We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

De Ecclesia

Some have asked: “What is the reason for the church’s existence?” Who are we and what do we do?

Article XIX, free-styled: The esse of the Church Militant (Ecclesia Christi visibilis) is the gathering of the faithful (coetus fidelium), whose ratio is twofold, being the topos where (1) the verbum Dei is proclaimed (praedicatur) and (2) the sacramenta are administered (administrantur) correctly, e.g., done with "all those things that of necessity are requisite, according to Christ's ordinance."

The church is performative: it is the coming together of those who believe, in which there is the proclaiming of God's word and the giving of the gifts of God. It is, of necessity, relational. And it thus engenders further performances, which (should) spiral forth: i.e., works of love and charity.

It is not a mere building, which, most unfortunately, may be shamelessly profaned:

In 2007 the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York let its premises to the singer Elton John to celebrate his 60th birthday. John, who months before gave voice to his disdain for Christianity, noting he would “ban religion completely … Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings, and it’s not really compassionate,” turned the Diocese of New York’s cathedral into a ballroom.

The New York Post reported that for John’s party “the altar was set up as a stage for the performers, which included the trendy rock group Scissor Sisters, Sting and Paul McCartney.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oh Dear!

Here I advanced three views of three different authors and put forth very few words of my own. This fits perfectly with the purposes enumerated below the blog title: personal, reflective, thinking, provisional, prone to quote and to re-post. Really, this blog is just a place where I keep some of my thoughts ordered and organized. But if I contradict myself, then, well, I contradict myself.

I can't wait to wade into any number of other swampy morasses, such as baptismal regeneration. Yes. No. Maybe. But I will repeat something I actually did say definitively: whatever an Anglican may be, no Anglican may be a supersessionist or adherent of replacement theology. What does your church say? Is what they say really coherent or is it muddled and duplicitous?

Wherefore they are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises.

I think others might agree (but I mean to tar no one with my own brush).

Anglican Curmudgeon:

...does the first-century Jews' rejection of Jesus imply that God thereupon must have abandoned his earlier Covenants with them?

Such an outcome is simply not a logical consequence of the Old Testament covenants. The Jewish Messiah was a promise foretold by the prophets, but the Messiah as such formed no part of any covenant. And although God keeps His promises, he also does not break any of His covenants.

God's covenants with Noah, Abraham and Moses therefore still have to hold, as between God and the descendants of Abraham who have not accepted Christianity, but who adhere to the tenets of the Jewish faith. For there to be a "supersession" of those covenants implies a breach of those covenants -- by God himself, which is an impossibility. "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The torpedo

I keep running across sites such as this one. I certainly understand the appeal of a rigorous theology. But I just don't see it where they seem to think it lies. But before you yell at me, here is someone else:

Augustinian Theology and Early Anglicanism

Early Anglican history was a "tug-of-war" between those who wanted a more "Catholic" type of church and one who wanted a more "Reformed" one. The 39 Articles are imbued with Augustinian-Reformed thinking (and, yes, we’re of the mind that, if you don’t accept the 39 Articles, you’re not a real Anglican.) But then there’s Article XVI:

NOT every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.

This article is a product of the experience of the early church. Before Constantine, baptism was strictly for adults who made a profession of faith (those "of riper years," as the 1662 Prayer Book would say) and underwent a catechumenate, or period of instruction and repentance. Committing serious sin after baptism resulted in serious penance or excommuniciation. Constantine himself was aware of this: he and his spiritual advisor, Eusebius of Caesarea, had no problem with delaying his baptism until shortly before his death, to avoid those penalties. As we said earlier, the ante-Nicene church (at least) had always allowed the possibility of falling away after baptism, a baptism which followed a conversion experience.

That having been said, Article XVI torpedoes a straight-up Augustinian-Reformed theological framework for the Anglican. Any admission that one can lose one’s salvation for any reason once one is elect (and knows it, another feature of Lutheranism is the matter of assurance) breaks the whole Reformed paradigm.

It took a century and a half, but it was John Wesley who finally connected the dots on this issue with his decidedly Arminian view of election and his emphasis on sanctification as a subsequent work of the Holy Spirit. But same emphasis had already been anticipated by John Jewel:

Besides, though we say we have no meed [reward] at all by our own works and deeds, but appoint all the means of our salvation to be in Christ alone, yet say we not that for this cause men ought to live loosely and dissolutely; nor that it is enough for a Christian to be baptized only and to believe; as though there were nothing else required at his hand. For true faith is lively and can in no wise be idle. Thus therefore teach we the people that God hath called us, not to follow riot and wantonness, but, as Paul saith, “unto good works to walk in them”; that God hath plucked us out “from the power of darkness, to serve the living God,” to cut away all the remnants of sin, and “to work our salvation in fear and trembling”; that it may appear how that the Spirit of sanctification is in our bodies and that Christ himself doth dwell in our hearts. (from An Apology of the Church of England.)


Fr. Novak:

Article XVI, "Of Sin after Baptism," says that a man who has received the Holy Ghost and fallen into sin may rise again: "After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives." This article contradicts the Calvinist teaching on Irresistible Grace and the Perseverance of the Saints. Calvinism would say that should we fall into sin after we have received the Holy Ghost we "will arise again," rather than "may arise again;" and denies that Christians "may depart from grace given." In fact, "In 1572 the Puritans addressed certain admonitions to Parliament complaining of the inadequacy of the Articles and their dangerous speaking about falling from grace" (A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, E. J. Bicknell, D.D., 1935, p. 21) ...

If the Articles are Calvinist, then why such strong and consistent opposition for so long? If Anglicanism is really "Calvinist," then why have Calvinists opposed not only the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, but its Liturgy and Episcopal Church Order as well? And, if Anglicanism is really Calvinist, then why did the Puritans completely replace the Articles, Prayer book and Episcopal Order of the Church as soon as they had the opportunity after the Great Rebellion and the crime of regicide? The answer is that the Articles of Religion were written to guide the Church of England through the controversies of the Reformation and back to the Faith and practice of the primitive Church; and that the Anglican Church is not a Protestant denomination but a branch of the Catholic Church, unhappily divided from the wider Church by accidents of history.

How should the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion be interpreted? The Church gives us an authoritative answer to this question. In 1571, the same year that the Articles were adopted by Convocation, Canon 5, "On Preachers," was also adopted. Canon 5 says, "But especially shall they see to it that they teach nothing in the way of a sermon which they would have religiously held and believed by the people save what is agreeable to the teaching of the Old and New Testament and what the Catholic Fathers and ancient bishops and doctors have collected from this selfsame doctrine." This canon is clearly grounded in the Commonitorium of St. Vincent of Lerins.

The Thirty-nine Articles are not, and were never intended to be, a Confession of Faith like the Continental Protestant Confessions. The Anglican Church is a creedal Church, not a confessional denomination. As Bishop John Pearson (1612-1686) said, the book of Articles "is not, nor is pretended to be, a complete body of divinity, or a comprehension and explication of all Christian doctrines necessary to be taught: but an enumeration of some truths, which upon and since the Reformation have been denied by some persons: who upon denial are thought unfit to have any cure of souls in this Church or realm; because they might by their opinions either infect their flock with error or else disturb the Church with schism or the realm with sedition" (cited in Bicknell, p. 22).


Fr. Hart:

No more useful book has been produced for modern Anglicans than E.J. Bicknell’s work on the Thirty-Nine Articles. A good reading of this book should dispel any notion that Anglicanism was a gutless compromise meant to appease everybody. If the facts are brought out into the light of day, we will see the very opposite: Anglicanism was a brave endeavor to stand for truth against pressure from all sides. For example, Bicknell uses a line from Article XVI to demonstrate that the Church of England refused to teach a doctrine that gave in to outside pressure, in this case to a precept of Calvinism. The Anglican Article says: “After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again and amend our lives.” Bicknell points out that the Calvinists insisted on a stronger teaching, namely that everyone who is among the elect will, unavoidably, arise again and amend his life; to say they “may arise”-which means also that they may not- flatly contradicts what Calvinists believed about election. This is not merely theoretical, for Bicknell points out that English Calvinists resisted the publication of this Article, and failed ...

The English Church established a carefully maintained balance between Rome, Calvinism, Lutheranism, and Zwinglianism, criticizing and rejecting various ideas in each of these systems. This in turn kept the Anglicans in a state of at least some amount of opposition to everybody all the time. Each of these camps saw the Church of England as accepting error by adopting or maintaining some of the ideas and practices of Rome, or some of those belonging to Calvin, or some of those belonging to Luther, but never to the satisfaction of loyalists in any of those parties. At one point, the most extreme group of the Calvinist camp, Cromwell’s Puritans, made war on the Church of England as well as on the Crown; executing the king, finally, for refusing to abolish episcopacy, before turning their wrath on the Archbishop of Canterbury. William Laud was executed by means of a Bill passed by Parliament, for they had nothing, in the way of a criminal charge, of which to convict him. The King and the Archbishop suffered religious persecution because they were loyal Anglicans ...

They [the Anglican divines] were not weak and lacking in substance, needing to draw strength from the outside. Rather, they were strong enough to deal honestly and seriously with outside influences, all the while resisting the pressure to conform. The strength of Anglicanism, as it emerged, was in its strength to be both Catholic and Evangelical in a way that was entirely unique. And that is Anglican Identity. For this reason I have, with some measure of humor, proposed on the blog, The Continuum, that we adopt a mascot for genuine Anglicanism. That mascot is not the chameleon, but the Duck-billed Platypus. About the example set by this brave little nonconformist animal, I have written on our blog: “He bravely defies all simplistic categories, such as mammal or bird, Catholic or Protestant. He just is.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Tridentine / Anglopapal Tradition

While this no longer describes what I would desire [Who cares?], I appreciate that they are completely upfront about it. But how will this play with the 'Novus Ordinary', who has stated: "... as the Extraordinary Form is not integral to the Anglican patrimony, it is not properly used in our communities." Will there be a Last Gospel after all?

I am not interested in a ceremonial with an excessive inclination towards the kissing of people and things. But I am equally as uninterested in the versus populum of the Ordinariate, as I am in the "hands waving in the air" of GAFCON. I want neither friendly nor ecstatic but solemn, sober, manly, and contemplative. I must be the only Anglican Cistercian. Sigh.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Still working

Still working on an English Liturgy. I see it as "inflatable" according to the following schema:

The parts in 'green' are the typically English, Cranmerian bits. The parts in 'blue' will require restoration which will simply be aided by taking (and adapting) that which others have gleefully abandoned. Since they threw it out, it is now ours for free.

Having seen that Alcuin begins the liturgical year on Christmas day, I wish I had done so as well. But I started (quite conventionally) with Advent. I am amazed that people continually claim that there is little connection between the propers, prayers, and readings. I find, instead, a semantically-dense web of vertical and horizontal connections which needs saving. I will continue, as time permits, here. See if you don't agree with me.


It turns out there are three basic collections of readings still extant in the West:

I. Würzburg (6th century, Gelasian)

II. Alcuin (7th century, Gregorian)

III. Murbach (8th century, Gelasian)

The last is the source of the medieval lectionary used by Anglicans and Lutherans. But what is the source of the lectionary of the Tridentine missal (1570)? It isn't the first: it is the second, which Tommasi rendered, from words found in the preface, as Comes ab Albino.

Peruse its fragile pages here.

Friday, August 8, 2014

De Peccato Originali

Original sin standeth not in the following [imitatione] of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature [vitium et depravatio naturae] of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature [natura] inclined to evil, so that the flesh [caro] lusteth [concupiscat] always contrary to the spirit [adversus spiritum]; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation.

What we are concerned with here is not merely a "lack" or a "privation" in our original righteousness, such that we individually re-capitulate Adam's fall. Rather, it is an infection in our very species-being, identified as a sensual lust of the flesh, which stands ever opposed to spirit.

And this infection of nature [haec naturae depravatio] doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh [affectus carnis], called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection [affectum], some the desire of the flesh [carnis]), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust [concupiscentiam] hath itself the nature [rationem] of sin.

Even baptismal rebirth cannot eliminate it and, hence, this inborn inclination of flesh, being contrary to the law of God, has the like character of sin (although it is unlike most sin, being an innate predisposition and not a conscious act of the will).

Neither the words nor the concept of "total depravity" appear here, nor a repudiation of Imago Dei, nor a denial of free will, or an endorsement of individual "pre-destination." Nor is there a disavowal of reason or spirit, only its constant opposition by the "knowing-how" of our flesh.

This is all much closer to Aquinas than Calvin, IMHO.

Afterwords: For the Romans, concupiscence is not sin but is "of sin and inclines to sin." For the Calvinists, it is "true and proper sin." What say we? It "hath itself the ratio of sin."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Could it be ...?"

We believe in the Apostolic Church. Make no mistake about this: A specific taste for either High or Low Church is not what separates us from the corrupt and apostate Canterbury Communion. In my jurisdiction alone, both High and Low congregations have existed for years. I have had to point out to people that we are not in communion with the Episcopal Church here in America, even if they are calling themselves "Anglo-Catholics," and use that big red Missal. For others, the same might very well apply to Episcopal parishes who call themselves "Evangelicals." As a denomination, the Episcopalians have abandoned the Apostles' doctrine in favor of modern trendy innovations, heresies and immorality in place of God's commandments ...They claim that God is still speaking to them.

Just how big and how red is that missal?


Psychotics are tone deaf, cannot tolerate dissent, and most prone to utter crowd-pleasing platitudes. The fact that they are neither in touch with reality, nor very bright, does not prevent them from being accomplished manipulators of the delusional beings who gather round them. They function best in the small 'in-group', although even that bubble-world may find itself projected into a world stage. Often narcissists or predators or both.

Of course, as Freud correctly noted, we are all a little psychotic: reality is simply too much for us (at times). But there remains a question of degree. And of tested experience. And of proven judgement. And of the steady hand. What the modern world is lacking are the manly virtues, in particular: actual andreia. Instead, "princes" and "princesses" of some exquisite fairy kingdom have somehow wrested the wheel away from true captains. Sad.

Old-fangled: Courtesy of here.

Cardinal Heenan: “When you are dealing with the problems of social life, you need to consult those who know and live in the world.

“Now, let me ask, how many Parish Priests, how many of the Faithful, how many husbands and wives, how many doctors, economists, scientists — especially experts in biochemistry and nuclear physics — were at work on this Commission?

“It is useless in these matters to seek advice only from those who, since their youth, have spent their lives in monasteries, seminaries or universities.

These eminent men may hardly know the world as it really is. The world can be unpleasant and cruel. These scholars often have a child-like trust in the opinions of men in the world.”

New-fangled: Courtesy of here.

I can't bring myself to watch the video. But consider the source: an itinerant dabbler. She has advanced degrees, but she is no research scientist or teacher (or even 'expert') and she believes that our present understanding of any number of issues to be all-sufficient (not very scientific, I'm afraid). Never having been the rector of even a single parish (no pastoral chops), yet swiftly raised to the episcopate and, thence, to the very empty (but PR) position of "presiding." No scholar, no philosopher, no theologian, no "dean" of any "school" of "theology." No sustained effort at or record of achievement in ... anything. A renaissance failure. Promoted beyond her station.

O Captain! My Captain!