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, June 24, 2015

The Novelists

Coming back to "hermeneutics," let's re-consider this:

D. For Paul and Augustine, Scripture, tradition, and reason speak uniformly.

I assume that what was meant to be said was that they all speak univocally, with one voice. For an Anglican, then, the case is mostly closed. All burden for the contrary rests exclusively with those promoting novelties.

Where, however, such univocity is lacking, then the order is: “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience are due; the next whereunto, is what any man can necessarily conclude by force of Reason; after this, the voice of the church succeedeth.”

Our church teaches: (XXXII) Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God's laws either to vow the estate of single life or to abstain from marriage. Therefore it is lawful also for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness. But by what right?

First, Scripture. The priests of the Jews were allowed to marry and nothing in the New Testament suggests otherwise (although, celibacy for all who can bear it is perforce also highly commended):

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Now, the questions arise: What are the further constraints? May a man in holy orders who is unmarried contract a wife? If his wife dies, may he remarry? If he may remarry, ought he?

Here Scripture has no definitive answer. And so we must apply Reason. If that prove sufficient, then tradition need not be invoked (although it may be well to consider it). I think that given what we know today, Reason would suggest great discretion in such cases: while a man might licitly contract marriage, there are some very strong grounds militating against such.

Therefore, given that these three things are not on the same level, this sort of complaint really has little traction:

... those who make this appeal are not always prepared to abide by it in matters of detail. There is no record in Christian antiquity of priests being allowed to marry after ordination; yet many of those who make this appeal have themselves married under the conditions mentioned, and all of them are committed to the defence of a Church which tolerates such marriages. Can we really feel any great veneration for a principle of authority which, in practice, is so inconsistently applied?

While this Tradition may require our respect, it need not command our compliance because, in this case, Scripture and Reason suffice.

But what if Scripture and Reason can only take us so far? Then Tradition is required to go farther. And so we may, with the King, licitly say:

As for the Fathers, I reverence them as much and more than the Jesuits do, and as much as themselves ever craved. For whatever the Fathers for the first five hundred years did with an unanimous consent agree upon, to be believed as a necessary point of salvation, I either will believe it also, or at least will be humbly silent, not taking upon me to condemn the same. But for every private Father's opinion, it binds not my conscience more than Bellarmine's, every one of the Fathers usually contradicting others. I will therefore in that case follow St. Augustine's rule in judging of their opinions as I find them agree with the Scriptures. What I find agreeable thereto I will gladly embrace. What is otherwise I will (with their reverence) reject.

Whatever they agreed upon but that was not to be believed as necessary to salvation -- their physics, say -- I need have no concurrence with.

None of this works like a sausage grinder. But that is no reason for outright contempt of the Consensus Quinquesaecularis. Nor have we found grounds to conclude that, for all the fanfare, this is, in reality, nothing but sola scriptura in disguise.

It is easy to magnify the appearance of diversity in "traditions." But compared with us, there is much greater agreement than many may wish.

No comments:

Post a Comment