Monday, August 24, 2020

Messy Anglicanism?

Mark Chapman is a leading Anglican historian (Cuddesdon, Oxford University) so when he writes I do not dismiss him. Indeed his article in a recent Church Times makes for disturbing reading, in the sense of disturbing sanguine thoughts about Anglican growth and development in its understanding of itself.

Entitled "Lambeth Conference: Early Steps on the Path to Unity", the article opens with this arresting thought for this evangelical-come-I-am-not-ashamed-to-call-myself-Protestant Anglican:

"THE 1920 Lambeth Conference’s “Appeal to All Christian People” is justly famous as a landmark in ecumenical history: it is a bold invitation by the “Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church in full communion with the Church of England” to other Churches to forget “the things which are behind and reaching out towards the goal of a reunited Catholic Church”. This would require them to absorb episcopacy into their systems.


The Appeal, which paved the way for the great United Churches of the Indian sub-continent, was also significant for another reason: it redefines Anglicanism as something that was at its heart both un-Protestant and un-English. The form of religious life which had emerged in England from the 16th century was fundamentally transformed by the Lambeth Appeal: Anglicanism was finally freed from the Protestant religion of the English State and had mutated into a form of non-Roman Catholicism detached from its Reformation roots. 

In the whole 1920 Appeal, there is nothing at all about the Book of Common Prayer or the Thirty-Nine Articles. Instead, the Anglicanism expressed in the Appeal is a kind of inclusive Catholic Church without a pope, which seeks to expand its networks in the name of wider unity or Catholicity. This seemed particularly suited to the post-First World War world, which the Appeal called a “new age with a new outlook”. "

This raises the question how 16th century Protestant Anglicanism became early 20th century Catholic Anglicanism. Chapman poses and answers the question:

"SO, HOW is it that a clearly Protestant Church could mutate into something defined by the portentous Catholicity of the Lambeth Appeal? Crucial is the idea of the via media which became increasingly part of Anglican self-definition from the 17th century. Initially used to portray the English Church as filling “in the gapp against Puritanisme and Popery, the Scilla and Charybdis of antient piety”, as Richard Montago put it in 1624, a few centuries later the idea had mutated into a reconceiving of Anglicanism as something opposed to Protestantism altogether.

In 1813, for example, the Irish lay theologian Alexander Knox declared that the “nick-name protestant” had had a “perverse influence” on our Church: Anglicanism thus stood between the two extremes of Protestantism and Papism.

The leaders of the Oxford Movement agreed: their desire to return to the Early Church was part of a more general desire to rid the Church of England of Protestantism: a form of Anglicanism established on the Early Church, which was the central thrust of the Tracts for the Times, left little space for the Reformation or Protestantism."

Chapman then develops this explanation, bringing into the picture the history and development of the US Episcopal church's self-understanding as a form of Anglicanism, the shattering effects of Vatican 1 on Tractarian hopes of reunion with Rome and the reaction to Vatican 1 which steered some Anglican leaders to rapprochement with the Old Catholics, the shock of WW1 and, finally, openness to dialogue with Eastern Orthodox. Each of these topics is interesting in its own right but I am not worried about them here.

It is Chapman's concluding paragraphs which I want to reflect on this week on ADU:

"The Lambeth Appeal of 1920 was a response to another industrial war, and helped to reshape Anglicanism for the rest of the 20th century: Anglican identity no longer required adherence to anything English or to any Protestant formularies. Instead, it was defined in the most minimal way possible around scripture, creeds, the two dominical sacraments, and the “historic episcopate”. Lambeth 1920 marks the culmination of the “un-Protestantising” and “un-Englishing” of Anglicanism.

The Anglican Communion has lived with the consequences of such a minimal definition ever since. Whether an inclusive version of non-Roman and un-Protestant and un-English Catholicism has a future in today’s crises, only time will tell. What is clear is that many Anglicans have already given up on the idea and want something quite different."

I am unclear what his last sentence means. On the one hand there are certainly Anglicans in the world today (centred on movements such as GAFCON) which do not understand being Anglican as "an inclusive version of non-Roman and un-Protestant and un-English Catholicism" but many such Anglicans have never had that idea and thus are not "given up on the idea and want something different." On the other hand, where there are Anglicans in the world today who have given up on "an inclusive version of non-Roman and un-Protestant and un-English Catholicism", it is not at all clear to me what the "something quite different" is that they want.

That is, I wonder if Chapman's article would come to a clearer conclusion if it acknowledged along the way that strand of Anglicanism which never moved far away from its Protestant heritage from the 16th century - the Anglicanism which included in subsequent centuries the founding of CMS, the inspiring examples of Simeon, Newton and Henry Martyn, the founding of influential seminaries such as Wycliffe Hall and Ridley Hall, the development of "CMS dioceses" in Africa and the influence of the Diocese of Sydney on global Anglicanism?

But, be that criticism as it may, Chapman nevertheless raises the intriguing question whether much of current Anglicanism is well explained as:

"an inclusive version of non-Roman and un-Protestant and un-English Catholicism".

What do you think?

Of course there is a redundancy, actually two, in Chapman's description: to emphasise "Catholicism" is "un-Protestant" and we are talking about Catholic Anglicanism so it is likely to be "non-Roman".

Does his argument boil down to a loss of English character to Catholic Anglicanism?

Not quite, because we need to come back to the word "inclusive," but to the extent that he has brought in the history of the Episcopal church in America, I wonder if he has over cooked his argument re loss of "English" character. Down here in the ex colony of Aotearoa New Zealand, it seems like the Catholic influence on our Anglicanism is very English!

Perhaps the description should read "an inclusive version of a mixed English and American Anglican Catholicism"?

And, about "inclusive"? What does "inclusion" mean in a context of a specific Anglican "party" or "movement" which is advocating for a specific character to be the dominant if not comprehensive character of Anglicanism? Of course, "inclusion" means "all welcome" in Catholic Anglican churches as in people walking through the door but does it also mean "all Anglican styles of liturgical practice" welcome here? Of course not!

There is also, we should observe, an unfortunate description here of the positive force of Anglicanism in mostly negative terms: not Roman, not Protestant, not English!

Again, be that as such verbal particulars may be, Chapman's larger point across both concluding paragraphs is that 20th and 21st century Anglicanism has widest agreement on the minimalist of self-understandings at the expense of a loss of historical moorings into the 16th century - the critical turning point when a church in the Western tradition determined its identity would no longer be Roman in character. And the price being paid, I infer from Chapman's article, is that global Anglicanism is muddled about its future direction. And a final inference is that in that muddle space has been created for an Anglicanism which offers clarity about its self-understanding and continuity in its history with the 16th century: GAFCON and Global South.

If my final inference is correct then Chapman unaccountably leaves out of his account of post 1920 Anglicanism that the majority of global Anglicans are not at all described by "an inclusive version of non-Roman and un-Protestant and un-English Catholicism." At best this is a description of the majority of Anglicans in Western provinces such as those in the UK, North America and Down Under.

Conversely, my own plea through the years of blogging here at ADU is for an Anglicanism that is confident in its own life as a church of God, understanding what it affirms is more than what it negates, building on rather than embarrassingly denying its peculiar history, and constantly evaluating what it thinks is fixed and what is flexible in its ecclesiology.

Further, the Anglicanism I seek to influence - somewhat in line with 1920 currents Chapman highlights - is that which yearns for unity in Christ and consistently acknowledges its unique placement within diverse ecclesiologies to bridge Catholic and Protestant, and even East and West.

Dreams are free!


If you want something less challenging for the Anglican grey matter this week, then bask in the blessing of "The Blessing: Aotearoa"!


John Sandeman said...

As the evangelical part of the Anglican Church in Australia appears to be growing in size and as a proportion of the denomonation) Chapman's description becomes less apt in the west island of Down Under ISTM

Anonymous said...

"Anglicanism was thus recast in an ecclesiological rather than a doctrinal direction, quite distinct from what had gone before." -- Chapman at the link

Peter, Chapman's sentence just above is almost true and is the least misleading in his essay. He is mostly right that, before the Lambeth Conferences and Lambeth Quadrilateral, one could imagine that the 39A were the whole and irreformable deposit of doctrine for the Church of England and its Communion. As often mentioned here, the last excellent book on that deposit by Oliver O'Donovan explores its curious lack of an explicit ecclesiology to bridge the opening dogmatic articles to the more practical ones later in the series. The Conferences and the Quadrilateral somewhat fill this gap, not only implicitly defining an ecclesiology, but also enacting it as a norm for all Christians. So as Chapman says, there was a change-- from a frozen and nationalist churchmanship to an organic and universal one.

Anonymous said...

It is not obvious, however, that Protestantism per se is irreconcilable with the Lambeth ecclesiology. In fact, that ecclesiology supplies a basis for the Reformation in England that is independent of anti-papalism. The reforming Church of England's moderation makes most sense when it is seen, not as a revolution of jacobin futurists, but as a restoration of what the reformers thought had been the churchmanship of the apostles and fathers of the first millennium. Chapman assumes that Protestantism and the Lambeth ecclesiology are in necessary competition, if not conflict, but he does not show that this is so. It is not.

This is not to deny that some in England feared the Lambeth ecclesiology precisely as a threat to what they thought of as Protestantism. Notably, the first Lambeth Conference was shut out of St Paul's and boycotted by the province of York. The question is: what Protestant doctrine was seen as imperiled? The most common objection seems to have been to the idea of foreign prelates legislating for England. Yet England's own reformers had a more international horizon, counseling the Swiss Reformed not to alienate German Lutherans and attending the Synod of Dort in the Netherlands.

Nor is Chapman wrong to note that Anglo-Catholics already estranged from the 39A welcomed the Lambeth ecclesiology as independent of Rome rather than anti-papal. But again the question is: from what Protestant doctrine did the Lambeth ecclesiology give them shelter? Probably none. The Quadrilateral's canon, creeds, and episcopate did give more weight to the *consensus patrum*, while the Conferences could be seen a practice of tradition (NT: paradosis).

But for perspective, Chemnitz (1522-1586), the "second Martin" of Lutheranism offers a robust defense of tradition in his Examination of the Council of Trent. Although some in England saw creeping papalism in the candles, incense, plainsong, etc that they called *Ritualism*, there were like-minded revivals among Lutherans bound to the Book of Concord, and even some Reformed bound to the Heidelberg Catechism. Anglo-Catholicism is rather Protestant.

Chapman does not mention a third constituency that has at least benefited from the Lambeth ecclesiology: critical readers of the Bible. All genera of Protestants have had some who assent to confessions only insofar as the scriptures support them, and others who assent to them as perfect summaries of what the scriptures reveal. Either way, the modern scholarship that Protestants pioneered has made the most confessional of them squirm. Critical study does not so much contradict Reformation formularies as reveal them to be of a horizon that is late medieval rather than apostolic. The Quadrilateral, by independently affirming the creeds, and the Conferences by enabling a contemporary magisterium enable a less brittle authority.

The Lambeth ecclesiology's tension seems to be, not with Protestantism per se, but rather with a kind of ethnicism in which the 39A are affirmed, not as true, but as English, and to which Anglicanism is authentic only when it is plain and anti-papal. When it talks about the reformers, they sound more doctrinaire, more denominational, and frankly more Victorian than the ones we know from primary sources. Whilst others have cared about ecumenical continuity, scriptural warrant, or devotional richesse, postmoderns of this tribe instead seek identity in a brand and find it in a churchmanship frozen in some national past.


Peter Carrell said...

So, in short, how can Anglicanism be authentically apostolic?
Longer version of the question, given a resourcing of the 21st century church with a decent understanding of the apostles, the Fathers, the Reformations plural, the Lambeth developments on 19th and 20th centuries, how can we be authentically apostolic?

Father Ron said...

This thread, Bishop Peter, requires a very deep consideration of the differences between the 'Protestantism' of, say, the 39 Articles, and the 'Catholicism' of the Second Vatican Council. May I say that, as an 'Anglo-Catholic' of the 21st century, I find myself more in sympathy with the second of these categories than the first. In stating this, I am not abandoning my claim to being 'Anglican'. Rather, I am reiterating the claims made for the version of Anglicanism by the Mothers and Fathers of the Oxford Movement - who reclaimed the heritage of the English Church as being that of the Apostles - both catholic and apostolic.

This renders me wary of the comment here by John Sandeman, who tells us that the 'Anglicanism' of the Church in Sydney (and, in his view, of the Anglican Church of Australia) is becoming more Protestant by the day; in terms of its insistance, for instance, of 39 Articular Religion, at the expense of a more liberal TEC-style acceptance of LGBT people as fellow-members of the Body of Christ. John's remarks, however, do not take into account the existence of strong pockets in Australian Anglicanism of Anglo-Catholic activity of at least 2 Sydney City parishes, as well as that of parishes in those dioceses not tied to typical Sydney Protestantism - which is part of the GAFCON/FOCA anti-LAMBETH Alliance. (This could be the basis of a future split between the claims of GAFCON and CANTERBURY to truly represent World ANGLICANISM).

As far as our relationship with the Church of England is concerned, one notes that the seeming growing Protestantism of its hierarchy under the current ABC has recently been countered by the appointment of the new Archbishop of York; whose provenance (from my personal observance of his liturgical and teaching charisms at the recent Anglo-Catholic Hui in Wellington) would seem to be distincly more broadly Catholic than that of most of the English bishops.

Basically, dear Bishop, my sympathies ae very much identical with those you have expressed here in the following statement:

"Further, the Anglicanism I seek to influence - somewhat in line with 1920 currents Chapman highlights - is that which yearns for unity in Christ and consistently acknowledges its unique placement within diverse ecclesiologies to bridge Catholic and Protestant, and even East and West."

This is why I listened, with appreciation, to the video you have refenced in your article under the heading of ' The Blessing: Aoteroa

Anonymous said...

"how can we be authentically apostolic?"

Of course, we should avoid the Rome Trap (ie catholic = papalist), and do our own honest work to discern and conserve the catholic substance of apostolicity. But Rome's escape from the Fortress Trap in pursuit of an authentic apostolicity is analogous-- up to a point-- to an escape that Anglicans need to make.

The Second Vatican Council is often seen as having enabled the RCC to be more authentic in late modern societies. How did it do this? Fundamentally, it reframed the memory of the Fortress that the RCC was from Trent to the aftermath of Vatican I.

The Council presented that embattled era, not as a mistake to be repudiated, but as a tactical retreat from the more ancient and organic way of being the Body. On the ground, Catholics were urged to learn their tradition from its sources rather than from modern codifications, to engage the contemporary mind rather than retreating from it, and to face other churches and the world in a way that is amicable rather than hostile, and prudent rather than paranoid.

Authenticity is more than accuracy, but if we are not truthful, we cannot be authentic. What more is required is another discussion, but an identity that is not false to history seems an inescapable starting point. What might a Protestant, and especially Anglican, reframing of modern history look like?

(1) It would affirm that the Protestant religion C16-20 was and is unintelligible apart from the Body from some time bc through the first millennium. The reformers revised many traditions in the pursuit of their pastoral objectives, but they neither could nor did abolish the Holy Spirit's *paradosis* in time.

(2) Like Catholics, Protestants can no longer ignore the priority of the East. Truth demands that both acknowledge that their common Latin Christianity was erected on an Eastern foundation that remains vital in our day.

(3) Protestants like Catholics can explain their modern trajectory as a necessary response to a temporary irritant and opportunity. Truth demands that Protestants acknowledge the several non-theological factors that enabled the Reformation to thrive in Europe's north, but not its south.

(4) So then, on the substance of Reformation theology, truth further demands recognition that the Protestant themes have histories within this common story of the ecumene. For one example, Alister McGrath has dated the origin of *justification* as we now think of it to exegeses of Paul in the C13 West, and of course there is nothing quite like it in the East. In this and other examples, the takeaway is not that Protestant doctrine is wrong-- Vatican II did not nullify Trent and Vatican I-- but that it is misrepresented and unhelpful to souls when the qualifications inherent in its context are suppressed.

(5) Northern Europe, even when augmented by former colonies overseas, is not the world, and it is not even most of Christendom. To the contrary, something like the theological migration in (2) has been underway for over a century in our own time. Here, Anglicans face the central inauthenticity of the Communion: variants of Protestantism that deny most or all of the above are commonplace in the global south because they are promoted by unhappy warriors in the north. It is as though the Society of St Pius X had turned Africa against Rome and Vatican II, but still wanted recognition from and participation in what they rejected.

Peter Leithart (Presbyterian) has famously said that Protestants need a Vatican II of their own to remedy their weak ecclesiology. But as noted above, that council met more than a century ago and was called the Lambeth Conference.

What weakens Anglicans is a problem that only becomes clear after a vision of organic unity has taken hold: we are divided by false histories that underwrite tribal identities. At this point the analogy with Vatican II breaks down. For authentic apostolicity, we need something more akin to a truth and reconciliation exercise to retrieve our common story.


Father Ron said...

Dear Friends

As John Sandeman here points out, Sydney's Anglican Diocese is already in a world of its own - separated from the Lambeth Quadrilateral and the traditional Canterbury connection by its symbiosis with the GAFCON/FOCA axis. (At the same time it clings to its tiny hegemony in FOCA/NZ). In terms of world-wide Anglicanism, however, this is but a straw in the wind of fundamentalist separatism - the exact opposite of that Unity that Jesus commended to his disciples.

The Church of England has ever had its combatants - yet still held together by its common social and cultural roots in mediaeval England (N.B. the other parts of the British Isles each have their own national Church while yet looking to Canterbury for its symbolic 'Anglican' Catholic and Protestant roots). The situation there reminds me of the Faber Hymn: "The Love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind". It is in this breadth of theological virtues that marks out classic Anglicanism, and this is why the current surge of Levitical piety in Sydney, GAFCON and FOCA, can never be accounted to be 'typically Anglican" - simply because of its one-track theology, based on human judgement rather than "The great Love of God as revealed in the Son".

One is also reminded of the first 'Great schism' - of East and West - based on the different understanding of the 'Filioque Clause" (the effect of those 'claws' are still being felt - despite the recent efforts of Popes and Archimandrites to lessen their deleterious effects).

This latter-day schism in the Anglican Communion - based on what might seem to be 'something and nothing' in the great scheme of things - seems to be centred around the few verses of Scripture that have caused so much unhealthy speculation in the hearts and minds of conservative Anglicans on matters of human gender and sexuality - that, in the future, will probably seem to most thinking people a gross misunderstanding of the infinite diversity of God's creation. At the heart of all of this may just be the question of 'how' one interprets the tenor of Old and New Testament of Scripture - in the light of radically new understandings of social and biological realities that the writers of the Scriptures were not privy to. Why is it that other matters of human behaviour - like slavery, usury, the social inequity of women, etc. that were a part of Old Testament times - have been rejected by the modern-day understanding of ethics; while the rights of people with intrinsically different gender/sexuality identities are still imprisoned by the archaic standards of first-century Middle-Eastern religious shibboleths?

Anglican separatism is no longer based on divergent liturgical usage - or even political and social difference. Sadly, the major division today seems to centre around the perception of what a tiny pericope of Scripture has to say about a matter of human activity that Jesus himself had little to say about - except in his comments on the virtues of marriage and celibacy in Matthew's Gospel. One has to ask the question - is this what God wants of today's Church? The precepts of Vatican 2 under Pope John 23 were a radical move forward from the pietistic moralism of mediaeval Christianity. The Church of England in the time of Archbishop Michael Ramsey fought against homosphobia, sexism and capital punishment in his day. The Church of England today is fighting against homophobia, trans-phobia and 'Conversion Therapy'.
This is Anglicanism at is very best - and I do believe it has a place.

What I sincerely believe is that - if Anglicanism is still part of God's plan for the salvation of God's people in this world, then it will thrive - despite the efforts of those who might question its reason for existence. The will of the Father is that "all should be One", as Jesus and the Father are One. But that Unity lies in God's-self, not in any purely humanj construct.

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Bowman and Ron for digging deeper into the situation which we Anglicans find ourselves in, and the larger context Anglicanism finds itself in.

Ron, sympathetic though I am to your point that Anglicans ought not to divide over a few verses of Scripture about a human condition which bears analogy with other human conditions over which the church has not divided, it is worth noting (and not for the first time, do I make this note to you) that whatever you think about Sydney/GAFCON/CCAANZ, on those few verses the stated positions of Sydney/GAFCON/CCAANZ are pretty much indistinguishable from the stated positions of the whole of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy ... and I note that neither of the latter are excoriated by you for their positions!

Father Ron said...

Dear Bishop Peter, regarding your response to my comments above, re the motif for separation in the Anglican Communion; with due respect, this is only about the A.C. itself - not the relative theological doctrine of the R.C. Church.

In any case, we are all aware of Pope Francis' movement towards a more kindly, compassionate, enlightened, less judgemental Catholic Church. However, Pope Francis is not excommunicating those Catholic organisations that do not see eye to eye with his reforming zeal - unlike GAFCON that proclaims those Anglicans who do not think in line with its fundamenalist doctrine of human sexuality to be 'heretical', refusing to share with them in Eucharistic Fellowship. That is why I respect the Pope, his concern is for unity in diversity - not peremptory excommunication (Very Anglican!).

Anonymous said...

The Church of England has ever had its combatants - yet still held together by its common social and cultural roots in mediaeval England (N.B. the other parts of the British Isles each have their own national Church while yet looking to Canterbury for its symbolic 'Anglican' Catholic and Protestant roots)."

Which is to say that the peace of the Lamb has been kept by 10 Downing Street. Who does this for the Communion? Or for churches far from the royal supremacy?


Has the Church of England flourished with these divisions?


Every communion has diverse thought. Only this one has so institutionalised centuries-old differences into thought-bubbles that burst into cruelty and schism. If God truly has a mission for the Communion, the Holy Spirit will puncture them all.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron and Bowman

Ron: notwithstanding the largesse of spirit in Pope Francis, not one jot or tittle of Catholic teaching has changed under his watch; and, as for potential for excommunication, observe the seething resentment of swathes of "conservative" Catholics over that largesse of spirit. One related point re we Anglicans is that a tendency towards division over doctrinal differences seems inherent in all Christian groupings ... unfortunately the tendnecy in the recent history of the Communion has become a reality.

Bowman: precisely. Thus I take your larger (and, over time, longer) point to be that the Communion is yet to discover (or to have revealed to it and received by it) a stronger means of being a "communion in Christ - held by the peace of the Lamb" than various solutions to date, from 10 Downing Street to Lambeth (quad/conferences) to [ ... insert here ...]. Thus, that ecclesiological weakness in the 39A - noted above - has come home to roost (I am sure RCs and EOs are eagerly typing "I told you so" on a thousand blogs).

But does the AC have within it the potential to overcome the weakness? I think so. Might GAFCON show the rest of us the way forward? Whatever we think of the Jereusalem Declaration, for instance, it has become a "39A for the 21st century" for a swathe of Anglicans. Does the whole Communion need something similar?

Yes, I do recall that the Covenant was a potential filler of that gap ...!

Anonymous said...

Peter, I keep hoping that I misremember the Jerusalem Declaration, Then I look it up, and it is still awful. In fairness to GAFCONians everywhere, it was only trying to be Trent bolting down tradition endangered in the C20, nothing so broad or deep as a 39A for the C21.

In a parallel universe, the English and Americans voted down the Covenant, but several other churches approved it and proceeded to meet. They did not claim to be the true Anglican Communion over against the ACO, the Instruments, etc. They were just more interested in what they were doing, and planned to go on doing it until the ABC was wholly free to join them.

Because they could not meet in England, they met elsewhere. Because they had no ABC, they took turns hosting. Having no ten year tradition, they met more occasionally. When posturing prelates hinted that they might not come, the host just invited alternates without comment.

Because they had little presence in their societies and no influence with their governments, they agreed that they had no mission to tell nations what to do. Instead, as bishops, they consulted about the tricky business of dealing with Caesar. That Topic came up, but only alongside police brutality, welfare states and their enemies, etc.

Above all, because these were all smaller and poorer churches, they had never had the luxury or the poison of bubbles. So on the one hand, they dismissed out of hand the bubblehead idea of right to fight about anything simply for old times' sake. ** And on the other, they were looking collectively, not to protect the bubbles of their several missionaries, but to supplant them altogether with a common basis for missional work today.

That is, the search in any decision was, not for What Communion Churches Are Required To (Not) Say, but rather for What Peace Among Us Can Spread To Our Partners. For small churches, that can be an interesting question. Anglicans in Egypt in partnership with Presbyterians and Muslims may have a horizon for thinking about the eucharist that is very different from Anglicans in Canada who partner with Mennonites and Old Catholics. Fortunately, while Anglicans were preoccupied with the ordination of women, the WCC Faith & Order Commision long ago correlated the most basic beliefs in their Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry. The document was criticised for having an Anglican bias, so it seemed worth examining.

One Lord, One Story, One Examination. Those EO bloggers you mention said what they always say: Rome and Protestants agree in all but details, so of course the Anglican tribes are a *narcissism of small differences* (cf Freud, Yugoslavia **) that just distracts them from the wider ecumene. Missional ecumenism dealt with the narcissism. Relating the history of the Anglican consensus as a single story with several characters who only partially agreed situated the details. Ordinands in the Covenant churches took a common examination that was marked overseas.

In general, the little churches demanded peace, if only because they could not afford conflict, and they got it. It helped that bishops were meeting to find a new consensus rather than to fight over the mere legitimacy of centuries old revisions.

In that parallel universe, English and American bishops still meet those from other churches. GAFCON still meets to talk about them but not with them. And the Holy Roman Empire is proudly beginning its thirteenth century under Empress Gertrude III.

** With nothing but charity in my heart, I am thinking of a recent blog post that inveighed against bishops' mitres. Of the top 3,452 worries facing Anglicans, episcopal headgear is #3,452. Only in a bubble could this matter. The fidget against something that looks medieval rather than puritan or vice versa is the narcissism that Freud was talking about and that Serbs and Croats were killing about.


Anonymous said...

Well, did anybody else see Sister Byrne, the American nun, surgeon and former US Army officer address the Republican convention and say that Donald Trump is the most pro-life president ever and Biden and Harris the most anti-life candidates, supporting abortion up to birth and even infanticide? Did you hear her say that she wasn't just pro-life but pro-eternal life, that she wanted everyone to go to heaven? That he weapon was the rosary ( and she got it out)?
Father Ron, you must have been moved powerfully by that profound expression of Catholic faith.
BW, your country, cradled in the best of British and Irish traditions, still produces the most astonishing people.
Peter, why can't NZ Anglican leaders speak up for the weakest and most marginalised, the unborn? Why is New Zealand now majority agnostic and led by an agnostic? Where are the Anglican leaders speaking up for eternal life in an unbelieving society?


Anonymous said...

Welcome back, James.

No, I did not watch much of either convention this year. As usual, these spectacles distilled each campaign's case for its candidate and against his opponent. But neither could show us much about how either would govern, my main concern.

Nor could it show us much about the future of either party. When a new young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama spoke in 2004, the news was not that he was given a slot, nor what he said, but the applause of the delegates in the hall.

Bryden Black, who sometimes comments here, has speculated that there is a slow pendulum in sexual mores, and that it has begun to swing back to the perennial norms. Maybe. Supporting that view: polls show that a formidable majority of young voters identify with the Democrats, but also that when the young do identify with the Republican Party, it is overwhelmingly because of its anti-abortion stand. Whatever party represents voters on the right in the future, it is likely to have an anti-abortion plank in its platform.

Anonymous said...

The curious thing about Anglican silence on the topic of abortion is that it is so precisely analogous to That Topic: both concern moral revisions driven mainly by modern science. Why-- there are many kinds of answers to this-- are we treating the two revisions so differently?

Christians have explicitly opposed abortion from the C2. But traditional morality had assumed that God permitted induced miscarriages in the first trimester because he ensouled or quickened the fetus after that. St Thomas, who alludes to so much, somewhere attests to medieval belief in the idea. So into modern times, even pious households had recipes for abortifacients in the miscellany of their cookbooks.

Not until the early C19 did advances in medical knowledge make that belief implausible. Once it was, modern laws were enacted in the late C19 against first trimester abortions. Thus the laws against abortion cancelled in the late C20 were, like SSM today, science-supported humanitarian mores just about a century before it. Of course, the scientific support for those mores has only gotten stronger as fetal consciousness comes into view and medicine secures viability for fetuses ever earlier in gestation. Nobody believes in quickening today.

If That Topic were to follow the same trajectory, then about a century from now, the evidence that molecular events in embryos cause at least same sex attraction might be far beyond reasonable doubt, but it would not matter because some mighty social consensus we cannot now foresee would want to again press queer folk to the social and ecclesial margins. As with abortion, there would be a reluctance to break openly with today's compassion, but there would also be a certain reserve as societies and churches abandoned it in practice.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Bryden is somewhat right, but that the sexual pendulum swings, not between discipline and license, but between disciplined capitalism and disciplined fecundity. Social morality rides the swing, and shallow churchmanship sits alongside it.

So in the present capitalist extreme, people avoiding procreation feel no estrangement from those who can't or won't procreate. This has given us a rare modern moment of compassion for a long-suffering minority. But from the same mindset, harsh judgments on poor citizens who do procreate funds a class system that marginalises the poor rather than the queer. By definition, a secular society does not have the agape that can avoid the false choice.

At the far extreme of fecundity where begetting and raising a child is seen as central to a life well-lived, nobody will doubt that a child you cannot raise should be put up for adoption, not aborted. Arguments to the contrary based only on individualist druthers will sound nearly as frivolous as objecting to face masks during a plague. Poor parents will be respected for helping us to raise the next generation despite the hardships they incur for doing it. But when sexual mores are again procreative-- mainly to help straight folk live more responsibly-- how will queer folk fare?

There is no progress in this aeon. Different times are cruel in different ways, but all of them are cruel. Shallow churchmanship is itself compromised by the cruelty of the wind it chases, weeping for one suffering whilst needlessly deepening another in the shadows. But if resistance to cruelty were simply about lashing oneself to some mast of unchanging rules, then we would be condoning first trimester abortions and beggaring the misbegotten as we used to do. Societies do not progress, but knowledge accumulates, and we cannot evade our responsibility for what we know.

Of course, a church that stands with her Lord opposes the cruelty of the time she is given. Alas, because that cruelty will be in a social blindspot, those busily bending churches to fit societies have often obliquely condoned it. Others will hear the call of Ezekiel xxxiii 8-9, but how should they obey that? You ask only for truth-telling, which is fair enough, but truth has a way of opening action. What should that be?

Another guess-- agape enables the inspirited Body to have an integrative compassion that does not cast some into shadow to draw others into light.


Anonymous said...

You really should watch Sister Byrne, BW - you can find the excerpt easily on YouTube.
Also Kayleigh MacEnany speaking openly about her faith in Jesus Christ at the convention. Then contrast that with the growing hostility toward Christianity in the rank and file of the Democratic Party. Many delegates refused to say "under God" when eciting your oath of allegiance. So the issue is not just about abortion, which "cradle Catholic" Joe Biden enthusiastically supports (as do virtually all self- described Catholic Democrat politicians) - it is about any public role for Christianity in the United States. You cannot evade the fact that the Democrats are deeply secular in outlook. It is significant also that secular and nominal Jews overwhelmingly identify as Democrats and they are very prominent in the Senate.
As for Thomas Aquinas, he was beholden to Aristotle in his thinking on ensoulment, and the Catholic Church certainly does not follow him there.
Of course, the great irony is that "Black Lives Matter" has become the cliche of 2020 but more black babies are aborted than are born in the United States. So black unborn lives don't matter and Democrats will fight hard to keep things that way.
Btw, your suggestion that "some" ssa is caused by "molecular events in embryos" but we won't discover this until 2120 was disproved by new advances in endocrinology which were made in 2096. Futurology is a wonderful game! What did The Kinks sing about "Lola" in c. 1969? "Boys will be girls and girls will be boys, it's a mixed up, shook up world, says my Lola." And where are we now? The future arrives on kitten's feet. Just ask President in waiting Pete Buttigieg, of whom I think you have high expectations.
Father Ron, I hope you saw Sister/Dr/Major Byrne on YouTube- powerful Catholic witness on God's love for everyone,


Anonymous said...

Btw, Obama was not yet a US Senator when he spoke at the 2004 convention. He got the speaking spot to enhance his own election chances in 2004.
I challenge anyone today to say what exactly Obama achieved in his eight years as US President. As far as foreign policy was concerned, Obama was disastrous for the Middle East and for Christians especially - from Libya to Iran.


Father Ron said...

James, I have noted your ohsession with abortion.I suspect that the Roman Catholic Church would, to a degree, have bypassed that problem for their own people had they not been so anti-contraception. I'm also not sure that the current POTUS would have any qualms against contraception - even though the main objection from the Catholics is that it is against the interests of procreation.

Trump's own time as President has done little for the reputation of the U.S. as a democracy. Sadly, his 'Make America Great Again' could be seen to be based on obliterating democratic justice measures - that were introduces by Obama's government - by rescinding them and promoting his self-aggrandised authoritarian rule, backed by his own appointed officials. His public embrace of radically-motivated fundamentalist 'Christians' hardly bears public scrutiny - one of his most his allies being subject very recently to dismissal for 'sexual improptiety' by a prominent Christian University

Anonymous said...

And now the Republican National Convention ends with opera singer Christopher Macchio singing "Ave Maria" from the balcony of the White House (youtube).
What will "cradle Catholic" Joe Biden say about this malarkey?
An obvious pitch to the observant Catholics of America. Will they turn out in Pennsylvania, Biden's birth state?
Mike Pence was brought up as a Catholic but attends an ACNA church.


Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised that you don't seem bothered by the ethics of taking unborn life, Father Ron, but then I don't claim to understand liberal Protestantism. I am one with the Catholic Church in this "obsession", as you call it. Science shows that life begins at conception, and the Son of God was conceived in the womb of the Theotokos. Maybe Protestants don't believe this, I don't know. Anyway, I recommend you look up the speech by the Catholic nun and surgeon Sister Byrne on YouTube. I'm sure the Pope would agree with her. That's all from me on this, no need to reply.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, James, for your references to Byrne and now McEneny. I'll take an interested look.

But beware. Convention organizers book cause speakers to deflect voters’ suspicion that the nominee will not stand with their causes once elected. So, if a nominee is rumoured to kick dogs and eat cats, convention organizers will put an animal rights speaker on the program to testify to his abiding love for household pets. The speaker can be sincere and interesting about the cause without proving anything at all about the nominee.

This year, there is no Republican Party platform, and the governing philosophy of the West Wing is rather unmoored. Some tokens of commitment to diverse constituencies at the convention were to be expected.


Anonymous said...

"When a new young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama spoke in 2004..."

"Btw, Obama was not yet a US Senator when he spoke at the 2004 convention. He got the speaking spot to enhance his own election chances in 2004."

Barack Obama first addressed the Democratic National Convention as a senator in the Illinois legislature running for the Senate of the United States. That was an interesting year…


Anonymous said...

"I don't claim to understand liberal Protestantism."

James, there are few who do understand it. The historical research into evangelicalism that began in the 1980s does not yet have its complement in a judicious, thorough history of the denominational liberalism that they so fiercely opposed.

But they are quite similar in moral matters.

Insofar as the Resurrection does not fund an ecclesiology in either tradition, neither believes that there is a true Body between the particular believer and the society at large. So evangelicals believe that they are entitled to a society that follows their biblical norms, and liberals believe that societies are entitled to churches that will teach their secular norms. Neither believes that the Body has norms of its own (eg against abortion) that an individual could not discover, and that his society could not imagine. As you know, the Body's morality was most of it in the early centuries.

Because they share this deficit in Resurrection faith, evangelicals and liberals also tend to agree that individuals are not changed by grace, and that the capabilities of those in churches and on beaches are the same. That is, they do believe in justification by grace, but apart from the occasional Wesleyan, neither follows a revealed *paradosis* through sanctification. God forgives those who ask for pardon, but does nothing reliable to prevent them from erring again. Concretely, neither tribe can explain why people in the Bible fast.

Which issues in a third point of similarity: evangelicals and liberals are equally estranged from St Paul's Resurrection ethos of virtues and gifts. Both tribes talk as though a Christian ethic can only be a code of disconnected rules to be followed especially solemnly. Consequently, there is a certain gutless, outside-in, conventional quality to both ways of being a Christian.

So long as everyone in civil society was a Christian, these gaps were little noticed. In the pluralism with which most of us live, they are conspicuous.

Are there no saintly evangelicals or liberals? Of course there are. But they are all the more saintly for have become so holy with so little help.


Anonymous said...

Looking more closely, it seems the Republicans are pitching for the voted of traditional, churchgoing Catholics. That was my point. They began with a Catholic priest praying, included Sister Byrne and ended with Ave Maria. Pretty clear, really, because Biden thinks he has the "ethnic Catholic " (i.e. nominal, non-attending) vote who are cool with abortion, as Biden is. Pennsylvania will be interesting to watch.
The prolife movement has virtually no place in the Democratic Party, which has become increasingly fundamentalist on abortion including abortion up to birth. For more than a generation now, there has been a growing chasm between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party, once close bedfellows.
As I said, the Democratic Party is itself becoming more secular, reflecting the decline of religiosity within liberal America, on the west coast and the north-east. Talk of God has become politically and personally embarrassing for many within it, outside the black community, where revivalist cliches remain the stock in trade of black politicians, many reared in the black churches.


Anonymous said...

“Looking more closely, it seems the Republicans are pitching for the votes of traditional, churchgoing Catholics. That was my point.”

And your point is correct, James, of course. There have always been Catholic Republicans. The last nationally prominent populist on the right was a Catholic senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. The irony of 1960 was that, for the all the nuns on tiptoe at rallies for John F Kennedy, their bishops tacitly preferred Richard M Nixon.

The Roman magisterium has teachings that each of the usual sides can love, and others with each of them struggle. Traditional, churchgoing Roman Catholics here up yonder have long been divided between adherents of Vatican I who love law and order and enthusiasts for Vatican II who love social justice, a memory of Pio Nono and a dream of Francis. In government we see that in the faith-based differences between William Barr (attorney general) and Nancy Pelosi (speaker). Among Supreme Court justices, we see it in the faith-based differences between Clarence Thomas (natural law) and Sonia Sotomayor (social justice). As the president’s campaign shifts from 2016’s populism to 2020’s authoritarianism, outreach to the most authoritarian Catholics makes perfect sense.

Not long ago, I posted a comment here to make the point that both sides of the usual divide are not only observant, but demonstrably pursuing faith-based policies. This is especially easy to show with Roman Catholics because their tradition is well articulated and somewhat uniformly taught. We may not like the Catholic faith as a whole, or the way one side or both resolvesits inner tensions, but there is nothing so simple here as a battle between Catholics who believe and pray and Catholics who don’t do either. Over time, the most mature on each side will come to recognise their own faith in some counterparts on the other. Otherwise, it’s just the usual human food fight.

Protestants up here present a somewhat different picture for the reason I’ve given in the 2:52 just above: both evangelicals and liberals are constitutively poorly prepared for postmodern pluralism. Before our eyes, the former are decaying from witnesses to a universal truth to an embattled ethnic, even racial group, whilst the latter have become echoes of the post-Christian society of cosmopolitan cities and college towns. For all their social differences, their upstream deficits in apostolicity left them open to similar babylonian captivities. Meanwhile, the institutions that have served these constituencies experience interesting times.


Anonymous said...

"I'm a little surprised that you don't seem bothered by the ethics of taking unborn life..."

I won't speak for Father Ron, of course.

The sub-apostolic Body presumably found abortion abhorrent just as Jews did: they believed Creator --> Design --> Providence --> Procreation. Nothing fancy, just the basics we still teach small children and doctoral candidates. Modern science forced a new timeline for ensoulment, but otherwise modern anti-abortion is as Judaic hence apostolic as ever.

Put another way, an evaluation that abortion is non-valued has to overcome the objection that it is not fitting in a life lived at peace with Providence --> Design --> Creator. That Judaic faith opens the faithful to the unbidden, to the ways in which the Holy Spirit closes some paths to open others, and enlivens spirits with the radical trust in the Lord to take them. Can an ethos adequate to the challenges of parenthood be derived wholly from instinct, self-interest and individual sufficiency? Only up to a point far short of what God desires.

Disciples in the sub-apostolic Body found life in a community without abortion attractive. Inside, patiently trusting the Father's providence was better for the human spirit. Outside, he was glorified by the material life of the community that trusted him. They were excited to share with others a non-conforming Way that appeared to be a new race, neither civilized nor barbarian.

Interestingly, although they were voters in the several cities of the Roman world, they never tried to get any of those to ban abortion. Why not? Centuries later, an imperial ban did come with Christendom.

Like Jews, they believed that one Creator had one will binding all consciences, but also like Jews, they seem not to have tried to get unconverted Gentiles to live as they did. Even if they could have convinced pagans to try this, how could the majority in a polis or even Caesar himself oblige the citizenry at large to have that mystical Judaic entrustment to the unbidden?

Today, renunciation of abortion may be a more exhilarating step into spirituality than ever, because our culture is so much more materialistic and technocratic than that of the Romans. (Which makes young Republicans like those I mentioned the other day interesting to meet.) But in what social space today does someone here or anywhere stand to do so? Churches today are not like Acts 2 or even the cooperating households of St Paul's mission. Where churches are just ritual and opinion clubs, they are only one-dimensional entities in our multi-dimensional lives.

For that not at all good reason, Christians today misframe abortion as a state question when for us it is more properly as ecclesiological as oh the nature of holy orders. We are open to the Holy Spirit we invoke in ordinations when we materially are the space in which persons can trust the lead of that same Holy Spirit. Why do we not make room for this?

In wealthy yet believing societies, a light chaplaincy with weekly services may suffice. But in antiquity, the Body had to be much more than that for several centuries, and we cannot assume that what was adequate early in Elizabeth I's day remains so late in Elizabeth II's. The only defect in Anglican orders is the absence of apostolic deacons.

Anonymous said...

"The prolife movement has virtually no place in the Democratic Party, which has become increasingly fundamentalist on abortion including abortion up to birth."

Democracies govern with the consent of the governed. In America 2020, the governed will not ban abortion as the states did in about 1840-80. Republican majorities in a few states do occasionally pass odd laws that anti-abortion groups will reward but that cannot be enforced to enrage the actual electorate. Had the Supreme Court not expanded doctor-patient privilege to cover abortion, states would have continued to legalise the practice, and those that did not would have had quite interesting debates about reform of the laws they had.

By default, Democrats have become a very broad party of government, now stretching from the centre-right to a post-socialist fringe. Republicans have hollowed into corporate interests, angry lost causes, and white left-behinds who cannot connect. So yes, the Democrats do have some noisy atheists among all the black preachers, and the Republicans do have some noisy anti-abortion folks among the corporatists libertarians. On the ground, these are all sincere and charming people. But the Sixth Party System within which they are all taking positions and choosing sides is not giving American voters two solid parties of government. That will have to change, but it is too soon to know just how it will.


Father Ron said...

Dear James, just a tiny comment on your theology of abortion as an intrinsic evil: How do you preceive the validity of contraception? Do you have an equal repugnance to this prectice which does, after all, frustrate the single most important (R.C. theological) purpose of sexual congress?

On issues of sexuality, do you hold (consistently) to the Roman Catholic idea of graduated sins (major v. minor) ? Are you a practising R.C.?

Father Ron said...

Someone here (I think it might have been our Host, Bishop Peter) opined that perhaps gthe Anglican Communion could look to the GAFCON consortium as a preferred model of 39'Articular Anglicanism.

This may well be so. However, I'm not at all sure that this is the true essence of the Anglicanism of Provinces of the Global North (small as we are as compared with the Global South) - whose theological trajectory has grown beyond the restrictive conservatism of the 39 Articles of Religion; embracing - as some of us do - the more contemporary understanding of God as Creator of ALL people, including those of infinitely variable sociological, ethnic, cultural and spiritual traditions. From being a Church intent on British Imperial colonisation; the Anglican Communion has become a family of very differing understandings of culture and traditions - each of which needs to be expressed authentically in its own local community.

Granted there is a common basic ethical standard for all humanity. However, no longer can one national Christian Community demand cultural dominance over ALL other national Christian communities. The Christian Gospel, by its very nature, has to be intrinsic to its own local community - a situation that has only lately come to the surface (for Roman Catholics) in places like the Amazon Basin. 'Missa Puja" once criticised by Catholic purists, has had to be allowed to proliferate in countries where it is most clearly understood and appreciated. It is important, also, to remember that the diocese is still a legal entity, ruled over by the local bishop. Our Maori people have their own brand of Anglicanism - as do the people of the South Pacific, and the North American Indians. Cultural empiricism no longer has the hold on peoples of the world that it once claimed.

This is why I think (and I could well be mistaken) that the 39-Articular Church has to be allowed to follow its own trajectory, while modern Anglicans must be allowed to continue the search for 'What the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church' today in its own situation. The spiritual hubs for these two types of Anglicanism could well be as far apart as Nigeria/Uganda and Canterbury/New York. After all, our commun unity is 'en Christo' - not any earthly (national) dominion.

As an afterthought, it occurs to me that the Catholicism/Protestantism of Donald Trump has to be seen in the light of its singularity in situ - that of the current national/spiritual climate of the United States of America. This is unlike the Unity in Diversity that is distinctive to worldwide Anglicanism but rather; concerned only for its own national need to 'Make America Great'.

Anonymous said...

Hi Father Ron

Children are from God. For an explanation of why Jews, Christians, and Muslims have not normally procured abortions, see my 11:58. It's not so much that an authority says one shouldn't get one as it is that, if one believes the creed with authenticity, then one is living a life in which one ordinarily could not want one.

James has not said why he thinks abortion is wrong. From his comments just above, he seems to agree with the papal magisterium where it concurs with the scriptures and declares abortion to be a sin. He may not agree with it in anything else.

James need not be a Catholic to be a catholic. He could believe what all catholics do, and otherwise think for himself. I suspect he does.


Father Ron said...

Thanks, Bowman, for your comment on James' behalf. I do see where your argument is going. However, on the subject of any obstacle to the gift of procreation; how do YOU see the commonly-practised methods of artifical contraception. Is it for you, (and any other anti-abortinonists on ADU) equally condemned (with A.) as a sin?

FYI I, myself, have a personal problem with the thought of intentional abortion, but I do countenance the fact that, in certain circumstances, it could be the better of two specific choices.

AND THEN, of course, in nature, there is something known as 'spontaneous abortion' - Is that within the purpose and will of God, do you think?

Anonymous said...

Good to hear from you, Father Ron

James's comments just above can be read in a way that he almost certainly did not intend. Seeing that he would not comment further on abortion, I thought that a clarification might be helpful.


Neither contraception nor miscarriage is abortion. And the sub-apostolic fathers never said that they were.

Does contraception frustrate providence? Many couples can testify from surprised experience that it does not! Anyway, they can use it to cooperate responsibly with God's apparent will. Think, for example, of parents who try to space their children so that they can be better parents to each of them.

Especially in St Paul, but also in SS John, James, and Peter, morality for the aeon of the Resurrection is life in the Father's providence that, for those in the Son, is open to virtues induced and gifts given by the Holy Spirit. The apostolic Body adapts the law of the land to an interesting new use, but its own proper ethos is the transfiguration of believers in whom their old Adam dies and their new Adam forms (cf Romans v-viii). The C2 norm is closer to this C1 faith than to C20 neo-Scholasticism.


I have long wanted to tell you an anecdote about your favourite Artifacts. It comes from my second year of university studies.

At the time, I liked several of the 39 Articles. But for reasons too subtle to relate here, I nevertheless did not think them quite right. Southern Virginia was and is somewhat evangelical, so we tended to take doctrine seriously.

One evening however, the local bishops of TEC and the RCC visited our college for eucharist and dinner, and I found myself seated next to both of them. So I asked our diocesan about my quandary. I added that some could find it perplexing that half of us thought that we had just transubstantiated the host and half of us were sure that we hadn't. This got a chuckle from the Catholic bishop who had just given me communion, and a lively conversation ensued.

Now although the diocese was snake-belly low, the Rt Rev Claude Charles Vaché was a celibate Anglo-Catholic. Quite apart from my own quibbles, I was curious to see what sense he himself made of the Articles.

"Well," he drily began, "they're Artifacts. And what I mean by that is this: we use them an indicator of identity, not as a summary of truth. If your theology makes sense in this church as an organic development from the Articles in their totality, then you are one of us. For most official purposes, that is all we need to know...

"So-- the Articles say that we do not transubstantiate, but as you say we just did it anyway. Doesn't matter. We-- and the Catholics too-- have absorbed their critique of the pre-Reformation mass. We have learned from the truth in them, and since truth about God changes people, we have evolved. Your experience of dissatisfaction with the very Articles you like best is the normal process of absorbing them to move on to something more complete...

"You might ask why we don't just adopt new, up-to-date Articles the way the Presbyterians write a new confession of faith every generation or so. We do have a new Prayerbook with a new Catechism. But agreement with new statements of truth does not show Anglican identity as clearly as evolution from the old Artifacts. That continuity allows us to be more grounded and yet at the same time more searching."


Father Ron said...

Thanks, Bowman, for your latest. I'm glad to learn that someone else considered the 39As to have become the 39 Artifacts - for that, indeed, is what they have become - something not unlike the title 'Fidei Defensor' for the British Monarch. (one notes that the next Monarch want's to actually change this artifact to become 'Defender of Faiths'- plural)!

Even Rome, from time to time, seems not averse to altering its own 'articles of faith' - but not yet believing that women could become priests, even though Pope Francis now approves of women becoming leaders in Church Administration.

I don't think we have yet quite dealt with the problem of abortion - a term that has been translated for political reasons, especially in the USA, into the 'Right to Life' movement. However, I notice in recent communiques - from both Rome and the U.S. - that the 'Right to Life' inlcudes much more that the anti-abortion movement; extending, as it does, to the political separation of children from their parents at the border, and also to the right to access a universal health scheme for the poor - all matters that the current POTUS may have real problems with affirming (even though he campaigns as being 'Pro-Life'). We still haven't covered the eventuality of miscarriages!!

Anonymous said...

Father Ron,

Bishop Vaché was arguing that the 39 are at least as valuable as Artifacts as they were as Articles.

If there ever was a "problem of abortion," it was solved for the Body in the C2. Either we believe in providence, or we have lost our faith in the Creator.

If there is a problem of miscarriages, what is it and for whom is it a problem?

Beware the Rome Trap. Thinking Anglicans who fall into it become zombies who shamble along muttering idle gossip about Rome. Popes come, popes go. The librarian is not more important than the library.

The president trades judges that anti-abortion voters want for the re-election votes that he wants. There are no illusions on either side of this transaction.

As you say, he has real problems with affirming.


Anonymous said...

I really have nothing to say to people who don't see a problem in killing pre-born children or even neonates in Virginia. We are back to the Greco-Roman world of the first century where the abortion and the exposure of unwanted newborns were matters of personal preference ("prochoice") rather than morality. It was those despised Christians who upset the world. I guess we belong to other religions, and there is little point talking past each other. I am with Sister Byrne and the Catholic Church on this.
So long.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, James, for your several comments above. Come back soon.


Anonymous said...

"We are back to the Greco-Roman world of the first century... It was those despised Christians who upset the world. I guess we belong to [different] religions, and there is little point talking past each other."

Father Ron (and Peter), James's 12:15 gets near a point that I had meant to make today myself:

some moral positions that have been beyond faithful doubt in the Body cannot be accepted in the same way by any secular society;

every society has some moral norms that are obvious to citizens but at least doubtful to disciples.

From the Resurrection to the end of time, there will be two discussions of every moral question in each place where disciples dwell. The best answers of each need not always clash, but they will never be the same. So when we take up any moral topic, we will be confused and possibly exasperated if we are not clear about which conversation we are trying to be in. In this connection, we might recall Romans 12 and St Augustine's City of God.

Having had to contend with Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed princes, Protestants on the Continent have nearly always had the distinctness of the Two Kingdoms in mind. That early experience of pluralism has helped them to make some sense of postmodernity. Today's Radical Two Kingdoms (R2K) theology came not from a liberal divinity school, but from the most confessionally Reformed seminary we have, Westminster (Escondido, CA).

But in England, the royal supremacy and the notion that the whole realm was a unified *corpus christianum* has led to such oddities as the once frequent use of excommunication as a penalty imposed on convicts by civil judges, and the duty of the Church to marry any couple and baptise any baby that comes in the door. Unsurprisingly then, Anglicans often have more trouble accepting that, until death, they must, and in fact do, navigate the rival claims of two Kingdoms.

On the blessed isles, this rivalry may always have been obvious. But Episcopalians who think seriously only began to sort that out when John Howard Yoder in the 1970s, Stanley Hauerwas in the 1980s, the Yale School (eg George Lindbeck, Hans Frei) throughout that time, and above all Alasdair MacIntyre made it more obvious to us than it had been just how different Jesus-centered and rights-driven moralities must be. It's two different sets of mind, not just holy clobbertexts against saucy soundbites.

In a consciously Christian conversation, the traditional evaluation of abortion is undisputed. We are only squeamish about recognising that when we fear the reaction of those among us who tilt hard toward a consciously secular morality. As also with That Topic, the tension is less over sex per se than over what it means in varied circumstances to live with confidence in divine providence, an indispensible part of belief in God.