Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Church of England and Anglicanism;not crisis but crises

Who are the true Anglicans? As readers of this blog will know, I have a great respect - and love - for much in the Anglican "Communion". I use inverted commas here not to show any disrespect but because I cannot call what I see now a communion. This article and the fairly new blog (Spread) behind it speak of a split (and more than one?) in the ranks of Anglican Evangelicals. How many evangelical missions are there? The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans looks impressive, but can it really have the effect it wants amidst all the confusion and disagreement.

As some readers will know, I am fascinated by what is happening now in Anglicanism and the Church of England (not necessarily the same thing!). In ecumenical terms, who do Roman Catholics and Orthodox talk to in their discussion with "Anglicans"? What chance is there now for any real development in ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and others? Of course, this is not a new question, but the situation has grown rapidly worse. Sadly there is a fundamental flaw in Protestantism. Was it only ten years after Luther nailed his theses to the Cathedral door that he broke spectacularly with other reformers over the question of the Real Presence in the Eucharist? How many evangelical churches are there now in the world? How many will survive?

The fact is that personal interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, without some kind of Magisterium (whatever its human failings) and maintaining the ridiculous position of sola scriptura - ridiculous because it argues against itself - leads, sooner or later, to theological chaos. And as I have said before, and it is becoming increasingly clear, you cannot have a "church" where one bishop denies the orders of another or where those ordained by one bishop are not accepted by another and maintain, all the time, that we are all "brothers and sisters in Christ" and are united with each other in the one church. This is sheer, unadulterated, theological nonsense!

Having said all that, I still hold dear so much that I (and the world!) have received from Anglicanism. I hold all Anglicans in my prayers. However, I just wonder how long it will be before many more begin to realise that the game is up and that it is time to return to a more stable orthodox Christianity.


  1. Mark, Wandering Anglican27 July 2011 at 04:40

    "Time to return to a more stable Christianity"

    Goodness Father John. I don't see this amongst Catholics if the blogosphere is anything to go by.

    Reading blogs this morning one commenter referred to the "pharisaical" position of the "convervatives" and another to the near-demonic position of "liberals".

    I do not see this conflict in my local RC church that I visit often but, as yet, grace has not led me home.
    Perhaps I should switch off my computer.

  2. Well, I was expecting this! In fact, my housekeeper just made the same point (we were discussing it over lunch). However, there is a real difference which others have remarked upon. For example, Chesterton, who saw that the Church (and he meant RC) had gone through such appalling and disgusting things and had yet survived in spectacular fashion (saints, liturgy, art etc)that he became convinced that it was THE Church (otherwise it would not be in existence). Newman had similar thoughts. Orthodoxy has survived and will continue for some different and some similar reasons - historical and theological - but both Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy (although some Orthodox will violently disagree!)are from the same Orthodox root. In so far as any Christian communion is linked with the same root (Apostolic) it has a good chance of survival, but without some unifying principle (The Papacy and Tradition in one case, fierce adherence to Tradition in the other)survival in the "vale of tears" is extremely risky. As I said to my housekeeper when she mentioned the serious problems in the RC Church, we have some things that will help us to overcome and mend our problems, some others do not. As I said above, it is useless placing all one's hopes on the Scriptures because, without some central authority, we are at each others mercy - you say neether, I say nyther etc. For example, just recently the Holy Father forbade Eucharistic Services outside the Mass. It may take a little time, but this means that such services will stop. It is clear that, in spite of serious differences over one thing or another, a priest or even a bishop is not allowed to suggest that Mary, the Mother of Christ was not a virgin or that the Lord Jesus is not really and truly present in the Eucharistic elements - they would be removed from office. This does not happen in the C of E, and it cannot. In basic matters there has to be real agreement. In some areas we need more discipline, in others a more relaxed freedom, but in faith and morals we must be united and the struggles we have faced and continue to face push us in that direction, not in the same direction as Anglicanism. I hope you can see the real difference.

  3. A dawn fishing boat, and Our Lady and the Infant Jesus at dusk.
    "Red at night shepherd's delight"