Skip to comments.What is Anglicanism?
Posted on 12/02/2005 8:34:54 AM PST by sionnsar
The other quadrilateral
What is Anglicanism? It has four main characteristics:
It is catholic, canonical, creedal and comprehensive.
The Lambeth Quadrilateral, set forth in 1888, 1897 and 1920 and effectively entrenched in the Anglican Church of Canadas Solemn Declaration of 1893, lists four non-negotiables for explorations of Anglican identity and church union: the whole Bible; the Apostles and Nicene Creeds; the two sacraments of the gospel that Jesus instituted, baptism and the Lords Supper; and some form of the historic episcopate. Some now define Anglicanism simply in these terms, as if everything else in our heritage is now up for grabs, or for sale. We should realize, however, that Anglicanism in effect defined itself for practical and theological purposes long before, in terms that go back to Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker; terms that embody an ideal of church life, and that yield a quadrilateral with a somewhat different flavour. There is an overlap with Lambeth, as you would expect, but when our task is to formulate Anglican Identity it is from the older quadrilateral that we should start.
Here, then, are the four characteristics by which Anglicanism, meaning the reformed faith and practice of the Church of England and all other churches descended from it, is best and most basically defined.
First: Anglicanism is catholic Christianity. Its catholicity is not just a matter of seeking worldwide fellowship, cooperation and, where possible, church communion with all Christians and congregations everywhere, but a matter also of seeking to discern and embrace the fullness of the historic faith, as opposed to a merely partial view of it. Evangelicals, though historically hesitant to call themselves catholic because of what they see as incomplete Christianity among those, Roman and Anglican, who claim the name, are as catholic in purpose as anyone else, and their reluctance to use the label is a pity, just as it is a pity that self styled Anglican Catholics who love the Lord Jesus should hesitate to call themselves evangelicals. The essence of evangelicalism, as todays scholars usually define it, is bible-based, cross-centred, commitment- oriented (I forgo the word conversion here, since it begs questions), and mission-focused: four qualities that, one way or another have marked the Christian Church as such since it began (if you doubt me, look at St. Paul!). To suspect those who call themselves evangelicals of being standoffish within the church to the point of sectarianism, as has been done in times past, is unworthy and untrue.
Part of the significance of the historic episcopate in Anglicanism is as a sign of the intention to maintain the whole of the apostolic faith, which the bishops first job, according to the Ordinal, is to guard. This too is an agreed element in Anglican catholicity.
Second: Anglicanism is canonical Christianity. This means that its faith and practice are based wholly on the Bible, in the double sense in which Anglicans, as Stephen Neill used to put it, challenge the world. The challenge is: if you can show anything in the Bible that we do not teach, we will teach it; and if you can show that we are teaching something that is not in the Bible, we will drop it. The Thirty-nine Articles were ratified in 1562, so their title page proclaimed, for the avoiding of diversities of opinions, and for the establishing of consent touching true religion, which goal determined what ground they covered. So, after the first five had reaffirmed the key points of the Creed in the face of Anabaptist unorthodoxy, Articles 6-8 affirmed the sufficiency of Scripture as a guide to salvation and the authority of Scripture as the final warrant for believing the Creed; and then articles 20-21, while honoring the Church as a witness and a keeper of holy writ, stated flatly: it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to Gods Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. The Solemn Declaration undertakes to hold and maintain this authority of canonical Scripture as the rule of the Anglican faith.
Third: Anglicanism is creedal Christianity. The Anglican Churches, historically, have all agreed on the importance, not just on keeping the two ecumenical creeds in the constitution, but of using both liturgically, so that worshippers define themselves as believers every time they join together in a church service. Thus Anglicanism aims to keep before all our minds the truth of the Trinity, and of Christ the Mediator, and of new life and hope through the Spirits work uniting us to Christ. Creedal Christianity is firmly doctrinal, and authentic Anglicanism always was and always will be creedal.
Fourth: Anglicanism is comprehensive Christianity. This does not mean that in Anglicanism anything goes, and that the Church may lawfully turn into what Bishop J.C. Ryle called a Noahs Ark of religions. It means, rather, that a distinction is recognized between what is primary and essential, on the one hand, and what is secondary and non-essential on the other, and that it is the former category that is regarded as the ground of Anglican unity. Deviant and non standard views on secondary matters are tolerated, and it is left to the discipline of intramural debate to sort them out. But comprehensiveness has never meant, and must never mean, taking on board denials of essentials truths -- doctrines of the Creed, or the basic ethics that Scripture teaches as following from those doctrines (repentance, obedience, loving service within biblical parameters, and so on). Comprehensiveness means theological and pastoral hospitality within limits, not an intellectual and moral fee-for-all.
Clearly, denial that our self-revealed and self-revealing God uses words specifically, the words of the Bible to tell us what he did, does, and will do, and what we as his servants are to do, makes classical orthodox Anglican identity, and authentic Anglican unity, impossible to maintain. This stubborn and painful fact must be squarely faced as we try to work through our churchs current conflicts.
James I. Packer is an Anglican priest, and a professor of theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. He is the author of many books, and is a well known speaker around the world.
Benefict is doing so with the most egregious of our problems (American seminaries, Franciscans of Assisi, open homosexuals in priesthood, to mention a few of the biggies).
He also squarely dealt with the IMMORALITY of relative morality. He stood four-square behind tradtional Christian, Scriptural moral absolutes and moral imperatives. Not an easy thing to do today in the worship and courtship of cultural and religious diversity -- that is, accepting other absolutes/imperatives as equal and/or superior to our own.
He is also dealing with so many other issues. One biggie, in my mind, in the union of Orthodoxies with Rome. All but the Russians have joined. I think that was huge. The sticking point with many Russians was the Polishness of John Paul II.
Rome and Lutherans also signed a momentous agreement at the 500th anniverary of Luther's protests.
These weren't all officially Benedict, but I bet he was in on them in some form. They were all papal interdictions/interventions.
My two cents.
'star, are you sure of this?
There have been no unions or establishment of communion of any Orthodox Church with the Roman Catholic church.
Relations between the Church of Russia and the Roman Catholic church has been the worst (most prominently because of the problems left over from the Unia), so their poor relations with Rome get more attention. But the entire Orthodox Church is united on this issue of not being in communion with Rome.
Many of us Orthodox are cautiously optimistic about B16's prospects. He is more capable of speaking our language than JPII ever was. This may be because he is simply smarter than JPII, but I think that he is genuinely influenced by patristic thought in a way that JPII was not.
I like the guy, and hope he is capable of restoring Rome to patristic thought and praxis.
Took the words right out of my mouth, A!
"Second: Anglicanism is canonical Christianity."
Interesting use of the word "canonical"; not the way Orthodoxy or the Latin Church uses it.
Actually the nod should go to the Great Schism of 1158 (correct year???)
King Henry VIII was the final straw>
Relations between Thomas Beckett and the king of England at the time didnt help matters either.
Just last week our pastor was saying that Roman Catholics and all Orthodoxy (except Russian) DO have interchangeable holy communion -- both ways. THAT is considered "union" of a very important kind, I believe.
I would believe my pastor over you, sorry. He is a most educated man who stays abreast of these things.
I would NOT have brought it up unless I had heard it because I wouldn't have any real idea myself of the state of holy communion interchange.
'star, with all respect I am confused by the term "interchangeable holy communion." I am not sure what is meant by "interchangeable."
(May one infer, btw, from the term "pastor" that you are not Roman Catholic?)
Ah. I don't recall this but I might easily have missed it. That it was refused wouldn't surprise me, from what I have learned from the Orthodox on FR.
(May one infer, btw, from the term "pastor" that you are not Roman Catholic?)
No, you may not. I AM Roman Catholic and "pastor" is used all the time. The head priest in a parish is called the parish priest or the pastor. They have always been interchangeable where I've grown up.
He may even have the title "Rector" if he does the administrative part of the buildings too.
If your pastor really said this, he was very wrong.
"That means that Roman Catholics MAY receive holy communion at any Orthodox Mass (Syrian, Greek, etc.), except Russian Orthodox Mass and those members of any Orthodox Church, Russian included, MAY receive holy communion at any Roman Catholic Mass."
Your pastor is very, very wrong. If indeed he told you this, he should be reported to his bishop. Please do try to go to communion in an Orthodox Church. You will be turned away and it is embarrassing for everyone.
And what, pray tell dear Latin, would you know about the Mohammadens and living your Faith under them? Were your people massacred? Were your children hauled off? Did you Latins live under 500 years and more of pagan oppression? Orthodoxy did. And we are still here and we remember everything.
My error. I just asked this of my wife, who attended a Catholic convent school (in Europe) for six years, and she confirmed this usage.
Like I said above, I will believe my pastor over you both. Sorry.
He is more of an expert on what's going on from Rome than you are. He gets his information from the diocese, which gets its information from Rome.
Our pastor disseminates the information, not makes it up. He doesn't get those kinds of things wrong. That is his "business," so to speak, not yours.
He has a tremendous responsibility to get it right. You two don't.
No disrespect intended to either of you.
By the way, the ONLY way I would even THINK about holy communion at an Orthodox Mass would be if I were INVITED to a Mass by an Orthodox friend and I was given permission ahead of time by the priest.
Also, at Catholic Masses, there is no turning away of people from holy communion. No pastor that I know has ever or would ever stop the holy communion service, turn away someone from the bread of Christ and humiliate that person so. I've never seen it done. It seems way too against the very basic concept of Jesus' invitation to salvation.
But, perhaps your priests would do that. I dunno.
"He is more of an expert on what's going on from Rome than you are."
You know what, S, I'll just bet that in this area I know more about what is going on between Rome and Constantinople, from both sides, than your parish priest does. But I'll tell you what, suggest to your priest that you've been discussing this matter with some knowledgable Orthodox who say that Roman Catholics will not be admitted to communion in an Orthodox Church and that the Orthodox Church positively instructs its faithful not to receive in Roman Churches. Ask him to check it out with the diocese and see what he says.
A few years ago Rome put out an instruction regarding communion and the faithful of the Orthodox Churches, the Polish National Church and perhaps a couple of others. It said it was OK to give them communion but that it should only be done where there was consultation with the local Orthodox hierarch. Where those consultations have taken place, there is no inter-communion. Unfortunately, a number of those consultations only occured after several of the Orthodox hierarchs in this country complained to Rome. The position of the Latin Church is that there is no impediment to inter-communion but it urges Orthodox faithful to obey their own hierarchs. Our hierarchs say no, though the issue was reviewed in the early 90s when, surprisingly, it was the Russian Church which was for it by an exercise of economia and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Alexandria and Antioch who were against it.
"No pastor that I know has ever or would ever stop the holy communion service, turn away someone from the bread of Christ and humiliate that person so. I've never seen it done. It seems way too against the very basic concept of Jesus' invitation to salvation.
But, perhaps your priests would do that. I dunno."
Our priests can and do turn people away, though not with any great show about it. Usually this is because someone is known to the priest to be living a lifestyle incompatible with the teachings of The Church for example, politicians who support abortion or people living together and having a sexual relationship outside of marriage or in some Churches, people whom they know haven't been to confession for some period of time. Priests will also often inquire of someone whom they don't know if they are Orthodox before they give them communion. The past couple of years, many priests have taken to making an anouncement before communion that the Eucharist is reserved to Orthodox Christians who are properly prepared by fasting and confession and are living their lives in accordance with Church teaching. This became necessary because we have seen a large number of Protestant inquirers coming to our Liturgies and innocently assuming, as is true in many Protestant churches apparently, that intercommunion is OK.
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