Sunday, August 19, 2012

Messy Anglican Church

Messy Church is a name for doing church worship in a manner which permits a certain messiness, both of structure, content, and literally of materials as, maybe, paint is spilt or clay is dropped as kinaesthetic learning takes place in a service for all ages (key site here). It is a good concept, incidentally, with parishes here in my own diocese finding Messy Church a useful means for drawing in families that otherwise might not darken the doors of the church.

But 'messy church' could usefully describe the remainder of Anglicanism around the globe in these days when the Covenant movement seems to have gone quiet, noticeably since 'No Covenant' gained the upper hand in the English debate about the Covenant, and path breaking churches such as my own resolutely refused to say 'Yes' to the Covenant. 'No' to the Covenant really does leave us in a mess, as Tony Clavier argues in a Living Church article, Bowdlerized Catholicism. With a nip and a tuck here and there what Clavier says could apply not only to his own church (TEC) but also to mine (ACANZP) and (I sense) a number of other churches around the Anglican world: even as we have taken on more and more of the styles of Roman/Anglo-catholicism (e.g. clergy wearing more robes than formerly), and even some of the words and actions (e.g. a 'catholic' way of performing our liturgies), we have steered ourselves further and further away from catholic theology, that is, an intention to find, foster and fasten on the teachings of Christ that every Christian believes everywhere. Whether we have consciously appropriated arguments from the Reformation which the Church of England developed to justify its break from Rome, or (as here in Aotearoa NZ) intentionally asserted post-colonial arguments about local ecclesial sovereignty, and whether these appropriations and assertions have been about a specific issue or about a general preservation of the way we think 'Anglicanism' should be in the Diocese of X or the Province of Y, our general contemporary trajectory has been anti-catholic. For an Anglican anywhere in the world to today to profess to be committed to the 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic' church is (at best) to beg the question what 'catholic' means. At worst such profession is nonsense speech.

To take just one matter, if global Anglicanism asks itself how we express 'sound doctrine' in terms which are coherent with some vaguely sensible understanding of 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic' church, it cannot give itself an answer. As Clavier rightly concludes,

" If “No Covenant,” what? How do Anglicans express a sound doctrine of the Church without competent instruments of unity? The foes of the Covenant remain silent about that vital question."

There is a saying that if something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck ... then it is a duck. Anglicanism is an exception to that 'rule.' We Anglicans can look like we are catholic Christian, walk like we are catholics and even quack (i.e. talk) like we are catholics (Christians, that is, believing everywhere what every Christian believes). But we are not catholic Christians: for we reserve unto ourselves the right to not believe what other Christians believe. Worse, when the Covenant gave us a shot at developing a greater coherency of doctrine on a global scale, as a needed step on the way to global Christian reunion, we have (it appears) rejected doing so.

That is a bit messy, to my way of thinking!


Father Ron Smith said...

" For an Anglican anywhere in the world to today to profess to be committed to the 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic' church is (at best) to beg the question what 'catholic' means. At worst such profession is nonsense speech."
- Dr. Peter Collier -

I suppose we can only speak for our own respective parishes on this matter, Peter. I'm sorry for you if you find this to be the case where you are temporarily posted. It is not the case in my parish: Saint Michael and All Angels, where the catholic Christ is welcomed on a daily basis at the Mass.

We don't have your sight screens to project the gung-ho worship songs that replace the liturgy, and most of us know the catholic creeds by heart - which is where we carry Him - the Christ of every day in the Eucharist.

We follow the Lectionary Readings each day, from which we discern the work of the Holy Spirit, Who, at the epiclesis, affords us the amazing grace of Christ on the altar and on our lips.

There's nothing more catholic than God's Word-made-flesh amongst the company of believers. Recommended!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
I am flattered to be mistaken for Peter Collier!

Your protestations of intense faithfulness to catholicity only highlight for me the strangeness of your failure to line up with catholic teaching on marriage!

And that is to say nothing about your failure to follow catholic teaching on how the Spirit is discerned in church life. At the very least it should involve an ecumenical conciliar process of reception; at the most it could involve submission to the authority of a bishop appointed to be Christ's vicar on earth!

Anonymous said...

"gung-ho worship songs"

Gung-ho? Ah yes, dear old Rewi Alley - a son of Canterbury, sadly misunderstood, of course .....


Peter Carrell said...

I am not actually aware, Martin and Ron, of the Chinese provenance of any of the songs we sing at St Aidan's. But I freely confirm that we sing with gusto!

liturgy said...

Peter, I’m fascinated that you have “clergy wearing more robes than formerly”. By my maths degree wearing alb and stole rather than cassock, surplice, academic hood, preaching scarf is fewer robes. Either maths has changed, or maybe you are referring to some messy church Roman/Anglo-catholicism robing tradition I haven’t caught up with yet.



Peter Carrell said...

Your maths is impeccable, Bosco!

However I am referring to:

(a) more clergy than in former days wearing chasubles

(b) most NZ bishops wearing cope and mitre routinely, when once that was not so (and, in particular, a tendency which ++Hui Vercoe observed to me, of Maori bishops wearing cope and mitre when this was not the 'way' inherited from (low church) CMS).

With these two observations I am working from similar observations made in the Clavier article about his local scene.

It is also true, speaking of the maths of this, that we have colleagues who now wear no robes at all when once their low church predecessors would have worn the robes you have enumerated in your comment!

liturgy said...

I think the robes more bishops might have worn previously that you are referring to are doctoral robes. Either less bishops have doctorates now, or they are just more honest about not having one. I haven't done that maths.

Anonymous said...

Having the outer form of Catholic ritual and liturgy does not mean that a local church also has the theological reality.

Some churches look very Roman in liturgy, but the "Christ" being worshiped is not the Biblical Christ, but a liberal false idol.

When a church proclaims it's supposed commitment to tradition and catholicity (while loudly condemning those evangelicals who supposedly do not measure up) and at the same time rejects traditional/catholic/biblical marriage, then we are clearly in the realm of surrealist fantasy.

Anonymous said...

I was just free associating, Peter - 'gung ho' was a phrase popularised by Rewi Alley. I can't imagine he worshipped anything but Maoism.
I can't get excited about robes but simple ones do a useful job, just as school uniforms do.


Bryden Black said...

“I can’t get excited about robes” - Martin. Me neither! I wear casalb and stole; I wear denim jeans and sandals. All in context re the “job”.

As for the current AC “mess”: you are right, Peter, to ask about the institutional way(s) forward. Now that in some people’s eyes the Covenant is a dead-duck, what indeed are the means available of strengthening what’s left of those “bonds of affection”? Nothing on the horizon excites me at all on this score either. I am forced back onto the Gospel itself, whose God is the God of hope. But then perhaps that’s no bad thing ...!

Father Ron Smith said...

"And that is to say nothing about your failure to follow catholic teaching on how the Spirit is discerned in church life. At the very least it should involve an ecumenical conciliar process of reception; at the most it could involve submission to the authority of a bishop appointed to be Christ's vicar on earth!" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

I wonder if you consider that the Reformation was in accord with your understanding of the need for "submission to the authority of a bishop appointed to be Christ's Vicar in earth"? (funny reasoning)

I'm not surprised that Evangelicals, as a general rule, prefer collar and tie * jeans to the traditional catholic tradition of wearing vestments for the Eucharist - after all this is what the Archbishop of Sydney prefers.

I wonder if some even know what is the significance of the priestly stole? And why they bother to wear one - those who do?

I'll bet those who have various 'doctorates' are quite keen, though to wear their 'academic' hoods! whenever possible.

I must say, I find Shawn's last remark slightly offensive - not to me, but to the Christ we encounter in the Eucharist!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I gave alternatives re discerning the Spirit! The Reformation was an imperfect event (or series of events) which rightly highlighted some difficulties attending the possibility of guaranteeing discernment through one bishop attempting to be 'Christ's Vicar.' Its weakness was the lack of a strong conciliar alternative (though some attempts were made, including, as I recall, by Cranmer himself). On the other hand it could be argued that the Reformation sought to discern no new truth, rather to affirm the old, old truth of the gospel.

Bryden Black said...

"I wonder if some even know what is the significance of the priestly stole? And why they bother to wear one - those who do?" - Ron

The same might go for the maniple, hey Ron?!

Peter Carrell said...

Stole - yoke of Christ

Maniple - ?no idea?

Bryden Black said...

tisk tisk, Peter!

Etymology: manus = hand. Thereafter, a hand-towel like thingy hanging from the left forearm, symbolizing the towel in Jn 13. Ronnie wld know ...!

Peter Carrell said...

God has placed me on this earth to learn the many mysteries of the gospel. As you can see, I have some way to go, Bryden and Ron!!

Tim Chesterton said...

If the stole symbolises the yoke of Christ, then surely there can be no objection to a lay person wearing one, since all Christians are called to bear the yoke of Christ.

However, the true history of the stole is surely that originally it was not a spiritual symbol at all, but was descended from the scarf of office worn by civic officials in the Roman empire, which was later adopted by Christian priests as a sign of their civic status. But since I no longer consider myself to be a civic official of anyone's empire, I don't see why I should see the wearing of the stole as of any Christian importance or significance. There is certainly no evidence that Christ or his apostles ever wore it, so to see it as some sort of catholic essential is surely misguided.

Bryden Black said...

"the many mysteries of the gospel" - Peter. Not necessarily; just the results of being 'educated' in a positively spiky Province that was my alma mater! So rest easy: enjoy those true mysteries of e.g. Ephesians!

liturgy said...

I deal with the dangers of allegorising vestments in Celebrating Eucharist. The origin of the stole is unclear - it's being uniform-like as a sign of authority in Roman imperial times, as indicated, means its understanding as indicating authority would have been clearer. Placing the yoke of Christ on the ordained, but not on the unordained, makes little sense to me - doesn't it tend towards a humbler-than-thou "inverted" clericalism? I was recently at a baptism, where the babies were vested in stoles - deepening IMO the common confusion between presbyter and priesthood of all the baptised. A further, to hand, danger of vestment allegorisation is what meaning would be concocted for the chasuble which half-dressed clerics would use as an excuse not to vest properly ;-)


Kurt said...

Tony Clavier protests too much, I think. I’m old enough to remember Episcopal church services in the 1950s and 1960s, so I kind of wonder what diocese Tony Clavier grew up in.

I grew up in the Diocese of Western New York, which was hardly known as a High Church diocese, then or nowadays. Every Episcopal parish in our area that I can remember from my youth—even the “lowest” parishes—had a weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 8 am on Sundays. At my home parish, St. Luke’s Jamestown, we alternated Morning Prayer with the Holy Eucharist at the main Sunday service. Most parishes in our Deanery did likewise. St. Luke’s also had Holy Communion at 8 am on all Prayer Book Holy Days. (As an acolyte, I always made sure my schedule included serving at least one Eucharist each week.) At St. Luke’s (and most other parishes in our Deanery) celebrants wore a chasuble, and had done so at St. Luke’s since at least the Jazz Age. (So it’s hardly an recent “innovation” among most Episcopal parishes that I know.) Along with a few others in the parish, I went to Confession at least once a year (on Shrove Tuesday). The bishop of the diocese, Lauriston L. Scaife, would dispense with the cope and, miter and on visitations if requested by the rector. (I don’t remember if he carried his pastoral staff in the “correct” hand or not.)

Obviously, in half a century, one expects a church to change and develop in some ways. (Even the Diocese of Sydney is different than it was 50 years ago—if anything, even more “Low Church” in style!) St. Luke’s has long disgarded Morning Prayer as a principle service; it also uses incense on special occasions, which it did not do when I was a kid. But, for the most part, not all that much has changed—except in the social relm, women bishops and priests, openly gay people, etc.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Anonymous said...

I heard of one evangelical who was asked to lead communion in an Anglo-Catholic parish. He dressed as he thought would please them, in full fig - and they did thank him, but said they'd never seen anyone wear a bookmark before!
Chris Johnson's website on dreadful vestments, BTW, is very funny.
I suppose there is a human need to pull ra-, I mean, distinguish oneself by clothing. Does Bishop Brian Tamaki wear special vestments - maybe from Armani or Gucci?
Or Bishop Mitt Romney? Maybe just his underwear - sous-vetements.

Martin (always sartorially challenged)

Father Ron Smith said...

The idea of vestments might just be that the officiating priest/minister is making a Pauline gesture, asking to be 'clothed in Christ', in order to preside at the most important act of liturgical worship that the Church has ever assumed - that of greeting Christ in the Eucharist.

I must say that, for me, vestments certainly give more dignity to the 'Persona Christi' than an open-necked shirt and jeans for presiding at the Eucharist.

But then, that's tradition for you. some just don't go with it. Big bands mean more than liturgical respect - for God & community.

Father Ron Smith said...

Oh dear, Peter. I quite forgot to acknowledge my mistake in referring to you earlier as 'Peter Collier'. Perhaps I might be forgiven, but your joint membership of the Latimer Fellowship evokes a sort of familiarity that sometimes evades individual name recognition.
(So many Peters !)

Tim Chesterton said...

'Big bands mean more than liturgical respect'

Do some of you folks have Big Band music in your churches? Cool! I've been a Louis Armstrong fan for years...

Anonymous said...

I have been going to Evangelical churches for many years now and have never seen one with a "big band".

That said, on the subject of Evangelical churches, what goes on in them, and what they teach, Ron is seriously ignorant. He literally does not have a clue, just a load of prejudiced assumptions.

Leaving aside for a moment the very un-Anglican notions(read the Thirty Noine Articles on transubstantiation) Ron has about the Eucharist, dignity in worship is not a matter of clothing as such.

I have experianced dignified and God-honouring services in both traditional and and contemporary churches, as well as the opposite. It is the attitude of the heart that matters, not the outer form, as Jesus Himself would have said.

Anonymous said...

"'Big bands mean more than liturgical respect'

Do some of you folks have Big Band music in your churches? Cool! I've been a Louis Armstrong fan for years..."

Gives a whole new meaning to the Millerites! & a Great Disappointment to some.

Duke Martin

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to Bad Vestments:

Apophatic advice on how not to dress, and how not to design a new cathedral.


Kurt said...

Well, Shawn, since Tract 90 only the ROMAN doctrine/theory of Transubstantiation is regarded as questionable by many Anglicans. Other theories of Transubstantiation have been more or less kosher in Anglicanism now for over 170 years. Personally, Consubstantiation makes the most sense to me. Seems to me I recall Fr. Ron agreeing with Consubstantiation too, so his notions about the Eucharist are hardly “un-Anglican” (as in “un-American”?), but he can speak for himself.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Anonymous said...


I am familiar with the very Roman practice in the Church Ron frequents. It is certainly not classical Lutheran or classical Anglican.

Anonymous said...

The Articles forbid both the reservation and and adoration of the sacrament.

"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.
The wicked and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as S. 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 Catechism also states:

"Question - What meanest thou by this word Sacrament?
Answer - I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.

Question - How many parts are there in a Sacrament?

Answer - Two: the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace.

Question - Why was the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper ordained?

Answer - For the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby.

Question - What is the outward part or sign of the Lord's Supper?

Answer - Bread and Wine, which the Lord hath commanded to be received.

Question - What is the inward part, or thing signified?
Answer - The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper."

Classical Anglican theology is Reformed in it's view of the sacraments. The presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a spiritual presence, not material.

More importantly, the presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper is not an excuse to ignore or sideline the presence of Christ in Scripture, as Ron tends to do.

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that "consubstantiation" is not strictly Lutheran doctrine either. Luther himself and the Lutheran Confession deny this, and instead use the term "sacramental union".

Two Lutheran pastors I have met here in NZ have confirmed that consubstantiation is not Lutheran doctrine.

Anonymous said...

I don't know of ANY other theories of Transubstantiation than the Roman (Thomist) one. What did you have in mind, Kurt? The 39 Articles actually endorse Calvin's teaching (as found in Bk 4 of the Institutes 1).


Anonymous said...

Both the Articles and the Catechism provided clear doctrinal and liturgical boundaries that were in accord with Reformed theology. In fact classical Anglicanism's gift to the wider Church was to model a form that was both Reformed (in the sense of Calvinism) and Catholic (in the sense of Episcopal and liturgical.)

It was a tragic mistake to remove the Articles and the original Catechism from the NZ Prayer Book. But I understand why it was done. Liberals had control over the process, they wanted to invent their own religion out of thin air, and real Anglicanism was in the way.

MichaelA said...

"read the Thirty Noine Articles on transubstantiation"

I didn't know you had "Kath and Kim" in New Zealand!

The Thirty Noine Articles are noice, different and unusual.

Bryden Black said...

It's perhaps time to pun horridly and observe that the AC is, if this thread is anything to go by, more massy than I'd imagined: Calvin's Institutes/39 Articles vs. Lateran IV (1215). But then, who's going to worry too much about such quaint doctrines? "It's the vibe your honour!"

Anonymous said...

We do have Kath and Kim in NZ, though my typo had more to do with trying to type on an iPod with a head cold to boot.

The words "infernal machine!" have passed my lips more than a few times lately.

Anonymous said...

Shawn..RC's dont beoeve in a physical, material or localised presence..see the little Catechism on the ARCIC documents produced by Henry Chadwick and Ted Yarnold. Sadly few understand what substance means in the scholastic sense, I tried it out on a large number of ordinands when I was a DDO. "What is the "substance" of that" I said pointing to my table. They all replied "wood" instead of "table". poor Thomas Acquinas!
Perry Butler

Kurt said...

“The Articles forbid both the reservation and adoration of the sacrament.”—Shawn

Perhaps so Shawn, but the Scottish Episcopal Church never had any Articles of Religion until 1791 and the healing of the Nor-Juror schism in Britain. Most Scottish Episcopalians I know view them as “foreign,” and ignore them as much as possible. Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the Scottish Church goes back to at least the 1680s.

Neither the Scottish Episcopal Church nor the American Episcopal Church has ever included the English “Black Rubric” in their Prayer Books. Neither have their daughter churches around the world.

As I have pointed out before, the Articles of Religion have never been very popular in the American Episcopal Church, either. In the Proposed Prayer Book of 1785, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England were cut down to twenty in number. In the first authorized Prayer Book of 1789 they were left out altogether. The question of their reinstatement proved to be a subject of considerable debate within the American Church. Eventually, after much consideration, a modified set of Thirty-nine Articles was included in the Prayer Book of 1801. However, no one in the American Church—neither clergy nor lay—has ever been required to “subscribe” to the Articles.

While we may never know exactly when the Blessed Sacrament began to be reserved in the American Episcopal Church, it can be said with some confidence that it began long before the birth of Anglo Catholicism and the contemporary traditions that “Ritualism” engendered. Scottish Episcopal priests probably introduced the custom of Reservation into New World Anglicanism during the first half of the 18th century. Many of these clergy settled in the Northeast (e.g., New Jersey, New York, and the New England colonies). The Scots were usually sympathetic to those Non-Jurors who, in the late 1600s, had revived the custom of the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament for the sick and dying. These Scottish clergy were very influential in the development of the American High Church tradition. TEC’s first bishop, Dr. Samuel Seabury was greatly influenced by the Scottish tradition. Bishop Seabury introduced a specific phrase in the 1789 Prayer of Consecration for the express purpose of providing for the reservation of the sick and dying in the American church.

To Martin: Not being an adherent to any theory of Transubstantiation, I don’t follow the debates on this doctrine.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

liturgy said...

Shawn writes, "The presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a spiritual presence, not material" implying that what people here are calling the Roman (Thomist) model of Christ's Eucharistic presence is "material".

Tell your lecturers to actually do some historical philosophy before they spout nonsensical prejudices.



Peter Carrell said...

(This is a lightly moderated comment with ad hominems removed)

From Fr Ron Smith:

"Father Ron Smith has left a new comment on your post "Messy Anglican Church":

" 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." (Shawn...)

Jesus said:
"This IS my Body; this IS my Blood - DO THIS to remember Me!"

[Note to Fr Ron: there is no "mainstream" Anglican theology of the sacraments; only theologies with varying degrees of support through the march of history].

I suggest you do some theological reading - outside of your normal; marxist/[political ethos - in order to bring your self up to date with clergy on this web-site who, if they are really Anglican, will see the term 'consubstantiation' as being the typical High Anglican (sacramentalist) explanation of what Jesus actually meant His followers to believe about His 'Real Presence' in the Eucharist.

n.b. Jesus did not say 'represents' but 'IS'. when he reminded his hearers that "so often as you Do This, you do it to re-member Me until I come again."

FYI: The Roman Catholic term for the 'Real Presence' happens to be 'trans-substantiation' meaning that, for them, the Bread & Wine ceases to be that, but becomes the actual Body and Blood of Christ. Anglicans believe that the bread and the wine - once consecrated - co-exist with 'Persona Christi'

Perhaps if you read the NZ Prayer Book, you might find these words: "That they (bread & wine) may become for us the Body and Blood of Christ". You won't be the first protestant I've had to point this out to."

Tim Chesterton said...

Ron: Jesus use of the word 'IS' (to give it your capitals) cannot be so easily conscripted to prove your point. After all, one of the texts in question has Jesus saying, not 'This is my blood', but 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood'. How can the 'IS' in that sentence represent exact equivalency? And if not there, why must it necessarily represent exact equivalency in the other texts in question?

Furthermore, as Thomas Cranmer taught in his great book on the Lord's Supper (which truly represents foundational Anglican theology if anything does), Jesus has told us in John 6 what it means to eat his flesh and drink his blood: 'I am the bread of life; those who come to me will never be hungry, those who believe in me will never thirst'. To come to him and to trust in him is to eat his flesh and drink his blood. We have it backwards: it's not that this text is about the Lord's Supper, but rather that the Lord's Supper is about this text.

Finally, I trust that you will see how offensive you are being when you refer to 'clergy on this web-site who, if they are really Anglican (italics mine), will see the term 'consubstantiation' as being the typical High Anglican (sacramentalist) explanation of what Jesus actually meant His followers to believe about His 'Real Presence' in the Eucharist.'

Thank you, Ron, I believe I am 'really Anglican'. I have based my beliefs about the Holy Communion on the Book of Common Prayer, the Prayer Book Catechism, the Thirty-Nine Articles and Thomas Cranmer's book on the 'True and Catholick Doctrine of the Lord's Supper' for as long as I've been reading theology. But perhaps that's not Anglican enough for you?

Anonymous said...

A general reply hot both Bosco and Ron.

I was for ten years a Roman Catholic and read the Catechisms of the Church avidly.

We can argue about the precise meaning of words till the cows come home, but it remains true that RC doctrine of the Eucharist is that the bread and wine literally become the body and blood and cease to be bread and wine. This doctrine was opposed by the Reformed wing of the Reformation, and this opposition made it's way into Anglican theology via the Articles, which take the Reformed view.

Thus while both Perry and Peter are right that there is little consensus in global Anglicanism regarding sacraments, nevertheless the importance of both the Articles and the Catechism in the C of E Prayer Book is to my mind reasonable evidence that the Reformed perspective is at least a major thread in Anglicanism, and there are many today, myself included, who believe that it offers a Biblical approach to many theological issues.

I find it ironic that Ron insists on the one hand that the Bible be reduced to a mere guide subject to the rationalism of the modern age, but on the other insists that we take a superficially literal approach to the words of Christ regarding the bread and wine, in a way that modern rationalism would reject. This very selective "pick and choose what suits me" approach is impossible to take seriously. It is theologically incoherent. I would refer Ron to John chapter six in which Jesus calls himself the bread of life. Did Jesus mean that He was literally a loaf if bread? No. He clarifies that He is speaking of heavenly/spiritual matters, a clear hint at least on how we should approach the Eucharist.

The NZ prayer book does say that, FOR US (an important point Ron seems to have missed) the bread and wine become the body and blood. But that does not imply literalism. In fact the "for us" distinction seems to me to be consistent with the Reformed approach that Christ is spiritually present through the faith of the believer.

Anonymous said...

Last point in response to Ron.

I never said that the bread and wine merely represents the body and blood. Calvin's approach to the sacrament is far deeper than that. Calvin insisted that Christ is really present in the sacrament, and thus his view is not that of Zwingli.

I am not disputing 'Real Presence' but disputing that Real Presence means either transubstantiation or consubstantiation.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Tim (Chesterton), I did not mean any disrespect to you, personally, or to your own theology of the 'Real Presence' of Christ in the Sacrament. I know that there are some Anglicans who have the 'representational' under-standing, as hinted at in the 39 Articles.

For me, personally, the ontological Presence of Jesus at the Eucharist is vital to my own relationship with Him. I cannot (and may not) force this specific understanding upon you or others!

However, those of N. Z. Anglicans (including, I suspect, most NZ clergy and bishops who have largely abandoned the rigid stance of the articles - in favour of the 'consubstantial' Presence of Christ in the sacred Elements - believe that Jesus is present in a very special way at the Eucharist.

We believe that He strengthens the believers by feeding them at the Eucharist - a very traditional 'catholic' understanding - held in common with most Christians of our own and other traditions.

My main objection was to Shawn's lack of understanding on the issue as it is presented in our own NZ Prayer Book - with which he is obviously unfamiliar. From his arguments here, it would appear that the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels are inferior to those uttered by Saint Paul - on matters including, but not totally encompassed by Eucharistic theology

Anonymous said...

Kurt: You wrote above: "Other theories of Transubstantiation have been more or less kosher in Anglicanism now for over 170 years." That's what I asked you to explain, but you punted the question.
I don't know of any 'other theories of Transubstantiation' but Thomism. The Thomist doctrine is quite easy to summarise (if not to explain and justify): the 'substance' (bread) changes, the 'accidents' (taste, texture, color etc)remain. Anglican teaching since Cranmer repudiates this. As Shawn noted, Cranmer taught that Christ's presence is 'spiritual' and faith is the means of receiving. Medievals wondered whether church mice could eat the Body of Christ. Was that a fair worry?
Cranmer's doctrine was NOT 'representational' but instrumental.
As for 'IS' - it would be helpful for some to learn a little about Aramaic grammar, as well as the dating of 1 Corinthians.

Anonymous said...

Let me add that the NZ Prayer Book is a strange gallimaufrey - a liturgical Rorshach, if you like.


Tim Chesterton said...


When it comes to the Eucharist, however, the supposed inferiority of Jesus words to St. Paul's is not such a big issue, since much of what St. Paul has to say is directly related to his account of the Last Supper.. and as you know, his account of the Last Supper is earlier than those given in the gospels and deserves to be treated as a reliable witness on a par with the gospel writers.

I do find your words about the Articles interesting when I compare them with the Constitution of your NZ Anglican Church, especially Clause 1 of the 'Fundamental Provisions' and Clause 1 of the 'Further Provisions', both of which state clearly that the Thirty-Nine Articles are recognized (along with the BCP, the Ordinal etc.) by your church as one of the ways in which the doctrine and sacraments of Christ have been 'received and explained'. Both those clauses seem to be conferring doctrinal authority on the formularies named therein - or am I misreading the constitution?

Kurt said...

Well, Martin, you’ve got me there. I can’t outline any other theories of Transubstantiation either, but if they exist, and are not Roman, presumably they are kosher for Anglicans, if one follows the wording of the Articles. I don’t agree with a Receptionist view of the Eucharist, though I would say that Receptionism is another valid effort to explain the Real Presence of Christ.

I don’t know about mice, Martin. The nibbling mice in question, lacking souls, would not benefit from the Blessed Sacrament. The careless clergy, on the other hand, who allowed Christ’s body to be defiled by mice, presumably would not get a gold star from Our Lord.

I agree that Christ’s Real Presence is spiritual, but I thought that theory was originally proposed not by Cranmer but by Ratramnus (however much I disagree with his ideas about so-called “double predestination.”) I agree that one must “worthily receive” to obtain the benefits. But I also believe that Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament exists independently of the recipient’s belief, worthiness, etc. (Which, by the way, is why I’m generally uncomfortable about reception before baptism—except for the usual pastoral reasons.) As the Great Exhortation says: “For, as the benefit is great, if with penitent hearts and living faith we receive the holy Sacrament, so is the danger great, if we receive it improperly, not recognizing the Lord's Body. Judge yourselves, therefore, lest you be judged by the Lord.”

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

"Both those clauses seem to be conferring doctrinal authority on the formularies named therein - or am I misreading the constitution?"

- Tm Chesterton -

Ye, I think you are, Tim. The 39 Articles are not expressly 'assented to' by ordination candidates in New Zealand. If they were that important to our theology they would no doubt have been specifically included, word by word, in the pre-ordination 'sign-up' document.

Mind you, having said that, I know that some NZ clergy (very few) do have a less exalted view of the 'Real Presence' of Christ in the Consecrated Elements - even to the extent of disposing of the un-used contents of the chalice by tipping them away, and putting consecrated wafers 'back in the box'.

I once took care of a parish where the reserved Sacramental Elements were kept in a cupboard - together with the new wafers, sometimes to the extent that Lay Administrators of Communion to the Sick were not sure which was which. That is when I applied for faculties to install an aumbry in two of the local churches for consecrated Elements.
These faculties were grant by the local Bishop for the purpose of 'Extended Communion' to the Sick of the parish (4 centres).

Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament for the purpose of re-distribution in nursing homes and hospitals, etc., has become a common feature in many churches of the ACNZAP, thereby by-passing the prohibition of the 39 Whatsits. Thus the mission of the Church is extended outside of its walls.

Anonymous said...


I am very familiar with the NZ Prayer Book. If you could point ne to the part that states that the doctrine of the Eucharist us that if consubsrantion (and actually uses that term) I would be impressed.

Tim is right that the PB is open to a great deal if interpretation on the matter as it dies not state clearly any particular doctrine.

He is also right that as far as our NZ constitution is concerned the Articles are authoritative in our church. That may be inconvenient for some, but it cannot be swept under the carpet.

If you had read my previous response you would have noted that I am not advocating "representation", and I would assert neither do the articles. Real Presence is not being debated by me. But RP does not have to mean trans or consubsrantiation, and I would question your claim that consubsrantiation is accepted mainstream doctrine here. Of the four Anglican Churches I have attended regularly here three took a Reformed perspective.

Tim Chesterton said...


I would be glad if you would explain to me, from the Constitution of your Church, why the 39 Articles have less authority than the prayer books and the ordinal in deciding doctrine, since both sections A and B put them on the same level.

Father Ron Smith said...

" Of the four Anglican Churches I have attended regularly here three took a Reformed perspective."
- Shawn -

Well, all I can say in answer to this is that, as a priest of the Church, I have attended many more than just four churches - in several Provinces of the Anglican Communion - in which the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has been celebrated. (The 4 churches I mentioned earlier happened to be in the one parish I was taking care of at the time).

I suggest you might consider getting around a bit more. Just 4 churches do not necessarily give one a large enough sample of the Eucharistic theology of the clergy and people of ACANZP.

May I suggest that perhaps you take an actual course in the theological aspects of the Eucharist in present-day Anglicanism, while you have the chance at St.John's. I'm sure the College Head would help you in this regard.

hogsters said...

Re Ron: Mind you, having said that, I know that some NZ clergy (very few) do have a less exalted view of the 'Real Presence' of Christ in the Consecrated Elements.

Does that mean you know very few personally, or are you suggesting you have a handle on the whole clerical feeling in NZ and are making a statement in regards where NZ clergy stand on this issue?

Anonymous said...


I have of course visited many more than four, those are just the ones I attended regularly.

I seriously doubt that your views represent Anglicanism, as all I can discern is a bizarre mix of Catholicism Lite and Liberalism.

I'll stick to historic Reformed Anglicanism thanks.

Peter Carrell said...

I am and will delete comments that enter into speculation/speculative judgements about other commenters here.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I googled *Anglican Down Under Fun and Frolics* and this came up first.

Not surprising. The Fourth Council of the Lateran not only solemnly defined the mystery of transubstantiation for the faithful, but also demanded that the clergy stop casting lots on the altars after mass.

A delightful thread.

Bowman Walton