing of their salvation. That is of God.

1 Cor. 3:6-7
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

by His grace

Fr. Robert Hart said...

It seems to me that on one subject we are seeing a bit of communication at cross purposes. Saint Paul wrote, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, etc." (Col. 1:9f)

No one can add to anyone's justification, salvation or righteousness, all of which are ours in Christ; nothing can be added, nor is there anything to add.

But, neither can death cause departed saints to cease their prayers for those yet in the great warfare and tribulation of this world. That is the higher justice of the prayers mentioned in the Rev. passage. "How long" before God acts finally to end the shedding of our blood: "Our blood" because the Church militant and triumphant is one Church. Death is no absolute barrier.

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Hart,

But, neither can death cause departed saints to cease their prayers for those yet in the great warfare and tribulation of this world. That is the higher justice of the prayers mentioned in the Rev. passage. "How long" before God acts finally to end the shedding of our blood: "Our blood" because the Church militant and triumphant is one Church. Death is no absolute barrier.

Is anyone reading this old thread but the commenters?!

Death as a barrier cannot, with any certainty, keep the heavenly saints from praying for the Church triumphant and militant. The question at hand though, is death an absolute barrier to earthly saints communicating via prayer with heavenly saints?! I don't know in an absolute sense, but Scripture gives no positive or even inferential teaching that this is the case. In fact it clearly teaches that our prayers are to be to none other than God through Christ alone.

Isn't that true?...

hanging in there by His grace...

Fr.James Chantler said...

In a reply to me and two other Priests who've been commenting on this thread Fr.Kirby said:
"Do any of you deny any of these statements in the above paragraph? Can you? If not, what are we arguing about? If you want to say, "But we are not that kind of Evangelical Protestant, we are Evangelical Catholic Anglicans who receive with reverence both the High and Low Church traditions", go right ahead. But please, let us not pretend that the vast majority of Evangelicals past and present (including representative Anglican teachers such as T.C. Hammond, W.H. Griffith Thomas, J.I. Packer and J. Stott) are that kind of Evangelical, or would be happy with the Affirmation of St Louis"

Fr.Kirby
I am not arguing with you or anyone else and I'm not sure why you think I am. Cheers. J+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Past yes. Present - well, the word has undergone a confusing redefinition among Anglicans.

The only difficulties anyone might have had in the past would be about making the sevens an absolute standard. But, I consider the issue easily resolved if handled in an Anglican manner (and have yet to find myself refuted in what I have written before). By "an Anglican manner" I mean a thinking Christianity that explores theological questions intently.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Wells, you claim: "A review of the thread shows that this discusssion arose out of your claim that Evangelicals are ineligible to sign the St Louis Affirmation, and your allegation that the Syney Error of Lay Presiency typical of the Evangelical position."

Actually, what I said was this: "while no part of the Affirmation would have looked heterodox to Anglican Catholics, a number of sections were quite inconsistent with common or popular conceptions and presentations of Evangelical or Broad Churchmanship." [Emphasis added]. And this: "I still find the claim that the Affirmation of St Louis sits comfortably with Evangelicalism utterly implausible." And this: "The vast majority of Evangelicals throughout the world, according to the conventional definition of the word, which is what I am interested in, reject [many Catholic doctrines]". None of these equate to Evangelicals being "ineligible" to sign the Affirmation. However, by signing it, they signal they are quite different to the vast majority of Evangelicals, past and present, inside or outside the Anglican Communion.

Again, nothing you or Fr Hart has said has given any evidence to controvert this, probably because you do in fact know that almost 100% of Evangelical Protestants are opposed to Catholic teachings about prayer for the faithful departed, the invocation of Saints, etc., etc. This is not "private opinion", it is just notorious, widely acknowledged, obvious truth. As for Evangelical Anglicans, I can hardly believe either of you is not fully aware of what virtually all Evangelical Anglicans of the 19th Century said about the Tractarian distinctives. And then, in the 20th and 21st Centuries, the representative Evangelical leaders such as Stott and Packer, continue the same tradition of rejection, though in a friendlier tone. You know as well as I do that the normal Evangelical Anglican is not comfortable with either Corpus Christi processions or the Angelus, for example.

You tell me, would Stott, Packer or the famous Evangelical Anglican theologians further back in time be happy to recite the Angelus? Take part in Eucharistic Adoration, adoring Christ's presence "veiled" under the sacramental signs, to paraphrase Aquinas? Say a Requiem Mass? Call the Consecrated Bread the Host (deriving as it does from hostia, Latin for sacrificial victim)?

All these practices or the doctrines associated with them are firmly entrenched in the Tradition to which the Affirmation binds itself. Therefore, a person who rejects, for example, the orthodoxy of prayer for the departed or the invocation of Saints, should not sign the Affirmation. And, in accordance with the international, conventional understanding of the word Evangelical (and that which historically obtained for classic Evangelicals of the Church of England), that means most calling themselves Evangelicals, and the broad movement known as "Evangelicalism" or "Evangelical Protestantism" could not sign the Affirmation and maintain intellectual coherence.

And do you not accept that the Sydney Diocese has had strong influence on Evangelical Anglicanism not just in its own backyard but in Africa and South America for a long, long time, through CMS? Nevertheless, I did not say that the Sydney position was "typical" of all Evangelicalism, but that Sydney was the "most influential and powerful Evangelical centre in the Anglican Communion", which while more debatable than what I said previously, I still think accurate.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Jack,

You mention the "celibacy of priests" and the "Supremacy of the Pope" as purported errors of "the whole Church" Cranmer et al. opposed. Have you forgotten the existence of the Eastern Orthodox Church? I doubt they had.

As for your soteriological arguments, I am not sure the distinctions you are drawing between what you are willing to say and what I said about the assistance Christians give each other in the process of salvation are really distinctions at all. So, I see no point continuing that line.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Hart,

The paragraph I asked for a response on, you reject as untrue, with this caveat: "I deny those statements, as Anglicans used the term." [Emphasis added.]

But I had begun the paragraph with these words: "The vast majority of Evangelicals throughout the world, according to the conventional definition of the word, which is what I am interested in".

So, I am not sure you have answered the question at all. However, if you claim that the majority Anglican use of the word "Evangelical" in the 19th and 20th Centuries, unlike in Protestantism, commonly referred to persons who, among their other beliefs and practices, prayed for the dead, invoked the Saints, and practised Eucharistic Adoration, I am gobsmacked. If this is not what you are claiming, and it seems impossible that it is, I can only assume that you really mean that American Episcopalian Evangelicals were generally comfortable with all these things. If that is the case, I am greatly surprised, though pleasantly so. Are you (and Fr Wells) saying that the great majority of Episcopalians identifying as Evangelicals accepted as orthodox all these things?

As for the statement you "hate" and think beneath me, it seems you refuse to acknowledge the fact that I am using the word Evangelical in its conventional, dominant sense, and believe it is appropriate to do so. That Evangelicals, in the conventional sense of the word, by and large reject certain Catholic teachings and believe such rejection is a necessary part of their Evangelical position, is not a vicious accusation or a malicious one. It is just a fact.

And most Evangelicals would not be offended by me saying that they, as a group, do not invoke the Saints and think it wrong to do so and an offense against the Gospel and Christ's Mediatorship. Ask Jack! Or, better still, read what he has just been saying for the past few days on this very thread. Do you really believe Jack, Packer and Stott, T.C, Hammond and W.H. Griffith Thomas are the unrepresentative Evangelicals? In fact, I think most Evangelicals would be offended, would "hate" me saying that they were, on the whole, quite OK with asking the BVM for her prayers, and always had been. They would hate it because I would be misrepresenting them.

Nevertheless, I have no objection to the claim that an Evangelical who accepts all of Catholic doctrine should be at home in the ACC. Obviously, anybody who submits to Holy Tradition should be at home in the ACC.

Jack Miller said...

... purported errors of "the whole Church" Cranmer et al. opposed. Have you forgotten the existence of the Eastern Orthodox Church? I doubt they had.

XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Could the brother of David Bentley Hart forget the Eastern Orthodox?

Nonetheless, the point of the second part of Article XIX is that no one See has been free of error at some time in its past. Each one has erred at some time, such as Constantinople in the days of Maximus' battle with Monothelitism. This Article really was aimed at Rome, however, for its claim to infallibility.

Besides, what of Pope Honorius who was condemned as a heretic in the fifth Ecumenical Council, among other examples?

Fr. Wells said...

Fr Kirby: In your attempt to demonize the Evangelical tradition of Anglicanism, you reveal not only an ignorance of what "Evangelical" even means, but (what is worse) a distorted concept of what constitutes Catholicity.

Catholicity is defined (by the Seven Councils you set so much stock on) by the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Overlooking the essential catholic orthodoxy of contemporary Evanglical worthies, you trot out a grocery list of late mediaeval devotions (the Angelus, Corpus Christi processions and the like) mostly deriving from Western practice after AD 1000. The only exception to this would be "prayers for the dead," which for you seems to be some sort of shibboleth. These all fall into the category of adiaphora; none are essential to sound catholicism; all are subject to superstition and abuse as the best modern RC has candidly acknowledged.

With your idiosyncratic definitions, you should hang a sign in front of your parish church honestly stating, "Evangelicals Are Unwelcome Here."

Jack Miller said...

I don't necessarily hold that an individual "invoking" or praying to a heavenly saint is an offense to the Gospel or Christ's Mediatorship. That just seems a misguided practice unsupported by Scripture. It is that practice combined with the pleading the merits of those saints that the offense is made. That is my concern in this thread.

Regarding the "false doctrine merit" of the heavenly saints, I agree with Fr. Wells wrote: but this still dishonors the unique, perfect, and final sacrifice of Christ, who alone is meritorious, and on whose merits alone we depend.

And let me clarify my so-called "evangelical" bona fides. Until recently I was a member and Senior Warden in an APCK church. Without going into detail, that parish has been sadly and slowly fading (literally a handful of saints left). It has been again without a priest for almost a year. Not without much prayer and thought, my wife and I have left and sought refuge in a nearby Reformed church, with the gracious blessing of AB Provence, whom I respect and have true affection for. I am a reformed/catholic Christian. As such I see no difficulty in embracing the reformed gospel doctrines as expressed in The "39", The Heidelberg, The Belgic, and The WFC (excepting certain points here and there).

Do I reject the "Affirmations?" No. I have some quibbles here and there and I think they could be clearer and bolder in a number of areas. That lack of clarity (imo) can lead to doctrinal confusion (as exampled in this thread?). Fr. Hart and Fr. Wells doing an excellent job clarifying many of those points.

If we were living near Chapel Hill or the Jacksonville area I would find no difficulty worshiping with their ACC churches, where the gospel is rightly preached and the Lord worshiped consistent with the BCP.

Fr. Wells said...

Where to begin?

"it seems you refuse to acknowledge the fact that I am using the word Evangelical in its conventional, dominant sense, and believe it is appropriate to do so."

Fact? The reality is, Fr Kirby, that "Evangelical" these days has almost lost any commonly agreed definition, your pontificating to the contrary notwithstanding. "Evangelical" is used to describe people as different as Donald Bloesch and Rick Warren.

The Reformed theologians that I take my cues from are no longer using this term very much. (They do not like to be lumped with fundamentalists or Arminians.) Amongst Anglicans, it has been used to describe a school of theology which treasures the doctrines of grace rediscovered in the 16th century Reformation. It is a pity that you are only able to perceive the negative iconoclastic round-headed of aspects of the Evangelical tradition.

I wonder if you can hear the supercilious tone when you write:

"Nevertheless, I have no objection to the claim that an Evangelical who accepts all of Catholic doctrine should be at home in the ACC. Obviously, anybody who submits to Holy Tradition should be at home in the ACC."

In that same magnanimous spirit, I would respond,

"I have no objection to the claim that a Tractarian who accepts the Bible as God's Word should be at home in the ACC. Obviously, anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour will be welcome here."

I doubt that Evangelicals would care to join a Church in which you are the arbiter of what constitutes "Tradition."

Fr. Robert Hart said...

In Germany "Evangelical" means Lutheran; and Luther was not an Evangelical by Fr. Kirby's definition (though he probably regards the man as "notorious" - an odd word to describe sincere believers in Christ whose lives are not stained by scandal). I have acknowledged that people since the 1970s have created a whole new definition to an old word. But, I cannot accept that definition as proper. And, there are even Roman Catholics who call themselves "Evangelicals" these days. Nor do a few isolated 19th century cases change the true meaning of the word.

And, not all of the "Tractarian distinctives" are the Catholic Tradition of the Universal Church.

The Anglican Reformers, contemporaries of Luther and yet not entirely like him, were Evangelicals. We need that kind of real Evangelicalism at least every bit as much as we need the Tractarians.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Kirby has mentioned:

prayer for the faithful departed, the invocation of Saints, etc., etc....the Tractarian distinctives...Eucharistic Adoration, adoring Christ's presence "veiled" under the sacramental signs, to paraphrase Aquinas? Say a Requiem Mass? Call the Consecrated Bread the Host (deriving as it does from hostia, Latin for sacrificial victim)?..

By the way, there is absolutely nothing about these things in the Affirmation of St. Louis. Furthermore, Fr. Kirby's assertion that "All these practices or the doctrines associated with them are firmly entrenched in the Tradition to which the Affirmation binds itself" is pure speculation on his part. In fact, it is just not true.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Frs Wells and Hart,

1. I was using the word "notorious" to mean "facts well known to almost everybody". I realise it is becoming archaic, but I prefer to use the word in this original sense rather than in the modern sense, which seems to be automatically an insult. Following such usage, I would be happy to describe myself as notorious for opposing doctrinal comprehensiveness, for example.

2. On the key point separating us, whether Evangelicalism, as reasonably and normally defined and existing in historic practice, sits comfortably with the Affirmation of St Louis, I simply cannot concede to your position without being deliberately dishonest by conceding one of the following two points, both of which I sincerely believe to be manifestly untrue:

A. The orthodoxy of Eucharistic Adoration due to the Real Presence, and of prayers for the faithful departed and to the Saints asking for their prayers, and the acknowledgement of the Eucharist as a propitiatory (though relative/dependent rather than absolute/independent) Sacrifice may be denied and deemed erroneous by a Catholic. These beliefs are not part of the Holy Tradition. True beliefs about the Trinity and the Incarnation alone are sufficient to make one a Catholic.

B. Most Evangelical Anglicans in fact have no problem with the above beliefs and have not denied them or argued against them as unorthodox, and this has been their classical position. Or, even if they have had reservations, they have not based them on their specifically Evangelical convictions but on unrelated theological assertions.

I am sorry you have been so offended by my position, but I can assure you that it is not due to malice towards Evangelicals. I just cannot bring myself to say either A or B without gross hypocrisy and cowardice.

Regarding B, have you not read what a famous classic Evangelical Anglican such as Bp J.C. Ryle said about the beliefs listed in A? And those affirming them? Or do you think he was not representative of 19th Century Anglicanism, despite the extensive documentary evidence from other Evangelical authors to the contrary? If Ryle was not a "real" Evangelical Anglican, who was? Are Packer and Stott representative examples in the 20th Century and beyond, or not?

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

3. Fr Hart, I am not sure, but you seem to have responded to an answer made to Jack as if it was directed at you.

4. Fr Wells, I have no desire or intention to "demonise" Evangelicalism or Evangelicals. I just believe that being an Evangelical, traditionally and normally, has involved much more than certain crucial positive soteriological affirmations, in isolation from the rest of theology. I believe that, instead, it has involved both the positive affirmations AND certain unorthodox denials which were (mistakenly, I think) thought to follow from the affirmations.

That this does not apply to you and other Evangelicals of your variety I am happy to grant, and tried to make this clear in a deliberately humourous and light-hearted tone earlier in the thread, though this attempt obviously fell flat. Believe it or not, I was hoping you would respond to my "Catholic with a weakness for hyper-Augustinian" joke with something like: "Actually, I take that as a great compliment! That's what a true Evangelical is!"

You accuse me of idiosyncratic definition of Catholicism and Holy Tradition. But I follow those definitions accepted by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, as well as various of the Caroline Divines and Tractarians. That is, Catholicism means, among other things, acceptance of the epistemological and doctrinal principle that the Church Universal cannot, as a whole, err in its consensual, authoritative teaching on faith and morals. Therefore, if the whole Church agreed and taught for centuries the teachings listed in A above, they are infallibly true. The binding Tradition therefore includes not just Conciliar Dogma and the Creeds, but much else besides. I agree with our Metropolitan that what the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox agree on (as doctrine regarding faith and morals) is a safe guide to the Tradition.

Do you really believe I am idiosyncratic or imposing a mere personal foible in claiming the above? That I am out on a limb amongst Anglican Catholics in saying that denying the orthodoxy and permissibility of prayer for the dead is incompatible with being an orthodox Catholic?

Finally, on a personal note, while I think it possible that both of you feel I enjoy this conflict, or am consciously out to offend and disturb you and "pontificate" and condemn, I can assure you this is not true. In fact, I have felt great reluctance in continuing this discussion. I have come back to the thread every few days with a kind of dread and grief. The last couple of times this dread has led to abdominal pain and quickened heart-rate, but not out of anger. If I could find a way to make peace in a way that would satisfy all our consciences, please believe that I would. But it seems that I hold firmly to propositions which even to countenance you find obnoxious and impute as either the result of stupidity or malice.

God have mercy on us all. I don't think there is anything else I can say that will solve the dilemma. I am genuinely sorry that this is the case.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Let's clear away some itmes before getting to the herat of the matter:

1.a famous classic Evangelical Anglican such as Bp J.C. Ryle said about the beliefs listed in A? And those affirming them? Or do you think he was not representative of 19th Century Anglicanism, despite the extensive documentary evidence from other Evangelical authors to the contrary?

He was, in fact, not representative of 19th century Anglicanism. As I pointed out on another thread, Ryle was quite an extremist in his time, and his positions on certain issues cannot be reconciled to the BCP.

2. The word "notorious" must never be used unless it is about publicly known moral failures. Your use of "notorious" suggests that some Christian's honest convictions amount to moral failure. In that, you spoke as if you wanted to live down to Ryle's caricature of what he called "Ritualists."

Apparently, you consider the following list to be Universal, having the consent of the Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) and the Roman catholic Church (RCC) (as if that alone could make something "universal" or, for that matter, true - an assumption I do not make).

The orthodoxy of Eucharistic Adoration due to the Real Presence, and of prayers for the faithful departed and to the Saints asking for their prayers, and the acknowledgement of the Eucharist as a propitiatory (though relative/dependent rather than absolute/independent) Sacrifice may be denied and deemed erroneous by a Catholic. These beliefs are not part of the Holy Tradition.

To begin with, the Affirmation of St. Louis does not affirm these specific things, nor did everybody who was part of writing it, or who ratified it (so to speak), necessarily belong to a tradition that was "bound" to them. Do you really think Bp. Doren and his followers agreed to these things?

But let me ask how you can say that the EOC believes in "the acknowledgement of the Eucharist as a propitiatory (though relative/dependent rather than absolute/independent) Sacrifice"? In fact, they do not believe any such thing, and in 1930 the Oecumencial Patriarch stated their agreement with the Anglican understanding of Eucharistic Sacrifice because, like the Anglicans, they did not see it as an expiatory sacrifice (though, oddly enough, not for the best of reasons). So, that is not a "universal" belief, even by your definition.

I do not believe for one minute that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is an offering for sin; no such offering can be made, nor is it needed. It was done once for all. Now, to discuss the mystical and mysterious connection of Eucharistic Sacrifice with Christ's sacrifice on the altar of the cross, "(by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world," is quite right. But, even so, to call it a "relative/dependent" sacrifice for sin is a flat contradiction to the Epistle to the Hebrews. I both deny and deem erroneous the double plural "sacrifices of masses" such as your belief in "relative/dependent" propitiatory sacrifices suggests. That belief is "not part of Holy Tradition."

(continued below)

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Most Evangelical Anglicans in fact have no problem with the above beliefs and have not denied them or argued against them as unorthodox, and this has been their classical position.

No one has said that. But, they are fellow Anglicans, and they are not [all] heretics. Certainly, they are not "notorious" (obviously, some who call themselves "Evangelical" are heretics, but that is the new and very modern kind who use the "E" word for themselves).

Furthermore, "Eucharistic adoration due to the Real Presence" is not nearly as important as modern Anglo-Catholics make it. A person can live his whole life without Benedictions and "Visiting" the sacrament, and still be quite healthy spiritually. The highest adoration, anyway, is to eat and drink with faith in Christ, whether or not one holds to any specific theory of "Real Presence" - in fact, whether or not one gives it much thought. Everyone should be reverent, but not everyone needs to practice adoration of a kind beyond what goes on in the Eucharist.

You wrote:

Catholicism means, among other things, acceptance of the epistemological and doctrinal principle that the Church Universal cannot, as a whole, err in its consensual, authoritative teaching on faith and morals.

Does the Church Universal, in your mind, boil down to the occasional (and otherwise more largely fictitious than actual) consensus of Rome and Constantinople? Other than the same Creeds and Catholic Order that Anglicans have always held to, there is no such consensus in fact between the EOC and the RCC.

If you are looking for the mind of the Universal Church, you will find no better expression of its genuine consensus than what was believed by the Church of England, the tradition that includes the doctrines of the Reformers and the Caroline Divines.

(cont. below)

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Frankly, I believe that modern Anglo-Catholics had no more right to redefine Anglicanism than did the apostate "liberals" in the 70s and now. When I am presented with "Anglicanism" minus the classic Formularies, I cannot accept it. It is one thing to root those Formularies in the older, as it is called now, "Henrican" first secession of Anglicanism. But, so what? That is exactly what the Edwardians and Elizabethans meant to do anyway, and which they accomplished quite well.

Fr. Wells said...

Fr Kirby: Here are your statements:

"Actually, what I said was this: "while no part of the Affirmation would have looked heterodox to Anglican Catholics, a number of sections were quite inconsistent with common or popular conceptions and presentations of Evangelical or Broad Churchmanship." [Emphasis added].

Did you get the memo explaining that the Evangelical and Latitudinarian positions are quite distinct from each other? Lumping them together in this high-handed manner is a serious mistake.You wrote further,

"I still find the claim that the Affirmation of St Louis sits comfortably with Evangelicalism utterly implausible."

Since you know so little about the Evangelical position and harbor such ill will toward it, it is not for you to say what sits comfortably with Evangelicalism. You dig your hole deeper by writing:

"The vast majority of Evangelicals throughout the world, according to the conventional definition of the word, which is what I am interested in, reject [many Catholic doctrines]".

I would grant you that Evangelicals have a ways to go in coming to terms with the Affirmations of the Seventh Council (but NOT granting that EO's or RC's understand that Council much better). But the so-called "Catholic doctrines" you recite are neither affirmed by St Louis nor as solidly grounded in "the Tradition" as you imagine.


If you are not trying to "demonise" the Evangelical tradition of Anglicanism, I wonder how you would write of a position you truly hate.

More recently you write:

"But I follow those definitions accepted by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, as well as various of the Caroline Divines and Tractarians."

RC's an EO's do not agree in their definition of Catholicity. RC's give the Bishop of Rome a unique position which EO's deny. EO's acknowlefge Seven Councils, whereas RC's place later Councils, including Vatican II, on the same level. So your monolithic definition collapses.

"Do you really believe I am idiosyncratic or imposing a mere personal foible in claiming the above?"

Since you asked, the answer is yes.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I get tired of hearing about some "consensus" between the modern RCC and the modern EOC; and especially tired of the notion that this non-existent pipe dream constitutes the teaching and Tradition of the Universal Church. It is this kind of fantasy land thinking that so aided Hepworth and his henchmen in lying to TAC members, and bullying them. This was the "Pontificator's Law" - and it is mostly just make believe.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Dear Fathers,

I will try to make this my last post. I will only make three points.

First, you both seem to have interpreted my statements about those Catholic doctrines and associated practices generally rejected by Protestants as a claim that people who have scruples about these or refrain from the said practices are thereby sinful or even automatically heretical (especially formally so). No. Rather, what I am saying is that the outright rejection of such doctrines as heretical and such practices as idolatrous is not compatible with the Catholic faith. No person, including a Catholic, is obliged to invoke the Saints or got to Benediction, for example. This is obvious. What Catholics are obliged to do is refuse to consider Eucharistic Adoration in general or the invocation of Saints in general as idolatrous. They must, based on their acceptance of the Church's persistent, consentient teaching, accept that these things are orthodox.

Secondly, I think that your description of the EO position is unintentionally misleading. It is true, as I understand it, that some EO were, like many theologians over the last century, wary of the English word propitiation.

But this is what they said about the Eucharist in the Orthodox Confession of 1640 (thereafter ratified by all 4 eastern Patriarchates and two subsequent Eastern Councils): "this mystery is a propitiation and atonemement with God for our sins both of the living and the dead". And they asked this pointed question of Anglicans in the early Twentieth Century at an official Conference: "Does the Anglican Church agree that ... the rendering of the Eucharist is a spiritual sacrifice, propitiatory for the living and the dead?"

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

(part 2)

Third, this concept of relative sacrifice and borrowed propitiation is easily found in the Anglican Divines, for example:

Bishop Overall: "If we compare the Eucharist with the Sacrifice once made upon the Cross with reference to the killing or destroying of the Sacrifice, or with reference to the visibility of it, in that sense we call it only a commemorative Sacrifice, as the Fathers do. (Chrys. Horn. Contr. Jud. part 2. Sentent. lib. 4. dist. 12.) But if we compare the Eucharist with Christ's Sacrifice made once upon the Cross as concerning the effect of it, we say that (of the Cross) was a sufficient Sacrifice; but at the same time that this (of the Eucharist) is a true, real, and efficient Sacrifice, and both of them propitiatory for the sins of the whole world. .... Neither do we call this Sacrifice of the Eucharist an efficient Sacrifice, as if that upon the Cross wanted efficacy; but because the force and virtue of that Sacrifice would not be profitable unto us, unless it were applied and brought into effect by this Eucharistical Sacrifice, and other the holy Sacraments and means appointed by God for that end"

Bishop Lancelot Andrewes: "And that sacrifice but once actually performed at His death, ... and ever since repeated in memory to the world's end. That only absolute, all else relative to it, representative of it, operative by it"

Bishop Jeremy Taylor: "As Christ is a Priest in heaven for ever, and yet does not sacrifice Himself afresh, (nor yet without a sacrifice could He be a Priest,) but by a daily ministration and intercession represents His Sacrifice to God, and offers Himself as sacrificed, so He does upon earth, by the ministry of His servants. He is offered to God, that is, He is by prayers and the Sacrament represented and offered up to God, ‘as sacrificed;’ which, in effect, is a celebration of His death, and the applying it to the present and future necessities of the Church by a ministry like to His in heaven. It follows then, that the celebration of this sacrifice be, in its proportion, an instrument of applying the proper sacrifice to all the purposes, which it first designed. It is propitiatory, it is Eucharistical, it is impetratory"

Herbert Thorndike: "I say then, having proved the Consecration of the Eucharist to be the production of the Body and Blood of Christ Crucified (or the causing them to be mystically present in the Elements thereof, as in a Sacrament representing them separated by the crucifying of Christ), and the Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross being necessarily propitiatory and impetratory both, it cannot be denied that the Sacrament of the Eucharist, inasmuch as it is the same Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross (as that which represented or tendered), and not merely signifieth, is truly said to be the thing which it representeth) is also both propitiatory and impetratory"

Many others could be quoted to the same effect from the early Anglican period, such as the 17th Century Bishop Forbes, and still more from later, of course. I see nothing unevangelical in any of this concept of unbloody, sacramental but effectual borrowed Propitiation in the Eucharist, and nothing that separates us from the RCC or EOC doctrine. One day I hope to write an apologetical and educational piece explaining the Eucharistic Sacrifice and its rich biblical underpinnings, one that may, God-willing, satisfy all three of us. It is presently a long scribbled draft from years ago.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Kirby:

I said "Now, to discuss the mystical and mysterious connection of Eucharistic Sacrifice with Christ's sacrifice on the altar of the cross, '(by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world,' is quite right." And, that was not clear, as I read it, in your earlier comment.

About the Orthodox question and answer, look at this from The Patriarch of ALEXANDRIA, 1930, to Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang (recognizing Anglican Orders):

"[1] of the teaching and practice of the Church of England and the Churches in communion with it, it welcomes them as a notable step towards the Union of the two Churches. And since in these declarations, which were endorsed by the Lambeth Conference, complete and satisfying assurance is found as to the Apostolic Succession, as to a real reception of the Lord's Body and blood, as to the Eucharist being thusia hilasterios...Footnoes[2] We transliterate the term, thusia hilasterios, and do not translate it by propitiatory sacrifice, or expiatory sacrifice, because, as generally used, these terms present conceptions which are not attached by the Orthodox to thusia hilasterios."

This was followed by, "… that the Anglican Church teaches the doctrine of Eucharistic Sacrifice as explained in the Answer of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to Pope Leo XIII, on Anglican Ordinations: and also that in the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Anglican Church prays that ‘by the merits and death of Thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in His Blood, we and all Thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of His Passion,' as including the whole company of faithful people, living and departed.' Lambeth Conference Report, 1930"

The problem of making this matter clear is very important.

Fr. Wells said...

This discussion emerged from Fr Kirby's claim that Evangelical Anglicans would be "uncomfortable" with the Affirmation of St Louis. He appears to have abandoned that exclusionary assertion and now tries to shift the definition of Catholicism to such unrelated matters as Eucharistic Adoration (conveniently forgetting that Eucharistic Adoration is a Western devotional practice large unknown in the Byzantine Churches). I wish he would clarify his views as to whether Evangelical Anglicans should be admitted to Churches which treasure the Affirmation.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Wells,

I wished to cease, but you desire a response, so here goes. But enough is enough, please. You can have the last word, if you wish. I request you ask no more questions on this thread, if possible, as I believe I have already made my main points with sufficient clarity.

Nothing I have said changes the earlier assertions of mine that the Affirmation would not sit comfortably with the majority of Evangelicals, past and present, Anglican or not. I still believe many, internationally, would reject outright parts of it, many would be (rightly, from their perspective) suspicious of parts of it, and only a small minority would wholeheartedly endorse it.

More significantly, you have misrepresented the Orthodox, who practise Eucharistic Adoration at every Eucharist. They are taught to worship with latreia Christ Present in the Sacrament. Such adoration outside the Eucharist is not liturgically celebrated in the East, but that is a secondary devotion not affecting the key point, which is this: Eucharistic Adoration, as common to E and W, is either legitimate because the Elements have mysteriously, spiritually but really become the Body and Blood of God the Son, or it is idolatry. Catholics are not free to assert the latter, Evangelicals are and normally have.

The answer to your query is relatively simple. Those Evangelicals who are comfortable with the Affirmation and thus accept the fullness of the Holy Tradition it affirms are obviously able to join the ACC in good conscience. Evangelicals who reject Eucharistic Adoration as idolatry, consider prayer for the dead and the invocation of saints as unorthodox, and reject all concept of the Eucharist being a (relative/borrowed) propitiatory sacrifice for quick and dead, should not, and would seldom want to.

Apparently, you either disagree with my second statement (because you consider the Catholic position in these areas as an optional extra) or think that it is true but irrelevant as such denials have nothing to do with common Evangelicalism. If neither of these is the case, I sincerely do not know what you are arguing for or against.

I am sorry we have come into conflict again, Father. It is not something I wished for.

MK+

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

PS: Just to clarify, I did not wish to imply deliberate misrepresentation in the third paragraph, merely error in representation.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Is this really a conflict, or a scholarly debate? I am troubled by the use of the word "conflict," though not quite as much as I am by the earlier use of "notorious" and "infamous." Fr. Kirby, why not agreeing to disagree while retaining a level of irenic disposition?

Nonetheless, properly speaking, Eucharistic Adoration takes place separately from the Eucharist. Inasmuch as you will not find a tabernacle with Reserved Sacrament in any Orthodox Church, that kind of Adoration is impossible among them.

For another matter, I am still not satisfied with your choice of words, just above, saying " the Eucharist being a (relative/borrowed) propitiatory sacrifice for quick and dead." "Relative" and "borrowed" does indeed separate the Eucharist from Christ's Once for All sacrifice, even though by degree. Please see my post The One Sacrifice, and answer me if it satisfies the meaning of what you are trying to say.