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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Anglo-Catholicism: Why The Reformed Episcopal Church, The Anglican Communion Network, and the American Anglican Council Are Wrong


Recently someone sent me the link to an article at Dan Sullivan's blog on the issue of Anglo-Catholicism. I found Sullivan's comments to be worthy of consideration, even though he is inconsistent in other ways; i.e. he is an Arminian and a member of an "Evangelical" denomination which implicitly and often overtly compromises with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy in the interest of co-belligerency against abortion and homosexuality.

Anyway, I particularly liked his comments about the 39 Articles of Religion. I will quote the relevant passage here:

"While many churches might not practice Eucharistic adoration, prayers to the saints, prayers for the dead, say the rosary, venerate icons or relics or think of the Eucharist as a propitiary [sic] sacrifice, I am finding many otherwise Evangelical and Biblical Christians see no need to stand against those things - they are graciously allowed as part of the broad tent of Anglicanism, owing to apparent practices from the early church and to the Great Tradition. So to speak against these things can be seen as narrow, divisive and, well, un-anglican. I'm new in these parts, I guess I didn't pick up on the local customs.


As much as I long for an end to divisive doctrinal wrangling, I am finding myself in a position of needing do [sic] draw a line - to state that I cannot go beyond a particular point. "Where is it written?" remains an essential factor in defining doctrine for me. It must remain so. If scripture cannot correct the Great Tradition, then scripture is not the final authority and that is a commitment I cannot relinquish. If the Great Tradition can force interpretations upon scripture that the context and grammar do not warrant, or add rituals, beliefs, doctrines to the faith that seem to have no basis in the text, then scripture is not the final authority in matters of faith. At that point, the only reasonable choice would be to become Roman-Catholic, not Anglo-Catholic, and it seems in some circles the line between the two is nearly imperceptible.


And I have to wonder. If Anglo-Catholics can find a way to "reinterpret" the articles of Religion, to sever them from their historical setting, to impose an interpretation on them that was fueled by 19th century concerns and Catholic theological interests, on what basis does an Anglo-Catholic honestly resist liberal reinterpretation of the same articles of Religion from the perspective of postmodern multicultural relativism? On what basis can revision and reinterpretation of the Biblical texts be repudiated?"


I realize I'm jumping to the end of the conversation but if you wish to read the entire article, you can go to http://back2center.blogspot.com/2008/03/three-faces-of-anglicanism-anglo.html. Moreover, the issue of where the center of authority for the Christian church lies is one that we must consider. If the priesthood of believers is true and biblical, then placing the authority of the church and of the clerical leadership above Holy Scripture and the people, who are also priests, is forbidden and incompatible the one with the other. How can one mix oil and water when the two will not mix. Any theology which places the Tradition of the church above Scripture is essentially placing man's authority above God's authority, which eventually leads to liberalism, as our friend above points out.

Being a radical, confessing Evangelical and hostile to liberalism and neo-orthodoxy, I have found myself often unwilling to read much liberal or neo-orthodox theology because I don't find it edifying. However, I'm finding that often neo-orthodoxy has legitimate and solid criticism of theological liberalism. I have been re-reading Emil Brunner's classic work on Christian ethics, The Divine Imperative. (Emil Brunner, The Divine Imperative. 1937, Lutterworth Press. Reprint. Philadelphia: Westminster, no date). I found it odd that, while modern "Evangelicals" seem to have bought into the lie that Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism are somehow compatible, a neo-orthodox theologian has no objections to offending those who hold Anglo-Catholic or even Roman Catholic sentiments. I found Brunner's following remarks particularly enlightening:

"The fact that a false and a true ecclesiasticism exists, is due to two aspects of the nature of the Church, namely, that the Church is both human and divine. False ecclesiasticism, ecclesiastical 'Monophysitism,' clericalism, is based on the fact that the divine element has been confused with the human, and thus that it predicates of both elements that which really only applies to one. Anti-clericalism, on the other hand, is based upon the fact that the necessary union of the divine and human elements in the Church is denied, and both are separated. True ecclesiasticism, however, consists in the fact that the divine and the human are not separated, but also that they are not regarded as identical with one another. The more serious danger of these two is the first, because it exists within the Church. False ecclesiasticism is the peculiar curse of the Roman Catholic Church." The Divine Imperative, page 562.


Brunner's remarks are cutting by today's sensibilities and he was writing in a period just prior to World War II. It is indeed strange when a neo-orthodox theologian of just a few decades ago sounds more conservative than today's so-called "Evangelicals"!! Anglo-Catholicism claims to be a middle way between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism but it winds up being neither. Roman Catholics legitimately question the validity of any communion which claims to be both Protestant and "Catholic" in the sense that Roman Catholics understand that term. The problem with the common cause conservatives like the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council is that they try to mix Reformed Protestant Evangelicalism with conservative Anglo-Catholicism. However, the two do not mix as history has repeatedly shown. The most famous minister to note this was the Reformed Episcopal bishop, Charles Cheney.

However, even former Evangelicals who have converted to Roman Catholicism have noted the false pretenses of Anglo-Catholics. In his article, "The Trouble with Anglo-Catholicism," the Roman Catholic, Robert Ian Williams comments:

"Many Catholics and Protestants are confused when they encounter Anglicanism. Indeed, many Evangelicals troubled by the lack of historical continuity within their own faith communities have ended up in the Anglican church. Why suffer the stigma of becoming a Catholic when you can have bishops, a sense of continuity, and beautiful liturgy apart from Rome? After all, Anglicanism turns a blind eye to contraception, allows easy divorce, and has incorporated other "progressive" ideas.


Anglicanism presents its self [sic] as a reformed Catholicism striking a balance between the extremes of Rome and Geneva. However, the roots of Anglicanism are solidly Protestant, and the claim that Anglo-Catholicism is the genuine Anglican tradition does not stand up in the light of history.


Though the Church of England after the schism with Rome over Henry’s divorce still kept the Catholic sacramental system, radical Protestantism was introduced during the reign of Edward VI. Thomas Cranmer and Edward Seymour, appointed by Henry VIII to positions of power, upon Henry’s death worked openly to introduce the beliefs of the German Reformers. The holy sacrifice of the Mass was replaced by a vernacular communion service that denied transubstantiation and the eucharistic sacrifice. Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer was written in beautiful English but contained subtle heresy behind its lovely facade.


The renowned Anglican liturgist Dom Gregory Dix (1901–1953) commented on the Cranmeriam [sic] rite: "As a piece of liturgical craftsmanship it is in the first rank. . . . It is not a disordered attempt at a Catholic rite but the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to the doctrine of justification by faith alone" (The Shape of the Liturgy [1946], 11).
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0109fea5.asp

So here we have a broad Evangelical who is a former Roman Catholic, Dan Sullivan, saying that Anglo-Catholicism and Evangelicalism are incompatible and then we have a former Evangelical but now Roman Catholic, Robert Ian Williams, saying the same thing from the opposite side of the fence. And to top it all off, we have a neo-orthodox theologian saying practically the same thing from another perspective, albeit one we should not be too eager to adopt.

What is it that drives sinful human beings in one direction or another, never being satisfied? Historically, Anglo-Catholics tried to reintroduce Roman Catholicism as a way to return to historical roots with the Roman Catholic past of the Anglican Church. However, they did this by dishonestly reinterpreting the 39 Articles of Religion to fit their Roman Catholic presuppositions.

Unfortunately, when the emphasis becomes the church, then human presumption takes charge over divine revelation and eventually the end result is theological liberalism. Williams goes on to point out in his article that Anglo-Catholics from the 19th century went on to ordain women, homosexuals and consecrate homosexual bishops. Furthermore, he remarks that such innovations appeal greatly to the liberals who leave the Roman Catholic Church, like Matthew Fox and others:

The nineteenth-century ritualists had attempted to change the face of Anglicanism. But the veneer was superficial, and the innate Protestantism of Anglicanism has emerged in its assimilation of rationalism, the women priesthood, and the blessing of homosexual unions. With the acceptance of women priests there is now a desire for lay people to be allowed to celebrate the eucharist in the more evangelical churches of the communion.


Indeed, many Anglo-Catholics have adopted this new, liberal theology and have grouped themselves in an organization called Affirming Catholicism. In the United States there are at least five hundred former Catholic priests serving in the Episcopal church (including the ex-Dominican Matthew Fox). Some Catholic nuns have joined so they can be "ordained." The Episcopalians have a well-financed outreach to Hispanics, and into its fold every year the Episcopal church receives thousands of former Catholics who refuse to accept the moral teaching of the Catholic Church." http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0109fea5.asp


One must confess that even Protestant and Evangelical churches and denominations go liberal. But this problem is not limited to Anglo-Catholicism or Protestantism. It is a also a problem within Roman Catholicism as Robert Ian Williams explicitly admits. One would also suspect the same problem exists within the other communion of the East, Eastern Orthodoxy, though it too claims to be the only pure church. Williams seems to think that Protestantism leads inevitably to liberalism but that is not always the case and the link is a red herring at best. In fact, by his own admission Anglo-Catholicism and even Roman Catholicism struggle with the same issue. My own contention is that any time that reason or human views take precedence over the divine you wind up with liberalism. However, when the divine and the human are confused into a monophysite view, as Emil Brunner points out, you wind up with the same thing: a completely human usurpation of the divine.

According to Brunner, Protestants have been plagued by the attempt to duplicate the grandeur and success of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution on earth. And the vacillation between the Roman Catholic view and the Protestant view has led to confusion:

The Reformation made a fundamental breach with this kind of ecclesiasticism; in principle the Reformation was a return to the original Christian conception of the Church. But the relics of that theory of the Church which identified the human element with the Divine, which still lingered on in the minds of the Reformers, produced a fresh growth of this malignant error within the Protestant Churches; But since it was also impossible to forget the objections to this theory Protestantism has wavered uncertainly ever since between a false churchmanship and a lack of churchmanship, and this is still its character at the present day. The thought--or more accurately the feeling--of the average 'Protestant' oscillates between a secret or at least half-concealed longing for the imposing splendor of the Roman Catholic Church, and an indifference to all that bears the name of "Church" (The Divine Imperative, page 563).


Brunner's insights from the neo-orthodox perspective are illuminating but do not necessarily stop the problem of confusing the divine with the human. Brunner denies Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Bible and says that both liberalism and fundamentalism are wrong. However, the neo-orthodox critique that the creeds and the doctrines of Scripture are not to be identified with the living Word of God leaves us questioning where the objective and the subjective begin and end. Either way, existentialism and subjectivism wind up back in the liberalism that neo-orthodoxy was supposed to correct. Anglo-Catholicism seeks to counter subjectivism by appealing to the authority of the church to interpret Scripture, which Brunner rightly perceives as a confusion of the human and the Divine. However, Protestantism, wavers between no church discipline and too much church discipline. On the one hand, Protestantism wants to dispense with authority and the church degenerates into theological liberalism, exalting reason above revelation. On the other hand, the Catholics want to replace reason with Tradition and to stop dissent by heavy handed authority. But this too leads to human reason usurping God's Word.

Neo-orthodoxy rightly critiques both liberalism and fundamentalism but offers nothing different to replace either. It, like Anglo-Catholicism, claims to offer a middle way between the Enlightenment and a pre-critical fundamentalism but winds up with a stalemate that solves nothing. The problem with Anglo-Catholicism, even the so-called conservative Anglo-Catholics, is that eventually placing humans in control over the Word of God leads to corruption like that we see in the Episcopal Church today. Anglo-Catholicism winds up being something like a state church in which

the "tares" are mingled with the "wheat" to such an extent that the distinctive character of the Church is almost obliterated. Once a church has reached the point at which it is possible for her functions to be administered by open atheists and scoffers at religion, when perhaps the majority of her members are merely nominal, and do not care a jot for the Church, when the impression is widespread that it is as natural to belong to the Church as it is to be born, and that membership means nothing--then certainly the point has been reached where we may ask: Has not the Church become like salt "which has lost its savour" and is henceforth good for nothing? (The Divine Imperative, page 551).


The common cause movement will eventually lead down a slippery slope toward the same liberalism it is protesting against precisely because it is built on the sand of human tradition and human usurpation of the divine. Only the Protestant churches, as imperfect as they are, have a chance because the emphasis is on a constant reformation of the local and national church to conform to the Holy Scriptures. Brunner says the error of Roman Catholicism and by implication, Anglo-Catholicism is that

...there is only one thing which allows us still to believe in the high advantage even of the Protestant Churches of the present day; in principle they are capable of regeneration, whereas the Catholic Church has elevated error to the rank of a principle, and in this very fact regards itself as infallible. (The Divine Imperative, page 544).


Anglo-Catholicism is neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic but a heresy to both views. Inevitably, Anglo-Catholicism is a compromise which leads down the slippery slope to theological and moral liberalism and relativism. This is precisely why the Reformed Episcopal Church is wrong for merging with the Anglican Province of America and being a party to the common cause factions of the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council. Anglo-Catholicism is bankrupt and leads to apostasy as history will prove out. As Emil Brunner says, only a confessing and solidly committed Protestant Church can hope to endure the test of time and that is precisely because God is constantly and providentially superintending the true Church by His sovereign will. Those who trust in man wind up building replicas of the tower of Babel only to find it reaches nowhere and eventually brings more chaos and confusion than unity. Anglo-Catholicism is wrong precisely because it is simply another tower of Babel. It attempts to be a middle way between the Gospel and institutionalized error. Such a middle way is merely another way to an insured and guaranteed failure.

May God have mercy!!

18 comments:

Dan Sullivan said...

Charlie. My frustration with the confusing aspects of the "broad tent" of Anglicanism are real. I would offer a few words to balance and civilize the debate: a debate that needs to happen.

What the three Creeds established was a unity on the essential truths of theology and Christology. The Trinity and the understanding of Christ as fully God and fully man is essential to the faith.

And on that, Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox - even Calvinists and Arminians agree. We even agree, for the most part that the problem of humanity is sin and that the only remedy is the cross. So as much as I disagree with Catholics, Orthodox and Anglo Catholics on the nature of the Eucharist and the operation of sacraments, I have to recognize them as "orthodox".

But there has been no universal consensus on soteriology - and that is the issue that sparked the Reformation.

J.I. Packer has written that in a divided Christendom statements of faith are essential - we have to state clearly what we believe. What we are battling over is the question "how does salvation work?" and for that reason these issues have a critical "life and death" importance.

I hope that Anglo-Catholics who read the comments of their opponents understand that the "once-for-all" nature of Christ's sacrifice is an issue relating to salvation itself. We criticize the sacrifice of the mass and the overemphasis on the sacramental because we do not want any to even subtly and unintentionally think of the cross as anything less than a perfect sacrifice offered once, that his work as high priest was accomplished as he entered the holy place once-for-all and sat down.

We have to argue our positions on these matters because they are vital. I hope we can find a way to do so honestly and with civility.

Charlie J. Ray said...

J. C. Ryle didn't mince words and he was an Anglican bishop on the Evangelical side of the issue. The issue of justification by faith ALONE is not just a side item dealing with "salvation works." No, not at all. The issue is the very Gospel itself. In fact, the issue was so important to the Protestant Reformers that they were willing to face martyrdom in their attempts to reform the Church according the teaching of the Bible. Let's face the facts: Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglo-Catholics are lost because they teach another gospel. While they may be "christian" by holding to the ecumenical creeds, this is not enough. The creeds summarize biblical teaching on the trinity and the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ, etc., all of which are essential to the depository of true, apostolic faith as it is recorded and tested in Holy Scripture. But this is not ALL that Christians are required to believe to be saved. They are also required to accept what Paul and Jesus taught regarding the doctrines of salvation by grace through faith alone, apart from good works. Until Rome changes its official doctrine it is an apostate church. Until the Anglo-Catholics recant their Romish doctrines, they too are apostates in need of saving grace.

Peace,

Charlie

Dan Sullivan said...

Charlie. I think you may have missed my point.

First, I don't mean to minimize the importance of the issue of soteriology, else I wouldn't have raised all the issues I raised on my blog. But there is a difference between the disagreements Protestants have with Catholics, Orthodox and many Anglo-Catholics as opposed to differences we have with Mormons or Muslims.

Since we have the three creeds, when I discuss the nature of God with a Mormon, I am not dependent only on "my" interpretation of scripture. Mormons would alter the very definitions of who Christ is, who the Father is, who the Spirit is, and they stand against both scripture and 1600-2000 years of common understanding by Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox. They get it ALL wrong, not just a part.

My point was that no such clear consensus has been reached on soteriology. I hold my views very strongly and believe very deeply in salvation by grace through faith. I'll argue for that till the day I die. On soteriology, I am a Protestant. But it would be foolish to ignore the common foundation of the trinity, the doctrine of original sin, the historical reality of the cross itself when discussing the implications of Eucharistic theology in relation to soteriology with Anglo-Catholics.

Second point is simply one of civility. We are to always give an accont for our faith, but with humility and respect. The last thing I want is to go back to the days when any bloodshed is necessary over theological disagreements. We cannot sidestep differences and it would be counterproductive to pretend differences don't exist. But how we discuss them matters. We have to find ways to speak the truth in love. That's what I attempt to do, and what I often fail at.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I beg to differ. There IS a clear consensus on soteriology. It's called the Protestant Reformation! And I think you must be somewhere out there in the wilderness, because from my perspective the Roman Catholics and the Anglo-Catholics have declared war on the Gospel. In fact, I was defrocked by the Reformed Episcopal Church for daring to say that justification by faith alone is essential to Gospel. The Roman Catholic and the Anglo-Catholic view is incompatible with the Gospel and I refuse to compromise with those who deny the Gospel.

While the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox and the Anglo-Catholics have the ecumenical creeds right, they have everything else wrong. They have idolatry as well. I wouldn't put them in the same category as the cults you mentioned but they are certainly just as lost as any Mormon unless they come to a biblical understanding of salvation.

Sola Scriptura is essential to a proper understanding of the Gospel.

Peace...

DomWalk said...

A couple of the points that I really liked about Dan's posting were:

(1) That the twisting of the plain meaining of the 39 Articles in order to attempt to accomodate Romish beliefs laid the ground work for further liberal innovations in the 20th Century, innovations against which the more "conservative" of the Anglo-Catholics were unable to stand, because they had already undermined the Articles. Indeed, the radical innovaters of the late 20th Century are the spiritual offspring of the Oxford gang.

(2) The inherent subterfuge in "traditionalist" Anglo-Catholicism today. While claiming to be "orthodox" -- indeed, in some cases, the *only* orthodox group of Anglicans -- based primarily on opposition to women's ordination (an opposition, by the way, which gets its justification from the Romish sacramental concept of "Holy Orders", not from any scriptural or Ordinal basis) and the use of the 1928 BCP (the first Anglo-Catholic Prayer Book, before the 1979), they doctrinally deny great swaths of the theology in the Prayer Book. This is a jarring experience for someone who wants to actually take the BCP at face value, only to find that the clergy and bishops who claim old BCP faithfulness as a cornerstone of their system ultimately deny critical doctrines contained therein, like justification, predestination, prayers for the dead, the nature of the Lord's Supper, the sufficiency of scripture, the number of sacraments, and so on and so on...

There's a bait-and-switch aspect to Anglo-Catholicism that is probably it's most repugnant characteristic.

At least Newman ultimately had the courage of his convictions.

+ + +

Billy said...

Hi,
I have been reading your blog for sometime but have never commented. I am a reformed episcopalian and find some of your posts kind of shocking. I have been through seminary and am currently not seeking ordination because my bishop told me that it would be problematic for me to hold my current views on justification by faith, but not faith alone. So I think you are setting up a bit of a straw man in calling the REC anglo-catholic.

But your view of Scripture is what I particularly wanted to address. The Scriptures themselves never claim to address all matters of truth. All we can say for sure is thay they give expression to the doctrine of the Apostles. But there are certainly more truths than what the Bible explicitly teaches.

The point I want to make is this: you are obviously aware that the Holy Spirit did not hand a binder of texts to the early Church and say this is your Bible. The Canon was fought over for a couple of centuries precisely because the Ante-Nicean fathers were picking the books and letters that witnessed the true Apostolic faith which had been passed on to them. In other words, the Holy Scriptures are an infallible part of our tradition. To say otherwise would require that you believe the first three centuries of the Church to not have had any authority other than the OT and the Gospels.

Finally, you seem to throw out the priesthood of all believers as a jab at ecclesiastical hierarchy, in particular when taking jabs at the office of priests and what they are doing in the service of Holy Communion. I suppose the idea of having professional priests when we have Christ the high Priest bothers you.

But even in ancient Israel, the people were all priests. (Ex 19:6) That did not change the fact that there were people designated to offer sacrifices. Now certainly modern priests don't serve quite the same function, but the priesthood of all believers certainly doesn't exclude a priestly work on behalf of the clergy. And insofar as they stand in the place of Christ as they pray the words of Institution and Consecration over the bread and wine they are most certainly priests in the line of Christ.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Billy, your bishop is being inconsistent with the common cause agreement with the Anglican Province of America. The REC and APA already have a concordat of intercommunion and have agreed to exchange clergy openly without any need for re-ordination. Thus, the REC already has Anglo-Catholic ministers and churches within its fold. I'm sure you can find any number of Anglo-Catholic continuing churches who would welcome you with open arms into their synagogues of satan.

Secondly, you think that Scripture is insufficient because you believe canonization was done by the church? I would disagree because all canonization does is officialize what was already fact. The individual books of the Bible are inspired of God and were in common acceptance universally prior to canonization. Moreover, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is derived from Holy Scripture itself. Also, even tradition has recognized that the Bible holds the final authority in matters of faith and practice. The final point I would make is that the Apostle Paul taught justification by faith alone and I would contend that Jesus Himself taught that doctrine, though in parables.

I would also point out that the Lord's Supper is in no way a sacrifice and therefore there is no need for any prayers which mention sacrifice or oblation. I would highly suggest that you read Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's commentary on the sacrament of communion in which he strongly argues that the Protestant view of the sacrament is in fact the "catholic" one! Cranmer did not mince words and strongly condemned transubstantiation and other view which would promote the idea of "real presence" or any idea that the Lord's Supper is in any sense at all a sacrifice. In fact, Cranmer's view is very close to John Calvin's view, though some have suggested that Cranmer's view is Zwinglian. I might agree with the latter provided that we understand that Zwingli's view was very close to Calvin's view and was in no way a mere memorial or similar to modern Anabaptist sentiments on the sacraments.

Furthermore, the Bible itself declares that Jesus Christ is the final sacrifice and that the need for sacrifices are over. The New Covenant supercedes the Old Covenant and Jesus Christ alone, asyou conceded, is the only priest there is. He offered the one sacrifice on the cross that all the Old Covenant sacrifices foreshadowed.

There is only one tradition that ultimately matters, Bill. It is called Apostolic tradition. And that tradition was passed on by oral tradition and written down in the Holy Scriptures within 30-40 years of the death of Christ. Thus, there were still living eyewitnesses available to confirm the accuracy of Apostolic teaching. Thus, it is the Scriptures which are inspired of God and not tradition in the sense that Anglo-Catholics use the term. Tradition does not evolve over time. It is set in concrete form in the Scriptures. The only "tradition" which is acceptable is what is most certainly handed down from Jesus Christ himself and from His original apostles who were eyewitnesses to His ministry. Anything else is just fallible opinions of men. As Paul said, "Do not go beyond what is written...? (1 Cor. 4:6).

Finally, I might caution you that true Anglican theology is Protestant and Reformed. The English Reformers died for the cause of the Reformation. The 39 Articles of Religion are expressly Protestant, which is why every effort has been made by Anglo-Catholics to get rid of them or to relegate them to obscurity. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the 1559 Book of Common Prayer are the purest expressions of the Protestant faith and even the Anglo-Catholic theologian Dom Gregory Dix acknowledged that Cranmer's liturgy was meant to teach the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Cranmer's own comments testify to his view that the sacrament of communion is in no way a sacrifice. Rather it is an appropriation by faith of the one sacrifice once made for all elect sinners at Calvary.

In addition, I would point out that the episcopal ecclesiastical system is not binding. While it may be "permissible," it is most certainly not biblically mandated. Therefore, as the founders of the REC saw clearly, one's ecclesiastical polity is not the basis for fellowship or for non-fellowship.

I hope you will forgive my bluntness. I guess I inherited that from my Pentecostal past.

Lord have mercy upon us.
Christ have mercy upon us.
Lord have mercy upon us.

Charlie

Billy said...

Hey Charlie,
I truly wish we could do this face to face...preferably with food of some kind involved.
Anyway, I don't deny that the eucharist is not a new sacrifice. I don't think there is any need for a new one. However, we can and should "re-present" the death of Christ in the faces of our congregations (I Cor. 11:26) Insofar as the priest acts out in the DRAMA of a service the role of one who represents Christ's once for all sacrifice, I have no problem with the title of priest or the idea of the eucharist being a representation of the sacrifice.
I think you are incorrect about the 39 articles and the Real Presence. The first paragraph of Article XXVII affirms that communion is a partaking of Christ's Body and Blood. That seems to be perfectly in accord with John 6 and the three Institution narratives in the synoptics.

I don't think you have read the letters and council proceedings if you think canonization only formalized what was already known. If that were the case, the coucil of carthage would have asserted that the Shepherd of Hermas, I Clement, and the didache as well as a host of other apocryphal writings would be included in the canon.
It also does not explain why so many disputed the authencity of Hebrew, II and III John, II Peter and Jude, and the Revelation.

And while I'm not trying to be unfair toward Luther, as he later reneged on this view, the idea that the Scriptres were chosen to best reflect apostolic teaching they had received orally is no different than what Luther tried to do with James. He developed the tradition of Justification by Faith Alone and he only wanted books in the canon which gave expression to that...again, I know he later recanted that belief, I'm just saying that that is how I believe the early Fathers determined the Canon, of course under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, I don't think it is wise for you to call APA churches synagogues of satan. Perhaps there are a couple of bad parishes, but I have been in several very evangelical ones.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Billy, quite frankly, I have no interest in meeting you face to face. It is rather obvious that your intention is subterfuge and deceit, as is the case with Anglo-Catholics in general.

Your approach is essentially the same as that of theological liberals. You revise history to make it fit with your views rather than letting history speak for itself. Regarding the Lord's Supper, you re-interpret the 39 Articles and the 1662 liturgy to fit your Anglo-Catholic presuppositions, etc., et. al., ad infinitum.

First off, the Lord's Supper is NOT a re-presentation of the sacrifice. The devil himself could not more cleverly slip in a subtle change of doctrine. I commend you for your sophistry. However, the Lord's Supper is nothing more than a sacrament whereby through faith we partake of the benefits of the one sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. It is a symbol by which we understand what Christ did for us on the cross by shedding His blood and sacrificing His body once for all time. Just as bread and wine nourish the body so the body and blood of Christ nourish us through faith which is only applied to us through the Holy Spirit. Cranmer clearly rejected to any idea of sacrifice at all in the sacrament. As Cranmer himself put it:

"The eighth thing to be noted is, that this spiritual meat of Christ's body and blood, is not received in the mouth, and digested in the stomach, (as corporeal meats and drinks commonly be,) but it is received with a pure heart and a sincere faith. And the true eating and drinking of the said body and blood of Christ, is with a constant and a lively faith to believe, that Christ gave his body and shed his blood upon the cross for us, that he is our head, we his members, and flesh of his flesh, bone of his bones, having him dwelling in us, and we in him. And herein standeth the whole effect and strength of this sacrament. And this faith God worketh inwardly in our hearts by His Holy Spirit, and confirmeth the same outwardly to our ears by hearing of His word, and to our other senses by eating and drinking of the sacramental bread and wine in his holy Supper.

"What thing then can be more comfortable to us, than to eat this meat and drink this drink? Whereby Christ certifieth us, that we be spiritually and truly fed and nourished by him, and that we dwell in him and he in us. Can this be showed unto us more plainly, than when he saith himself, He that eateth me, shall live by me." "The Use of the Lord's Supper,"in The Work of Thomas Cranmer: The Courtney Library of Reformation Classics. Vol. 2. (Berkshire: Courtney Press, 1964). Pp. 74-75.

The 39 Articles make no room for any doctrine of real presence and neither does the 1559 or 1662 BCP. The Lord's Supper is NOT a DRAMA. It is a memorial for what Christ has already done, albeit Christ is spiritually present to us through faith and by the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit. The sacrament is a means of grace but is only effective through a genuine faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and a faith in the cross where He shed His blood and gave His body as a substitutionary atonement for every single one of the elect.

Article XXVII can only be properly understood as it was intended by Cranmer and the other Reformers who framed it. Reading your Anglo-Catholic biases into the text may have worked in the Tractarian revisions but it says absolutely nothing to anyone who can read the plain meaning of the text in the light of the historical background of the English Reformation and the martyrdom of those who gave their very lives to refute your sophistry! "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." (Article XXVIII).

"Now it followeth to haue with this knowledge a sure and constant faith, not onely that the death of Christ is auaileable for the redemption of all the world, for the remission of sins, and reconciliation with GOD the Father: but also that he hath made vpon his Crosse a full and sufficient sacrifice the thee, a perfect cleansing of thy sins, so that thou acknowledgest no other Sauiour, Redeemer, Mediatour, Aduocate, Intercessour, but Christ onely, and that thou mayest say with the Apostle, that he loued thee, and gaue himselfe for thee. For this is to sticke fast to Christs promise made in his Institution, to make Christ thine owne, and to apply his merits vnto thy selfe. Herein thou needest no other mans helpe, no other Sacrifice, or oblation, no sacrificing Priest, no Masse, no meanes established by mans inuention. That Faith is a necessary instrument in all these holy Ceremonies, wee may thus assure our selues, for that as Saint Paul saith, without Faith it is vnpossible to please GOD (Hebrews 11.6)." AN HOMILIE OF THE
worthy receiuing and reuerend esteeming of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ (http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk2hom15.htm)

Furthermore, the books of the Bible were THE inspired books. Not ONE of the other books was ever inspired by the Holy Spirit. The process of canonization was a fallible process whereby books that were ALREADY inspired by the Holy Spirit and already universally accepted among the churches were given the stamp of approval by a fallible church council which "may err." The 39 Articles, I must remind you, says specifically that church councils can and did and do err. This would include the councils which established the canon of Scripture. "
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes. And when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word of God, they may err and sometime have erred, even in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture." Article XXI.

Apparently you disagree with the 39 Articles of Religion. I might add that Article VI says, "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

In the name of Holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the Old and New testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church."

There is doubt about the apocryphal books listed in Article VI, which may be read only for edification and not for any doctrinal purposes whatsoever. This follows both Jerome in the West and Athanasius in the East. But regarding the 66 canonical books, the position of the Reformed, Protestant, and English Church is that they "were never in doubt in the church." Likewise, I see no reason to doubt them either. That in no way implies that the councils were infallible or that tradition is some evolving revelation with an equal authority to Scripture. Sorry, but the 39 Articles clearly states that we only obligated to believe what can be doctrinally established from Holy Scripture. The Scriptures are sufficient in and of themselves in all matters pertaining to faith, salvation, and doctrine.

If you wish to be Anglo-Catholic or Roman Catholic, you are welcome to your heresy. I, however, prefer to draw the lines clearly in the sand. I do not retract my statement about the synagogues of satan, for I consider Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglo-Catholicism apostate churches which deny in official doctrine the very Gospel of Jesus Christ.

May God see fit to open your eyes to the faith which is truly catholic and apostolic. It the Gospel of salvation through faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone. Scripture alone is the final authority in all matters of faith and God alone is worthy of our worship and glory.

I, like the English Reformers, will side with Augustine rather than Pelagius. Luther didn't get his doctrine of imputed righteousness wrong. It's right there in Romans 4 and 5. And Romans 4 clearly establishes that salvation is by faith apart from works. Luther is no innovator. He is a Reformer of Roman Catholic perversions of the Gospel. Mary is not "full of grace" as the Latin Vulgate declared. Rather, Mary is "highly favored" by God. Mary cannot be a mediatrix in any sense of the word.

To God alone be all the glory,

Charlie
The Fourth Sunday in Advent.
The Collect.
LORD, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

The First Sunday of Advent.
The Collect.
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Bill, why do you see a need to "represent" Christ's sacrifice on the cross? Is Christ's sacrifice not sufficient for our sins that a priest must "represent" or reinterate his sacrifice?

You won't find anything in the New Testament that supports the need for a "representation" of Christ's sacrifice. What the New Testament teaches is that we are to remember what Christ has done for us and to proclaim what Christ has done for us. Proclaiming Christ's death until he comes again is the same as proclaiming Christ crucified.

In your emphasis upon the part the early Church played in the compilation of the canon of the Bible, you are only a step a way from what the liberals in the Episcopal Church teach. You are downplaying the sovereignty of God and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and emphasizing the role of man. What caused the early Church to recognize the divine authorship of some writings and the human authorship of other writings--human intellect? Or the Holy Spirit who inspired their writing? The Scriptures tell us that only those quickened by the Holy Spirit can recognize spiritual things for what they are.

Luther is a red-herring. Classical Anglicanism stands in the Reformed tradition. It owes much more to Henry Bullinger and the Swiss Reformers than it does to Luther. Bullinger carried on an active correspondence with the English Reformers both in the reign of Edward the VI and the reign of Elizabeth I. Bullinger's catechism was used before Nowell's catechism and was still used in the universities after the adoption of Nowell's. English ministers who wished to obtain a preaching license in the Elizabethan Church were required to read and study Bullinger's Decades, a collection of his sermons in which he articulated his systematic theology.

The Elizabethan Settlement on one hand rejected the unreformed Roman Catholicism of the Church of Rome and on the other hand the more radical forms of Protestantism of the sixteenth century Anabaptists. The Elizabethan settlement did not reject the doctrine and principles of the Reformed Churches on the Continents. The Church of England regarded itself as one of the Reformed Churches. Where the English Church differed from the Church of Geneva was not in matters of theology but of church discipline and the relationship of the Church and the State. The Genevan model, like the Roman model, subordinated the State to the Church. The English Church adopted the model of the other Swiss Reformed Churches in which the magistrate had control of the church and the church served as the conscience of the magistrate. The English bishops believed that the existing system of ecclesiastical courts was adequate to maintain church discipline.

Partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ does not imply the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the bread and wine, as you would have us believe. This is why the English Reformers chose to use the phrase, "partakers" of Christ's Body and Blood. It is also why the compilers of the 1789 American Prayer Book chose not to use the language of Bishop Seabury's Communion Office, which petitioned God that the bread and wine "may become" Christ's Body and Blood, and retained the wording of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Some translations of the Bible use "communion" or "participation" in Christ's Body and Blood instead of partaking.

Classical Anglican theology has held that when the believer receives the bread and the wine, he receives Christ but does not tie Christ's presence to the bread and the wine. The bread remains bread and the wine remains wine. Jesus himself referred to the wine as wine after he instituted the Lord Supper with it.

It is well documented that the Tractarians and Ritualists of the nineteenth century sought to reinterpret the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles in a "Catholic sense." It is also well-documented that the Ritualists not only reintroduced into the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church doctrines and practices that the English Reformers had rejected on solid Biblical grounds but also the sixteenth century and later innovations in doctrine and worship of the Roman Catholic Church.

Any church that uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer cannot be regarded as "evangelical" in the sense that Anglicans have historically understood that term. The 1928 Prayer Book does not stand in the Protestant and Reformed tradition of classical Anglicanism or even the partially reformed Catholicism of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer but stands in the unreformed Catholicism of the medieval service books.

Billy said...

Hi Robin,
I will do my best to respond point by point to your comment.

But first, I wanted to say something to charlie. This is an abbreviated version of what I sent before that was apparently lost in cyber space. I do believe in justification by faith alone-as faith is the only instrument that is capable of receiving grace. I do believe that faith must be supported by good works and obedience or it becomes the dead faith James spoke of...which is no longer able to receive grace.

Robin,
In response to your last paragraph I think your judgment of the '28 prayer book is a bit harsh-that said, my parish uses the REC variant of the 1662.

I have to be honest, your first paragraph confuses me a little bit. Christ's sacrifice in once for all-even the catechism of the Roman Church admits that. (Article III, no. 1330)

But the whole point of Communion is to remind Christians what Christ did for us. Just as the Israelites did for 1500 years or so with the Passover, we do with the Eucharist. They reminded themselves of their deliverance from the plague of the first-born by sacrificing the passover lamb every year. It is not the passover sacrifice, but it is a representation of that first sacrifice. Gregory Dix argues in The Shape of the Liturgy, that the Anamnesis "remembrance" takes on the idea of making present the sacrifice of Christ in a similar way as the Passover. We do not re-sacrifice Christ, that would be heresy-and impossible. So the idea that the NT does not promote the idea of making present Jesus' sacrifice is a view that I am open to discussing, but Dix disagrees and whether or not you like him, the theology and practice of the passover really is enough to convince me that we re-present the Lord's once for all sacrifice.

Your paragraph on the Bible could not be more false. I emphasize the guiding of the Holy Spirit in the formation of the Canon. However, what you cannot deny is that it was holy men who determined which books and letters were canonical. There is no inspired "contents page". But when the Articles of Religion discuss "those books which were never in doubt" it is not a denial of the controversies over whether the Shepherd of Hermas, the Revelation, Jude, I Clement and others were a part of the canon, it is referencing the acceptance the apocryphal books by the Roman Church. What the article affirms is that we believe the 66 books and letters to be canonical, even though there was dispute early on about some of the later NT writings. It was a jab at Roman Catholics when they said we believe those which were never in doubt, because of contemporary teachings on the books Jerome said the Church reads for instruction but not doctrine.

I do thank you for your comments on Anglicanism and the Reformed Tradition. While I am well aware of the Elizabethan settlement, you threw some names out there that I would like to look into further. I don't deny that Classical Anglicanism has a reformed bent, but I argue that they may not have been completely correct.

In reference to your theology on the Eucharist I have no problem with your view and I very honestly do not understand all the controversy over the Real Presence in the Church. I believe Christ to be present by the power of his Spirit in a particular way after the consecration-that way we can "eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood."

I don't know how that happens and neither do you. But we agree that the Body and Blood are partaken of in some manner. What we disagree on is defining how that happens. For my part, that is why even though I don't agree with transubstantiation, I don't find it reprehensible. It is an attempt to define the mystery which I believe the Roman Church should not have tried to do, but that is all that it is.

Lastly, I take some offense to the idea that I'm "one step away from liberal" thinking patterns. I am not. I fight for the faith once delivered to the saints. That I acknowledge historical controversy over which books belong in the canon is not liberal or conservative...it's just fact. I'm as conservative as the day is long. Anglo-Catholicism does not lead to liberalism. I assume you think it does because you think it means tradition overshadows Scripture and then Scripture becomes relegated completely to the past and relativism sets in.

I am an Anglo-Catholic precisely becuase I want to avoid that. The protestant churches and their various interpretations of the Scripture are the ones who have deviated from the teachings of Scripture. I am Catholic because I want the voice of the entire Church of all time to inform my opinion on those things which the Bible is not 100% clear. That is not relativism and I am pretty sure it's its exact opposite.

I look forward to your response.
May the peace of Christ be with you as we celebrate his coming in the flesh to be our Savior.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Billy, Anglo-Catholicism and the REC are supposed to be incompatible. Stupid me. I was ordained before I realized that the REC no longer believed its Declaration of Principles, the 39 Articles of Religion, the 1559 and 1662 BCP and Ordinals, or the documents written by those who founded the REC in the first place.

If you had bothered to study the continental and English Reformers you would know that we DO know how Christ is present at the Lord's Supper. It is by faith. Haven't you bothered reading Cranmer's views on the sacraments??? I just quoted to you in a previous comment, yet you totally ignored that.

Furthermore, your equivocation on justification by faith alone can only be seen as Arminian at best and semi-pelagian at worst. Clearly, the 39 Articles does not in any way say that salvation can be forfeited. What is said is that sins committed after baptism may be forgiven. If you will read Article 9-18, clearly they are Protestant and Augustinian. Total depravity, the bondage of the will, double predestination, unconditional election, etc. The Lambeth Articles of 1595 likewise testify to the Calvinistic bent of the English Church of that time.

Anglo-Catholicism and Reformed Protestant theology are totally and completely at odds with each other just as the REC bishop Charles Cheney said in the 19th century. To compromise the two is to deny both views. Either Scripture is the final authority or it isn't. You're saying that it isn't.

The fact that Anglo-Catholics forced out the REC founders speaks volumes about the compatibility of the two theologies. And the fact that the same thing happened to me in this day and time is the irony of ironies. The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians.

I really have no idea why you would bother even discussing any of this? You obviously have little regard for the English Reformation, the 39 Articles, or the writings of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

Charlie

Billy said...

I have the highest regard for all of the Reformers. They risked their lives to save the Gospel of grace from being lost.

Furthermore, I do believe in Total depravity, the bondage of the will, unconditional election, and I don't necessarily like the term double predestination, but I see where it comes from. I believe in justificaiton by faith alone-I don't understand how that can be twisted to be semi-pelagian. I do believe in co-operative grace as did St. Augustan. But that is Pelagian.

I do understand the Eucharist to be a bit more than you do. While the presence of Christ is not physical or substantial, I disagree with Cranmer and affirm a more Lutheran understanding of the Eucharist. Christ is present, though I don't know the exact means. But of course I know that we receive Him in faith.

Again, Scripture is the final authority, but only the right interpretation of it.
Also, I don't believe a person can lose their salvation. If I implied that ever, I apologize. Christ can never lose one of his own.

Lastly, the reason I bother discussing this is because I want to learn. I assume you don't do this for the purpose of making anglo-catholics cry before they go to sleep. You do it to educate people. I've enjoyed the dialogue and have been pleased to get the chance to refine arguments and learn to express myself more clearly.
Peace,
Billy

Charlie J. Ray said...

Billy, the 39 Articles strictly forbid the Lutheran view as well.

"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."

"XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Supper.

The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing."

The body of Christ, being fully human is in heaven alone and is no wise omnipresent in any mysterious way. Therefore, the symbol of bread and wine nourish only the body while faith is the means whereby we partake of the body and blood of Christ which nourishes the soul.

Cranmer's views are in line with Calvin and Bullinger and to some degree with Zwingli, who I would say is closer to Calvin than modern day Zwinglians who render the sacraments as mere "ordinances" and are merely memorial.

I beg to differ with you on Augustine as well. Augustine' theology was monergistic and not semi-pelagian at all. In fact, semi-pelgianism is a return toward a moderate form of pelagianism. Arminianism, while on the Protestant side of it, is still semi-pelagian and "synergistic."

Scripture shows that God is totally sovereign in salvation, which would include unconditional election before creation. But Scripture also shows that man is completely accountable for his sinful actions and will be judged for these actions. Your idea that Augustine taught "cooperative grace" is incorrect. Augustine taught that grace is irresistible, which is the only answer to total depravity. The spiritually dead are unable to raise themselves from the dead. And I would argue that the plain teaching of the 39 Articles is monergistic and Augustinian, not synergistic and semi-pelagian as you are arguing.

"X. Of Free-Will.
The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith; and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will."

Essentially, the 39 Articles of Religion are Augustinian and Calvinistic. Unless there is unconditional election and irresistible grace/effectual calling preceding no one will be converted nor will they repent. The dead cannot raise themselves from the dead. This is completely in line with Luther's doctrine of the bondage of the will and with Calvin's doctrine of total depravity. "Cooperative grace" is semi-pelagian whether you choose the Wesleyan Arminian version of it or the Roman Catholic or Anglo-Catholic version of it. Salvation is all of God from beginning to end. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith.

Regarding the authority of Scripture, any interpretation we make of it will always be fallible. However, insofar as confessions of faith, such as the 39 Articles of Religion, the Westminster Standards, and the Three Forms of Unity of the Dutch Reformed tradition, agree with Holy Scripture they are indeed an authoritative interpretation of Scripture.

I do not know where you did your seminary training, Billy. However, seminaries are not bastions of the faith in my opinion. Even Asbury, which is supposed to represent the conservative and Evangelical side of the Wesleyan holiness movement, is increasing drifting toward neo-orthodoxy and "moderate" views which in time end up in theological liberalism.

These days even "Evangelical" seminaries have become enamored with being accepted by the academic elite rather than defending the faith with intellectual integrity and steadfast commitment to Holy Scripture. The greatest defect is a weakness in understanding dogmatic theology, systematic theology and biblical theology from a Protestant, Reformed, and Evangelical perspective.

It was only AFTER seminary that I really began to dig into the Reformed theology of the Reformed "confessions of faith" such as the 39 Articles of Religion and the various continental confessions of faith such as the Westminster Confession and the 3 Forms of Unity. The Canons of Dordt, for example, answer every objection raised by semi-pelagianism and each answer is thoroughly biblical. I would also highly recommend the canons of the Council of Orange 529 A.D. (http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_orange.html).

Anyone who seriously studies Augustine will come to the conclusion that Augustine was not semi-pelagian. His theology was completely monergistic.

"Council of Orange: CANON 3. If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, 'I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me' (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1)."

I am guessing that your seminary did not give you the full picture but rather a propaganda campaign with an agenda. It is therefore highly biased and tendentious. I experienced that sort of thing at the Pentecostal college I attended and then the same thing at the Wesleyan seminary.

Armininianism and semi-pelagianism come naturally to those who wish to emphasize man's choices over God. However, the Bible clearly emphasizes the sovereignty of God in the history of salvation and in the salvation of particular groups of people and in the salvation of individuals. God brought us into this world and it is most certain that He will take us out of this world. I find it is best to honor the King of creation and trust Him when He makes decrees. We cannot fully understand the mind of God but we trust that He is able to bring good even out of an evil world.

Just as Israel has committed apostasy, so the church often commits apostasy as well. However, God always has a faithful remnant reserved for His own purposes.

To pray to anyone other than God is idolatry and to trust in any other mediator except the one and only mediator, Jesus Christ, is to commit idolatry as well. There is only one mediator between God and men. (1 Timothy 2:5; John 14:6).

Sola Fide + Sola Gratia + Sola Scriptura + Solus Christus + Soli Deo Gloria!

Charlie J. Ray said...

Billy, I would not deny that the Bible is not an exhaustive source for all knowledge. However, the distinction between general revelation and special revelation must be maintained. Science and reason investigates the universe through what God reveals in natural revelation. Theology investigates what God reveals in special revelation through Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture. Tradition is fallible unless such tradition is recorded in Holy Scripture. All else is merely man's tradition. Scripture is sufficient in and of itself for all matters of faith and practice. The church is fallible and will remain so.

Reformation said...

Much encouraged by this exchange of posts. It is well-documented that the Tractarians "hated," yes hated, and reviled the English Reformation more narrowly and the wider body on the Continent. As to the REC-shift, that is driven not by theological convictions, but is an effort and, I believe, a lust for respectability.

Augustinian Successor said...

"At least Newman ultimately had the courage of his convictions."

Newman was a 3rd rate theologian ... over-rated. It's like junk food versus a healthy plate of salad, poached salmon and potatoes. Newman's the junk food ...

Charlie J. Ray said...

As Dan Sullivan points out above, there really is no need for disfellowshipping Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox. It's just a silly argument and the Reformation is over. "Why can't we all just get along?" This is the sort of silliness that Arminianism leads to, which is why I'm no longer an Arminian.

In Christ,

Charlie


Sullivan said," What the three Creeds established was a unity on the essential truths of theology and Christology. The Trinity and the understanding of Christ as fully God and fully man is essential to the faith.

And on that, Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox - even Calvinists and Arminians agree. We even agree, for the most part that the problem of humanity is sin and that the only remedy is the cross. So as much as I disagree with Catholics, Orthodox and Anglo Catholics on the nature of the Eucharist and the operation of sacraments, I have to recognize them as "orthodox".

But there has been no universal consensus on soteriology - and that is the issue that sparked the Reformation. "

This is absolutely ridiculous. If the semi-pelagians are "orthodox" on the creeds but unorthodox on soteriology, then they are "unorthodox" and not "orthodox."

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