Under the above heading, the December 2006 issue of the Sojourner explored the spiritual roots and justification of the Continuing Church movement.
It was especially fitting to carry that theme forward in 2007. That year marked the thirtieth anniversary of what had promised to be a strong force for unity and hope among the oppressed faithful — the St. Louis Congress that launched the greater part of the Continuing Church.
The following piece appeared in the Ascensiontide 2007 issue of this parish's newsletter, The Sojourner, and is still timely. It identifies the sources for what is probably the most troubling and indefensible aspect of the Continuing Church — its persisting fractured, diminutive, and essentially helpless condition, a condition which renders it of minimal effect in this hour of need on the part of growing numbers of faithful Episcopalians and Anglicans for whose benefit the movement was created.
The Continuum, however, holds in its hands the keys of its own restoration. These are the same keys that form the cornerstone and foundations of the worldwide Anglican Communion — namely, the Faith of Jesus Christ set forth in Holy Scripture, and the doctrines of Scripture set forth for our use and edification in the Anglican Formularies: the 39 Articles of Religion and the classic 1662-1962 Book of Common Prayer together with the Ordinal. These are the teaching authority – the “magisterium” – and the unifying principle of Continuing Anglicanism, which can and will be effective — but only if honored in truth and in practice as well as in word.
The English Reformation: Key to the Continuing Church
The Continuing Church’s Commitment to the English Reformation, and
The Destructive Effects of Forsaking that Commitment
Virtually from the beginning, the most obvious characteristic of this part of the Christian family called the “Continuing Church” has been its divided state, coupled with its endemic proliferation of bishops with competing jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction asserts the orthodoxy of its faith and practice — its total unity with the Church of the ages, through time. But most also destroy their claim of orthodoxy by their inability to maintain the central quality of Christians for which Christ prayed most earnestly before He went to die for them — unity. Unity must reach the Church in the present as well as the past, starting with the multitudinous jurisdictions that claim the title of Continuing Anglicans.
The purpose of this Continuing What? series is not to add another denouncement of this state of affairs to the many that have been offered, but to assess the situation accurately, to identify its causes and to suggest where the solution lies.
Disunity and competition within the Continuum stem from the convergence of these two factors: 1. The old human impulse to engage in struggles for power and supremacy; and 2. Fundamental disagreement as to the character and purpose of the Continuing Church, which provides the occasion and the fuel for this ancient and ungodly contest. These things are all too likely to occur in any group. The twelve disciples, even at the Last Supper, fought over “who should be accounted the greatest.” (Luke 22:24)
The issues that have kept the Continuing Church divided are many. In a struggle for supremacy, any issue will serve the purpose. The issues keep changing, while competitive plotting and division remain constant. Polity, the manner in which the Church is governed, has been a bitter point of contention. But a still deeper cause of division, less openly asserted in the past, is becoming more evident, namely, disagreement with the English Reformation, and with the Continuing Church’s commitment to this central feature of the Anglican Tradition. This forces the Continuum to face and to resolve finally and authoritatively the fundamental issue of the original purpose for its existence if it wishes to avoid oblivion and to serve that purpose effectively.
Will the Continuing Church continue its received Faith and Worship, that of the English Reformation, set forth with clarity and authority in the Anglican Formularies we profess to uphold? Or will it seek to abandon this spiritual heritage for other theologies that conflict with it? This issue will be life-threatening to the Continuum until it is resolved.
The Continuing Church, Actually and by Profession, is Committed to the English Reformation
The central Formulary of the English Reformation is the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, 1552, 1559 and 1662. The faithful pre-1970's Book of Common Prayer is foundational to most branches of the Continuum that arose in the 1960's and ’70's. Further, the doctrines contained in these classic editions of the Prayer Book are in total agreement with those in the Ordinal also produced early in the Reformation for clergy ordinations, and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of 1571. To espouse the Book of Common Prayer, as do Continuing Anglicans, is to espouse also the doctrines of the Ordinal and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. These are the three primary Formularies of Anglicanism, and are usually bound together as one book.
One of the larger segments of the Continuum on this continent, the Traditional Anglican Communion, in its Concordat binds itself to retain “the formularies of the classical Anglican tradition” that preceded the errors of the 1970's. These expressly include the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 (the current English edition) and 1928. It establishes these as “the standard of Faith and Worship.” The Anglican Church in America sets the same standard. It submits to the Concordat and it vows to uphold the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal and the 39 Articles of Religion – all three of the “classic Anglican Formularies.” Churches that lack these commitments cannot truthfully claim to be continuing or traditional Anglican churches.
The Church in the Anglican tradition which this movement professes to continue (“Continuation, Not Innovation,” we were assured) is both Catholic and Reformed. Its origins are neither Roman nor Protestant. It is more ancient than both its Protestant and Roman connections, having been in Britain 400+ years before Rome came in 597. Its authority is not institutional, but biblical and spiritual. It is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic (Second Office of Instruction, 1928 Book of Common Prayer, p. 291). Its biblical and also Anglican character speak through the dying words (1711) of Thomas Ken who for conscience’ sake sacrificed his office as Bishop of Bath and Wells: “I die in the Holy, Catholic and Apostolick Faith, professed by the whole Church before the division of East and West. More particularly I dye in the Communion of the Church of England as it stands distinguished from all Papall and Puritan Innovations, and as it adheres to the doctrine of the Cross.”
In professing to “continue” in this Anglican tradition, and in solemnly adopting its truths and Formularies, the Continuing Church has committed itself to the “Faith and Worship” of the English Reformation. We can and should unite in the truths of our professed Formularies, study them and unreservedly uphold and teach them. With and under the authority of Scripture, they are the unifying principle that warrants our continued existence and which alone justifies our claim to be the standard bearer for all Christians in the Anglican tradition.
That tradition does not support the phenomenon of groups devising their own ideal church organizations and formulating faith and worship allegedly in the Anglican tradition, without submission to the established body of Anglican spiritual authority. The Anglican tradition and its Formularies provide authority in those matters. Yet some in the Continuum reject these Formularies, hope for their demise, and work against them. While this lasts, the Continuing Church will remain at cross-purposes internally and will continue to dissipate its energy in fragmentation as it has for three decades.
That such self-destructive cross-purposes are actually at work within the Continuum is indisputable.
The Continuum’s Theological Rift
At a recent meeting of Episcopalians and Anglicans concerning church unity, there occurred an exchange to the following effect between a continuing Anglican bishop and an Episcopal priest.
Bishop: The Anglican Communion doesn’t exist, because it has no “magisterium” [i.e., a teaching authority in matters of doctrine, like Rome’s claimed authority of the Pope and his bishops]. The Emperor has no clothes. Let’s face this, and not hold onto things that no longer exist.
Priest: We respectfully disagree: The 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are the magisterium. This is similar to the arrangement in Orthodoxy. There is a patchwork in Orthodoxy, this not being so legal a concept as in Rome.
Bishop: I don’t think you can rebuild Anglicanism on two opposite theologies of Catholic order.
The priest, though an Episcopalian, spoke as a “continuing Anglican”, one who attributes doctrinal authority to the biblical faith set forth in the Anglican Formularies he cites. He is not alone. Robert Duncan, Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh, corroborates this conviction:
“Part of Anglicanism’s magisterium was its fundamental submission to the theological and moral teachings of Scripture . . . . Anglicanism’s practical magisterium – its reliable teaching authority – has been its Book of Common Prayer, . . . reasserting the theological propositions of medieval Catholicism as reshaped by the English Reformation, best represented in the prayer book of 1662...” (The Mandate, Jan.-Feb. 2007, published by the Prayer Book Society, Philadelphia, Pa.)
Former Bishop of London Graham Leonard has attributed the elusiveness of Anglican unity first to “an undermining of the ultimate authority of Scripture as symbolized by the loss of place of the Articles of Religion” (indicating the scriptural foundation of the Articles), and to the effective loss of the classic Book of Common Prayer; also to the ordination of women, and the “substitution of the authority of national synods for the authority previously accorded to Scripture.” (Id.)
On the other hand, the continuing Anglican bishop’s charge that Anglicanism has lost its magisterium negates at least the function of the Anglican Formularies as the teaching authority in matters of doctrine. Yet their authority is derived from Scripture. Thus, the Anglican Communion has its magisterium, its teaching authority, but without Rome’s system of using ‘infallible’ decrees of popes and councils to add to the “faith once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) It also lacks Rome’s enforcement mechanism, the Inquisition, but that is distinct from the magisterium and involves a different issue, one that is as much a matter of polity as theology.
To hold that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion are the Anglican teaching authority on doctrine is the theological “opposite” of this bishop’s view. These opposites, he says, cannot effectively work together within Anglicanism. The extreme terminology conveys more than a mere difference of opinion about church organization. It also implies a doctrinal dispute with the Anglican Formularies and the English Reformation.
If anyone questions whether a purpose exists within the Continuum to reverse the English Reformation, all doubt of it was cleared up recently by John Hepworth, Archbishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion, in terms that permit no mistake:
“We have no doctrinal differences with Rome which would prevent us from being in full communion with one another. . . . My broad vision is to see the end of the Reformation of the 16th century.” (The Christian Challenge, September-October 2005, p. 30).
No doubt Rome would disagree. The statement appears to conflict with Anglican and/or Roman doctrine. That, and the rejection of the Reformation, including the English phase, present an irreconcilable conflict with the mission of the Continuing Church, and with any organization that calls itself “Traditional Anglican”. This seems not to have occurred to church leaders.
When a related error appeared in the Continuing Church 25 years ago, the Church’s voice of conscience spoke with clarity:
“This, then, is the crux of the problem. Are we seeking to teach the faith and to be comprehensively Anglican, or are we seeking to wrench the continuing Anglican movement out of its matrix and context and to return to the pre-Reformation Church as it existed in England before 1534, with all its errors and abuses? . . . [This is] a perversion of the spirit in which this continuing Anglican Church found form at St. Louis.” (A Declaration of Conscience, June 18, 1982, by Perry Laukhuff, who presided at the 1977 St. Louis Congress; he provided his Declaration personally to this writer.)
The Continuum’s first leader thus confirms with authority that the English Reformation is the matrix and context of the spiritual heritage which the Continuing Church is to continue.
Pre-Reformation “errors and abuses” and “papall innovations,” although unimportant to some, were of such consequence to the Faith that the effort to right them cost Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and other faithful shepherds in the 16th century their lives. For anyone to hold the contrary commitments expressed by +Hepworth and yet remain in a position of leadership in the continuing Anglican movement is impossible to defend morally.
“Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matt. 12:25)
Any refusal of submission to the scriptural authority set forth in the Anglican Formularies negates the Church’s unifying principle. If the Church lacks this ground of its own internal unity, it has no realistic hope of fulfilling its calling to unify the larger Church. Unity is spiritual. It does not arise from man-made authoritarian structures, but from general acceptance of the authority of Scripture as stated in the Formularies. Without this, the Church is, at best, an aggregation of jurisdictions with varied theological professions, under no generally acknowledged authority, having rejected the Anglican authorities it claims to uphold. This fosters a kind of “free enterprise Anglicanism,” each part building a structure of its own ideal design, and ever subdividing into further competing jurisdictions.
The Continuing Church professes what it should profess — its commitment to the classic Anglican Formularies as stating the truths of Scripture. The Church has its unifying principle in these authorities, but it divides over whether, in belief and in practice, it will be as good as its word.
Tragically, that is the stalled condition of the divided Continuum now. Just when it is most needed as a credible alternative to the failing Episcopal Church, it offers nothing to the purpose. It is virtually invisible on the ecclesiastical landscape in this country, and it contributes little or nothing to the solution of current ecclesiastical and theological problems. It has faithfully served the spiritual needs of a small part of Christ’s flock. Apart from this, its most noteworthy effect has been to keep Anglican Christians divided for 30 years.
The Truth of the English Reformation
To ask how the English Reformation is important to us and how adhering to its truths can heal the divisions of this troubled Church, is to ask a more fundamental question, that may be put in different ways:
What are those doctrines of our “precious faith” (II Pet. 1:1) that were in peril of being lost, and had to be recovered (not created anew) in the 16th century, and restored to the Anglican faithful, as of old?
What theological truths were of such gravity and in such stark conflict with established beliefs and practices that their proclamation caused the death by fire of the compiler of our Book of Common Prayer and several other Bishops and churchmen?
What was this spiritual and theological divide that produced specifically Anglican martyrs, whose blood hallowed and confirmed their testimony and became the seed corn of the English Reformation — the tradition and heritage which we profess to continue?
God willing, these subjects will be explored in the next issue of The Sojourner.
+ + +
[Reprint from The Sojourner, v. 27, no. 1, April 10, 2011 -- The Church of the Redeemer, Fairbanks, Alaska]
The English Reformation: Key to the Continuing Church
The Continuing Church's Need to Re-Learn
and Embrace the Truths of the English Reformation and to Understand and Avoid the Errors it Overcame
The True and Catholic Doctrine of the Lord's Supper:
Christ Instituted the Supper to Commemorate His Sacrificial Death With Which He Feeds the Faithful, Not as a Propitiatory Sacrifice
Founded forty years ago to maintain the Anglican and Episcopal spiritual heritage against grievous assaults – i.e., theological innovation disguised as liturgical revision (f.n.1) - the Continuing Church movement faltered almost at the start. The reasons were not unlike those that enabled the assault on the Episcopal Church to succeed in the first place.
Episcopalians in the 1960's and 70's were generally unfamiliar with the scriptural doctrines taught in the Anglican Formularies, primarily in the 39 Articles of Religion. Neglect and partisan misleading (f.n.2) had drawn them away from that excellent condensed summary of essential biblical doctrines. Therefore, when the same doctrines contained in the services of the Book of Common Prayer were attacked under the guise of updating the language, the people were unprepared. The substance of Article II within the Communion service, for example, came under determined attack. Had the people been better versed in their own doctrinal position stated in the 39 Articles, they would have been able to see and reject the new theology being visited upon them in the new rites. As it was, however, the pretextual claim of a need to modernize the language of worship swept aside all resistance.
The Continuers who formed in 1977 did well in seeking to rectify this situation, but they labored under a like deficiency. They rightly stood for the 1928 BCP, but they excluded the 39 Articles. (f.n.3) This marked a break with faithful Anglicans worldwide and with the Continuers' own spiritual forefathers of the previous century. The high-church bishops among those at the first Lambeth Conference in 1867 proposed a resolution stating their commitment to the faith “defined by the first four General Councils, and reaffirmed by the Fathers of the English Reformation.” (f.n.4) The Continuers' failure to take this stand allowed for latent disagreement among them about whether they truly meant their position to be Anglican – i.e., consistent with the English Reformation and its governing Formularies. This gave an opening to those of their bishops who tacitly rejected the English Reformation. These bishops, under the name of continuing Anglicans, immediately set up separate and decidedly un-Anglican systems and doctrines. (f.n.5) Thus began the self-defeating syndrome that has discredited and kept a stranglehold on the Continuum ever since.
Today, the same Continuers are, if possible, in still greater disarray for the identical reason: they lack unified commitment to their own Reformed-Catholic Formularies, especially the 39 Articles of Religion. This makes them easy targets for the same anti-Anglican influence that bedeviled and divided them at the threshold 30+ years ago.
Until recently, many of the bishops who separated and set up their individual jurisdictions emulated Rome and implicitly rejected the English Reformation. Now, some clerical leaders openly reject the English Reformation and have declared that traditional Anglicanism has “no doctrinal differences” that would prevent full communion with the Roman Church (f.n.6) – a notion Rome itself rejects, as has been and will be shown. In short, a new falsehood, or rather an old falsehood newly made overt, is added to the mechanism of internal division, which heightens the crippling effect on the Continuing Church – until it acquires a clear vision of the truth to which it is called to bear witness.
In 2007, Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), without the knowledge or consent of the rest of the clergy or the general membership, met secretly, submitted to the Pope and declared the Roman catechism the truest form of Christianity (f.n.7) – all the while retaining the name and episcopal offices of “traditional Anglicanism.”
The false premise of these acts, the less-than-candid manner in which they were done, and the resulting increase in Anglican unrest and disintegration, challenge every continuing Anglican to decide: Is submission to Rome the true purpose and meaning of Anglicanism's historic witness and teachings?
To most Anglicans the answer is obvious. When their bishops who had submitted looked for the people to follow them, the people generally declined. Whether or not they could articulate all the theological issues, they knew this was wrong and contrary to their commitment.
Material Doctrinal Differences Divide Rome and Anglicanism
What are the spiritual roots of Anglicanism, to which Continuing Anglicans are dedicated? In answering the question, this “English Reformation” series reveals a theological chasm between Rome and scriptural Anglican teachings on justifying righteousness and on the nature of the Lord's Supper. It is manifestly untrue that traditional Anglicanism has “no doctrinal differences” dividing it from Rome, especially regarding the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The general lack of accurate, or of any, knowledge on this subject in Anglican circles seems inexplicable except as a result of sustained and deliberate efforts to obscure the truth. That truth is the subject of the present article.
Biblical and Anglican doctrine unquestionably holds that Christ instituted the Lord's Supper to commemorate His sacrificial death on the cross, which He gives to be the spiritual food of the faithful (1928 BCP, pp. 86-87; 1662 BCP, p. 246; spiritual feeding, in the sacrament and otherwise, is discussed below, and was the subject of previous articles in this series). This contrasts with the Roman claim that Christ instituted the Supper not only as a sacrament but as a propitiatory sacrifice for sin.
“Propitiation” may be defined as that which merits and wins God's good will by making satisfaction for sin, i.e., atonement, expiation, through a perfect sacrificial offering – as when Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.
Unlike grace, propitiation flows only to God. Grace flows in the opposite direction, from God to us – as when, in the Lord's Supper and in other ways, God bestows spiritual nourishment and blessing on the faithful.
The Council of Trent stated, in 1562:
“And since in this divine sacrifice which is performed in the mass, that same Christ is contained in a bloodless sacrifice who on the altar of the cross once offered himself with the shedding of his blood: the holy Synod teaches that this sacrifice [in the mass] is truly propitiatory . . . . For God, propitiated by the oblation of this sacrifice, . . . remits our . . . sins. . . . The fruits of this (the bloody) oblation [on Calvary] are perceived most fully through this bloodless oblation; so far is it from taking any honor from the former.” Council of Trent, Session XXII, ch. II.
Anglican Teaching Excludes Any Propitiation But That Which Christ Wrought on Calvary
The doctrine which Trent pronounced was already extant before that time as a teaching of the Roman Church, and the Church of England had already denounced it in the Book of Common Prayer, the Homilies and the proposed Articles of Religion. But Queen Mary (the "Bloody") brought England under Roman Catholicism again. When she died in 1558, Elizabeth assured the Privy Council that as Queen she would not change England's commitment to Roman Catholicism “provided only that it can be proved by the word of God.” (f.n.8)
Elizabeth, as the goddaughter of Archbishop Cranmer, well knew the end-result of her proposal before she made it. Public debate of this fair question focused primarily on this proposition: “It cannot be proved by the word of God that there is in the Mass offered up a sacrifice propitiatory for the quick and the dead.” The proposition prevailed.
The Prayer of Consecration in the 1549 and all faithful later editions of the BCP provides that when Jesus died on the cross, he “made there [i.e., on the cross only] (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.”
Article 31 of the Articles of Religion (1571) declares:
“The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.”
This made the Anglican position clear. As it did then, it still controverts the Roman teaching squarely and completely. The Church of England, and the Church of Rome as well, have always understood Article 31 to mean this. A cursory review of Anglican divines on the subject (f.n.9) places this fact beyond dispute.
John Henry Newman
The TAC claim of “no doctrinal differences” with Rome, however, is not new. Some professed Anglicans through the years have held this belief, both as to the idea of a propitiatory sacrifice of Christ in the Lord's Supper and in other respects. But no statement of that position has met with so much notoriety as John Henry Newman's Tract 90 (1841).
Before Newman's conversion to Rome in 1845, he had been an Anglican priest and a tract writer in what came to be called the Tractarian or Oxford Movement. In Tract 90 he argued that certain of the 39 Articles, including Article 31, were consistent with Roman doctrine. He claimed Article 31 was aimed only at popular abuses of Rome's teaching, not at official church doctrine, and that this was evident in part because it condemned “the sacrifices of Masses,” plural, not singular.
It seemed plain enough, however, that Article 31 condemned exactly the official Roman doctrine as stated by Trent. Further, it made no sense that Anglican Articles would be needed to denounce popular abuses of Roman doctrine which Rome itself denounced. And the distinction between singular and plural seemed a meaningless quibble. A respected church historian has identified the reasoning in Tract 90 as “casuistry”. (f.n.10) The Articles could hardly be friendly to Roman doctrine as they were officially issued in 1571, shortly after Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth. To the unbiased, the absurdity of Tract 90 is obvious.
Not persuaded by these facts, however, some have continued to maintain the Roman teachings while professing to adhere to Anglicanism and the 39 Articles – by relying on Tract 90's discredited polemic. (f.n.11) The consensus of Anglican divines for centuries, attesting that Article 31 totally rejects the Roman doctrine of a propitiatory sacrifice of Christ in the mass, is of no significance to this way of thinking.
Such thinking conforms, not to Anglicanism at all, but to Rome in most respects. Therefore, let a Cardinal of the Roman Church settle the issue. Writing in 1883, (f.n.12) Cardinal Newman said this about his own analysis of Article 31 in Tract 90:
“The reasoning in this Section is not satisfactory. . . . What the Article abjures as a lie, is just that which Pope and Council declare to be a divine truth. . . . There is no denying then that these audacious words [of Article 31] apply to the doctrinal teaching as well as to the popular belief of Catholics. What was “commonly said,” was also formally enunciated by the Ecumenical Hierarchy in Council assembled.
“[N]othing can come of the suggested distinction between Mass and Masses . . . .
“What the 31st Article repudiates is undeniably the central and most sacred doctrine of the Catholic Religion; and so its wording has ever been read since it was drawn up. And conformable to it has been the doctrine of Anglican divines, even of those who hold that there was a sacrifice in the Eucharist. . . . [N]one of these have maintained with the [Roman] Church that Christ is really offered up in sacrifice in the Eucharistic Rite.”
Any who would still rely on Newman must accept what Newman here acknowledges. In refuting his own arguments about Article 31 he brands them “not satisfactory.” Article 31 rejects what Newman calls “the central and most sacred doctrine” of the Roman Church. This sheds light on the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the Articles' principal author, and of Bishop Latimer, Bishop Ridley and others by a Roman Catholic queen.
Significantly, Newman shows that Anglican clergy have always conformed to this reading of Article 31, even “those who hold that there was a sacrifice in the Eucharist.” He cites the Non-jurors and Caroline Divines of the 17th and early 18th centuries – those whose thinking was nearest to Rome. He shows that even these clerics all rejected Rome's claim “that Christ is really offered up in sacrifice in the Eucharistic Rite.” They held to the Anglican position that the rite was a commemoration and a pleading of the Calvary sacrifice. But a few also held that they offered up bread and wine and through these symbols offered Christ's sacrificed body and blood, and that this was propitiatory in a qualified sense. (f.n.13) This conflicted with Article 31's exclusion of any propitiation but that of Calvary. It was contrary also to reason because their denial of any actual sacrifice of Christ in this rite deprived it of a basis for being propitiatory. Neither did it fully equate to Rome which at least supports its propitiation theory by claiming a real sacrifice of Christ occurs in the mass.
Turning to the 19th century, Newman well knew the Tractarian position and stated it, citing Dr. Pusey's Tract 81: (f.n.14) The natural elements of bread and wine were offered to God, and returned with His blessing; but “there was no offering up of Christ because there was no transubstantiation.” Christ was “really present, but as our spiritual food, and as the Lamb that had been offered once, but not as then being offered.” “This is the categorical teaching of the Tracts,” says Newman. “There was not even the slightest approximation to that doctrine of Christ offered in the Mass for the quick and the dead, which was condemned in the 31st Article.”
In sum, Cardinal Newman has withdrawn every material point he made in Tract 90 regarding Article 31, and now asserts the opposite of each point: Article 31 attacks official Roman doctrine. Article 31 was read this way consistently from the time it was drawn up, not just at some later time. The distinction between “Mass and Masses” is “nothing.” Even those Anglican divines who came the closest to Roman doctrine have always held this view of Article 31.
As an Anglican, the Rev. Mr. Newman admitted in Tract 90 that his purpose was not to find the actual intent and meaning of the Articles of Religion, but to try to make them fit Roman doctrine. As a Roman Cardinal, however, he openly maintained the Roman position, and in so doing, exposed the error of his former attempt to equate Article 31 and Roman doctrine. He showed the direct and total conflict of the two churches on this central issue. In this he has confirmed the Anglican and plain meaning of Article 31, and has fully discredited the pretense that the Roman doctrinal position is maintainable within Anglicanism.
Newman's own knowledge of the subject would qualify him to make these judgments. But instead of relying on that basis he referred the issue to higher authority. In order to say what Anglicanism is not, he relied on the most trusted authority he could cite for what Anglicanism really is and holds: Waterland's comprehensive Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist as Laid Down in Scripture and Antiquity (c. 1737).
The Very Rev. Dr. Daniel Waterland, 1683 – 1740, Archdeacon of Middlesex, studied and wrote on a wide range of theological issues. His volume on the Eucharist was republished in 1868 at the request of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as it had been considered “almost the text-book of the Church of England on [this] subject.” (f.n.15)
This was the authority to which Newman deferred, and from which he quoted in stating the Anglican position through the early 18th century (above). Newman gave his own certification of Waterland, calling him “exact” and a writer surely to be trusted in matters of fact. He added that no later authority had ever contradicted Waterland. (f.n.16)
Our Scriptural Sacrifices Are All Spiritual and Non-Propitiatory
Besides stating the Anglican doctrine with authority, Waterland validated it by laying out in detail the scriptural and patristic support for it. The faithful offer many sacrifices both in the Lord's Supper and at all times, and these are clearly non-propitiatory. See Article 12: all our offerings are “the fruits of faith” and “cannot put away our sins.”
Based on Scripture (Jer. 33:11; Hos. 14:2; Heb. 13:15; Ps. 116:17; Ps. 107:22; Ps. 50:14-15), the BCP calls the Lord's Supper a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving”. The faithful offer their bodies as “a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1), their prayers also (Rev. 5:8, 8:3-4; Ps. 141:2), and a contrite heart (Ps. 51). The Fathers also offered up converts, penitents and the whole Church as Christ's mystical body, and the service of commemorating Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Alms and good deeds are sacrifices “acceptable” and “well pleasing to God” (Php. 4:18; Heb. 13:16), yet not propitiating for sin. The faithful are “a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5), as foretold in Malachi 1:11.
As St. Peter states and the Fathers taught, these are all “spiritual sacrifices.” The apparently material offerings of alms for the poor, oblations for the church, and the later idea of offering the elements of bread and wine, were spiritual sacrifices “for it is the service, not the material offering, which God accepts.” The material offering is not consumed, or any part of it – like a burnt offering – in God's service or as His portion, but goes entirely to the use of man. “All that we really give up to God as his tribute, are our thanks, our praises, our acknowledgements, our homage, our selves, our souls and bodies, which is all spiritual sacrifice, and purely spiritual.” The giving and sacrificing spirit, not the material offering, is what we give to God. “This is the new oblation, the only one that is any way acceptable under the Gospel, being made in spirit and in truth.” (f.n.17)
This is “all that the ancients have ever taught of Christian sacrifices.” (f.n.18) It excludes any notion of offering up Christ as a sacrifice, or offering up His body and blood through the symbols of bread and wine, or offering any propitiating sacrifice for sins. Scripture affords no warrant for any such idea. The BCP Prayer of Consecration excludes it: Christ offered Himself only “once”, on the cross, and made full, perfect and sufficient satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.
The Claim that Man Offers Up Christ in Sacrifice
is Contrary to the Spirit, to Scripture and to the Fathers
Were Christ to offer Himself in the Supper, “he might have a right to do it; we have none, and so can only commemorate what he did. . . . If we symbolically sacrifice anything in the Eucharist, it is only . . . ourselves, and that is all: more than that cannot comport with Scripture, or with the principle of the ancients . . . .” (f.n.19)
Christ never offered up Himself more than once, “For then he must often have suffered.” Heb. 9:26. He does not even offer Himself in heaven. Heb. 9:24-25, 10:12-13. For “where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin.” Heb. 10:18. Rome's claim that a “bloodless oblation” of Christ in the mass propitiates God and obtains remission of sins conflicts also with the Scripture that “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” Heb. 9:22. St. Paul equates the offering up of Christ with the propitiating and atoning sacrifice, and he places this event entirely on Calvary alone.
Symbolically to offer Christ is “a notion which . . . is plainly contradicted by the whole turn and tenor of all the ancient Liturgies, as well as by the plain nature and reason of the thing. . . . We do not offer Christ in the Eucharist, but God offers Christ to us, in return for our offering ourselves. We commemorate the grand sacrifice, but do not reiterate it; no, not so much as under symbols.” To talk of our offering up Christ's Body and Blood “carries no appearance of truth or consistency; neither hath it any countenance in Scripture or antiquity.” (fn.20)
Much more, “The Fathers well understood, that to make Christ's natural body the real sacrifice of the Eucharist, would not only be absurd in reason, but highly presumptuous and profane; and that to make the outward symbols a proper sacrifice, a material sacrifice, would be entirely contrary to Gospel principles.” (f.n.21)
The “absurdity” lies surely in its contrariness to Scripture and plain reason. Christ says He feeds us with His sacrifice which He offered once to make satisfaction for our sins, yet man would say that we sacrifice Christ so as to make satisfaction again for our sins. The sacrifice and satisfaction have been long-since “finished” and we are the objects and the recipients of the resulting benefit, not participants in procuring it. “Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price.” I Cor. 6:19-20. For the person who is bought to claim he has any part in purchasing himself is nonsense and denies the Scripture that he is no longer his own. By this Scripture, the offender has nothing with which to re-establish his own righteousness. He needs mercy and redemption. His place is emphatically not to offer propitiating sacrifice but to thank and praise God forever for His providing the sole redeeming sacrifice in Jesus Christ. Rev. 5:12; I Cor. 15:57; Rev. 7:12.
It is “highly presumptuous” to reverse this divine judgment by the pretense that the sinner can offer an atoning sacrifice, especially that he can have any part in offering the Death of the innocent One Who redeemed him. The One who chose to lay down his life for us is the only One who could ever make that decision and offer that sacrifice. The claim that we can offer anything that expiates sins, or propitiates, atones or makes satisfaction for sins usurps the expiatory office of the Godhead – only God the Son can make satisfaction for sins, and He did so only once, and alone. Heb. 9:25-28, 7:27, 10:10-14, 18.
The claim therefore is called “profane” as well as presumptuous. In the spirit of emulation, it intrudes man's polluted participation into what is solely God's act. It thereby desecrates and belies the solitariness of God's redemptive act and the universality of the mercy with which He acted.
The error is the same in kind, though perhaps different in degree, both in Rome's claimed offering up of Christ in a propitiatory sacrifice in every mass and in the related idea that we make a propitiatory offering of Christ's body and blood through the symbols of bread and wine. The offense in either case lies in the sinner‟s presuming and pretending to act in the redemptive capacity of the Savior, which no Apostle ever did or taught.
The same presumption and emulation underlie Eve's error in the Garden and to this day (Gen. 3:6), and also Lucifer's: “I will be like the most High.” Is. 14:14. The fallen spirit makes a lie of the pure love and mercy of God's act, by recasting our debt as a credit and our submissive receiving of God's gift as a meritorious work for God.
This same error in a related context brought forth the same judgment from earlier Anglican divines. Archbishop Cranmer called the Roman doctrine of justification “the greatest arrogancy and presumption,” (f.n.22) viz., the claim that a Christian by good works may contribute his mite to Christ's treasury of merits, exceed the debt owed for sin, and “merit his own salvation.” (f.n.23) The judicious Richard Hooker+ drew the same conclusion: Rome's teaching that we may in this way earn heaven denies that we are saved by grace. It is repugnant to Scripture, as salvation is solely “according to God's mercy.” Titus 3:5. (f.n.24)
The Error Obscures the True Inward and
Spiritual Feeding on Christ in His Death,
Which is Necessary to Salvation
Should anyone be tempted to look upon this as a mere strife of words having no practical effect, neither Scripture nor Rome itself has left that option open. Scripture inspired the issuance of Article 31 which condemns “the central and most sacred doctrine” of the Roman Church, to quote Newman. He accurately reflected the judgment of the Council of Trent which pronounced a curse on all who reject this doctrine. Session XXII, Canon III (1562). Pope Benedict XVI recently reconfirmed Trent's position. The doctrine of Rome‟s “Eucharistic Mystery” is so essential that Rome denies even the status of a “church” to the “Reformation communities” on the ground that they do not possess it. Responsa Quaestiones, published by order of Benedict XVI, June 29, 2007.
This teaching induces – rather, under pain of anathema it commands – the belief that propitiation through the rites of the Roman or equally qualified system is required in order to be a member of the Body of Christ, which is the only way to obtain pardon and eternal life. Trent's further teaching of transubstantiation (Session XIII, ch. 4 (1551) and virtually automatic functioning of the sacrament, ex opere operato (Session VII, Canon VIII (1547), assures its members of these eternal rewards without the true spiritual feeding upon Christ in His death which Christ taught is the only way to eternal life. St. John 6:51-58.
Rome teaches that in St. John, ch. 6, Christ refers to receiving the sacrament, a reading that is excluded both by reason and by the Fathers of the early Church. The good and the evil alike may physically eat the sacramental elements and not all who do so have eternal life. “Were it possible for an [evil] man, as such, to feed upon him who was made flesh, the Logos, and the living bread, it would not have been written [as Christ said] that whosoever eateth of this bread shall live forever.” (f.n.25)
Hence the eating Christ spoke of can only mean eating in spirit and in truth – true spiritual partaking of Christ and His atoning death. Without this, a person does not in fact eat the “living bread.”
To the extent that the physical sacrament is held to be the object which by Christ's promise gives eternal life to all who receive it, the sacrament is not an outward sign of anything but takes the place of the substantive spiritual fact which it was ordained to signify, viz., the inward and spiritual feeding on Christ crucified. This reversal of Scripture and of Christ's provision logically leads to Rome's further profane invention that the physical elements of the sacrament are to be given the full worship and adoration that are due to God. Trent, Session XIII, ch. 5 (1551).
The True Biblical and Anglican Doctrine
of Our Feeding Upon Christ in His Death
Anglicanism and the early church Fathers teach that Christ in St. John 6:51-58 speaks of the necessity of spiritually feeding on Him, on His body and blood given up in sacrificial death, not of the sacrament which is – or should be – a true outward sign of this inward spiritual reality. The sacrament is but one means – and a most considerable one (Eucharist at 109) instituted by Christ – of receiving this spiritual feeding, but only if in the outward sign we accept the inward thing signified, viz., Christ feeding us with His body broken and His blood shed in death – “by digesting His death in our minds as our only price, ransom and redemption from eternal damnation,” as Cranmer also put it. This spiritual partaking of the atonement made by Christ's sufferings and death is the eating and drinking that nourishes the faithful to eternal life. (f.n.26)
The following words of Archbishop Cranmer say it best –
“The first Catholic Christian faith is most plain, clear, and comfortable, without any difficulty, scruple, or doubt: that is to say, that our Saviour Christ, although he be sitting in heaven, in equality with his Father, is our life, strength, food, and sustenance; who by his death delivered us from death, and daily nourishes and increases us to eternal life. And in token hereof, he hath prepared bread to be eaten, and wine to be drunk of us in his holy Supper, to put us in remembrance of his said death, and of the celestial feeding, nourishing, increasing, and of all the benefits which we have thereby: which benefits, through faith and the Holy Ghost, are exhibited and given unto all that worthily receive the said holy Supper.
“This the husbandman at his plough, the weaver at his loom, and the wife at her rock, can remember, and give thanks unto God for the same: this is the very doctrine of the Gospel, with the consent wholly of all the old ecclesiastical doctors.” (f.n.27)
The Spiritual and Moral Consequences of the
Anglican-Roman Theological Rift
Anti-spiritual teachings on the Lord's Supper, on justification and in other areas are capable of misleading the faithful. But God's grace may yet work powerfully in souls within the Roman and any other ecclesial systems that teach false doctrines. This does not validate the false teachings but rather occurs in spite of them. It exemplifies the truth that Christ taught in St. John 6: anyone who spiritually and faithfully feeds upon Christ's sacrificed body and blood has life eternal, whether within or outside of the sacrament. (f.n.28)
Some Anglicans and others have been misled or mistaken, or have misjudged regarding Roman teachings and the true scriptural, Anglican doctrine. Still, those who have the light to see and know the truth may not make a false choice in this regard and be unaccountable. In the words of that gentle teacher Richard Hooker+, “[God] pitieth the blind that would gladly see; but will God pity him that may see and hardeneth himself in blindness? No; Christ hath spoken too much unto you for you to claim the privilege of your fathers [who knew only the Roman system].” (f.n.29)
The Articles of Religion, the Homilies, the BCP Prayer of Consecration, the Catechism, the consensus of Anglican divines for centuries, and the pronouncements of the Roman Church all testify to the fundamental conflict between the Anglican (scriptural) doctrine and the Roman doctrine on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. These doctrines are central to the respective communions.
The TAC bishops vowed, in their Concordat, to uphold the “formularies of the classical Anglican tradition” including the 1662 and 1928 BCP as “the standard of Faith and Worship.” TAC member churches bound themselves to the same standard, to uphold the 1928 BCP, the Ordinal and the 39 Articles – the classic Anglican Formularies. TAC and its members are committed to the “Faith and Worship” of the English Reformation.
The TAC Archbishop was surely aware of the morally untenable position he occupied, having denounced the Reformation while at the same time being solemnly bound to uphold the English Reformation as embodied in the “classic Anglican formularies.” He properly recognized the material conflict between the Reformation and Roman positions. But because he chose the Roman position and rejected the Reformation, it was essentially false and indefensible for him to continue as the head of TAC or of any traditional Anglican body.
All TAC bishops as well as any other Continuing Anglican clerics are in this untenable position insofar as they may be committed to Roman doctrine, as they are at the same time spiritual guardians of the classic Anglican tradition. The genuine conflict of these two positions cannot be unknown to them. Are they “master[s] of Israel and know not these things?” St. John 3:10. By holding to Roman doctrine, they have openly forsaken the Anglicanism which they are morally and spiritually bound to uphold. They do not truthfully represent traditional Anglicans. As long as this duplicity continues, it does critical harm to the cause of traditional Anglicanism, by keeping it back from its calling to bear the scriptural and spiritual witness God has ordained.
The Historic Anglican Spiritual Witness
That witness stands forth, centuries old, in humble yet stark and blood-stained outlines. Anglican Communion services since 1549 have prayed that God would grant us forgiveness and membership in Christ's Body, the Church – not based on our usurping the attributes of the Godhead and purporting to offer a propitiating sacrifice, but solely “by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood.” He instituted the Supper not to be a propitiatory oblation of Himself but expressly to commemorate His one full, perfect and sufficient oblation of Himself on the cross. By this, He vouchsafes to feed us “with the spiritual food” of His Body and Blood. And He assures us thereby “that we are very members incorporate in [His] mystical body,” the “blessed company of all faithful people,” and that we are heirs through hope of His everlasting kingdom, entirely “by the merits of his most precious death and passion.”
May God mercifully restore us to this true calling and sacred heritage, and keep us faithful to the same, for His Name's sake.
“Vainly we offer each ample oblation, vainly with gifts would his favor secure. Richer by far is the heart's adoration; dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.” -- Bishop Reginald Heber, 1811.
1 Shands & Evans, How and Why (Seabury: N.Y. 1971).
2 See, e.g., F. E. Wilson, An Outline of the English Reformation, 56-57 (1941).
3 The Affirmation of St. Louis (1977).
4 The Mandate, 4 - 6, vol. 31, no. 1 (Prayer Book Society: Philadelphia 2008).
5 P. Laukhuff, President of the St. Louis Congress, A Declaration of Conscience (June 18, 1982).
6 The Christian Challenge, p. 30 (Sept.-Oct. 2005).
7 See VirtueOnline, August 16 & October 14, 2008.
8 D. Starkey, Elizabeth, 281 (Harper Collins: N.Y. 2001).
9 D. Waterland, A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, ch.12 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1868, original c. 1737).
10 Bp. J. R. H. Moorman, The Anglican Spiritual Tradition, p. 58 (Templegate: Springfield, 1983).
11 See, e.g., V. Staley, The Catholic Religion, pp. 157-8, (Morehouse: Harrisburg, 1983; orig. pub. 1893).
12 Newman, The Via Media, v. 2, pp. 351-6 (Longmans, Green: London, 1896).
13 Newman, The Via Media, at 353; Bp. J. Taylor, Works, ed. Bp. R. Heber (1839), and other sources, quoted in H. Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, 423 (Oxford: London, 1959).
14 The Via Media, at 352-353.
15 Preface, A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist.
16 Our Scriptural Sacrifices are All Spiritual and Non-Propitiatory -- The Via Media, at 355.
17 Waterland, Eucharist, at 321-322, 326-327.
18 Eucharist, at 311-312.
19 Eucharist, at 338.
20 Eucharist, at 339.
21 Eucharist, at 348-349.
22 A Homily of Salvation, 1st Book of Homilies (1547).
23 Aquinas, Summa Theologica, iii. Q.48 art. 1, et seq.
24 Hooker, Justification Discourse, Part 34 (1586).
25 Origen (c. 182-251 A.D.), quoted in Waterland
26 Eucharist, ch. 6 & 7.
27 Quoted in Eucharist, at 174-175.
28 Eucharist, at 92; to same effect: BCP (1928) rubric at p. 323.
29 Justification Discourse, Part 38 (1586).
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THE CHURCH THAT VANISHED
The True Story of St. Saviour's, Hoxton*
*The historical events underlying the following account are set forth in Vanished Church, Vanished Streets: The Parish of St. Saviour's, Hoxton, by John M. Harwood, in The East London Record (1986).
The Church of England parish of St. Saviour's had its promising beginning in 1861 as a mission in Hoxton, a poor section of northeast London.
Twenty-five persons attended its first service.
By 1863, it had a congregation of 300 and a regular round of parish activities. Its large Gothic building, of brick, rose in 1866. Its future as an effective long-term witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ looked bright. Shortly, however, the steps leading to its eventual dissolution began to trace their tragic and instructive path.
If the numbers who regularly attend services are a measure of success in the propagation of the Gospel, the parish prospered remarkably under six successive vicars for the next 40 years. But already during that period, the first worrisome seeds were planted.
The second vicar gained prominence as a "Christian socialist." Notwithstanding this outreach (or possibly as a result of it), the parish gradually lost contact with its poor constituency. The local poor became the objects of charity instead of becoming members of the parish.
Before the turn of the century, the parish had become respectable and was well known for its choir, social activities and cultured clergy. This second vicar was also a "high" Tractarian but made an exemplary decision not to institute Roman ritual which was the usual earmark of adherents of that movement.
The 1908 appointment of the well-intentioned seventh vicar, Fr. Kilburn, however, brought dramatic changes. For one thing, he was determined to bring the working people of Hoxton back to St. Saviour's. His spiritual qualities contributed to the accomplishment of this admirable goal, as did his entry into the secular arena where he fought for safer roads, better housing conditions for local residents, local women's industries and improved sanitation.
Such Christian socialism may have departed somewhat from the pure Gospel outreach of St. Saviour's. Still, it seems unlikely that disaster would ultimately have overtaken the parish as it did, if this had been all that Fr. Kilburn meant to change. But he resolved upon a further fateful innovation.
He superimposed on the admittedly orthodox teachings of the parish "the externals" of Roman-style worship – in short, 'fixing what was not broken,' by altering the outward formalities of worship. The potentially detrimental consequences of this plan both for the parish and indeed for the Divine Commission itself seem to have been considered unimportant.
Within a few years, the changes went deeper. Fr. Kilburn introduced the service books of the Roman rite, as well as other features associated with Roman practice. The celebrated choir left, along with many other parishioners.
Undaunted by these losses, Fr. Kilburn and his associates took Roman ritual to still greater extremes, introduced the use of Latin, and banished all Anglican service books from the church. Nothing in the church reflected the fact that it was Anglican. Even the notice board announced, "Catholic Church of St. Saviour's, Hoxton."
Eventually, the long-suffering Bishop of London declined to license curates or let diocesan grants be made to St. Saviour's unless it returned to Anglican ways. Fr. Kilburn, however, was adamant. Tuning his back on his Bishop and thus cementing the rift, he made a nation-wide appeal for support. By 1922, he was worn out by money worries, opposition, the bishop's ban, and doubts about whether to stay in the Church of England. He and his last remaining curate resigned and joined the Roman Church.
The effect of Fr. Kilburn's controversial ministry upon St. Saviour's was predictable. By 1928, even though the bishop's ban was lifted when services in English were restored (the Roman liturgy and hymnal remaining in use), the Kilburn policy had taken its toll. The damage had by then become permanent. Attendance had dropped gradually, some defecting to Rome, some just drifting away. The local people came less and less. In their place, the dwindling membership included Anglo-Catholic enthusiasts from the suburbs. When the London blitz forced the parishioners to seek shelter, they fitted easily into a small chapel in the clergy house.
Closed after receiving slight damage in an air raid in 1940, St. Saviour's was never re-opened. In 1954, it was demolished, as part of a plan which converted a portion of Hoxton into a park. Many London churches that were far worse damaged and less important architecturally or spiritually were restored, signifying the probable involvement of St. Saviour's troubled history as a factor in the decision to demolish it.
Partisan theories about competition between different levels of 'churchmanship' provide an inadequate accounting for these events. Given that the primacy of the Gospel message is indispensable to the life of a Christian parish, objective evidence reveals that the anti-pastoral policy choices implemented at St. Saviour’s are what dictated its tragic demise.
The elevation of what were admitted to be mere "externals" over the substance of the people’s already-held orthodox Christian belief was the pivotal event that drove a wedge into the parish and assured its doom. Relentless pursuit of that course led inexorably to the long-term consequences that followed.
Whether or not the same errors would have been fatal if not pursued to such an extreme does not alter the spiritual lesson taught by these facts. The course of St. Saviour's history is instructive in revealing the end toward which all divisive errors of this kind – regardless of magnitude – tend to lead.
A shepherding policy built on the Truth of Christ is found to be, in the long run, not a dividing but a unifying force – a ministry of reconciliation – among faithful Christians. Rightly viewed, divisions among Christians under any pretext are a scandal unless they are necessitated by the offense of the Cross itself. Except for these only, a true shepherd will not tolerate divisions in his flock, much less promote them as happened in the tragic case of St. Saviour's.
Instead, the true pastor will labor tirelessly to overcome, by God's grace, any non-essential differences that tend to divide believers. Being always so occupied, he will be unlikely to delude himself into elevating some man-made cause of division above the unifying gospel Truth and the articles of the Christian Faith. Never will he permit his own mere preferences to divide the flock of Christ.
“’The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.’ The difference between the good and the bad shepherd is that the former seeks the advantage of the flock, the latter his own." St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on St. John’s Gospel, ch. 10. Christ crucified, when lifted up above all other things, "will draw all men" unto Him. ~
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