Monday, July 29, 2013

The Seventh Ecumenical Council in Orthodox Anglicanism

A reposting of various previous thoughts...

Regarding the Anglican Article of Religion XXII: there is a false doctrine of 'purgatory' and a true biblical and orthodox doctrine of the intermediate state, just as there is a false doctrine of pardons, worshipping, adoration, images and relics, and there is a true biblical and patristic doctrine of pardons, worshipping, adoration, images and relics. The things in themselves are obviously not condemned (for who would condemn, for example, the biblical doctrines of worship, adoration or pardon) but only the abuses and false understandings of the same. 

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.

We are bound, not to the specific canons and anathemas of the Ecumenical Councils, but to their dogmatic principles, their doctrines, which bear the stamp of universal, ancient and consentient authority.

Indeed, it is certainly not only permissible but laudatory to use Icons for the purpose of Christian devotion, as such practice goes directly to the heart of orthodox Christian theology and spirituality and reinforces powerfully the reality and effect of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The God Who became Man dwells in us and in the Church by His Holy Spirit as in a temple, and certainly it is always and everywhere correct to consecrate our Churches, homes and dwelling places to Our Lord by the use of sacred Images and other sacramentals. The honour given to the Christian icon passes to its prototype, and the possession and veneration of icons communicate the fact and the graces of Incarnation of the Word of God - the God Who was once invisible became forever permanently visible in the Person of Our Lord, and thus the Holy Icons defend and teach, and what is more, confer by grace in a mystical way, the mystery of the Eternal Son of God made Man. Icons and statues are actually necessary to orthodox Christian worship, for without them the Incarnation cannot be realised in a personal and tangible manner. Saint Leo the Great teaches us that the miracles and actions of Our Lord pass, upon His Ascension, into the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church. 'And so our Redeemer's visible presence has passed into the sacraments; our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high...'

The Anglican Church has always affirmed the dogmatic value of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, if not its practical or canonical application, as stained-glass windows or Altar crosses and crucifixes demonstrate. The recovery of the actual practice mandated by Nicea II only came about in its totality in Anglicanism with the Oxford Movement and 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 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. 

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. 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.

Anglicans are not obliged to venerate the relics of Saints, just as they are not obliged to solicit the gracious prayers of the Saints on our behalf, but, just as they are not compelled so to venerate or to request, so they would be wrong to say that such practices are contrary to Scripture and Tradition. For Anglicans, the practice of the invocation of the Saints is limited in the main to private devotions and extraliturgical services which are not part of the usual public Liturgy. However, the honour due to the Saints has never been rejected by the Anglican Church, which counts herself a true Apostolic Church practicing the fullness of the Catholic Faith, of which the Communion of Saints is a supreme article. Please note that Article of Religion XXII does not condemn the ancient or patristic or biblical doctrine concerning the Invocation of Saints and the veneration of their relics, but only the Romish, the Doctrina Romanensium, that is, the popularly-believed late medieval and thus erroneous view of the same. The Anglican teaching is the reformed Catholic view, anchored in the Holy Scriptures and the Tradition of the Primitive Church. Only that which is contained in Holy Scripture is reckoned by Anglicans to be necessary for salvation, and therefore only that doctrine of the state and prayers of the Saints which accords with Scripture is believed to be necessary for all Christians.

At the heart of the matter it is vital to maintain the doctrine of worship and honour presented by Saint John of Damascus and codified at the Seventh Ecumenical Council when dealing with Saints (and their Icons and relics), which doctrine forcefully distinguishes adoration of God and the honour of the Saints. Latria, adoratio, adoration, is divine worship offered to the Godhead alone. Only God the Holy Trinity is worshipped and adored. The worship of God, the Divine Essence, is absolute, offered to God Himself because He is and the rewarder of them that seek Him. The honour given to the Saints is dulia, proskunesis, timeo, veneration, reverence, respect. It is not worship - for we do not worship the Saints, we only honour and revere them. Such honour is strictly relative and passes from the Saint to God, Who is blessed and glorified in His Saints, His human heavenly friends and children. The distinction between the Creator and His creatures is strenuously maintained and asserted. From later tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary, because she is Mother of God, has been given the highest form of relative honour and reverence, called hyperdulia or super-veneration, the highest praise rendered to a creature. Our Lady and the Saints are, after all, creatures, human beings who have become by God's grace truly and ultimately human, for that is the very reality of Sainthood, to be restored to the fullest image and likeness of God, to once again become fully man. The Saints, by becoming by grace what God is by nature, by partaking of the divine nature (II Saint Peter 1.4), fulfil the human vocation and become, through theosis or divinisation, 'God-like.'

The axiomatic principle of the Incarnation of the Word of God is operative here. In a nutshell, because God Himself was made Man for our sake and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary to redeem and divinise human nature, and because the glorified human nature of the Risen Lord communicates the Holy Ghost to the members of the redeemed human family, the communio sanctorum, and thus makes the bodies of the Saints to be temples, dwelling-places of the Holy Spirit, the bodies of those who are acknowledged to have possessed heroic sanctity in this life are honoured, venerated as holy possessions of God and dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. A sober, healthy, balanced, sane, biblical theology of the Saints and of their earthly relics is intensely incarnational and sacramental - the flesh is honoured as the vehicle of the Spirit. By honouring the bodies of the Saints, and by honouring their holy Images, we are taught to honour each other and to recognise in the human body, redeemed and sanctified in Christ, the locus of the Spirit of God.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

On the Reformational Doctrine of the Substantial Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Does the Church believe in a real substantial or essential Presence of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist, and if so, does that belief imply or necessitate the scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation, here defined, according to popular perception, as some kind of material change in the elements? Are substantial Presence and transubstantiation the same belief? If one holds to the substantial Presence, does this belief commit one to the specific doctrine of transubstantiation however defined? The following thoughts seek to answer these and other questions.

As concerns linguistics, the word substantial simply means ‘not imaginary or illusory,’ ‘real,’ ‘essential.’ Substance from the Latin substantia means, ‘to stand under’ - ‘essential nature,’ ‘ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change.’ The Greek word ousia, essence, is synonymous with substance: from the word einai, ‘to be’, it means nature, a thing in and of itself, being, reality, existence.

How would this language apply to the Eucharist? Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament, not only in figure, virtue, power, or sign, but truly in His Body and Blood, as well as His Divinity – we call this mystery Substantial Presence. The total and complete One Person of God the Son made Man, fully human and fully divine, is objectively present under the forms of the Blessed Sacrament as our heavenly sustenance. The Divine Thing signified in the Holy Eucharist is Our Lord Himself, in the fullness of His human nature. So the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. But the Body and Blood present in the Eucharist are present in their glorified and risen state, in the glory of the Resurrection, immortal, immutable, impassible, divinised. Our Lord's Body and Blood are not present in any carnal, gross, materialistic, or mortal state. So, in a true sense, the presence of Our Lord in the Holy Communion is bodily, that is, the Body and Blood of Christ are the risen, ascended, glorified, deified human nature of the Saviour personally present in the Eucharist in a unique sacramental mode - mystically, supernaturally, heavenly. The Substantial Body contained in the Blessed Sacrament is defined by Saint Paul in I Corinthians 15 as a spiritual body, soma pneumatikon, a Body after Resurrection.

PART I: The Anglicans

First, let us observe what Anglicanism has held concerning this matter. All of the below-mentioned Anglican Divines assented to Article of Religion XXVIII, which repudiates the Latin doctrine of transubstantiation. Yet, they are able to teach the Substantial Real Presence in the most vivid terms.

Bishop Guest (Author of Article of Religion XXVIII, 1566): ‘the Body of Christ is given, taken and eaten only after a heavenly and spiritual manner.’ ‘I told him plainly that this word only in the aforesaid article did not exclude the Presence of Christ’s Body from the Sacrament but the grossness and sensibleness in the receiving thereof. For I said unto him though he took Christ’s Body in his hand, received it with his mouth, and that corporally, naturally, really, substantially, and carnally, as the doctors do write, yet did he not for all that see it, feel it, smell it nor taste it.’ ‘The word was put in to this end, to take away all gross and sensible presence; for it is very true that when Christ’s Body is taken and eaten, it is neither seen, felt, smelt, nor tasted to be Christ’s Body, and so it is received and eaten, but after a heavenly and spiritual, and no sensible, manner.’

John Overall (Bishop of Norwich, 1619. One of the authors of the Church Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer): ‘It is confessed by all divines that upon the words of the consecration the Body and Blood of Christ is really and substantially present.’ ‘In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, or the Lord's Supper, the Body and Blood of Christ, and therefore the whole of Christ is verily and indeed present, and is verily partaken by us.’

John Cosin (Bishop of Durham, 1661): ‘Where is the danger, and what doth he fear, as long as all they that believe the Gospel own the true nature and the real and substantial Presence of the Body of Christ in the Sacra­ment?’

Lancelot Andrewes (Bishop of Winchester, 1623): ‘And the gathering or vintage of these two in the Blessed Eucharist is, as I may say, a kind of hypostatical union of the sign and the thing signified, so united together, as are the two Natures of Christ. And even from this Sacramental union do the Fathers borrow their resemblance – I name Theodoret for the Greek, and Gelasius for the Latin Church, that insist upon it both, and press it against Eutyches; that even as in the Eucharist neither part is evacuate or turned into the other, but abide each still in his former nature and substance, no more is either of Christ’s Natures annulled, or one of them converted into the other, as Eutyches held, but each Nature remaineth still full and whole in his own kind. And backwards; as the two Natures in Christ, so the signum and signatum in the Sacrament e converso. And this latter device, of the substance of the bread and wine to be flown away and gone, and in the room of it a remainder of nothing else but accidents to stay behind, was to them not known, and had it been true, had made for Eutyches and against them. And this for the likeness of union in both.’

William Forbes (Bishop of Edinburgh, 1635): ‘The opinion of those Protestants and others seems to be most safe and most right who think, nay, who most firmly believe, that the Body and Blood of Christ are really and actually and substantially present and taken in the Eucharist… In the Supper by the wonderful power of the Holy Ghost we invisibly partake of the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ, of which we are made recipients no otherwise than if we visibly ate and drank His Flesh and Blood.

James Ussher (Archbishop of Armagh, 1620): In the outward part of this mystical action, which reacheth to that which is Sacramentum only, we receive this Body and Blood but Sacramentally; in the inward, that containeth rem, the thing itself in it, we receive them really. And consequently the presence of these in the one is relative and symbolical, in the other real and substantial… and this is that real and substantial presence which we affirmed to be in the inward part of this sacred action. For the better conceiving of which mystery, we are to enquire, first what the thing is which we do here receive, secondly, how and in what manner we are made partakers of it. Touching the first, the truth which must be held is this: that we do not here receive only the benefits that flow from Christ, but the very Body and Blood of Christ, that is, Christ Himself crucified. For as none can be made partaker of the virtue of the Bread and Wine to his bodily sustenance, unless he first do receive the substance of those creatures, so neither can any participate in the benefits arising from Christ to his spiritual relief, except he first have communion with Christ Himself.’

The main difference between Calvinist and Zwinglian views and the historic Anglican is on the matter of Objective Presence: What is offered in the Eucharist is the True Body and Blood of Christ objectively, mystically and supernaturally present under the sacred species of host and chalice. In the Eucharist, an Objective Divine Thing is made present under the sacramental veils, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in the totality of His divinity and humanity, not merely present in power, grace or virtue, but made present in His human nature as well as His divine - and wherever that Objective Thing, the Thing Signified, is made present, He is present as Priest and Victim. The Risen Jesus, who now makes intercession for us as Great High Priest, is on our Altars - really, truly and substantially. (The Caroline Divines frequently refer to a 'substantial presence,' which does not require the Latin definition of transubstantiation at all - the Change in the Elements is real but of a metaphysical and not a material kind). Christ is objectively present in the Blessed Sacrament at the Consecration of the Mass, and by virtue of that objective presence is manifest and pleaded to the Father as Sacrifice and Atonement. 

Anglicans do not dogmatically impose the medieval scholastic Aristotelian theory of transubstantiation on the revealed mystery of the Real Objective Presence, although Rome does. We do believe in the Real Substantial Presence of Our Lord under the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist without attempting to explain how the Lord is substantially present – that is, without imposing any more dogmatic teaching on the mystery than that which is required by the Holy Scriptures and the Church of the First Millennium.

Our Lord's proclamation of the truth of the Real Objective Presence in Saint John chapter 6 is certainly not symbolical or metaphorical, and He is not speaking in figurative terms, as the context of the Scripture makes clear. Our Lord's human nature, as well as His Divinity, is present in the form of the sacred species, in an abiding and permanent way after Eucharistic Consecration. We should reject as contrary to Holy Tradition the doctrine of memorialism, which makes the Eucharist a mere mental psychological act of remembrance devoid of presence and grace, and the doctrine of virtualism, which holds that only the believing faithful receive the subjective grace or power of the Body and Blood through the elements, but not the Thing Itself objectively present in the elements.

Since the Reformation, Anglicans have insisted, with the consensus of the early Fathers, Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, Saint Theodore of Mopsuestia and Saint Theophylact especially amongst them, that the materiality of the Bread and Wine remains in its original physical state after Eucharistic Consecration, but that to it is joined by Consecration the supernatural totality of the Incarnate God-Man, by a ‘hypostatic union,’ a Personal Union extending the Incarnation, a sacramental unity of the outward and visible sign with the Divine Thing, Our Lord, Who is signified and contained in the sign. ‘The Bread which is of the earth receiving the invocation of God is no longer common bread but Eucharist, made up of two things, an earthly and a heavenly.’

The Holy Ghost, through the Consecration of the Mass, effects a sacramental change, an ontological change, in the forms of bread and wine on a supernatural metaphysical level, so that the outward forms become the Spirit-filled Body and Blood of Christ in an immaterial but essential manner. The Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist are the Body and Blood of His mighty Resurrection and glorious Ascension, a spiritual Body vivified by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 15.44). The afore-described doctrine is plainly laid out in the Prayer Book Catechism, the Prayer Book Offices of Instruction and in the Prayer Book Eucharistic Liturgy, as well as Articles of Religion XXVIII and XXIX. All communicants receive the outward and visible Sign and the Thing Signified; only the faithful receive the Benefit or virtue of the Sacrament, as the wicked receive not benefit but condemnation (I Corinthians 11.27-29). We do indeed need to be careful about Eucharistic language, so as to avoid on one hand a monophysiticism wherein the elements are believed to be destroyed and absorbed into Christ, and a Nestorianism often found in Calvinism and 'reformed' protestantism on the other, wherein the sign is divorced and entirely separated from the Divine Reality.

Again, Saint Irenaeus says, 'in the Eucharist there is an earthly thing and a heavenly thing,' hence, the outward signs of Bread and Wine and the Thing Signified, the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Other Fathers describe the Eucharist as the prolongation of the Incarnation, a Mystery like an iron thrust into the fire - the iron does not lose its own properties or reality, but it takes on the reality and properties of the fire. Both remain complete in themselves and yet are perfectly united, and each takes on the property of the other: True God and True Man in the Incarnation, earthly elements and the Person of Christ in the Eucharist. The consecrated Elements are not destroyed, but elevated, not replaced, but perfected into a new Thing. Grace builds upon nature, and does not destroy, but perfects, nature. Our Lord is ‘incarnated’ in the sacramental species, mystically present.

That there is 1. a supernatural, glorified, metaphysical yet corporeal (of a Body) Presence of Our Lord's Incarnate Person in the Eucharist, the Risen and Exalted Lord, and 2. a Change in the Eucharistic Elements upon Consecration, is beyond doubt for all Catholic Christians; but as Anglicans we believe we cannot attempt dogmatically to define the exact manner of the Presence or the process of how the Presence comes about at Mass - without adding to the Catholic Faith. We cannot rationally explain the inexplicable or define the indefinable. The Real Presence is Mystical - the ultimate Holy Mystery. The Presence is more real than that found in our own material physical plane, but it is not material and physical as understood in the limited field of our empirical experience.

PART II: The Lutherans

Anglicans are not the only heirs of the Reformation to proffer belief in the essential Eucharistic Presence. While the doctrine of the substantial Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is popularly attributed solely to the Latin ecclesiastical tradition and the scholastic movement, it should be noted that the belief in an essential Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is not only the received tradition of the universal Church of the first millennium, the Anglican Church, the Eastern Churches and the Latin Church, but is, in fact, the original protestant Eucharistic doctrine.

A doctrine of substantial presence is located in the undisputed universal tradition of the Holy Catholic Church for the first 1,500 years of Christian history; it is also what many sixteenth-century magisterial protestants held, the most important representative being Doctor Martin Luther. The original Lutherans would vehemently object to the appellation ‘Lutheran.’ They saw themselves simply as true Western Catholics, the Evangelical Catholics or the Evangelicals - who held to the ancient Faith of the Church renewed. They fiercely perpetuated the consensus fidelium on the matter of the Real Substantial Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. 

Anglicans and other orthodox Catholics certainly do not agree with Luther and his followers on all aspects of Eucharistic doctrine, as, for example, on the issue of Eucharistic Sacrifice and Perduring Presence, but the similarities between the traditions regarding belief in an essential Eucharistic Presence are salient.

Basic Eucharistic doctrine as presented by Martin Luther in his Small Catechism includes belief in the real and essential Presence:

Q. What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
A. It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under bread and wine for us Christians to eat and to drink, established by Christ Himself.

Q. What good does this eating and drinking do?
A. These words tell us: ‘Given for you’ and ‘Shed for you to forgive sins.’ Namely, that the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are given to us through these words in the sacrament. Because, where sins are forgiven, there is life and salvation as well.

Q. How can physical eating and drinking do such great things?
A. Of course, eating and drinking do not do these things. These words, written here, do them: ‘given for you’ and ‘shed for you to forgive sins.’ These words, along with physical eating and drinking are the important part of the sacrament. Anyone who believes these words has what they say and what they record, namely, the forgiveness of sins. 

The same is posited in Luther’s Large Catechism:

Now, what is the Sacrament of the Altar?
Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and wine, which we Christians are commanded by the Word of Christ to eat and to drink.

Doctor Luther rejected the Latin scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation, that is, that the essence or substance of the bread and wine are annihilated and replaced with the substantial body and blood of Christ. In line with the earliest Fathers of the Church, he saw no need for the Aristotelian doctrine. Rather, he asserted that Christ's Real Presence did not replace the material presence of bread and wine but was united to the consecrated elements. Luther clearly maintained that the Body and Blood of Our Lord are substantially present in and under the consecrated elements of bread and wine. It is common parlance for many to refer to the Lutheran view as consubstantiation, because the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ are held to be present with (con) the substance of the bread and wine.

Lutheran theology, however, does not use the term consubstantiation and instead uses Doctor Luther’s own formulation of ‘sacramental union’ – a union of the Incarnate Person of Our Lord with the Eucharistic species. It is perspicuously manifest that Luther, in all of his writings, insists on Real Substantial Presence of Christ in the elements of the Holy Communion.  He repeatedly cites Our Lord’s ipsissima verba, the Words of institution, ‘This is my Body, This is my Blood,’ to prove the truth of the doctrine, and the best example of his persistence is the famous (or infamous) Marburg Colloquy of 1529, in which an effort to unite various protestant movements failed because of a lack of consensus on Eucharistic doctrine. Huldrich Zwingli refused Luther’s doctrine of the substantial presence; Luther in conscience could not back down. Even in the face of continued protestant division, Luther would not and could not relent and recant: ‘this is my Body’ means ‘this is my Body.’  Doctor Luther would not permit the verb is to be taken in a figurative, symbolic or representative sense. The verb was and is taken literally, so that in the Eucharist Our Lord makes the bread and wine to be what He declares them to be, His True Body and True Blood. In this teaching, Luther is merely being consistent with the affirmations of Holy Scripture and the Great Tradition of the Church throughout the ages.

Doctor Luther uses the previously-mentioned fire-and-iron analogy of the earliest Fathers to defend the substantial presence: ‘Fire and iron, two different substances, are so mingled in red-hot iron that every part of it is both fire and iron. Why may not the glorious Body of Christ much more be in every part of the substance of the bread?’ He uses the Hypostatic Union of the divine and human natures in Christ to explicate the mystery. Our Lord’s Deity, he teaches, is not present under accidents of the human nature in Christ. He submits therefore that one can say, ‘This Man is God, this God is Man,’ in the Chalcedonian tradition of the communcatio idiomatum. So also in the Blessed Sacrament, it is not necessary that transubstantiation (however defined) occur in order for Our Lord become essentially present. After Eucharistic Consecration, the materiality of the bread and wine continue to exist, yet one can say in the person of Christ, ‘This bread is my Body, this wine is my Blood – and vice-versa.’  ‘As this truth is found in Christ, so also in the Sacrament.’ Luther utilises Christology to express the nature of the Real Presence.  He employs Christology and the Hypostatic Union solely by way of analogy, for he does not attempt to define the ‘how’ of the mystery, only that the mystery is objective and real. The Real Substantial Presence only comes about, as Saint Augustine saith, by the power or virtue of the Word, the Word of Christ, the hoc est enim corpus meum, for the divine mystery can never be comprehended or understood.

In 1528, in opposition to Zwingli, Doctor Luther wrote in The Confession of the Supper of Christ. In this work, he evolves an analogy between the Unity of the Three Divine Persons in the Godhead, the Hypostatic Union of the divine and human natures in Christ, and the sacramental union of Our Lord with the elements - the unio sacramentalis.

The Holy Trinity possesses a union of nature, a natural unanimity. In Our Lord, there is a union in One Divine Person of two Natures, a union of person, a personal unanimity.  In the Holy Eucharist, Our Lord forges a union with the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine, a union of sacrament, a sacramental unanimity. According to Luther’s interpretation, the bread and wine are so suffused with the substantial presence of Christ, and Our Lord is so closely joined to the elements after Consecration that the terms ‘flesh-bread’ and ‘blood-wine’ are engaged to describe the mystery of the sacramental union. There is an absolute, indivisible unity between Our Lord and the Eucharistic species. Therefore, the substantial presence is infallibly received with the consecrated elements – the Body and Blood are received with the bread and wine, which serve as the vessel, the conduit, the instrument. The outward and visible sign of material bread and wine (signum sacramenti) are always given with the inward and spiritual Substance of the Body and Blood of Christ (res sacramenti), in Augustinian terms.

Moving on from Luther himself to his followers, we witness below the confident teaching of the Book of Concord on the matter of substantial Presence. No one could dispute that the Augsburg Confession and its Confutation and Apology are protestant formularies, and yet we observe how certainly the doctrine of essential Presence is affirmed.

Article X: Of the Lord's Supper - Confession
Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that teach otherwise.
To Article X - Confutation
The tenth article gives no offence in its words, because they confess that in the Eucharist, after the consecration lawfully made, the Body and Blood of Christ are substantially and truly present, if only they believe that the entire Christ is present under each form, so that the Blood of Christ is no less present under the form of bread by concomitance than it is under the form of the wine, and the reverse. Otherwise, in the Eucharist the Body of Christ is dead and bloodless, contrary to Saint Paul, because Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more. One matter is added as very necessary to the article of the Confession -  that they believe the Church, rather than some teaching otherwise and incorrectly, that by the almighty Word of God in the consecration of the Eucharist the substance of the bread is changed into the Body of Christ. For thus in a general council it has been determined firmly concerning the exalted Trinity, and the Catholic faith. They are praised therefor, for condemning the Capernaites, who deny the truth of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Article X: Of the Holy Supper - Apology
The Tenth Article has been approved, in which we confess that we believe, that in the Lord's Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly tendered, with those things which are seen, bread and wine, to those who receive the Sacrament. This belief we constantly defend, as the subject has been carefully examined and considered. For since Paul says, that the bread is the communion of the Lord's body, etc., it would follow, if the Lord's body were not truly present, that the bread is not a communion of the body, but only of the spirit of Christ. And we have ascertained that not only the Roman Church affirms the bodily presence of Christ, but the Greek Church also both now believes, and formerly believed, the same. For the canon of the Mass among them testifies to this, in which the priest clearly prays that the bread may be changed and become the very body of Christ. And Vulgarius, who seems to us to be not a silly writer, says distinctly that bread is not a mere figure, but is truly changed into flesh. And there is a long exposition of Cyril on John 15, in which he teaches that Christ is corporeally offered us in the Supper. For he says thus: Nevertheless, we do not deny that we are joined spiritually to Christ by true faith and sincere love. But that we have no mode of connection with Him, according to the flesh, this indeed we entirely deny. And this, we say, is altogether foreign to the divine Scriptures. For who has doubted that Christ is in this manner a vine, and we the branches, deriving thence life for ourselves? Hear Paul saying: We are all one body in Christ; although we are many, we are, nevertheless, one in Him; for we are, all partakers of that one bread. Does he perhaps think that the virtue of the mystical benediction is unknown to us? Since this is in us, does it not also, by the communication of Christ's flesh, cause Christ to dwell in us bodily? And a little after: Whence we must consider that Christ is in us not only according to the habit, which we call love, but also by natural participation, etc. We have cited these testimonies, not to undertake a discussion here concerning this subject, for His Imperial Majesty does not disapprove of this article, but in order that all who may read them may the more clearly perceive that we defend the doctrine received in the entire Church, that in the Lord's Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly tendered with those things which are seen, bread and wine (quod in coena Domini vere et substantialiter adsint corpus et sanguis Christi et vere exhibeantur  cum his rebus, quae videntur, pane et vino). And we speak of the presence of the living Body of Christ; for we know that death hath no more dominion over Him.

The Augsburg Confession, Article Ten (1530), definitively professes the Real Substantial Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the distribution of the True Body and True Blood of Christ to all communicants under the elements, good and evil alike – the manducatio impiorum; it condemns those who teach otherwise. The doctrine of transubstantiation is never taught or mentioned. The Confutation proclaims that ‘the tenth article is not verbally hurtful, because they acknowledge that in the Eucharist after consecration lawfully made, the body and blood of Christ are substantially and really present.’ But regarding transubstantiation it is affirmed: ‘One very necessary addition to the article of the Confession is that they should believe the Church, rather than any who wrongly teach differently that by the almighty word of God in the consecration of the Eucharist the substance of bread is changed into the body of Christ.’

After the Confutation came the Apology of the Augsburg Confession of 1530. Philip Melanchthon, in addressing Article Ten, replaces for vere et adsint the strongest possible language, vere et substantialiter adsint, in order to teach the Real Substantial Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ. Transubstantiation again is never mentioned.

The Lutheran Reformation is another very crucial example of how even the protestant tradition has historically embraced the ancient and universal tradition of the essential Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Communion. It is not a doctrine alien to the Anglican Church or to other Churches of the Reformation, but a truth of the Gospel, a vital truth, a divine revelation, and a living component of our inheritance from the consensus patricum and the consensus fidelium of the First Millennium Church. The Church’s faith in the Real Presence is not to be confused with the later philosophical development called transubstantiation.

Monday, July 22, 2013

DEUS Synod 2013

Photographs of the 2013 Anglican Province of America Diocese of the Eastern United States Synod, which occurred 8th to 12th July at Saint Paul's Church in Crownsville, Maryland, are found at this link...

FIFNA Assembly News

By Mary Ann Mueller in Belleville, Illinois

Some of the heaviest Anglo-Catholic hitters in the Anglican realignment were in the shadow of the St. Louis arch last week. They travelled from near and far to celebrate their connectiveness as Christians and to rejoice in their joy at being Anglicans with a common history and shared prayer as Forward in Faith-North America's (FiF-NA) 2013 Assembly played out near the banks of the upper Mississippi River.

Bishops in purple shirts, priests and deacons in black shirts, monks in flowing black or brown serge habits, and the laity, all sporting a wide spectrum of colors, fabrics and patterns, descended on the 200-acre Our Lady of the Snows, a national Catholic shrine dedicated to providing an oasis for spiritual renewal in an atmosphere of Christian hospitality.

Some of the bishops present included: ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan, FiF-NA President Bishop Keith Ackerman, Anglican Province of America Presiding Archbishop Walter Grundorf, Anglican Church in America Bishop Stephen Strawn, ACNA Missionary Diocese of All Saints Bishop William Illgenfritz, Diocese of the Holy Cross Bishop Paul Hewett, APA Diocese of the Eastern United States Bishop Chandler Jones, ACNA Bishop Richard Lipka, ACNA Diocese of San Joaquin Bishop Eric Menees, Reformed Episcopal Diocese of the West Bishop Winifield Mott, and three venerable elderly bishops of the American Anglicanism - William Wantland, Donald Parsons, and Ed Mac Burney, all now slowed and bent with age but representing the image of Forward in Faith at its initial flowering.

Forward in Faith is an over-arching umbrella that draws together those from various parts in the Anglican renewal who seek to live out their spirituality the Catholic stream of Anglicanism. More than 150 Anglo-Catholics travelled to the Midwest from throughout the United States and across the Anglican spectrum to join together in unified prayer, joyful worship and lessons taught by one of the greatest teaching speakers in Anglicanism today. 

The special orator for the event was a Church of England bishop who has travelled far and wide mesmerizing audiences wherever Anglicanism has been planted and is celebrated. 

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, the 106th Bishop of Rochester (England) and now the director for the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue, chose as his topic"Ecclesiology at the Crossroads." For three one-hour sessions, the English bishop kept his audience in rapt attention as he spoke eloquently and knowledgably all without benefit of notes. He was thoroughly conversant with his topic and was able to bring forth a wide variety of facts and weaving in dates and personages as he fleshed out his topic. He was also very much a part of the overall experience of Forward in Faith. He blended in as one of many bishops and was accepted as an equal participant, rubbing shoulders with one and all throughout the days and evenings.

The three-day event was undergirded in prayer. The OLS conference room became many things during the three days, which sped by with incredible speed - change a wall here or move a table there, and, presto, the room is transformed. It was used as a chapel for the recitation of Daily Office, a classroom when Bishop Nazir-Ali was teaching, an assembly hall during FiF-NA business sessions, a comfortable parlor when Bishop Ackerman was with his beloved FiF-NA family, a television studio for Anglican TV's recording of the event, an exhibitor's hall for various FiF-NA and Anglo-Catholic ministries and movements, a movie theatre for the playing of the short film "Surprising Merrily," a banquet hall for the breaking of bread, a parish hall for fellowship and snacks, and a cathedral for the celebration of the closing Eucharist by a Bishop Wantland.

Forward in Faith participants not only looked back over their collective shoulders to see where they have come out of the spiritual desert of Egypt but also peered forward to see where the Lord is leading them today, tomorrow and beyond.

Bishop Ackerman realized that as a living entity, FiF-NA has changed from being a rigid rule-based organization to an organism that grows and changes, develops and learns as it matures. Therefore, the canons and constitution of the group have to reflect the new reality. Rather than trying to remold the FiF-NA Assembly into an organization, the bylaws need to reflect the liveliness of an organism. So they were tweaked to mirror the fact that Forward in Faith is a loving spiritual family and not an ecclesial legislative body.

FiF-NA's early DNA goes back to 1972 and the Committee (later Coalition) for the Apostolic Ministry. It then is traced through the Evangelical Catholic Mission and the Episcopal Synod of America, finally morphing into Forward in Faith in 1989. Through it all, the Anglo-Catholic voice has remained loud and strong and uncompromising in the face of decadence and decay. Next time the Forward in Faith Assembly meets, it will be to celebrate its silver anniversary with jubilation and prayer. Next year, all eyes will turn toward celebrating FiF-NA's silver anniversary as the strong Anglo-Catholic voice in the reforming face of American Anglicanism.

Bishop Ackerman has called for help. He has developed a plan where participants can become adjunct members of the FiF-NA Council and focus on one specified project. The specialized auxiliary ministries include: marketing, securing advertizing for the Forward in Christ publication, Mission and Outreach for the Myanmar Project, various children's ministries, writing tracts, interacting with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, fundraising and development, maintaining the FiF-NA website, developing regional Festival in Faith mini-conferences, and preparing for next year's joyful silver jubilee celebrating what God has done and is continuing to do with Forward in Faith.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Declaration of Common Faith and Purpose of Forward in Faith North America

Affirmed unanimously at the Assembly of Forward in Faith North America, held at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, Illinois, Thursday 18th July 2013.

In its basic theological affirmations, this declaration is virtually identical with the Affirmation of Saint Louis, the foundational document of the Continuing Anglican Churches accepted at the Congress of Saint Louis (1977). 

1. I believe our Lord Jesus Christ has given His Church an Order which claims the loyalty of faithful Christians above and beyond any deviation sanctioned by any humanly-invented institution, whether secular or ecclesiastical.

2. I accept the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as 'containing all things necessary to salvation,' and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith and morals. 

3. I accept the Apostles' Creed as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith. 

4. I accept the historic episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church. I affirm the Christian ministerial priesthood as male and that the churches of the Anglican Communion have no authority to change the historic tradition of the male priesthood. I pray that God grants me the strength and ability to uphold the Church's Order, both materially and spiritually as concerns the ministerial priesthood of His holy Church. Accordingly, I will reject any and all actions that might signify acceptance of a deviation from the Church's Order regarding the Christian ministerial priesthood. 

5. I recognize the seven Sacraments of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church - Baptism and the Supper of the Lord - ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution, and of the elements ordained by Him, Confirmation, Matrimony, Ordination, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction of the Sick. 

6. I believe that, in the Sacrament and mystery of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ is truly, really and substantially present in the Body and Blood in the outward and visible sign of Bread and Wine. (cf. 1 Corinthians 10.16-17, 11.23-29, Saint John 6.32-71). 

7. I affirm our Lord's teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is in its nature the exclusive, permanent and lifelong union of one man and one woman. 

8. I believe all Seven Councils are ecumenical and catholic on the basis of the received Tradition of the ancient Undivided Church of East and West.

9. I affirm that God, and not man, is the creator of human life. Believing that the unjustified taking of life is sinful, I will promote and uphold the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. 

Bishops attending the FIFNA Assembly 2013

Recession at the FIFNA Solemn High Mass

At the Assembly of Forward in Faith North America, held at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, Illinois, Wednesday 17th July 2013...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia Eliminates Its Western Rite?

Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, 
formerly Western Rite Bishop-Vicar of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

A sad and unwelcome development, but an instructive reminder...

Traditional Anglicanism is Western Orthodox Christianity.

Update: Metropolitan Hilarion has issued the following decree on the Western Rite in ROCOR.

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -