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, October 18, 2014


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.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for this analysis and the insight of your 2x2 table; it is an enormously helpful piece of heuristic.