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)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Litmus Test

It would be nice if "traditionalists" could find more "common ground" in rejecting "the heresies of the revisionists in ECUSA and the CofE" instead of re-animating the theological controversies of the past. From my humble perspective, one major stumbling block is the erection of a theological litmus test, as in the following:

If it only weren’t for the latter’s rejection of the claim, often attributed to Martin Luther, that justification by grace alone through faith alone “is the article by which the church stands and falls.” Because that article, to us Protestants, constitutes the essence of the Christian Gospel.

It seems quite obvious that Luther and his followers -- the Lutherans -- take a very hard line here:

The doctrine of justification by faith alone was considered by Luther and his followers as an incontrovertible dogma, as the foundation rock of the Reformation, as an "article by which the Church must stand or fall" (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesia), and which of itself would have been a sufficient cause for beginning the Reformation, as the Smalkaldic Articles emphatically declare. Thus we need not wonder when later on we see Lutheran theologians declaring that the Sola-Fides doctrine, as the principium materiale of Protestantism, deserves to be placed side by side with the doctrine of Sola-Scriptura ("Bible alone", with the exclusion of Tradition) as its principium formale — two maxims in which the contrast between Protestant and Catholic teaching reaches its highest point.

But I am no Lutheran. Nor can I affirm that this "doctrine" -- which cannot be dogma (it is not in the creeds) -- "constitutes the essence of the ... gospel" for nowhere do I find either Jesus or Paul enunciating that it alone constitutes that which is identifiable as "the good news."

If justification by faith alone was indeed “the article on which the church stands or falls,” as Reformed theology claimed, then wouldn’t we expect it to have been taught by Jesus himself, somewhere? Moreover, wouldn’t John have taught it, too? And Peter, and James? Shoot, wouldn’t Paul himself have taught the imputation of alien righteousness somewhere outside of just two of his thirteen epistles?

Having realized that I was using a few select (and hermeneutically debatable) passages from Romans and Galatians as the filter through which I understood everything else the New Testament had to say about salvation, I began to conclude that such an approach was as arbitrary as it was irresponsible. I then sought to identify a paradigm, or simple statement of the gospel, that provided more explanatory value than Sola Fide did. As I hope to unpack in more detail eventually, I have come to understand the gospel in terms of the New Covenant gift of the Spirit, procured through the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, who causes fruit to be borne in our lives by reproducing the image of the Son in the adopted children of the Father. If love of God and neighbor fulfills the law, and if the fruit of the Spirit is love, having been shed abroad by the Spirit in our hearts, then it seems to follow that the promise of the gospel is equivalent with the promise of the New Covenant that God’s law will no longer be external to the believer, but will be written upon his mind and heart, such that its righteous demands are fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. And again unsurprisingly, when I turned to the early Church fathers, and especially Augustine, it was this very understanding of the gospel that I encountered over and over again.

What is now required is a sense of mutual purpose, even if that involves the shared sacrifice of bracketing other issues.

... “disarmament,” that is, the end of polemics and counter-polemics among various conservative-to-traditional “factions” or “camps” within the Church in the interest of combatting the greater malady: liberalism (also known as “progressivism”). This means, for the time being, setting aside or suspending important and reasonable disagreements concerning liturgy, spirituality, and theology ....

And, finally, we need to be able to express ourselves as for something and not so much against something. Without common cause, we shall, nonetheless, find ourselves all sequestered together in the re-education camps of tomorrow. Let's start talking now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Losing the battle

While some liberals and conservatives believe there can be a "grand bargain" in which gay marriage is allowed and the religious freedom of dissenters is supported, George pointed out that he has long argued that could never be the case, because liberal secularism is a comprehensive doctrine in competition with other comprehensive doctrines.

"Liberal secularism," he said, "never was and never will be what the late John Rawls depicted it as being and hoped it would be, namely, a purely political doctrine, as opposed to what he called a comprehensive view (a view of human nature, meaning, dignity, and destiny) that competes with other comprehensive views.

"Nowhere is the reality of contemporary liberalism as a comprehensive doctrine, a secularist religion, more plainly on display than in the moral-cultural struggle over marriage and sexual morality. Liberal secularism will tolerate other comprehensive views so long as they present no challenge or serious threat to its own most cherished values. The Amish are probably safe. But when they do, they must be smashed, in the name, for example, of 'equality' or preventing 'dignitarian harm,' and their faithful must be reduced to a dhimmi-like status in respect of opportunities, in employment, contracting, and other areas, that, from the point of view of liberal secularist doctrine, cannot be made available to them if they refuse to conform themselves to the demands of liberal ideology."

There are some liberals, George added, that do still value religious freedom, tolerance and diversity who have spoken out against the liberals who have sought to punish or restrict the religious freedom of those who dissent from the liberal orthodoxy on marriage and sexuality. But he believes those tolerant liberals will ultimately lose their battle against intolerant liberals.

"Of course, there will be some within the liberal community, Rawlsians and others, who will try to make some room for meaningful dissent, even in practice and not just in thought and speech. And they will make various arguments, principled and practical, for why [liberals] should avoid being too draconian in its treatment of heretics and dissenters. But they will lose the battle," he said.

Theoria & Praxis

While conventional wisdom ascribes the creation of the Church of England to Henry VIII’s desire for a divorce from Katherine of Aragon, Henry was opposed to the new doctrines surrounding divorce and remarriage put forward by the Continental reformers. Henry’s four "divorces" were "annulments" granted by Archbishop Cranmer, which allowed the king to marry again. During the short reign of Henry’s son, Edward VI, divorce and remarriage were permitted, but the practice was stopped under the Catholic Queen Mary. Divorce and remarriage was illegal in civil and canon law under Queen Elizabeth, though a legal state of spousal separation was created, which nevertheless forbad remarriage while an estranged spouse was still living. However, the Rev. John Thornborough, Dean of York, was granted a separation and went on to marry a second time while his first life was still living. In 1592 he was appointed Bishop of Limerick over the objections of the Archbishop of York, Matthew Hutton, who charged the new bishop with bigamy. Bishop Thornborough was later translated to Worcester, dying in 1641.

The 1604 canons of the Church of England ruled out divorce and remarriage, though in 1670 divorce could be granted by a special act of Parliament. Until the law was abolished and divorce permitted under law in 1857, 300 civil divorces were granted by Parliament ...

Divorce and remarriage in the Episcopal Church of the USA was permitted in 1973 when General Convention lifted the prohibition against remarriage in church during the lifetime of the estranged spouse. In 1808 General Convention recommended allowing clergy to solemnize the second marriage of divorcees if they were the injured party in a divorce caused by adultery. This exception was granted formal status by the canons of the church in 1873, and over the course of the century the canons were revised to allow bishops to grant a decree of nullity. A motion to forbid all divorcees from remarrying in the church was rejected by the 1904 General Convention. Divorced and remarried clergy were uncommon, however, until the late 1950’s.

“It is a further example of the ‘Sweden-isation’ of the Church of England. Just like the Church of Sweden we are becoming progressively liberal. The Church of Sweden is no longer a church and we will soon be like that.”

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Quas primas

Now in all this discourse have I yet left out the main article of the Romish faith, and that is, the Head of the Church or Peter's Primacy; for who denieth this, denieth fidem Catholicam [The catholic faith], saith Bellarmine. That Bishops ought to be in the Church, I ever maintained it as an Apostolic institution and so the ordinance of God,contrary to the Puritans, and likewise to Bellarmine, who denies that Bishops have their jurisdiction immediately from God. (But it is no wonder he takes the Puritans' part, since Jesuits are nothing but Puritan-Papists.) And as I ever maintained the state of Bishops and the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy for order sake, so was I ever an enemy to the confused anarchy or parity of the Puritans, as well appeareth in my Basilikon Archon. Heaven is governed by order, and all the good angels there. Nay, Hell itself could not subsist without some order. And the very devils are divided into legions and have their chieftains. How can any society, then, upon earth subsist without order and degrees? And therefore I cannot enough wonder with what brazen face this Answerer could say, That I was a Puritan in Scotland and an enemy to Protestants, - I that was persecuted by Puritans there, not from my birth only, but even since four months before my birth? I that in the year of God 84 [1584] I erected Bishops and depressed all their popular parity, I then being not 18 years of age? I that in my said Book to my Son do speak ten times more bitterly of them nor of the Papists, having in my second edition thereof affixed a long Apologetic Preface, only in odium Puritanorum? And I that for the space of six years before my coming into England laboured nothing so much as to depress their parity and re-erect Bishops again? Nay, if the daily commentaries of my life and actions in Scotland were written (as Julius Caesar's were) there would scarcely a month pass in all my life, since my entering into the thirteenth year of my age, wherein some accident or other would not convince the Cardinal of a lie in this point. And surely I give a fair commendation to the Puritans in that place of my book, where I affirm that I have found greater honesty with the highland and border thieves than with that sort of people. But leaving him to his own impudence, I return to my purpose.

Of Bishops and Church Hierarchy I very well allow (as I said before) and likewise of ranks and degrees amongst bishops. Patriarchs I know were in the time of the Primitive Church, and I likewise reverence that institution for order sake; and amongst them was a contention for the first place. And for myself (if that were yet the question) I would with all my heart give my consent that the Bishop of Rome should have the first seat; I being a Western King would go with the Patriarch of the West. And for his temporal principality over the Signory of Rome, I do not quarrel it either. Let him in God His Name be Primus Episcopus inter omnes Episcopos ["first bishop among all bishops"], and Princeps Episcoporum [Prince of bishops] so it be no otherwise but as Peter was Princeps Apostolorum. But as I well allow of the hierarchy of the Church for distinction of orders (for so I understand it), so I utterly deny that there is an earthly Monarch thereof, whose word must be a law, and who cannot err in his sentence, by an Infallibility of Spirit. Because earthly Kingdoms must have earthly Monarchs, it doth not follow that the Church must have a visible Monarch too. For the world hath not one earthly temporal Monarch. Christ is His Church's Monarch, and the Holy Ghost His Deputy, Reges Gentium dominants eorum, vos autem non sic. Christ did not promise before His Ascension to leave Peter with them to direct and instruct them in all things. But He promised to send the Holy Ghost unto them for that end.

And as for these two before cited places, whereby Bellarmine maketh the Pope to triumph over kings, I mean Pasce oves and Tibi dabo claves, the Cardinal knows well enough that the same words of Tibi dabo are in another place spoken by Christ in the plural number. And he likewise knows what reason the ancients do give why Christ bade Peter pascere oves, and also what a cloud of witnesses there is, both of ancients, and even of late Popish writers, yea divers Cardinals, that do all agree, that both these speeches used to Peter were meant to all the Apostles represented in his person. Otherwise, how could Paul direct the Church of Corinth to excommunicate the incestuous person cum spiritu suo, whereas he should then have said, cum spiritu Petri? And how could all the Apostles have otherwise used all their censures only in Christ's Name, and never a word of His Vicar? Peter, we read, did in all the Apostles' meetings sit amongst them as one of their number. And when chosen men were sent to Antiochia from that great Apostolic Council at Jerusalem (Acts xv), the text saith, It seemed good to the Apostles and Elders with the whole Church to send chosen men; but no mention made of the Head thereof. And so in their Letters no mention is made of Peter, but only of the Apostles, Elders, and Brethren. And it is a wonder why Paul rebuketh the Church of Corinth for making exception of persons, because some followed Paul, some Apollos, some Cephas, if Peter was their visible Head! For then those that followed not Peter or Cephas renounced the Catholic Faith. But it appeareth well that Paul knew little of our new doctrine, since he handleth Peter so rudely, as he not only compareth, but preferreth, himself unto him. But our Cardinal proves Peter's superiority by Paul's going to visit him. Indeed Paul saith, He went to Jerusalem to visit Peter and confer with him. But he should have added, "And to kiss his feet." . . .

Monday, October 20, 2014

Washed through his most precious blood

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

From Non Sermoni Res [notes omitted, refer to original]:

John Calvin was the first clearly to use the distinct terminology of justification and sanctification: “Why, then, are we justified by faith? Because by faith we grasp Christ’s righteousness, by which alone we are reconciled to God. Yet you could not grasp this without at the same time grasping sanctification also. . . . Therefore Christ justifies no one whom he does not at the same time sanctify.”

In Anglican circles, the distinction is evident in Thomas Cranmer’s use of the language of “lively faith.” On the one hand, Cranmer says that

we must renounce the merit of all our said virtues, of faith, hope, charity, and all other virtues and good deeds, which we either have done, shall do, or can do, as things that be far too weak and insufficient, and imperfect, to deserve remission of our sins, and our justification, and therefore we must trust only in God’s mercy, and that sacrifice which our high Priest and Savior Christ Jesus the son of God once offered for us upon the Crosse, to obtain thereby God’s grace, and remission, as well of our original sin in Baptism, as of all actual sin committed by us after our Baptism, if we truly repent, and turn unfeignedly to him again.

At the same time, says Cranmer, although justification by faith means that we renounce our own righteousness as being insufficient for justification, yet, the “lively faith” by which we are justified inevitably produces the fruit of holiness:

This is the true, lively, and unfeigned Christian faith, and is not in the mouth and outward profession only, but it liveth, and stirreth inwardly in the heart. And this faith is not without hope and trust in God, nor without the love of God and of our neighbours, nor without the fear of God, nor without the desire to hear God’s word, and to follow the same in eschewing evil and doing gladly all good works. . . . As the light cannot be hid, but will shew forth itself at one place or other; so a true faith cannot be kept secret, but, when occasion is offered, it will break out and shew itself by good works. And, as the living body of a man ever exerciseth such things as belongeth to a natural and living body for nourishment and preservation of the same, as it hath need, opportunity, and occasion; even so the soul that hath a lively faith in it will be doing alway some good work, which shall declare that it is living, and will not be unoccupied.

The distinction between justification and sanctification is spelled out clearly in Richard Hooker’s “Discourse on Justification”: “There is a glorifying righteousness of men in the World to come, and there is a justifying and a sanctifying righteousness here. The righteousness wherewith we shall be clothed in the World to come, is both perfect and inherent: that whereby here we are justefied is perfect but not inherent, that whereby we are sanctified, inherent but not perfect.” Hooker is willing to use the language of “infusion,” but in relation to sanctification, not justification.

The “Arminian” Anglican founder of Methodism, John Wesley, said: “[T]his [salvation] consists of two general parts: justification and sanctification. Justification is another word for pardon. It is the forgiveness of all our sins and, what is necessarily implied therein, our acceptance with God. . . . And at the same time that we are justified . . . sanctification begins. . . . There is a real as well as a relative change. We are inwardly renewed by the power of God.”

Despite this Reformation consensus, a reversion to the “Catholic” stance of Trent seems to reappear in Ango-Catholic John Henry Newman, who, while still an Anglican, wrote: “[J]ustification and sanctification [are] in fact substantially one and the same thing.”

In more recent Protestant discussions of justification by faith, there have been several moves that I find helpful. First, there is an emphasis on “union with Christ” and the significance of “in Christ” language in Paul. Both justification and sanctification are understood as consequences of this union. Reformed scholars note that “union with Christ” is a central theme in Calvin’s theology. Anglicans can look to Richard Hooker, whose sacramental theology centers on union with Christ, for a similar emphasis. Anglican Reformers like Thomas Cranmer and John Jewel closely link the sacrament of baptism with justification as the sacrament of new birth, and the Eucharist with sanctification as the sacrament of nourishment or “spiritual feeding” on Christ. Both sacraments are associated with union with Christ, baptism being the sacrament by which we are initially brought into union with Christ, the Eucharist the sacrament by which we are nourished by sharing in the risen humanity of his body and blood. Thomas Cranmer’s “Prayer of Humble Access” in the Communion Service of the Book of Common Prayer ties together well the mutually interrelated themes of justification by grace alone through faith alone, sanctification as genuine transformation, and union with Christ as the lynchpin that holds it all together:

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen. Book of Common Prayer, 1662.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Via A conservative blog for peace:

An English gentleman.

The English dream.


It is not good to touch the stuff. Really. I mean it. But here I go again.

A cautionary note: Is Pluto a planet? Well, it all depends upon what you mean by planet (from the back of the room, a voice proclaims "That's not what I mean by planet!").

Now bring in a cartload of traditional but juicy oppositions: antinomian vs. legalistic, gnostic vs. jewish, monergistic vs. synergistic. Truck in salvation, redemption, eschatology and apocalypse. Supersessionism, anyone? And worst of all, insist on actual history -- which introduces a factual wedge between what was said and what was (actually) done that no one can overleap.

This is not about what was but what should be (taking pointers from the was part).

I really like Fr. Hart's suggestion that Anglicanism should be represented by the duck-billed platypus. Do monotremes -- egg-laying mammals -- repulse you? They exist all the same and nonetheless. Some people seem to act as though there should only be cold-blooded, egg-laying reptiles and warm-blooded, live birth mammals. Kill all the birds and then we will decide how to convert (forcibly) the marsupials. And those without spines? Fuhgidabowdit.

Just like the animal kingdom, theologyland provides a wide berth. Different views can be combined with others. Sham coherence is the order of the day. But which of the following do you subscribe to?

  • Ontological justification, making our internal state something renewed, completely regenerate.
  • Forensic justification, dependent on an historical event, whereby our sins are ‘covered over’.
  • Adiaphoric practice, giving greater sway to the individual, tending towards mere memorialization.
  • Ritualistic practice, locating experience in the community, believing in effectual modes of grace.

Like Fr. Hart, I think Anglicanism should be something different. So here is an incomplete and inefficient way to try an classify some parts of theologyland. I (totally) made up names that are not meant to represent actual, existing denominations but only impulses, tendencies, or trends. For quasi-characteristics, I use the > sign, indicating "tending more towards." In reality, everyone hedges their bets. (And this is for the West only: if I tried to ram Orthodoxy in here, an angry crowd would swiftly descend from the hills to beat me with sticks.)

It looks (superficially) as if the two green boxes present greater uniformity and consistency. But that doesn't interest me: I want to limn reality, instead ... no matter how messy.

It's called the Book of Common Prayer for a reason.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Requiem for a Dream

From Crusty Old Dean:

The question still remains: With all this talk about restructuring, is there a church left to save?

Requiem for a seminary? Requiem for a church which calls white black and black white, and calls things resignations which are not resignations. Shall we be a church where petty oligarchies can run roughshod, whether in seminaries, or dioceses, or parishes, divorced from their constituencies?

Get thee behind me, Episcopal Church. You're not worth critiquing anymore.

Last chance lost.

Monday, October 13, 2014


From Patheos by way of Sed Angli.:

What the situation at General makes clear is that the progressive church is opposed to sexist and racist language, until it’s not; it’s committed to defending employees and providing them with health insurance, until it’s not; and it’s committed to listening and freedom of expression, until it’s not. Why are those commitments so fragile? Because progressive political goals, like all political goals, are socially defined; they are tied to a place, a context, and a moment; they are conditioned by desire, ambition, and the desire for control; and, as such, they are a means to an end – completely dispensable if the situation changes and those values get in the way. So, maybe it’s time for a worn-out, old idea:

  • That worn-out old idea that God expects men and women to respect one another, because we are, together, bearers of God’s image…
  • That worn-out old idea that God has commanded tolerance, because God is blind to race, gender, and sexual orientation…
  • That worn-out old idea that the vulnerable should be protected, because we are, in fact, all vulnerable…
  • That worn-out old idea that we should love, because we have been loved…
  • That worn out idea that we should sacrifice, compromise, and forgive, because it’s not all about us, our needs, our politics, our place, or our time…

Those commitments are “forever,” not “until,” because God’s grace and love are immeasurable, never equaled by what we have done, never to be matched by what we might do, unconditioned by our goals and objectives. In other words, maybe, just maybe, it’s time for the progressive church to abandon its self-conscious, eyes-on-the-mirror quest to be “progressive” and try to be the Body of Christ instead.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


From Fr. Z:

Tua nos, quaesumus, Domine, gratia semper et praeveniat et sequatur, ac bonis operibus iugiter praestet esse intentos.


We beg, O Lord, that Your grace may always both go before and follow after us, and hence continuously keep us intent upon good works.


Lord, our help and guide, make your love the foundation of our lives. May our love for you express itself in our eagerness to do good for others.


May your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and follow after and make us always determined to carry out good works.


BCP (1928):

LORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works.

BCP (1549):

LORD we praye thee that thy grace maye alwayes prevente and folowe us, and make us continuallye to be geven to all good workes.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Rorate Caeli:

... Could it really be true that the Pope may embark on a way that upsets what the Church has constantly taught for two thousand years, based on the words of Jesus Himself and the Pauline texts? Is it possible to challenge the commandments, the Gospel and the Sacraments? Some think that the popes can do it and the mass-media feeds this expectation. In reality it is not like this at all since the Church belongs to Christ and not the popes, who are only temporary administrators and not masters – as Benedict XVI used to say repeatedly. They are subject to the law of God and the Word of God and must serve the Lord by protecting the “depositum fidei” entrusted to them. They cannot take possession of it or change it according to their own personal ideas ...

The great Joseph Ratzinger explained this principle, ignored by the majority of believers, like this: “The pope is not the supreme master – since the time of Gregory the Great, he has been known as "Servant of the servants of God" but (as I like saying) he ought to be the guarantor of obedience, of the conformity of the Church to the will of God, excluding any arbitrary act of his own. The pope cannot say: I am the Church, or I am tradition, but on the contrary, he has precise restrictions and incarnates the obligation of the Church to conform to the word of God. If temptations arise in the Church to do things differently, to choose a softer more comfortable way, he has to ask himself if it is licit. The pope is therefore not an authority that can give life to another Church, rather he is a barricade against arbitrary acts.”

The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove

Digby Anderson:

Roman Catholicism

Increased choice and personal practicality (versus principle) are two of the current problems. But the third is the most interesting, though more difficult to describe. It is also, I suspect, less widely experienced. But let me, rather clumsily, try. Pope Benedict was definite about the nature of the decadence affecting the modern church in Europe. It affected his church too. It was a problem of the decadence of European Christendom. It was specially manifest in the desacralization of the liturgy but also in the church’s “impurity” – he called for a smaller purer church. And other popes have talked of evil at the heart of the church.

Liberal nonsense

Now some, maybe only a few Anglo-Catholics read Roman Catholic papers and visit Roman Catholic masses. What if they were to conclude that the liberal nonsense which is doing to death their own church was active in others? Of course they know the Roman Catholic Church does not have the same order and authority problems and its sacraments do not cease to be valid when carried out by liberal clergy. But so many of their churches have the same infantilized liturgy as ours. So many of their bishops trot out the same soft-left secular welfarism as ours. They look like ours, they sound like ours, sigh and simper like ours. They, like ours, have stood by while governments dismantle the family. Though they maintain traditional marriage discipline in church, they do so half-heartedly and congregations are full of lone parents. They may have technical sacramental assurance but there is little sacramental conviction. Which is worse; to lose sacramental truth or to have it on the altar and turn your back on it while you affirm community values a[n]d be there for people where they are[?]

Deeper trouble

It is ecclesiological etiquette not to criticize other churches too sceptically. So no more examples here. But if Benedict is right, we are facing something much more evil and destructive than the ambitions of a few ladies in the CofE. Those who dare to think this face a disillusion both deeper and wider than Newman’s. And worse, it threatens several of the most obvious destinations, should they decide to depart. This inkling that the trouble is deeper and wider has rather gently surfaced before, in the debate about modernism, in the writing of Eliot and C.S. Lewis, in the reaction of traditionalists to the liberal vandalism consequent on, if not caused by, Vatican II. There are currently murmurs from the Orthodox, very quiet because distant and under-reported, about some of the current pope’s impulsive liberal impulses on morality.

A disillusion both deeper and wider than Newman’s.

O Magnum Mysterium - Morten Lauridsen - King's College

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"I'm the night man"

From Opus Publicum:

I would suggest that Catholics consider some duck-and-cover right now should the Orthodox opt to cast a glance in our direction. After all, we’re on the verge of vindicating some of their more superficial, but likely correct, criticisms of Roman posturing on divorce-and-remarriage. We tell them that their praxis in relation to doctrine is contradictory and flawed. They retort by telling us that we’re just blowing smoke and being disingenuous. On that charge I would have to say they are mostly on target, though I would encourage the Orthodox to go a step further here and point out that the Catholic Church’s present posture on marriage and annulments is predicated on the disturbing view that perhaps up to 50% of all marriages are sacramentally invalid. Thats right. Priests who hold any number of heretical views on Christ, Transubstantiation, and the meaning of the Mass can validly confect the Eucharist, but a man and a woman are likely entering into an invalid marriage unless they possess treatise-level knowledge of the theological meaning of matrimony. By that “logic,” my wife and I — who were married in Eastern Orthodoxy — have an invalid union since, at the time of our marriage, both of us — along with the priest who ministered the union — believed that, under certain circumstances, the marriage could be dissolved through the appropriate channels provided by the Orthodox Church.

It's a mess. Awful mess.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Of rocks and hard places

I have to say that I disagree with most of what I read (especially on the internets). But in our degraded culture, disagreement is taken to be disrespect or, even, outright contempt. I see it exactly oppositely: disagreement means that I have read and thought about what you have said. I think there are compelling reasons for taking another stance (which may, in fact, be only a shade different from what you have proposed). Nor does my disagreement indicate that the matter is now closed. I am usually open to changing my mind about a great many things.

With that proviso in mind ...

'Catholic' and 'Protestant' have become -- and this is not a recent innovation -- political party words. I am, at present, still a registered Democrat and a registered Episcopalian. The fact that I am profoundly alienated from (and, indeed, often hateful towards) both of those wayward institutions does not, to my way of thinking, indicate the clear path towards an alternative. Sticking to the secular, I can say that I certainly see no prospect of joining up with the Republicans, given the undue influence of the abhorrent Koch brothers and the continued popularity of kooky Randianism there. All of my grandparents were Republicans but that was, after all, in large part, a continuing legacy of the Civil War. History, and stuff, you know.

So here are three people I enjoy reading but just can't quite agree with. Unless they want to phone me up and chat, that is my prerogative, having a blog. But nothing below is hate and nothing below is the last word.

The Old Jamestown Church:

J.I. Packer has gone as far to say that the Articles are Anglicanism's creed, and therefore just as authoritative as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. As Dorothy Sayers argued, it's either creed or chaos, and Nichols has drawn a clear line from the rejection of Anglo-Protestant confessionalism that began in the early 17th century to the chaos of the Anglican theological radicalism of the present day. In between those two temporal points are movements that reflected gradations of Arminian, Romish, Pelagian, and Liberal theologies, all four being rejections not only of the Protestant Reformation but the Augustinianism of which it was the fruition.

First, if the Articles are our creed, then they are dogma. Contra this, I have suggested instead that

Our communion can neither add to nor subtract from the deposit of faith: the Articles are no dogma. They are our doctrine (our attempt to explicate and teach foundational dogma), our theology (our attempt to interpret and expound certain dogmatic issues), and our praxis (our "godly order and discipline").

Second, what follows immediately indicates clearly that what disagreements there be lie strictly at the level of theology: if the Protestant Reformation is, as is indicated here, the apotheosis of Augustinianism, then it must be that aspects of Augustinian theology are what are being disputed. But, as much as I esteem Augustine, I seek to be no member of the Church of Augustine but of the Church of Christ. Does rejecting aspects of Augustine make me an auto-Pelagian? I think not.

I think the following comes much closer to what I would want to espouse:

O cuniculi! Ubi lexicon Latinum posui?:

The way I see the Anglican Catholic Church is not a concerted attempt to forget the Reformation but to look further back beyond it, rather than [determine it] as a defining mark of Anglicanism. Others find this a betrayal of the Reformation.

Substitute "the best aspects of Anglicanism" for the ACC in this quote and I concur (I'm not bashing the ACC, only generalizing). It is esteem for the primitive church and the Fathers that necessitates going (back) beyond the Reformation. But we will forget nothing. I don't care for much of the Baroque -- except in music -- but it is, after all, a fixed historical fact: it can't simply be ignored or forgotten and a trip to any number of churches shows that it is also not dead but lives on, even today, in the present.

The Reformation was a necessary attack on the abuses of the medieval church. Think indulgences, a completely pagan view of the saints, a strange and divisive fetishizing of many different aspects of Christian life, superstitious misunderstandings of Eucharistic sacrifice, an overblown adoration of the Eucharist that did not include actually partaking of it, profound ignorance among both clergy and people -- in a nutshell, the inability to see the forest for the trees.

Of course, we aren't going to forget or completely suppress the Medieval either but we aren't going to be misled by it. (Besides I think tropes and pointed arches -- in moderation -- are delightful.)


A conservative blog for peace:

... Articles XIX and XXI. Those and Article XXVIII are why I’m Catholic, not the new Prayer Book, women priests, or gay marriage, all only symptoms.

I don't think any of those horrible things are traceable back to the Articles.

I'll have to do some reading in here (and so, might get it profoundly wrong). I assume the objections are (primarily) to (some of) the following propositions: As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith [XIX]; when they [General Councils] be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word of God, they may err and sometime have erred, even in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture [XXI]; and Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions. The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped. [XXVIII].

The thing I personally find objectionable I have bolded. What's wrong with that? It is a theology limited by early modern notions about the nature of belief. Qua theology, it may be defensible but I'm not going to defend it. But neither am I going to subscribe to Aristotlian metaphysics. These are all attempts to say something within the conceptual limits of the day. But I inhabit another time and place. I can affirm the reality -- the Real Presence -- without committing myself to either inadequate and incomplete explanation. Mysterion.

The rest? I'm not just going to live with it: I actually believe it.

I am sure some Catholics will also feel some sharp chagrin about the very last sentence. But look at what it actually says: it says only that Christ himself never compelled any of these things! We are going to reserve out of sheer practical necessity but we also need to be sure that eucharistic adoration is a wholesome adjunct to -- and not some bizarre substitute for -- what has been commanded: Take ... eat. First things first.

If I believed some institution were truly inerrant, I would be honor bound to join up with them. But here is where we part company.

I realize that all of this is way too nuanced for most people. But blind obedience just isn't my thing. And don't take my word for it: go and read all of what they said in its original context. And then think about it. For yourself. And disagree with me. Just don't send me any hate mail.


From MCJ:

The Episcopal Church needs many more women bishops, according to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and it has neglected available methods to accomplish that goal.

Most of us think that nobody anywhere needs the Episcopal bishops that are there now but do go on.

Bishop Jefferts Schori delivered that message October 3 at the Women’s Leadership Forum at Episcopal Divinity School, where about 80 people (11 of them men)

Insert “whipped” sound here.

gathered to mark the 40th anniversary of the Philadelphia 11’s ordinations.

And don’t let a little thing like the rules get in your way.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Old Peculier

As this odd reflection suggests to me, perhaps "catholic Christianity" may be forced to adopt the solution of post-temple Judaism: the remaining rituals come inside the house, out of theological necessity and for practical safety. In other words, I need my own private chapel.


The 2018 Lambeth Conference has been cancelled. The precarious state of the Anglican Communion has led the Archbishop of Canterbury to postpone indefinitely the every ten year meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion.

Everything must go!


Why doesn't the Board want to meet with us? Why has this Board acted so defensively in refusing to give an audience to its own faculty? Why did they ignore our central issue and most pressing concerns? We asked the Board for five things that would directly address our untenable situation. Never did we suggest that we wished to take legal action against the Dean or the school; never did we offer or threaten to resign if our requests were not entertained. Please note by saying, “we could no longer work with or for Kurt Dunkle” and “if Dean Dunkle continued in his position we could no longer continue in ours” we were not offering our resignations. We were invoking a common labor practice at the advice of our attorney communicating that we could not work under the present conditions. We were simply communicating to the Board Trustees that our working environment had deteriorated so much that the Seminary were going to lose their faculty. It is impossible to teach Christian theology and serve the formation of priests and lay leaders in such an atmosphere. Primarily, we asked that they agree to meet with us to discuss our circumstances and to envision steps for moving the institution forward. Not once yet has the Board addressed the central problem we identified. Instead, we have been met at every juncture with suspicion ...

The Board’s behavior clearly shows that it no longer has any interest in supporting the school, its faculty, its students, or its staff. If it was not aware of these problems before September 17, the Board simply was not doing its job.

And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you, too
Another one bites the dust


GTS, however, is not the only seminary to face questions about its future in a rapidly shifting landscape of seminary life.

The Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., has also seen a battle erupt between its dean and faculty. Of the Episcopal Church’s 10 seminaries, several are facing financial challenges. Bexley Hall Seminary in Ohio affiliated with Seabury-Western Seminary in Illinois to form Bexley Seabury in 2013.

The flames are all long gone
But the pain lingers on
Goodbye blue sky
Goodbye blue sky


N. B. Nothing here should be construed as a taking of sides in these disputes: two wrongs can never make a right. Best just to save this comment before it is axed:

Art Deco October 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Intramural bickering over the carrion.

Anglican seminaries now train people to act as executive secretaries to social clubs which gather weekly for singalongs, bad lectures, and bad coffee. Their seminarians are there in pursuit of opportunities to be salaried den mothers (which may or may not materialize as their [sic] fussing over declining revenue, repairs they cannot finance, and the hedges).

Anglican parishes no longer have any serious collective mission. They are pure legacy institutions. Regrettably, the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church is a man who seem bound and determined to replicate the social and cultural process which made Anglicanism in the western world what it is today. It’s a march of folly.