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)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Object lesson

Well, the Blogosphere is filled with hate for Anglican Patrimony. It's garbage, or it doesn't exist, or they stole it all from us. [No links here: do your own damn research.]

Of course, Anglican Patrimony is already dead or very near death; just like good manners. It is not coming back any more than is an age when one could eat in a public accommodation without howling brats or idiots screaming into their phones. (The very best one can hope for is a "family" where everyone is so glued to their devices that they don't even interact with each other.) The entire world is now all so unpleasantly uncouth.

Instead of making an effort -- why bother? -- here is what real Anglican Patrimony has not and does not suffer from:

Functional idolatry.

Active deception.

Bad taste.

The cheap and the fake.

Theological overreach.

And the list goes on and on and on and on ....

P. S. Contemporary examples from Anglican Matrimony don't count.

Friday, July 10, 2015

If it ain't Baroque ...

One way of dividing "the green from the yellow" -- or, distinguishing the two main strands of Anglo-Catholicism -- relates to how they each react to the Counter-Reformation. Most of the first group behold it with horror, while the second are inclined to incorporate it wholesale into Anglican practice.

One example:

While I have no objection to personal devotion to such peculiarities, I just can't see my way clear to making it any part of our common prayer. I guess my most sober adjudication would look something like -- but not exactly identical to -- this:

Being a Tractarian, ressourcement, patristically-minded, first millennial, conciliarist, philorthodox kind of Anglo-Catholic, I have always inclined toward the Eastern teaching on doxological matters, and this includes an appreciation for the Eastern Orthodox view on the counter-reformation devotion to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord. Anglo-Papalists included this feast in the Anglican and English Missals, but the Sacred Heart tradition is relatively modern and certainly post-Tridentine, originating as it does in the seventeenth and eighteenth century 'southern catholicism' of the mediterranean countries. As such, it is not part of the devotional tradition of the ancient and patristic catholicism of the undivided Church, and hence does not play a part in my own understanding of orthodox theology or in my own devotional experience.

And yet the heart does play an important part in Anglican liturgies.

ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

GOD spake these words, and said; I am the Lord thy God: Thou shalt have none other gods but me.
People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
et al.

ALMIGHTY God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and power infinite: Have mercy upon the whole Church; and so rule the heart of thy chosen servant ELIZABETH, our Queen and Governor,


ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, we are taught by thy Holy Word, that the hearts of Kings are in thy rule and governance, and that thou dost dispose and turn them as it seemeth best to thy godly wisdom: We humbly beseech thee so to dispose and govern the heart of ELIZABETH thy Servant, our Queen and Governor,

And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace; and especially to this congregation here present; that, with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear, and receive thy holy Word; truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.

And so forth ....

This is a prime example of Anglican patrimony that must be carefully nutured. It is not as though the 'heart' isn't mentioned anywhere else, but rather that a very specific view of the means of edification is thereby indicated. We seek to change, with God's help, people's hearts, not their minds.

I don't think that one has to endorse fully either Cranmer's "anthropology" or his "receptionism" but, nonetheless, we shouldn't be completely tone deaf to the possible truths those might contain. Fortunately, these topics have been unfolded by other, more capable hands:

Cranmer’s scriptural understanding of the Lord’s Supper may be simpler than his medieval predecessors, but it is no less thoroughly supernatural.

He fully believes that a miracle happens in the sacrament, but this profound mystery takes place in the human heart, not on the Holy Table. Real spiritual power is active in Communion, but its focus is the ordering of the unruly wills and affections of sinful men, since only a supernatural intervention by God can do so.

According to Cranmer’s anthropology, what the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies. The mind doesn’t direct the will. The mind is actually captive to what the will wants, and the will itself, in turn, is captive to what the heart wants.

The trouble with human nature is that we are born with a heart that loves ourselves over and above everything else in this world, including God. In short, we are born slaves to the lust for self-gratification, i.e., concupiscence. That’s why, if left to ourselves, we will always love those things that make us feel good about ourselves, even as we depart more and more from God and his ways.

Therefore, God must intervene in our lives in order to bring salvation. Working through Scripture, the Holy Spirit first brings a conviction of sin in a believer’s heart, then he births a living faith by which the believer lays hold of the extrinsic righteousness of Christ.

If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


It is nice to know that TEC is now, finally, good for something. They can marry gay Catholics, even when, it appears, the Catholic in question is "the Chairman of the Theology Department at Fordham University, a Catholic university run by the Jesuits." I don't see this doing much for ecumenical relations, however.

Anywho, back to pointless, pointless theology. I am voraciously consuming evangelical screed in an attempt to understand just what 'gets their goat'. It seems to be wildly over-determined. They seem itchy about epicleses and the word 'sacrifice' drives them directly into apoplexy. So, let's try this approach. Two questions.

In the Eucharist, do we

  1. ... offer anything to God? and, if we do,
  2. ... then is what we offer, connected in any fashion, with Christ's offering?

Many Evangelicals want to say "No" resolutely to both. Will that stand up?

Here's the Prayer Book:

And when there is a Communion, the Priest shall then place upon the Table so much Bread and Wine, as he shall think sufficient.

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks for all men; We humbly beseech thee most mercifully [* to accept our alms and oblations, and] to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty; ...

... accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving ... And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee; ... And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service;

Without investigating the semantics of 'place upon', the sheer fact of the matter is that we are thereby setting aside something we could have used: we could have eaten the bread and drunk the wine. We are not offering them to God in the sense of 'here, take this stuff' but we are, inevitably, setting aside what we could have used for our purposes for his purposes. That's not an offering?

Undoubtedly we offer prayers and invariably alms. "Any material favour done to assist the needy, and prompted by charity, is almsgiving." So, what are the oblations, which may or may not be present? Evangelicals would have believe that these are special gifts extraneous to alms that the minister will be able to acknowledge on the fly, should they miraculously and unexpectedly appear. That reading strains credulity. Following the rubric, if there is to be communion, then the term 'oblations' must be added; else not, if the service concludes with additional collects. (And aren't showy acts of supererogation condemned by the Articles?) 'Oblations' means 'gifts', namely what I have just alluded to. They are pretty poor gifts but, after all, we are not worthy.

Finally, we offer a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, and ourselves. Evangelicals want this far removed from the Words of Institution because, otherwise, we shall all fall prey to Pelagianism, believing that we are linking out sacrifice to that of Christ (vain presumption!) and assisting in our own salvation by means of our own merits (works righteousness!). But really, folks, doesn't the prayer say -- no matter where it is found -- that we are sinful and unworthy, that fact not relieving us of "our bounden duty and service"?

The fact that our offering to the Father is sorely lacking does not relieve us of the doing. If someone gives you a gift you cannot reciprocate, you must try anyhow: your predetermined failure does not allow you to shrug off the entire affair. We can never make good our debt; nonetheless, keep trying. So, is it connected? Yes, it is our appropriate response, even though not at all on the same plane.

The genius of 1552/1662 is a swift movement from the dominical words to the communion itself. I would think tradition allows only one major thing to intervene: the prayer our Saviour taught us. I'd also put the prayer of oblation back where it belongs, leaving "thanksgiving" in the post-communion and I'd put the Prayer of Humble Access where both the Presbyterians and the Reformed Episcopal Church put it: the final part of the offertory, functioning as a kind of unified -- and not merely priestly -- apologia.

If someone thinks this is Roman Catholicism, then they've lost it completely.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sitz im Leben

The contemporary inability to read stems from (a) not reading much at all, (b) not reading a variety of differing genres, and (c) a fundamental inability to understand that life has not always measured itself by contemporary standards (or, that the world has not always been the way it is now).

I am going to try and teach biblical sources again this fall. (The first time was a disaster; the second? Not so much.) But, of course, our first stumbling block: lub.

From Vridar (my emphases):

A very influential 1963 article by William Moran, “The Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Love of God in Deuteronomy” (CBQ 25.1 1963 pp. 77-87) is important for Avalos’s argument. I quote sections from that article directly:

Love in Deuteronomy is a love that can be commanded. It is also a love intimately related to fear and reverence. Above all, it is a love which must be expressed in loyalty, in service, and in unqualified obedience to the demands of the Law. For to love God is, in answer to a unique claim (6:4), to be loyal to him (11:1, 22; 30:20), to walk in his ways (10:12.; 11:22; 19:9; 30:16), to keep his commandments (10:12; 11:1,22; 19:9), to do them (11:22; 19:9), to heed them or his voice (11:13; 30:16), to serve him (10:12.; 11:1,13). It is, in brief, a love defined by and pledged in the covenant — a covenantal love.

Moran pointed towards implications this has for the teachings of Jesus in the gospels:

If . . . the old sovereign-vassal terminology of love is as relevant as we think it is, then what a history lies behind the Christian test of true agape — “If you love me, keep my commandments”!

I have also tracked down another important article for Avalos, “The Personal is Political: Covenental and Affectionate Love [‘AHEB, ‘AHABA] in the Hebrew Bible” by Susan Ackerman, (Vetus Testamentus, 52, 4 (Oct 2002). pp. 437-458). Building on Moran’s insights, Ackerman concludes that the Hebrew Bible’s words for “love” (both verb and noun forms, and that are translated by the Greek “agape” — the form of love that supposedly indicates the higher form of spiritual or godly love in the New Testament) virtually always point to an unequal power relationship. Love is primarily what the superior gives to the inferior. Example: Jacob loves Rachel but Rachel is nowhere said to love Jacob, and this is true of most male-female relationships. Parents love children, but children are not said to love parents. The exception in the Book of Jeremiah is where the people love various gods, yet this is understood to be a satirical reversal of the norm, a mockery of the inversion of what the power relationships should be.

Avalos concurs to a point but raises a question. Moran had shown that it was normally the inferior party that owed love to the superior in a covenant partnership. So why does the Hebrew Bible speak so regularly of the dominant party, not the lesser, doing the “loving”? Avalos answers:

I believe that this puzzle can be solved if we add one more element to this hierarchical and political view of love. The element is individual privileging. Love functions as a manner to express status differences in which a superior party selects an object of love, who can only return gratitude, affection and service in return. Inferior parties cannot or do not select their superiors, masters or parents.

The idea that the superior party selects the inferior one is repeatedly found in the Hebrew Bible, as in Deut. 7:6. . . . This selection can be acknowledged as simply arbitrary: ‘As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”‘ (Rom. 9:13). (p. 41)

Sunday, July 5, 2015


I am in the grip of la grippe. I was supposed to be "On the Road" but I am stuck in bed. All I want to do is slumber, but when I lay myself down, my mind begins to race, reeling scene after scene like a Vertov-ian or Vorkapich-ian montage. In my folie, I have blotted up the blogosphere.

Stare at this long enough and you too can get the feeling.

Anywho, on ye olden TeeVee tonight, I was told this (as usual it's old, old news):

Lee Silver: I see a future in which people will not use sex to reproduce. That's a very dangerous thing to do.

Note to self: stop watching television at any time for any reason.

OK. So here is how I see it. The two things that must cease absolutely (that, of course, will not cease but continue to thrive) are:

  1. Reforming, Whiggish liberalism.
  2. Deific, scientistic utilitarianism.

Each one is an individual threat that is multiplied exponentially when combined with the other. And romanticism or aestheticism as either a counter-pose or an alternative lifestyle just ain't cutting it anymore.

The first is the demonic attitude of surpassing limits -- or, as it used to be called, pride. I know better than all those who came before me. There is no authority higher than me.

The second is satanic tack of egoistic control -- which is composed of all the other deadly sins combined. The world exists for my pleasure and mine alone. There is nothing to limit my singular pursuit of that lonely end.

However, since this is most certainly not going to happen, where do we go? Iceland, the Shetlands, Uruguay, Tristan da Cunha?

I gotta go and I gotta go now. Now. Being sick makes me realize just how positively revolting the world has actually become, in such a short space of time. If I wasn't sick already, yet had I but open ears and eyes, I would be approaching death quickly.

Mail all and any suggestions to me in c/o of the South Pole.

This looks as close to the Shire as we are ever going to get.

On Dangerous Ground

or, Taxonomy redux. Anglo-Catholicism is a slippery beast and at any given time, in the last two centuries, one may discover one taxon morphing into another.

It is easy to generalize though rarely useful. If we speak of "ritualists" -- rather than Anglo-Catholics -- I think one can tease out five different strands that ultimately have collapsed into just two (or perhaps three) residual camps. Here's a graphic.

Those groups marked in green are more non-existent than not. I don't know of any Old High Churches and the number of English Use parishes can probably be numbered on one hand (here's one). There are also a few exceptional cases. These people are history's losers and, so, of course, have my full allegiance. It is an ideal and a practice destined for inevitable destruction.

It's not easy being green.

Almost invariably, we are concerned with those groups marked in yellow. There are those parishes that used to use the Anglican Missal, and now probably use something else, but have retained Tridentine ceremonies and decorations. There are those groupings of Anglo-Papalists, particularly in Britain, that followed the prior lead until things changed: then they adopted the Novus Ordo, set up temporary altars, facing the people, and lost all sense of being Anglican (other than being English). However, a similar destination could be arrived at by a slightly different route: those who followed the Liturgical Movement were antiquarians with, nonetheless, a peculiarly modern vibe. They defended their changes as "ecumenical" rather than strictly Roman. These tended also to be more liberal and sometimes explicitly left-leaning parishes. They wended their way through Alternative Service books (or other experiments) until they arrived at something like the 1979 American BCP.

This last collectio has given us the Continuing movement, the Ordinariate, and the Affirming Catholics. Continuers felt no draw to Rome, while the Ordinaries did. The Continuers were angry with TEC while the Ordinaries viewed it as merely provisional from the start. The rest stayed inside TEC, usually to practice their special form of neo-Pelagianism, or catholic trappings with lesbian witchcraft to boot.

But, of course, it is also possible to mix-and-match elements (or to blend them together, as one sees fit) and so, once again, our attempt to capture that beast in our gossamer net has failed.

Anything Goes!

Not unlike themselves

The point of the previous post was, in part, the hardness and unlikeableness of much real religion. It is the very fact that Jesus tells his hearers not what they want to hear but, further, something they were scarcely prepared to hear at all, that first suggested to me he was truly inspired. The opposite, of course, is known as pandering. Great men never do that.

From David Virtue:

So here in Salt Lake City, the home of Mormonism -- a made in America Jesus religion, with all the appurtenances of outward material success complete with clean cut men and women -- The Episcopal Church this week paraded its modernist, "We can out do the culture and stay ahead of other mainline churches" by passing resolutions dumping on traditional marriage and brokering in same-sex marriage that would have had a Cranmer, Hooker, Newman, Luther, or Calvin weeping tears, likely threatening them with hellfire were they to rise from the dead.

But this is the 21st century and hell is out, heaven is in, well sort of, with heaven on earth as the ultimate goal -- if we can just clean up the environment, provide full employment, do away with poverty, give women equal rights to everything a man can do, provide open ended abortion for women, open our borders to everyone who wants to come, provide free medical care, save the whales and end name just a few things Episcopalians believe will usher in the kingdom. It is euphemistically called the Five Marks of Mission, but one won't find any stripes down the backs of privileged white bishops who will end their days with fat pensions and endless honorifics thus conferring on them a god like status, at least in this life. The Color Purple is not just a movie.

And so it came to pass that 129 righteous Episcopal bishops rose up and, in anguished terms, paraded their heart felt emotions, fears and tears upon 5,000 Episcopalians and Queer America believing it would result in LGBTQ persons rushing through the red doors of dying parishes, a latte in hand, to worship newly designed phallic images of a god not unlike themselves.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


From Becon's Catechism.


One notion of great importance to me is acknowledging the need for balance with the competing claims of edification and sanctification (which some people are inclined to gloss as the concepts of faith and works, which they then set in firm opposition).

The Puritans wanted more and more edification and so they opposed the fixity of the liturgy and the lectionary and promoted their notion of 'lively' preaching. They also had no use for a book of homilies: everything must be carefully crafted to precisely the present moment. Thus, anything prepared in advance had to fail to meet this requirement.

Anyone who teaches knows the importance of a certain fluidity and interplay between fixity and improvisation. To lecture -- and to brook no interruptions from those assembled -- is to embody a specific concept of person and pedagogy; likewise, to attempt total improvisation. This means being committed exclusively to jazz, even if it is very bad jazz indeed.

Church, of course, is different but the same tension needs to be held in balance. But for many, it is either all edification or all sanctification. But life for extremists is easy. For those, pursuing the better course, most difficult indeed.

An example (from W. G. Witt):

Hooker’s position could be described as Reformed Catholic. With the continental Reformers, he affirmed the primacy and sufficiency of Scripture, as well as justification by faith. He also endorsed Calvin’s distinction between justification and sanctification.

However, Hooker’s understanding of law—which is central to his entire project—depends on Thomas Aquinas, not the Reformers. Hooker always speaks positively on law, and there are no parallels to the Reformers’ (especially Luther’s) negative assessment.

Hooker affirms a high doctrine of eucharistic presence, although he declines to speculate as to the “how.” Of course, Calvin himself affirmed a doctrine of presence through the Holy Spirit—which echoes the Orthodox rather than Roman position. (Neither was anything like a Zwinglian.)

Hooker’s doctrine of sanctification has parallels to the Orthodox doctrine of deification, and the Roman Catholic doctrine of infused grace. Indeed, he uses the term infusion in reference to sanctification. He interprets sanctification in terms of (ontological) union with Christ’s ascended humanity, and draws a close connection between sanctification and partaking of the body of Christ through participation in the Lord’s Supper.

As do Jewel and Cranmer, Hooker endorses baptismal regeneration, and draws parallels between Christ’s action and presence in the Eucharist and in baptism. (Of course, Hooker insists—as does Aquinas—that if faith does not follow infant baptism, that the sacrament is ineffective.)

While Hooker does not unchurch those Reformation churches that lack apostolic succession, he argues that episcopacy can be traced to the apostles, and that it is the preferred form of church polity, intended by God and preserved by providence.

In defending Article 17 (on predestination), Hooker affirms (contrary to Calvinism) unlimited atonement, and resistible grace. He rejects negative predestination (reprobation) as well as monergism, and affirms that the elect are those whom God knows to respond to the gospel with faith and persevere, i.e., he is an “Arminian.”

As do Cranmer and Jewel, Hooker argues that the Anglican position is in continuity with the patristic church, and that medieval Roman Catholicism departed from the catholicity of the early church. As do Cranmer and Jewel, he appeals repeatedly to the church fathers to confirm his position. While affirming the sufficiency of Scripture, he interprets Scripture within the hermeneutics of the Rule of Faith—as do Cranmer and Jewel. While Cranmer, Jewel, and Hooker are often critical of Rome, they are so because they insist that Rome is NO LONGER catholic, and the C of E has returned to the catholic faith of the patristic church! To the extent that Rome has preserved practices dropped by the continental Reformers, e.g., liturgical worship and episcopacy, Hooker insists that Rome is to be preferred.

While Hooker does not regard the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books as canon, he insists (contrary to Puritans) that they are edifying and to be read as part of the church’s worship.

Witt goes on to remark, sagaciously: "people should actually read the Parker Society volumes ... They are full of surprises, not least of which that certain extreme Protestant readers of the Anglican Reformers are simply mistaken."

Although it is not impossible to obtain volumes of the Parker Society, that task has now been rendered much easier thanks to the reprint series of the publishers Wipf and Stock.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Great Self-Ejection

... begins.

A. S. Haley:

A “church” that preaches and blesses blasphemy cannot be a church. Nor can any Christian be a member of it.

The religious organization that styles itself “The Episcopal ‘Church’” now preaches and blesses blasphemy against Christ our Savior. Therefore it cannot be a Christian church. And I can no longer — though I grew up in it, and belonged for over sixty-five years — be a member ...

The Episcopal Organization first wrecked the Anglican Communion over gaydom, and now it has wrecked itself with blasphemy in the service of gaydom. Quite a track record for just a mere twelve years. I shall not shed any tears over it — it has become like a stranger to me.


These past discussions were not designed to put any feathers in the cap of any existing organization. The Church of England is dead. But the ideas, many of which were only incompletely put into practice, if at all, remain. Can we put any of them to new use?

What I am interested in is closely related to topics such as the via media and comprehension. What I really seek is a feeling related to friendship and a sense of being on the same team. In my life, that has been severed and sundered in the three central areas of religion, politics, and vocation. In a land of politicking I can't bear any more politicking. I want, like many, to go home:

Home is not just geography. Home is a place of comfort, safety, and familiarity. Of mutual trust and understanding. Of common past and shared future. Home is where children play without fear in a parent’s eyes. Home is where speaking honestly offends no shrill aliens. Home is what is passed from your father to your son. And most importantly, home belongs uniquely to you.

The question is: can home only be achieved by reduction and exclusion or is there a slightly more expansive notion available? I don't want to go into the bunker, where little peace will be obtained, as the inevitable "narcissism of minor differences" will render that a part of hell. In a word, marginalization in a self-imposed ghetto is no solution to me.

Of course, there must be differences but how many differences can we tolerate? What is essential and what is adiaphora? Nor would I want homogenization and hybridization: we need the logic of complexio oppositorum which admits, for just one example, that the Roman and the Eastern rites are totally different and yet at some level the same and never in real conflict.

I don't have any solutions, except the ones I am trying unsuccessfully to tease out here. The only thing I am sure of is that comprehensiveness must nonetheless have limits. The obvious enemy is total levelling, complete comprehension, a universal collapse of all boundaries. This is what we are now experiencing and it tells me just what prize the Man of Lawlessness will offer: false peace.

So here is a little story. Use it as you see fit:

[W]e must recognize that, according to [the theologico-political] schema, any move towards immanence is also a move towards transcendence; that any attempt to explain the contours of social relations implies an internalization of unity; that any attempt to define objective, impersonal entities implies a personification of those entities. The workings of the mechanisms of incarnation ensure the imbrication of religion and politics even in areas where we thought we were dealing simply with purely religious or purely profane practices of representations.

[Lessing's] parable is no longer an intra-Christian affair; it rather neutralizes the whole of Christianity by making it into one universal belief in God, that is, one theistic religion among the two other theistic revealed religions of Judaism and Islam. The claim "that Jesus is the Christ" becomes exchangeable; it can now be read, for example, as "Allah is great."

In the latter of these quotations, Carl Schmitt refers to Lessing's famous parable of the ring in Nathan the Wise (1779). A dying father possesses a ring of inestimable worth that renders its owner beloved in the eyes of God. He has, however, promised the ring to each of his three sons and decides to have two more indistinguishable copies from the original made in order to fulfill his promise. The brothers naturally quarrel over who has the true ring only to be counseled by a wise judge that true fidelity to God is to act as if one possessed the true ring. Lessing's parable of the ring occurs when Saladin asks Nathan what is, among the three monotheistic religions, the true one in the eyes of God. For Lessing, the answer to such a theological question is no longer central to human life: the truth of any revealed religion is displaced by the act itself, thus rendering different faiths 'exchangeable' as Schmitt argues in the above quote. Lessing reflects the Enlightenment's great hope of neutralizing the force of religious faith (through its privatization into the self) and relying instead on the universality of man's reason for the constitution of political community.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Gorham Case

The complainant in the last post wanted to use the Gorham case to show that since Anglicanism can tolerate anything, it stands for precisely nothing. But what that case shows is only that civil court would not refuse to institute a priest based only upon his very non-mainstream views. Those views concerned the meaning of baptism. If Gorham had denied baptism, the case would have been clear. For the creed says: "I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." So what did he do?

Look, here is one way of presenting what the Roman church teaches:

  1. While in John 3:5 Jesus himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation, and no one should refuse to be baptized, the effects of sacramental baptism are brought about also by "Baptism of blood" (dying for the sake of the faith) and "Baptism of desire", whether explicit, as in the case of catechumens, or implicit, as in the case of anyone who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it,
  2. As regards children who die without baptism, the Church entrusts them to the mercy of God.
  3. In Roman Catholic teaching, baptism, like all the sacraments, presupposes faith and by words and objects also nourishes, strengthens, and expresses it.
  4. Baptism is the sacrament of faith (cf. Mark 16:16). But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop.

What this says is that [1] baptism is utterly necessary, but it may be attained by different means, and there are circumstances where it may not be absolutely necessary [2]. [3] Baptism depends upon faith, which is to say the true belief and right actions of the individual but this very same radical dependence upon the individual is mitigated by the fact that it is also, most intimately, the shared work of a community of believers, the church [4].

Like almost all theology, this gives with one hand, what it secretly takes away with the other: it is x but, on the other hand, ~x. Yet Roman Catholicism is immune from a claim of incoherence because it can hold all of these contradictions together in a state of dynamic tension. It is its reliance on the complexio oppositorum that allows for this circumstance. What Anglicans are inclined to do, unfortunately, is to emphasize one of these things to the detriment of the others. They fall victim to the cold Northern logic of either/or when what they need to affirm is 'both/and'.

Gorham emphasized [3] to the sharp detriment of the rest. As a consequence, on his view, the baptism of infants was somewhat conditional upon the later adult 'making good' on those proxy promises. High churchers held to [1], those with a Calvinist bent to [3] and probably many other Evangelicals were focused almost exclusively on [4]. My uncle, a Presbyterian minister, once gave a sermon at a baptism that cast doubt on [1], in the opus operatum mode, and vested almost total significance in [4], informing us that baptism was little more than a rite of initiation into the visible church, where the onus, for this opus, was now completely on us. (I suspect that, in the end, he was little more than a functional Feuerbachian -- all this God-talk is really just a complicated way of talking about ourselves -- but I'm also quite sure that he would not have accepted my one-sided characterization, either.)

I bet a lot of Roman Catholic laity and even clergy believe something like this too. Or, more probably, they believe very little (i.e., even less). But they are totally off the hook while Anglican rigorists call down the wrath and condemnation of others.

I suspect that while we need consistency of practice, the notion of a univocal faith among Christians, even within a single denomination, is nothing but a pretty and soothing falsehood. If this is correct, then the question becomes: how do we go forward from here?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Admission to Communion Implies Right Faith. Therefore, the question is what is Right Faith? Nobody said it better than Moss.

  • He who communicates at a Roman altar declares by doing so that he accepts the papal claims and the decrees of Trent and the Vatican.
  • He who communicates at an Orthodox altar declares by doing so that he accepts the decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and all the teaching of the Orthodox Communion.
  • He who communicates at an Anglican altar similarly declares by doing so that he accepts the teaching and the authority of the Anglican churches.

The teachings of the English church are, however, mostly negative in character:

The Anglican Communion is not committed to any particular doctrine of the Eucharist ...
No such doctrine can be proved from Scripture.
The Universal Church has defined no such doctrine.
The outward visible signs, the bread and wine, are really bread and wine.
The Body and Blood of Christ are really the Body and Blood of Christ.
To deny either truth is "to overthrow the nature of a sacrament".
That is rejected by the Anglican Communion, and that alone.

Conformance to that given in red above means rejecting Transubstantiation (Roman), Consubstantiation (Lutheran), Receptionism (Calvinist), and many, many more speculative theories and theologies. And sharp rejection does not imply openness to anything.

The most relevant article is as follows:

Article XXVIII

Of the Lord's Supper

The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.

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.

De Coena Domini

Coena Domini non est tantum signum mutae benevolentiae Christianorum inter sese, verum potius est sacramentum nostrae per mortem Christi redemptionis. Atque ideo rite digne et cum fide sumentibus, panis quem frangimus est communicatio corporis Christi: similiter poculum benedictionis est communicatio sanguinis Christi.

Panis et vini transubstantiatio in Eucharistia ex sacris literis probari non potest, sed apertis Scripturae verbis adversatur, sacramenti naturam evertit, et multarum superstitionum dedit occasionem.

Corpus Christi datur, acciptur, et manducatur in Coena, tantum coelestis et spirituali ratione. Medium autem quo corpus Christi accipitur et manducatur in Coena, fides est.

Sacramentum Eucharistiae ex institutione Christi non servabatur, circumferebatur, elevabatur, nec adorabatur.

But nothing here says "anything goes," or "all views are equally acceptable." 'Thin' is not at all the same as 'weak'. Therefore, these sorts of complaints are a bit overblown:

... the party that asserted comprehension of all outliers at once was in fact the dominant notion from the beginning. As Kinsman put it in Salve Mater, “Like many others, I attached Highest importance to the doctrines of Baptismal Regeneration, the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, of the sacramental character of Confirmation and Penance. All these doctrines the Church tolerates; but so long as equal toleration is given to others of a different or even neutralizing sort, this is not definitely to teach them. To tolerate everything is to teach nothing.”

Corpus Christi datur ... tantum coelestis et spirituali ratione. But spirit is not less real than body (it is not the case that real = corporeal): it is more real (from both a Platonic and a Christian perspective). And in that fashion it really is given.

As even Aquinas noted, Christ's "presence" in the sacrament cannot be "as if in a place" and, as Newman averred, in an eucharistic procession Christ's body is nonetheless "not moved." Or, perhaps, even as the Lady Elizabeth said,

He gave his Flesh, and Blood in Bread and Wine:
For if his Body he did then divide,
He must have eat himself before he dyd.

Inclusion v. marginalization

Although I have been resolutely critical of the thoughts expressed on this blog, my criticism is a sign of my serious desire to address as many objections as possible. The ACNA has a strange structure but it may be the only way forward: the abandonment of the geographical diocese.

But rather than a second province within that structure, why not allow simply an English Communion Office and a Scottish Communion Office? With no need to hybridize, the respective beauties of both can be admitted and admired.

The plain fact is that there has been a functional bifurcation of rites in the various denominations of the Prayer Book from almost the very beginning.

Notice that Dearmer does not include any mythological elements of a supposed Ephesine rite.

What are the differences? They are twofold. One is "use" and the other is "rite."

First, use:

In 1618 the five Articles of Perth were introduced under James VI: 1) kneeling at reception of Communion; 2) Private Communion of the Sick; 3) Private Baptism in case of need; 4) Observance of the Holy Days of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost; and 5) the Confirmation of children. Yet the more commonly understood issue of ‘Usages’ also played a significant part in the Scottish Episcopal context: 1) the mixed chalice; 2) prayers for the Faithful Departed at the Altar; 3) the use of an Epiclesis as part of the consecration of the Elements; and 4) the use of a Prayer of Oblation; 5) Baptism by immersion; 6) the use of Chrism in Confirmation; 7) the sign of the cross; 8) the anointing of the sick; and 9) the reserved Sacrament for the use of the sick.

Here, I suppose, a decision must be made. (Since I find all of these usages acceptable, I don't know where to draw the line.)

But, second, the beauty of two rites is that no such further divergence is forced. Both are acceptable and both are legitimate: the terse English office and the more elaborate Scottish one. They express different things, both of which are valuable. Further particulars are as follows:

The First Scottish Prayer Book was introduced in 1637 and differed substantially from either 1552 or 1559. The 1637 Scottish Prayer Book was based on the 1549 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England and thus restored the ancient structure of the canon with both the anamnesis as well as an epiclesis included. Much has been made of the 1637 Communion Office so I shall therefore only briefly highlight the significant change it made to previous Reformed Eucharistic theologies. The first difference was the inclusion of an offertory prayer before the Eucharist that suggested a doctrine of the Real Presence.

More significantly the 1637 saw the introduction of an Epiclesis into the Communion rite:

“Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech thee and of thy almighty goodness vouchsafe so to bless and sanctify with thy word and Holy Spirit these thy creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son: so that we receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of the same his most precious body and blood.”xiv

This is the first instance of an Eastern consecration theology in a Reformed Western church. It is worth noting that in the 1637 Prayer Book the epiclesis comes before the Words of Institution whereas in later Scottish Communion Offices it comes after the Words of Institution ...

The 1637, as the 1549, places the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of Humble Access before the receiving of Communion. The placement of these prayers before the consecrated elements strongly suggests a Eucharistic theology of the Real Presence. The Words of Institution also only include the 1549 use:

“The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Amen. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Amen.”xv

The association of the bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ is a further indication of the doctrine of the Real Presence.

If all this is taken to show that as early as 1618 things were going radically wrong in Anglicanism, then I would have to insist that this view is historically false and, ultimately, psychotic. That ship has sailed. The question is: what is to be done (now)? I think this author makes the case that:

... the disestablished, non-juring history of the Scottish Episcopal Church and her ecclesiology and sacramental theology establishes a valid historical model of Anglicanism which is at odds with the example set by the Church of England. Thus the Anglican Covenant’s insistence on a historic commonality within the Communion, whether out of ignorance or design, effectively rewrites history and reduces historic diversity to an historical fiction for the sake of ecclesiastical expedience. This cultural insensitivity, especially considering the proximity of the Scottish Episcopal Church to the Church of England and the long history of persecution of the Scottish Church, raises serious issues about the effectiveness of the Covenant to address minority cultural and historical differences within the Anglican Communion.

An effective, coordinated response means coming to grips with reality as it is.