Skip to comments.Are Anglicans The Church?
Posted on 07/23/2005 2:07:03 PM PDT by sionnsar
All this furor in the Anglican Communion has me thinking.
What furor you say...Where have you been? Living in a cave somewhere...not such a bad idea if they were the catacombs...
Anyway, the "Anglo-" part of the Anglican communion, led by the Anglican churchs in the USA (ECUSA) and Canada have been pushing a liberal theology that, to use a euphemism, challanges the traditional interpretation and practice of the church worldwide (Christianity). The current 'tip of the sword' is the acceptance of same-sex practice.
The Third-World Anglicans are livid - this includes the Anglican churches in places like the continent of Africa, The West indies, South East Asia, South America, India and Pakistan. In the main, these places hold to the traditional orthodox understanding of Scripture and Christianity (like the roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Evangelical churches).
The irony is that church growth in the places where this liberal view is espoused is low or non-existent while significant growth is being experienced in some places where the traditional understandings of the church are upheld.
The issue at the fundamental level in this controversy is the interpretation of scripture.
Liberal Bishops like Charles Bennison in Philadelphia, according to reports, say "the church wrote the Bible and so the can re-write it" and this seems like precisely what the liberal churches are doing. I am not sure its a case of Malfesance but rather Misfesance as these persons seem, at least initially, well-intentioned.
Of cource the way to hell is paved with good intentions as my mother used to tell me, though in another context.
I have been reading blogs like Pontifications
by the (former Episcopalian priest now turned Roman Catholic) Fr. Al Kimmel and a couple of things become interesting, even to my theologically-untrained mind:
Kimmel et al brings up some interesting ideas:
Interesting...and deep stuff.
The only way to get the attention of the clergy and change this is to stop pledging. Cut off the flow of cash and you will have their immediate attention.
Actually, most of the highly liberal Episcopalian parishes and dioceses are, in my experience, so well-funded that it really wouldn't matter much if parishioners never gave another dime. Very large stock and investment portfolios.
It is my theory that the liberal hierarchy really doesn't care if the pews are largely empty. They don't want pesky parishioners around who actually believe something. There is nothing so boring as to go through the work of visiting the sick (one's that don't have AIDS, that is), doing funerals (one's for white folk who die of old age, that is), or doing weddings (for hetero's, that is.) They really don't want to be bothered with such things.
And there are still little old ladies who have the church in their wills.
These clerical frauds are having a high old time enjoying the fruits of others' labors. The make good money, and can use their positions, fancy robes, titles, and trust funds to pursue their liberal social and political agenda.
Some of the ECUSA faithful around here might correct me if I'm wrong.
1. The Bible cannot be self-validating. This appears to fly in the face of the reformation cry of Sola Scriptura (scripture alone).
True, but the doctrine was, IMHO, defined reactively against an apparent over-emphasis on works. The answer was the wrong one but the question was appropriate, then and now. Anglicans really did take a via media on this, downplaying works but not eliminating the concept, just making sure to reverse the priority: first comes faith, then works arise from the reformed person.
2. If not Sola Scripture then what? It is the Church who validated the Scriptures - for example the compilation of the canon of Scripture (choosing the books of the Bible).
I would argue with the tense of this sentence. The Church long since validated the Scriptures, though it wasn't until the Council of Trent that a Canon was formally promulgated by the Magisterium. That would strictly mean it wouldn't apply to Anglicans as our own Province was separated from Rome prior to that Council. In practice, all that Trent did was ratify what was extremely long Church practice and nearly universal practice at that. So, the Canon HAS been defined and need not be re-defined, particularly by a rump congregation of revisionists wanting off the mailing list of even their own theologic cousins. And that Canon is very definite against what the revisionists want to import into Church practice, liturgy, counsel and faith.
As to 'what else', there is a compendium of, oh I don't know, call it 30,000 pages of ANCIENT witness to what the Fathers perceived the faith, the liturgy and the theology to be. That would be prior to the millions of pages kicked off by the Scholastic Fathers, not to mention our own Caroline and Edwardian Divines. That would all be in addition to Scripture, though the value of it is nil if in conflict with Scripture. Collectively, that is all called Tradition.
3. It is the church who interprets scripture. WOW, this is a biggie and begs the question "WHO IS THE CHURCH"?
The Body of Christ, that is, every person validly baptized with water in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. This Body will be presented a spotless oblation to the Father by the Son through the Holy Ghost in the end of days. In the meanwhile, it is quite spotted and divisive, the tares growing with the wheat and often at the expense of the wheat. So, strictly, it is the collected opinion of every person comprising the Body of Christ that is the Mind of the Church. Most of those minds bring little to the discussion. A few bring oddments and right-out falsehoods and misprisions, not to mention self-aggrandizing revisions. If one is going to inquire into any of this, then that person is advised to start studying, as if they were themselves going into the clergy because the issues get complex, deep and even philosophical, just about immediately. Casual inquiry will no longer suffice, even if all one has in mind to accomplish is to understand the Catholic and orthodox Faith.
4. What authority does the Episcopal Church (ECUSA), which is a small part of the Anglican Church, which in turn is a small part of the church worldwide (did somebody say "catholic") have in "re-writing" (re-interpreting) Scripture to say that same-sex relations are OK?
None whatever, as the March Hare would say.
5. Could the Reformation have been an error?
Every reformation of the Church has been partly in error. None have been utterly false. Most have been nearly correct and a great medicine to the Church's belief and practice. The changes being urged by ECUSA have few if any of these virtues (indeed, virtue becomes more and more a null concept under ECUSA theology).
As was pointed out above, the Reformation, taken in whole, was mostly correct, with abuses and errors imported. It would be a long book to discuss them, even in brief. After all, we now have four Western traditions, not to mention the variations within each of them: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Reformed. Just to show the diversity, within the last are: Calvinist, Presbyterian (sometimes strictly Calvinist, sometimes not), Evangelical, Methodist, and openly congregational. How is one to summarize this? Not in a post here on FP, I don't think.
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