Thursday, July 17, 2014

Round up the usual suspects

With the recent, and wholly unsurprising, decision of the Church of England to consecrate bishopettes, the usual cranks have come out of the woodwork. In recent days blogs have appeared by Roman Catholic polemicists to make the argument that this was inevitable going back to the days of Henry VIII. One went as far as to say that the Church of England separated from Rome due to "Liberalism." It is the first time I have ever heard of Henry VIII (or maybe Elizabeth I; they never could could tell the two monarchs and their respective reigns apart) being called a Liberal. In the words of the great General and Secretary of War in Werfington, Brownie Clark: "I guesses we has never seen quite as much 'all' as we thunk so."

Nonetheless, there it is again; the root argument, trying to put an entirely unhistorical idea into a historical context. In short, it is based on the notion that everything that develops in history is rendered inevitable due to some key moment seen as its flawed origin. By that argument we could blame everything from Arianism to the Crusades on the original establishment of the Church by Christ Himself. He must have gotten something wrong, because, well...look at what happened centuries later.

By this argument every criminal's grandparents should be convicted, if even posthumously, for their descendant's crimes. If modern Church of England Anglicans are consecrating women as bishops, well then, that just proves that the Church of England Reformers were really Liberals in disguise. "Ergo," argue the polemicists, "all of Anglicanism has been false all along." Therefore, they would further argue, even the Orders of Continuing Anglicans must not be valid; not because of anything that happened in the sixteenth century, but because of a decision made in 2014. Roman polemicists are good at retroactive truth in general, so we should not be surprised.

And once again they sound the old refrain, Anglicanism has finally been revealed to be Protestant instead of Catholic. They see Anglican church history as a constant tension between a Protestant or Catholic identity. What part of Catholic and reformed do they fail to get? I am glad for our Protestant Catholic theology, heritage and identity. I will not throw away part of the truth as if that is necessary to sacrifice one portion for another. I am both Catholic and Protestant, because that is what an Anglican is.

The Liberalism of the Church of England is not news, and the dubious validity of their orders goes back to the ordination of women. For Continuing Anglicans the Canterbury Communion ceased to be relevant long ago. Specifically, the Anglican Catholic Church long ago added a sentence to the Affirmation of St. Louis, to the effect that the See of Canterbury no longer has any special meaning to us, because the Church of England has made its bad decisions.  

After Joshua died, a new generation arose that did not know the Lord, and had not seen His wonders. That is how the Book of Judges opens. It does not blame Israel's fall into idolatry on Moses. Each generation makes its choices, and the Church of England became Liberal not because of its theology, but because of its rejection of its own heritage. That is where we, Continuing Anglicans, come to the rescue.

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