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Fr. Kirby Defends Anglicanism
All Too Common ^ | 8/09/2005 | The Common Anglican

Posted on 08/09/2005 11:45:06 AM PDT by sionnsar

In case you have not yet read it, Fr. Kimel of Pontifications, wrote his reply to my essay, Why I Am Anglican, yesterday. If you do not know the story about the Pontificator, basically Fr. Kimel left the Episcopal Church for Rome in hope to be a priest there. He could no longer work in ECUSA because of GC2003's declaration (why he waited two years to get out though, I do not understand) and because he accepted Rome's proposition that it is the Catholic Church. Obviously there are other reasons, but those seem to be the top two he mentioned. You can read Fr. Kimel's thoughts about my decision here. A discussion arose in the comments section, and one post caught my attention. I would not have even known to argue the way that Fr. Kirby did, as I am not a Newman scholar nor am I well versed in the Tractarian movement in history. Fr. Kirby wrote this:

While I cannot understand anyone joining ECUSA, the Pontificator has succeeded in oversimplifying the history of Anglicanism. I will not comment on his reference to Dr Tighe’s presentation of the evidence in that regard because most of what I wanted to say on that was said by me on posts 32 and 33 of the page linked to by the Pontificator via Dr Tighe’s name.

But as for Newman, I find it very difficult to take him seriously in this quote. Some of the “great Protestant doctrines” he lists as having been “adopted” by Anglicanism were merely permitted, e.g., the relation of faith to the Sacramental Presence. Most of the others he mischaracterises. The biblical canon is the same as that of a number of Fathers and Conciliar decrees (the relevant ancient decisions being inconsistent among themselves) and the Eastern Orthodox Church, with the Deuterocanon being accepted but at a lower level, yet still referred to as scripture in official “reformed C of E” texts. The “infection of nature in the regenerate” is recognised and called the “old man” by St Paul and “concupiscence” in RC theology. (The difference between RCism and Protestants was in fact whether the “infection” was sin sensu stricto. Trent said that when it was called sin in the NT this was analogical language, if I remember correctly. The 39 Articles said concupiscence “has the nature of sin”, an ambiguous phrase, while the Reformed in the Westminster Catechism say it is “truly and properly sin”, a wholly unambiguous phrase.) The five sacraments are not denied but said not to be on the same level as the “Sacraments of the Gospel” which were directly “ordained”, i.e., explicitly commanded by Christ. as for justification by faith alone, once one reads the Homily cited in the relevant Article, one sees that the justification spoken of is explained as referring strictly to the transition from an ungraced to graced condition. This “first justification” Trent itself said could not be merited by any work whatsoever. Is justification simply and absolutely a legal fiction (”putative”) in Anglicanism? One could cite a number of Anglican divines against this, but it is best to simply refer to the prayer in the historic BCP Baptism rite, which speaks of “remission of sins by spiritual regeneration“.

However, one might answer all of this with an impatient shout of “Pettifogging! Anyway, Newman knew all these clever qualifications backwards and forwards as the author of Tract 90, but cut through to the reality once he saw the light! AND, his main point is about private judgement vs ecclesial infallibility, which you have not addressed at all.” My answer to the first objection would simply be to note that if Newman’s RC polemics ignore the fine distinctions he had noted earlier in order to slam home the worthlessness of Anglicanism, so much the worse for his polemic. As to the second point, it is simply not true that Anglicanism officially elevated private judgement over the Church’s judgement of doctrine. It denied the historic infallibility of the Church of Rome “in matters of faith”, but certified that “the Church hath authority in controversies of Faith” and never claimed as a Church that the Consensus of the Fathers could be heretical. Quite the contrary. It also appealed to the example of the East to show that protesting against Roman-sanctioned excesses or errors did not necessarily mean rejecting the Catholic Faith or opposing ecclesial consensus with mere private judgement.

In other words, Newman’s portrayal only makes sense if one assumes not only that the RCC IS the Catholic Church simpliciter, but that the early Anglicans knew this and usurped its authority anyway. Even if these men were wrong in their understanding of Rome, its faith and and its identity, it is clear they did not see agreement with it as the same as membership of the Church, and they did not see “Papism”, as they called it, as the Catholic Church in toto. Therefore, while some anglicans did undeniably have protestant epistemologies as individuals and the rest were less than wholly successful in both understanding the Tradition they venerated and coherently explaining how it was a contemporary and living voice, it is not fair to claim there was an official intent of the Church to substitute private judgement for Church authority in doctrinal matters.

As for comprehensiveness in matters of doctrine (as opposed to a healthy and rich variety in matters of piety or emphasis), it is true that this pragmatic ambiguity was one source of the dissolution of much of Anglicanism. It is also true it was never an overt doctrine, and only came to be formulated and seen as a good by some later on, after the fact. And, finally, it is a fact that a significant portion of Continuing Anglicanism has officially repudiated comprehensiveness and committed itself unambiguously to Holy Tradition.


I thought it best to quote the entirety of his work, as only quoting sections of it does not bring forth the desired effect.

~ The Common Anglican

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 08/09/2005 11:45:06 AM PDT by sionnsar
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To: sionnsar

Fr. Kirby Defends Anglicanism....

Why bother?

2 posted on 08/10/2005 5:09:11 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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