Monday, October 27, 2008

The Seven Ecumenical Councils in Anglicanism

Post-1977, Continuing Anglicans have a tendency to affirm the classical Anglo-Catholic position that the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church bear an equal catholicity and consentient authority for the whole Universal Church today, but that position only emerged after centuries of careful reflection and theological development in Anglicanism. I agree with the 'Seven Council' position, obviously, and we are all indebted to our Caroline Divine, Non-Juring and Tractarian forbears for it - but it must be admitted that that position took time to develop.

The 19th Canon of 1571, promulgated by Queen Elizabeth I, asserts very succinctly the authority of the Fathers and Councils in a general way: 'let preachers take care that they never teach anything... except what is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and what the Catholic Fathers and and ancient Bishops have collected from the same doctrine.'

This is a typical Anglican approach to the subject.

A modern version of this basic recourse to ecumenical consensus is found in the Canon Law of the Church of England and the text of the liturgy entitled Common Worship:

The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.

I, AB, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness; and in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon.

More specific references to the authority or number of the General Councils, outside of Articles XX and XXI , are of a particular and more individual kind, arising from the theological teaching of divines and theologians. It is rare to find an explicit reference in Anglicanism to the unconditional acceptance of all Seven Ecumenical Councils, dogmatically or canonically, beyond the statements of individual Anglican bishops and writers - with the sole exception of the Affirmation of Saint Louis. We indeed and absolutely believe all Seven Councils are truly ecumenical and catholic - on the basis of the received Tradition of the ancient Undivided Church of East and West, a Tradition which has never been completely comprehended by the Anglican formularies or Canons, a Tradition which was never intended to be fully explicated by the local and provincial formularies of the Catholic Church of the British Provinces. The Anglican formularies address only particular critical theological and disciplinary concerns of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and that certainly by design. Behind them, however, stands the universal authority of the Holy and Apostolic Tradition, which did not have to be rehashed or redebated by Anglican Catholics.

Conside this quote from Dr Bill Tighe: '...despite the fact that advocates of all sides to the 16th-century religious conflict, Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed alike, were given to claiming that their particular doctrinal stances and, in some cases, distinctive practices, were in accord with those of the Early Church Fathers, or at least with those of high standing (such as St. Augustine), none [but Anglicanism] were willing to require, or even permit, their confessional stances to be judged by, or subordinated to, a hypothetical ‘patristic consensus’ of the first four or five centuries of Christianity.' But Anglicanism most certainly did, and does so to this day.

Dr CB Moss' excellent study, The Church of England and the Seventh Council, is an essential read for anyone interested in this controverted area of theology.

On the matter of the reception of the General Councils in the Anglican Communion (from the days of her orthodoxy) we should say that the Church of England, as a true part of the Catholic Church, never rejected any of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and evidently felt she had no need to comment, negatively or positively, on a point of received Tradition that was certainly considered by all Catholic Churches a settled point of dogma. She is a 'Church of the Apostles and Fathers' after all! The Church of England never protested any dogma defined by the Seven Holy Councils and never brought into question the legitimacy or canonicity of any universally-received Ecumenical Synod. Article XXII is about popularly-held and practised medieval error, not ecumenically consentient teaching. The Ecumenical Councils were and are a given - and thus the dearth of commentary or reaffirmation in the Anglican formularies. Often the beauty of Anglicanism, like her cousin Eastern Orthodoxy, is that she does not feel she has to define all the minutiae of her theology or practical life, and is willing simply to allow Tradition to be Tradition: liturgical theology as systematic theology, worship and practice over definition. The question of the Seven Councils should, I think, be considered one of those areas so treated.

Ecumenical Councils are ecumenical because they are received over time by the consensus of the whole Church Catholic, and Anglicanism, pre-, mid-, and post-reformation certainly received the Councils of the Undivided Church along with the rest of Christendom. This reception has never been disputed, to my knowledge, by any synodical authority within Anglicanism. The full appreciation and application of the doctrine of all Seven Councils (especially Nicea II) required a centuries-long process in the Western Church as a whole, and certainly within Anglicanism in particular, but I do not think any one can doubt that the Councils have always been integral to the ethos, the inherited living memory, of the Anglican Church.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vatican Recognition of Anglican Orders With Old Catholic Infusion

From the newly-published autobiography of Father John Jay Hughes, an eminent theologian and historian, and arguably the most erudite defender of Anglican Orders in the twentieth century. I cannot more highly recommend this splendid book entitled No Ordinary Fool: A Testimony To Grace.

'...One difficulty still held me back: the need to abandon—with no guarantee that it would ever be given back to me—the exer­cise of the priestly ministry to which I had aspired consciously and without interruption from the age of twelve, and which I had exercised unworthily, but with great joy, for six years. Even if the Roman Catholic Church found me qualified for priesthood, this would involve re-ordination. I did not see how I could ever submit to something that would involve denial of the very thing that had brought me to the threshold of the Catholic Church: the sacraments I had received, and adminis­tered myself, in the Anglican Church.

The previous September I had drawn up a document trac­ing the Table of Consecration of the two Episcopalian bish­ops who had ordained me deacon and priest respectively. This showed that both could trace their own orders, through co-consecrators, to Old Catholic and Polish National Catholic bishops acknowledged by Rome to be validly ordained. Through the good offices of a Benedictine Prior in Rome who had helped me during my visit there in 1959, I had submitted this document to the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), requesting a judgment about the validity of my Anglican orders.

I received a reply in French, on the letterhead Suprema Congregatio S. Officii, dated 30 October 1959 and signed "P. Paul Philippe, O.P., Commissaire du Saint-Office." (He later became a cardinal.) The crucial paragraph stated:

There can be no question of a simple recognition of the orders received, with subsequent permission to exercise the priesthood. The church can only require a certain period of studies, at the end of which conditional reordination would be granted; but there is no reason why this would be refused, provided the other conditions mentioned [the normal criteria for ordination] were satisfied.

This was more than I had dared hope for. I put the letter away, hoping that it might one day prove decisive with the Catholic bishop willing to ordain me. I also communicated the sub­stance of this letter to my father, hoping it might soften his attitude. It did not...'

Sydney Protestants Definitively Reject Apostolic Order

This is precisely why many Anglican Catholics have the gravest reservations about GAFCON and the CCP and see the neo-evangelical movement as a potential impediment to Anglican ecclesiastical unity...

The motion, 7.2


Synod –(a) accepts the report concerning legal barriers to lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper which was submitted to the 3rd session of the 47th Synod, and


(b) affirms again its conviction that lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper is consistent with the teaching of Scripture, and


(c) affirms that the Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters,and requests the Diocesan Secretary to send a copy of The Lord’s Supper in Human Hands to all bishops who attended the GAFCON.


Sydney Synod has overwhelmingly restated its principled support for lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper.

More significantly - in what supporters said is ‘a great outcome’ for women deacons - the motion also ‘accepts’ the argument that there is no longer any legal impediment to deacons officiating at Holy Communion given the wording of The Ordination Service for Deacons Canon 1985 and the repeal of the 1662 Act of Uniformity by a recent General Synod Canon.

However the motion itself does nothing to change the legal situation.

“We don’t make law or change law in a motion,” said the Bishop of North Sydney, Glenn Davies, in moving the motion “we merely express our view.”

Bishop Davies said he believes there is “nothing the Archbishop can do to prevent a deacon administering the Lord’s Supper”.

But added that via the motion Synod cannot approve lay people presiding at Holy Communion at Sunday services in Sydney Diocese.

“It would require a bishop’s licence,” Bishop Davies explained. “The Archbishop will not license a lay person at this time.”

Win for women deacons

Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, Narrelle Jarrett, seconded the motion saying she wanted Synod to understand the way the ministry of deacons – male and female – is currently restrained.

Women can be deacons in Sydney Diocese but not presbyters (priests). Archdeacon Jarrett said the current situation “seriously diminishes the ministry of women” explaining the right to administer the Lord’s Supper “is forbidden them for entirely unbiblical reasons”.

“Why can’t women deacons administer the Lord’s Supper in a girls’ school or a womens’ prison?


Do we really think that a male priest can only administer this Sacrament?”

Archdeacon Jarrett also said the current situation also caused problems in multi-site parishes, when congregations are led by deacons.

A number of new church plants in Sydney Diocese, including some that are extra-parochial, are led by male deacons.

The current policy makes it difficult for these churches to regularly provide the Lord’s Supper to members.

Amendments lost

A string of amendments were suggested seeking to water down the motion.

All were overwhelmingly defeated on voices.

The Rev Andrew Katay from Ashfield sought to merely “receive” the report on the legal advice.

He said “it’s not honourable” to pursue a change by just doing “a clever thing with words”.

“The change needs to occur in the right way,” he said.

Judge Chris Armitage from Killara sought to remove the word “lay” from the motion.

He said any move to approve lay administration would breach Section 71 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia and he “guaranteed” it would “end up in the secular courts”.

The Rev Dr Tim Foster from Leichhardt sought to delete clause (c): “affirms that the Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters”.

“It pretends to be innocuous but opens a Pandora’s box,” he said.

Bishop Peter Tasker supported Dr Foster’s amendment saying that he was concerned the motion would impact Sydney’s relationship with GAFCON bishops.

“I am not arguing that we ask GAFCON bishops for permission,” he said.

“I personally made a commitment… that we would seek to put on paper our reasons for moving in this direction. They simply ask to give them space to read and understand our position before we act.”

A key part of the motion includes sending a book published by the Anglican Church League in order to explain Sydney Diocese’s theological viewpoint to GAFCON bishops.

An amendment from Lis Boyce asking that this book also be sent to Australian bishops was withdrawn on advice that it had already been sent to them.

A real diaconate

The Dean of Sydney, Phillip Jensen, spoke against each amendment in turn and in support of the original motion.

The motion, he said “doesn’t say what we are going to do… just what we believe”.
More significantly he explained the rationale for Sydney’s ongoing plan to broaden the diaconate.
“We want to turn the diaconate into a real diaconate… We don’t want to specialise the presbyters in administering the Lord’s Supper… but we want them to specialise in their incumbency.”

In his concluding speech, Bishop Davies agreed: “It’s much better to make the diaconate a real diaconate… to allow women to have that fullness of ministry of Word and Sacrament.. that would be a great outcome.”

“We must remember that diaconal presidency occurred in Kenya for years and no one blinked an eye – I confirmed this with Archbishop Gitari [of Kenya].”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

'Hell'

The Authorised (King James) Version is the official version of the Holy Scriptures used in the liturgy of our Province and Diocese, although it must be said that the actual text of Scripture used in the Mass lectionary of the 1928 American BCP is the Revised Version, implemented with the 1928 Prayer Book at its revision beginning in 1913. The Revised Version is a slight modernisation of the KJV, which updates some archaic words and phrases. We certainly use the KJV for the Offices and other liturgies of the Church. I think the best modern translation from the Greek is the Revised Standard Version (RSV), not be confused, of course, with the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), an inclusive language innovation.

The Oxford Annotated Edition of the old RSV is still in print and readily available.

The confusion over the word 'hell' arises from the Latin Vulgate Bible of Saint Jerome, which translates the various terms 'sheol,' hades', and 'gehenna' all alike as infernis. From the word infernis the earliest English Bibles translated the word into our language as 'hell,' without making the original differentiations in the original languages of Greek and Hebrew. The best example of this Latinised English is in the BCP version of the Apostles' Creed, which states that Our Lord 'descended into hell,' which, of course, means not that He descended into gehenna, a false idea taught and misconstrued by John Calvin, but that the Lord descended into hades or sheol, the abode of the dead, where he proclaimed the Gospel of His death and resurrection to the righteous saints of the Old Testament who awaited His coming (I Peter 3.18-21, 4.6). The Orthodox Study Bible offers an excellent new translation of the Greek Old Testament Septuagint, which properly translates the Hebrew words as they were transliterated into Greek; it uses the New King James Version for the New Testament. Gehenna, everlasting punishment by fire, or hell-fire, and hades/sheol, the abode of all the dead, the 'place of departed spirits' as described in the rubric of the 1928 BCP for the Apostles' Creed, are different states of being, and should be carefully distinguished. Our Lord Himself describes the state of the departed in Christ as 'Paradise' and the 'Bosom of Abraham' - words and phrases meant to describe the blessedness of the faithful departed in the Intermediate State between death and glorification. Such a condition is diametrically opposite the punishment and desolation of those consigned eternally to the flames of gehenna after death. The Church Expectant is a Christ-transformed and Christ-hallowed hades or sheol, not a gehenna. Even some the greatest medieval schoolmen, such as Saint Thomas Aquinas, failed to make this distinction and perceived fire-purgatory for the saved to be a lesser gehenna or a temporary suffering in gehenna itself. A proper translation of the Scriptures alleviates the difficulty involved in that case...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Real Presence in I Corinthians and Icons in Anglicanism

1. Saint Paul uses the striking language he does about one being 'guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord' and 'eating and drinking damnation to oneself' by not properly discerning the Body of the Lord precisely because of the Real Presence and the communion of charity which is the Lord's mystical Body the Church. Were the Eucharist merely a fellowship meal or the tokens of the Eucharist merely symbols (in the modern sense) of Christ, the language regarding damnation as a result of unworthy participation in the sacramental action would be hyperbolic at best and nonsensical at worst. Some biblical commentators often obfuscate the plain meaning of the text and try to spiritualise or typologise the meaning of the passage in such a way that the Real Presence is denied or avoided. It would be the worst kind of exaggeration and hyperbole to suggest that one endangers one's immortal soul or runs the risk of eternal damnation simply by mistreating bread and wine or getting drunk at supper and neglecting one's fellow diners. To say one is guilty of the very Body and very Blood of the Lord is to assert clearly that one has desecrated and profaned the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Apart from the Real Presence and its manifestation in the Eucharistic Communion of the Church's faithful, such language just does not make any sense at all and would in fact come across as the worst kind of moralism. Saint Paul's language fits only when one considers that when he says one may be guilty of the Lord's Body it is meant as a literal statement of fact. Then the solemnity and ominousness of Saint Paul's language fits exactly. 1 Corinthians 10 must be read with 1 Corinthians 11, and in that preceding chapter Saint Paul explicitly declares, 'is not the Bread that we break a participation in the Body of Christ? Is not the Cup of blessing which we share a participation in the Blood of Christ?' And he goes on to compare the Table of the Lord, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, to the table of demons, pagan sacrifices. Taken together the contextual meaning is abundantly clear... at least to Catholics and Orthodox!

2. Some Anglicans have never been properly catechised regarding the theology of the Church on Icons, although many of those good souls have no objection to stained-glass windows or Altar crosses and crucifixes. We have in this case a lack of proper education and formation on the part of a few in the received Faith of the Anglican Church, which has always affirmed the dogmatic value of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, if not its practical application. The recovery of the actual practice mandated by Nicea II only came about in its totality in Anglicanism with the Oxford Movement and Catholic Revival, although the Caroline Divines and old High Churchmen of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries certainly employed sacred art in churches. Lancelot Andrewes used a crucifix and incense, as did William Laud. Queen Elizabeth herself had a great crucifix in her private chapel. Oxford University erected a large statue of Our Lady at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin before Cromwell's war and the Interregnum. There is a continuous tradition of iconodulism in Anglicanism - but there has been iconoclasm from the puritan element in the Church as well. That puritan and rebellious streak, mercifully, has always been alien to the mainstream Incarnational theology of orthodox Anglicanism post 1559. The early Reformation period from 1547 to 1553 was very ugly and promulgated by men influenced by the Continental religious revolt - we should consider it exceptional and anomalous, and certainly not normative for Anglican doctrine and practice; Anglicanism moderated under Elizabeth and slowly intensified in its Catholic ethos under James I, Charles I, and Charles II - and, with bumps in the road, all the way up to the Tractarian Movement. The need today is for more vigorous and lucid theological formation in teaching and preaching, which will bring about the oneness of belief that we all desire. The matter of theology for us was settled with the Affirmation of Saint Louis (1977), which affirmed the ecumenical and dogmatic status of all Seven General Councils for the Anglican Tradition. Icons are a part of our received Tradition from the whole Catholic Church. We just have to let our people in on the secret...

Various Theological Q&A

1. How does one discern the Body of Christ? Discerning the Body in I Corinthians 11 has a twofold meaning: to believe in the Objective Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ under the form of bread and wine, that is, to profess a living faith in the real and substantial Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and, to believe in the mystical communion and fellowship of Christ's ecclesial Body, the Church, where the Presence of the Lord is also to be found in a real and supernatural way. The Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes Eucharist, and so the two realities are inseparable. To fail to discern the Lord's Body in the Sacrament and in the Church is to be guilty of the Lord's Body and Blood. We are called to receive the Eucharist in faith, hope, love and repentance, in charity with our fellow Christians.

2. Does the Eucharist remit sin? In the Eucharist we literally eat and drink our salvation, for the Eucharist is nothing less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in His true Body and Blood. If we receive the Blessed Sacrament in a state of grace, the state of salvation in which we are repentant and deliberately seek forgiveness from God and our neighbour, we beneficially receive the Eucharist to the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. 'Verily I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.' The Eucharist is in itself salvific; it saves by virtue of what It is and Who it is. In the Eucharist is not only contained grace, the life of God, but in it is contained under mystic signs and forms God Himself. Therefore the Eucharist, when received faithfully, is the very gift of salvation: 'whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him.' The Blessed Sacrament forgives sins and heals our human nature wounded by sin by uniting us to the deified flesh and blood of Our Lord. The Eucharist is generally necessary to salvation, like Baptism. 'This is my Blood of the New Testament, which is given for you and for many, for the remission of sins...'

3. How is one saved? We describe salvation in such a way that we affirm both the necessity of God's grace for salvation and of our own cooperation and correspondence with grace. God will not save man in spite of man's perpetual resistance, nor will He force anyone to be saved or to be coerced by His divine will. God freely saves those who will freely receive His gift of salvation. We must cooperate with grace in order to be saved, hence, we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We must persevere in the state of salvation unto our life's end in order for us to have the reward of eternal life. Salvation is the mysterious relationship and synergy of God's love and human freedom, of God's mercy and man's response to the divine initiative. In this mystery God presciently knows all and directs all and yet honours and respects the imago Dei, the image of God, in man's free will. Salvation is a beautiful symphony of God and man in communion and love.

4. Does Baptism forgive sins? Baptism grants at its administration the total remission of all sins original and actual and applies the meritorious death and resurrection of Christ to the soul. Without Baptism there is no assurance of the gift of justification and spiritual regeneration. Baptism is the Sacrament which infuses the Life of the Holy Trinity into the soul and enters the soul into the life of grace. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is generally necessary to salvation, necessary for all men where it is available, and confers on the recipient a mystical union and participation in Jesus Christ, in His Incarnation, life, death, resurrection and glorification. In Baptism we die to sin and rise to newness of life, we die to self and rise to God as we are joined by sacramental identification to Christ in His paschal mystery. Without Baptism there is no sacramental assurance of the forgiveness of sins or of what Our Lord calls the New Birth, the renovation and regeneration of the soul by Christ in the Holy Spirit. We are justified and saved from sin, in a foundational and formal sense, by the grace of our Baptism. 'Repent and be baptised all of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the grace of the Holy Spirit.' I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.

5. Should Anglicans venerate Icons? The Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicea II does not merely request or suggest the veneration of the Holy Icons, it commands veneration as a necessary and fundamental aspect of orthodox Christian worship. The deliberate refusal to construct, honour and venerate the sacred Images is a denial of the Incarnation of the Word and a rejection of the humanity of Our Lord, according to the teaching of the Second Nicene Council. The honour given to the Icon passes to its prototype, to quote Saint Basil the Great. The Icons are in essence sacramental, and convey what they represent. More to the point, the refusal to have and display an Icon would be a more direct act of iconoclasm than simply refusing to kiss one. Anglicans may be uncomfortable with certain physical acts of piety, which feelings should be respected as a matter of culture and conscience, but they should at least be willing prominently to enshrine Images for the purpose of public veneration. Anglo-Catholics do not have to follow the exact devotional expressions and outward gestures of the Eastern Rite, but they should be willing to display sacred Images in church and home and to offer them the corresponding reverence. We traditionally only kiss the Altar and the Gospel Book at Mass, and the Cross on Good Friday, in the Western Rite in a liturgical context - but the principle is the same as that for the East. We do kiss icons and relics as a more personal form of devotion apart from the sacred Liturgy. By tradition and ethos, Western Catholics are far more restrained, reserved and conservative in their outward acts of devotion to Images than their Eastern Rite cousins, but they maintain the same dogmatic and doctrinal teaching on the Icons as Orthodoxy....

CCP Leader States Women's Ordination Dispute Insoluble for Neo-Anglicans

Christianity Today: How will conservatives negotiate the issues that divide them—women's ordination and related concerns? Is there going to be a theological center?

Bishop Duncan: The theological center on first-order issues has deep agreement. Most of us hold the issue of the ordination of women to be a second-order issue. We are committed to working with our partners in the communion as we try to come to some lasting agreement. The way I illustrate that is we are now wise enough to understand that we can't settle the issue of reception of the ordination of women. The reason we can't settle it is that East Africa ordains women and West Africa doesn't. We have got to go through this together, and it's going to take a couple generations to do it. There's a deep commitment to one another across this divide.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ten Years Ago


This is a photo of me in 1998 with Bishop Joseph Beisel of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church. I was so very thin then! With age comes the sophistication of weight and greying... but the haircut is the same.

Authentic Catholic Anglicanism

Authentic Catholic Anglicanism

In recent years and months Anglicans worldwide have been exposed to a tremendous amount of preaching and commentary on the need for evangelisation in the modern world. No doubt there is an overwhelming note of emphasis on evangelism emanating from the Global South Anglican jurisdictions and from those conservative evangelical Episcopalians who have departed from their former obedience since 2003. We hear about the need for and centrality of evangelism all the time now. But what is evangelism? How do Traditional Anglicans evangelise? Is our Traditional Anglican approach to evangelism different from that of the neo-evangelical movement? Should it be? What is our mandate for evangelisation? For the appropriate answers, let us consult the ancient Faith. What is evangelism in the historic, orthodox, Prayer Book Catholic Anglican Tradition? Please consider these ten propositions…

1. Communion with Jesus Christ, Personal and Real: ‘Are you born again?’ 'Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?’ We often hear from our evangelical protestant brethren that we ought to have a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus Christ to be faithful Christians, and that this relationship is prerequisite for salvation. Although we must not confuse our personal relationship with Our Lord in daily conversion and faith with being ‘born again’ or ‘born from above’, regeneration, which mystery of grace is conferred sacramentally in Holy Baptism, there can be no doubt that our evangelical friends are right, and that they should have no monopoly on the truth that living Christian witness requires a personal communion with Our Blessed Saviour. Every orthodox Anglican should be able to say most earnestly that he has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, the Incarnate Son of God and Son of Mary, is the crucified, risen and glorified Redeemer of all mankind – only in a personal and intimate communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, God made Man, can any human being be capable of ultimate fulfilment or of the discovery of the true meaning, purpose, end, dignity and glory of human life. As the Holy Fathers of the Church teach us, Jesus Christ not only reveals God to man; as Man, He reveals man to himself. We must know, adore and love Jesus; it is not enough merely to know about Our Lord in an intellectual or cognitive sense. Either Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all…

2. Personal Holiness - the Greatest Attractant for Evangelisation. The Holy Fathers of the Church affirm that the greatest means of evangelism is holiness of life. One person sanctified by divine grace and advancing in the way of holiness is more powerful for evangelism than a thousand unconverted or nominal, ambivalent souls. People at large will be attracted to the Church more by the holiness of our lives than by anything else, for personal holiness has an inherent power to attract, convert and transform: the power is the Holy Ghost, Who makes the Saints His icon, His image. Saint John of Damascus instructs that the Son is the Image of the Father and the Holy Ghost is the Image of the Son. But where or who is the image of the Holy Ghost? It is the Saint, the human being who partakes of the divine nature (2 St Peter 1.4) and is changed from strength to strength and from glory to glory, who bears the image of that invisible Spirit Who ‘goes where He wills’ (St John 3.8). The invisible Spirit is made visible in His Saints. To escape a corrupt and hedonistic world, the ancient Desert Fathers retreated into the wilderness for the sweet solitude of prayer and communion with God; but the holiness of their lives was so compelling that men and women by the thousands flocked to the desert to be near them and learn Christ from them. We can and should learn from the example of the Fathers. Encouraged by their examples and aided by their prayers, we ought to turn to the Saints and follow the trail of holiness blazed by our forefathers in the Faith. The degree of our evangelism will be successful only to the degree that we seek to cultivate holiness in our own lives. We sanctify ourselves so that others may be sanctified.

3. Bible-Centred, Bible-Saturated Religion. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, lives mystically and salvifically in His written Word. Saint Jerome pronounces, ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.’ A living Christian witness demands more than a simple profession of faith or regular church attendance; we are called to move from passive observance to full participation in the Christian life. God beckons us to submit our whole selves to the authority and Lordship of Jesus Christ and to gauge our lives by the standard of the Gospel, rather than attempting to mould the Gospel to our own limited experience. It is the Christian Faith that should transform us; we should not seek to change the Gospel into a projection of our desires and attitudes, that is, to re-make the Gospel in our own image based on our own experience. We all know painfully well the result of the exchange of the Gospel for subjective or emotional experience, as we have seen its consequences so vividly as of late in mainline ecclesial bodies and in society in general. We are summoned to be lovers and students of the Holy Scriptures: if we want to know how God works in our own lives, in our relationships with other people, and in the Church and Sacraments, we will be assiduous readers of the Holy Bible and will take its Word into our hearts and lives. If we do not read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Holy Scriptures with the most careful dedication, we shall never grow or mature in our faith, nor shall we become the Christians and Saints God wants us to be. The Bible, in its theological, spiritual and moral application, should serve as the unique, indispensable and inexhaustible resource for the faithful Anglican Catholic. Let’s go to Bible Study!

4. The Sacramental System - the Covenantal Means of Grace. Our Anglican and Catholic Faith teaches us that we are not people of the written Word only; we are united to Our Lord by the Sacraments of the New Testament. The Seven Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Matrimony, Orders and Unction, are the direct and most effective means of becoming holy, becoming what God wants us to be: they are given by Our Lord and the Apostles to serve us as covenantal means or channels of grace that assure and guarantee the grace and power of Christ in our lives. We should seek to receive the Holy Sacraments regularly and frequently, with faith, love and repentance. If we are to allow ourselves to be more closely conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, and to be empowered to serve as His faithful evangelists and disciples, we should be absolutely unfailing in our attendance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on every Sunday and great Feast of the Church, and we should receive the Precious Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion with the greatest fervour. By the Blessed Sacrament, we become one Body with Christ, that He may dwell in us and we in Him. We should also strive to make a consistent and devout use of the Sacrament of Penance. By our sacramental communion with Christ, the life of Our Lord will be actualised in us and we shall be truly elevated into faithful disciples of the Saviour. A true Christian life is one nourished with the Sacraments, an Altar-centred life in which we live a Eucharistic fellowship - in the deepest communion with our Eucharistic Lord. Genuine evangelism is Baptismal, Confirmational and Eucharistic evangelism.

5. Orthodox Liturgical Worship. ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’ The liturgical life of the Church, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, through which the Holy Sacraments are administered and the Divine Office of the Church is offered, anamnetically makes present the Lord Jesus Christ in His saving Person and Work. The liturgy should therefore be celebrated ‘in the beauty of holiness,’ the ars celebrandi, in which the fullness of the Apostolic Tradition is expressed and embodied with all the reverence, transcendence, dignity, and the sense of the numinous that it deserves. The liturgy is not only the work of the People of God; it is the Incarnate Lord Himself present to us in mystery and sign. Only the very highest forms of music, architecture, ceremonial and Common Prayer are fitting for the celebration of the worship of the Church, elements which unite seamlessly to render unto the Holy Trinity what we call ortho doxa, right glory, the right worship of Almighty God. The Holy Eucharist, the Daily Office and personal prayer should routinely combine in the Christian life to create a dynamic and graced renovation of the believer. ‘It is the Mass that matters!’

6. Active and Involved Christian Formation. The administration of the Sacraments must also be accompanied by a living and active presentation of the Gospel message in preaching, teaching and catechesis: in order for the Sacraments to be fruitful and efficacious, they must be received purposely with faith, hope and love. To divorce the preaching of the Gospel from the ministration of the Sacraments is to empty the Sacraments of their potential power and transformative energy and to reduce the sacramental life to the mechanical and superstitious. All Churchmen should therefore take the most conscientious care that those who receive the Sacraments be afforded the maximum level and best quality of Christian formation. Especially the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist and Matrimony require that those who sponsor or receive them do so in a committed and devoted way and that those who desire them know the basic truths of the Gospel and manifestly intend to live a Christian life.

7. 'The Obedience of Faith' - Fidelity to Holy Tradition and Avoidance of Private Judgement. Catholic Christianity is a revealed Religion. Human convention or philosophy has not contrived the Gospel, for the Christian Faith is a divine revelation directly communicated by God. The fullest expression of the Gospel is located in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, one divine revelation communicated to the Church in two modes but containing the same Rule of Faith. As Saint Basil the Great professes, ‘Holy Scripture is fulfiled, clarified and interpreted by Holy Tradition.’ The Anglican axiom is: the Bible and the primitive Church. For Anglicans, the Holy Scriptures, the Holy Tradition and the Holy Church are absolutely inseparable and together transmit the saving Word of God for mankind’s salvation. If we are faithfully to live the Gospel and receive it in its entire truth, we must submit all private judgement in matters of doctrine, faith and morality to the authority of the universal, ancient and consentient Tradition of the Undivided Church. We are the children of the Church, called to live, worship, work, obey and pray in the heart of the Church. We are Churchmen, not sectarians. We are called to what Saint Paul characterises as the obedience of faith (Romans 1.5, 16.26).

8. Faithful Discipleship. Through Jesus Christ, present in His Word and Holy Sacraments, we are drawn by supernatural grace into a sanctifying and divinising union with Him: justified by faith working in love, we are called to an ever-deepening holiness and equipped by the Holy Ghost for good works in the life of grace. ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2.8-10). In the Church, the School of Sanctity and the Ark of the New Covenant, we should learn to be faithful disciples and to eschew and reject all that is not of God, Who has brought us to the New Life of Christ. Christ’s life, death and resurrection have made us a New Creation.

9. Personal Evangelism. The New Testament Church, which is the New Israel, the ‘Israel of God’ (Galatians 6.16), is ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people’ (I St Peter 2.9). In Christ, we are kings and priests unto God and His Father through our Baptism and Confirmation. Therefore, the common priesthood of the baptised shares in Christ’s Messianic Offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, and is given the Great Commission so that all the faithful, the sancta plebs Dei, the holy people of God, may be true witnesses of Christ to the whole of creation. We are all to be sent out, ‘apostled,’ to preach Christ and Him Crucified, and thus we should be formed and readied by the Church to teach the Gospel in word and action. Our determination to welcome others into the Church and to encourage them to follow Jesus Christ, as well as our eagerness clearly to teach the Faith Once Delivered unto the Saints, should be essential components of our Christian witness. Let us perfect the Saints and the work of the ministry, and edify the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4.12).

10. Unswerving Commitment to the Anglican Tradition. God has remarkably blessed us and we have a goodly heritage. Our special privilege and responsibility as orthodox Anglicans is to cherish thankfully, preserve unimpaired and transmit assertively those tremendous gifts which have been entrusted to us as children of the Ecclesia Anglicana. Rigorous commitment to the classical Book of Common Prayer and to the theological, doctrinal, moral, spiritual, liturgical and pastoral patrimony and ethos of orthodox Catholic Anglicanism should define our mission and our evangelistic efforts. To whom much has been given, much shall be required. Part of our vocation surely lies in our commission boldly to proclaim the Gospel as incarnated and inculturated in our Branch of Christ’s Church and to recall our accountability for that rare treasure which has been commended to us. Nothing evangelises like integrity and authenticity. Let us keep the Faith – and pass it on to the world!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Continuing Anglicanism in the USA: Questions and Answers

By the Very Reverend Roland F. Palmer SSJE and The Reverend Gary W. Mayhood

"And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' Doctrine and Fellowship, and in Breaking of Bread, and in Prayers."(Acts 2:42)

WHAT IS CONTINUING ANGLICANISM IN THE U.S.A.?

Who Are Anglicans and What Do They Believe?

Anglicans (faithful Episcopalians) in the U.S.A. in­herited from the Churches of the British Isles the Faith of the undivided primitive Church; together with the Apostolic Orders of Bishop, Priest, and Dea­con, in succession from the Apostles and our Lord; and also the discipline and moral standards of the historic Christian Church from the beginning.

What Went Wrong?

The Episcopal Church continued steadfast in that Faith, Order and Discipline until a few years ago, when some members began to agitate for "updating the Church and bringing it into the Twentieth Cen­tury", which means conforming the Church to the Spirit of the Age. St. Paul has warned us "Be not conformed to this world (age) but be ye transform­ed" by the Spirit of Christ. The work of the Church is not to conform itself to the constantly changing Spirit of the Age but to work to conform the world to the Spirit of Christ.

What Changes Were Made?

These innovators succeeded in getting the General Convention to make changes in the Canons (the rules) of the Church.

1. The marriage canons were altered to conform them to the world's permissiveness in moral matters.

2. Experimental rites (some of them of dubious orthodoxy) were permitted in place of the rites in the Book of Common Prayer. The confusion to which this led enabled some of the clergy to make up new rites to suit themselves. The re­sult of all this experimentation led to a "revis­ed" Prayer Book authorized by General Con­vention. This new book is a radical departure from the Faith and Order of the 1928 Prayer Book and all of its predecessors. Some of these changes are:

a. The age-long practice concerning Baptism, Confirmation, and admission to Holy Com­munion has given way to nebulous rites which deprive Confirmation of its sacra­mental character and make it an option.

b. Language of both the liturgy and the Psalms are deliberately de-sexed to con­form to the current norms of various pres­sure groups in society.

c. Optional Eucharistic Rites (one of which is a do-it-yourself type) lend to confusion in a Church where there once had been a common bond of unity through traditional Prayer Books.

3. Finally, conforming to the gnostic, unisex ideas of the world, General Convention permitted wo­men to be ordained as "priests". This is con­trary to Holy Scripture as the Church has al­ways interpreted it, and therefore contrary to the constant Tradition of the Church from the Apostles' time until now. Men and women are equal in importance and in the love and care of God, but they are not the same as one another. A man cannot be a mother nor a woman a fath­er : "Male and female created He them." Bishops and priests are to be fathers to God's children.

What Did Faithful Episcopalians Do Then?

Those priests and layfolk of the Episcopal Church who could not with a good conscience accept these unaglican and uncatholic changes formed congrega­tions with a view to continuing in the traditional Faith, Order, and Discipline of the Church, and in the worship of God according to the Book of Com­mon Prayer. As such they are the continuing Epis­copal Church in the U.S.A. They did not leave their Church, the General Convention left them.

Is the Anglican Movement a New Church?

It is not a new Church. It continues the Church to which Episcopalians have always belonged. This continuing steadfast in the Faith, Order, and Dis­cipline of that Church gives them their status and authority as the continuation of Anglicanism in the U.S.A.

Have These Radical Changes Been Made Elsewhere?

There have been similar radical changes made by Anglicans in New Zealand and Hong Kong, and by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Can­ada. The priests and laity of that Church who can­not accept these changes, and have formed congre­gations loyal to the Faith. Order, and Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada are the continuing Anglican Church in that land. A joint meeting in 1977 in St. Louis, Missouri, of these American and Canadian loyalists drew up a statement of their traditional Faith, Order, and Discipline known as the Affirmation of Saint Louis. This is accepted by both the continuing Churches. Each is in full com­munion with the other, and each has its own tradi­tional ecclesiastical structure. This has been the case ever since the days of Bishop Seabury, the first American Bishop, and of Bishop Inglis, the first Bishop of what is now Canada. They were contem­poraries and personal friends. That friendship and communion has continued between the Churches while each has had its own structure.

What Can I Do?

If there is no continuing congregation near you, contact the Bishop as to your desire to form a new congregation and gather people in your home. Until such time as this can be done, write to the parish priest of the nearest congregation, become a mem­ber of it, and help with your prayers and support.

Do Continuing Anglicans Belong to the World Council of Churches?

NO. The W.C.C. and many national and other Councils adhering to the World Council are non-Apostolic, humanist and secular in purpose and practice. Under such circumstances we cannot be members of any of them.

What About Seeking Unity With Other Believers?

It is our firm intention to seek and achieve, fill sacramental communion and visible unity with other Christians who "worship the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity", and who hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

THE ESSENTIALS OF TRUTH AND ORDER

(Statements of belief and practice from the Affirm­ation of St. Louis and Canons)

We acknowledge that Rule of Faith laid down by St. Vincent of Lerins: "Let us hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all, for that is truly and properly Catholic."

The Church is the Body of Christ at work in the world. She is the society of the Baptized called out from the world: in it, but not of it. As Christ's faithful Bride, she is different from the world, and must not be influenced by it.

We repudiate all deviation or departure from the Faith in whole or in part, and bear witness to these essential principles of evangelical Truth and apos­tolic Order:

The Holy Scriptures:
The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the authentic record of God's revelation of Him­self. His saving activity, and moral demands - a revelation valid for all men and all time.

The Creeds:
The Nicene Creed as the authoritative summary of the chief articles of the Christian Faith, together with the Apostles' Creed and that known as the Creed of St. Athanasius to be "thoroughly received and believed" in the sense they have had always in the Catholic Church.

Tradition :
The received tradition of the Church and its teach­ings as set forth by "the ancient catholic bishops and doctors", and especially as defined by the seven ecumenical councils of the undivided Clmrch, to the exclusion of all errors, ancient and modern.

Sacraments:
The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Pen­ance and Unction of the Sick as objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and as His covenanted means for conveying His grace. In particular we affirm the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (where they may be had) Baptism as regenerating and incorporating us into Christ (with its completion in Confirmation as the "seal of the Holy Spirit"), and the Eucharist as the sacrifice which unites us to the all-sufficient Sacri­fice of Christ on the Cross and the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood.

Holy Orders:
The Holy Orders of Bishop, Priests and Deacons as the perpetuation of Christ's gift of apostolic mini­stry to His Church, asserting the necessity of a Bishop of apostolic succession (or a priest ordained by such) as the celebrant of the Eucharist - these Orders consisting exclusively of men in accordance with Christ's Will and institution (as evidenced by the Scriptures), and the universal practice of the Catholic Church.

The Duty of Bishops:
Bishops as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shep­herds and Teachers. It is also their duty (together with other clergy and the laity) to guard and defend the purity and integrity of the Church's Faith and Moral Teaching.
Worship:

The worship of the Church is to be in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer with the celebra­tion of the Holy Eucharist being the main act of a Christian's worship on the Sundays and the major feasts of the Church's Year.

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