Thursday, September 15, 2016

Breaking News: Anglican says Anglicans may have been incorrect

Doug Chaplin has been running a superb series on the Thirty Nine Articles on his blog Musings of a Christian Humanist. By "superb" I mean at least one proponent of the continuing importance of the Thirty-Nine Articles is revising his estimation as a possible over-estimation.

A sharp example of Chaplin's thinking sharply is in this post on Article 34 Of the Traditions of the Church. You can comment on his post at his post but I mention it here because he does make a pretty unanswerable claim against Anglican proponents of the kind of "sola scriptura" approach which relies on the plain sense of Scripture as a clear and definitive guide to what Scripture means and how we apply it. That approach, of course, comes under attack here from time to time, despite my own, ahem, impeccable defence of it :)

Along the way, Chaplin raises a very sharp point about the Anglican notion of a "national church" as being drawn from neither Scripture nor tradition - a notion which, it is worth reflecting on, as he does, lies at the heart of the current imbroglios in which we find ourselves.

Nevertheless I am not quite as sure as he is that the notion of the national church is what he says it is. But perhaps I should leave my own thoughts on that for another day!

18 comments:

Father Ron said...

Loved this concept of Doug Chaplin:

" Today’s inheritors of the sola scriptura mantle would never object to the congregation praying themselves as unscriptural. That, in itself, shows what a slippery concept “consonant to Scripture” actually is, and how prone to traditional interpretations. "

Plenty here for us all to think about!

Doug Chaplin said...

Well, thanks for the compliments, Peter. I shall look forward to your own thoughts in due course!

Father Ron said...

Doug. I like your 'articles' - and their interpretation in the modern world. The Church no longer "Like a Mighty tortoise". I'm all in favour.

Shawn Herles said...


This article lays out the options we have in terms of authority and the place of Scripture. I think it does a supurb job of making the case that the classical Reformation understanding of Sola Scriptura is the only sure anchor we have, however imperfectly we sinners may understand Scripture, and regardless of various historical dead ends.

In the end we must have some way of being able to say "Thus saith the Lord" otherwise we end up with "thus saith the modern world", as the last 40 years of Liberal/Humanist Christianity shows.

In Defense of Sola Scriptura by C. Michael Patton

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/content/Parchmentandpen/In-Defense-of-Sola-Scriptura.pdf

Brian Kelly said...

I don't agree. The wording of the article is 'particular or National church' and the issue concerns ceremonies etc ordained 'by man's authority' - not doctrine.
EVERY church at the time of the Reformation was 'a particular or National church'. That's what the whole Gallican controversy was around. Each national church had local customs and rules. Even Catholicism today recognises this: Australian Catholicism follows different practices in some ceremonial matters than NZ does etc.
Doug Chaplin's comments are a bit too opaque and sweeping to understand the point he is seeking to make.

Brian Kelly said...

Gallicanism of course was a later development within French and Low Country Catholicism, but it reflects the same concerns.

To understand what Matthew Parker meant in Article XXXIV by ceremonies and 'national Church', it is helpful to read Oliver O'Donovan, 'On The Thirty-Nine Articles'. pp. 104-108. 'national' does not mean 'state church' but 'the church existing in a particular nation', organising its own life. It is not about "tradition" in the doctrinal sense but rather the political organisation of its life - which can take many forms. The Orthodox Churches have *always understood this.

Father Ron said...

Surely 'the political organisation of its life' is what leads to/from doctrine? This is why the Scriptures - from which doctrine has been hewn - have to be underrstood in their local contexts. And this is the beginning of problems for the Sola Scriptura crowd. e.g. We no longer advocate stoning for a female adultere, having new incites about God's intention for sinners - not death but forgiveness.

Brendan McNeill said...

Oh dear Ron

We don't advocate stoning of the adulterer, but we (still) recognise that adultery is sin, and that Christ calls sinners to repentance. We have not (yet) reached a stage in the development of Anglican church life where those in loving, consensual and monogamous adulterous relationships are to be affirmed, blessed and celebrated.

Father Ron said...

Some of my worst sins are to do with typing at speed. Mu most recent? Typing
'incite' instead of 'insight'.

Brian Kelly said...

"Some of my worst sins are to do with typing at speed. Mu most recent? Typing
'incite' instead of 'insight'."

Ron, for a horrible moment I thought you were confessing to texting while driving ...

Father Ron said...

Dear Brian. One thing I never do is text. We don't own mobile phones - too invasive of privacy. Not into Twitter, either. Just blogging and emails!

Brian Kelly said...

Ron, I salute your stand. But I hope you don't mind me saying that a mobile phone is a useful thing in the event of a fall or other difficulty.

Peter Carrell said...

As Eve said to Adam, "I've had a fall."

Brendan McNeill said...

Ever noticed how our jokes change with age?

Father Ron said...

'As Eve said to Adam: "I've had a Fall" ' -

And Adam said: "Dont' worry, it applies to us ALL"

(n.b. I don't do reggae either - normally. But who's 'normal'?)

Agape all.

Brian Kelly said...

I always thought the original chat-up line (and palindrome) was:

'Madam, I'm Adam.'

Glen Young said...


Hi Ron,

Was going to bring back some fudge from Edinburgh,but found it's flavour to be somewhat tainted with Knoxism;so brought back some whisky on the basis that he probably wouldn't go near the still.

Are you sure that the incite/insight typo was due to speed typing and not a Freudian slip?

Cheers,Glen.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron/Glen
I am accepting the comment above in the spirit of gentle humour and good fun, not anything darker than that!