We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Common-Prayer-Biography-Religious/dp/0691154813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417814005&sr=8-1&keywords=jacobs+book+of+common+prayer. January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-English-Reformation-1489-1556/dp/1592448658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420055574&sr=8-1&keywords=A.F.+Pollard+Cranmer. February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-Jasper-Ridley/dp/0198212879/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422892154&sr=8-1&keywords=jasper+ridley+cranmer&pebp=1422892151110&peasin=198212879
Monday, April 18, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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Statement from Church Society regarding Bishop of Salisbury « Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
VirtueOnline - News - Theology, Research ... - Continuing What? The English Reformation: Key to the Continuing Church
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
By Stephen Cooper
Special to Virtueonline
April 11, 2011
Founded forty years ago to maintain the Anglican and Episcopal spiritual heritage against grievous assaults - i.e., theological innovation disguised as liturgical revision (Shands & Evans, How and Why (Seabury: N.Y. 1971)) - 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 (see, e.g., F. E. Wilson, An Outline of the English Reformation, 56-57 (1941)) 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. The Affirmation of St. Louis(1977). 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." The Mandate, 4 - 6, vol. 31, no. 1 (Prayer Book Society: Philadelphia 2008). 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. P. Laukhuff, President of the St. Louis Congress, A Declaration of Conscience(June 18, 1982). 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 (The Christian Challenge, p. 30 (Sept.-Oct. 2005)) - 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 (see VirtueOnline, August 16 & October 14, 2008) - 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 Bloody Mary 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." D. Starkey, Elizabeth, 281 (HarperCollins: N.Y. 2001).
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 places this fact beyond dispute. D. Waterland, A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, ch.12 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1868, original c. 1737).
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". Bp. J. R. H. Moorman, The Anglican Spiritual Tradition, p. 58 (Templegate: Springfield, 1983). 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. See, e.g., V. Staley, The Catholic Religion, pp. 157-8, (Morehouse: Harrisburg, 1983; orig. pub. 1893). 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 (Newman, The Via Media, v. 2, pp. 351-6 (Longmans, Green: London, 1896)), 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. 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). 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: 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." The Via Media, at 352-353.
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." Preface, A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist.
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. The Via Media, at 355.
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.'" Waterland, Eucharist, at 321-322, 326-327.
This is "all that the ancients have ever taught of Christian sacrifices." Eucharist, at 311-312. 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 . . . ." Eucharist, at 338.
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." Eucharist, at 339.
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." Eucharist, at 348-349.
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" (A Homily of Salvation, 1st Book of Homilies (1547)), 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." Aquinas, Summa Theologica, iii. Q.48 art. 1, et seq. 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. Hooker, Justification Discourse, Part 34 (1586).
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 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." Origen (c. 182-251 A.D.), quoted in Waterland, Eucharist, at 109. 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, 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. Eucharist, ch. 6 & 7.
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." Quoted in Eucharist, at 174-175.
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. Eucharist, at 92.
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]." Justification Discourse, Part 38 (1586).
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 have 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 church, the Anglican Church in America, binds itself to the same standard, to uphold the 1928 BCP, the Ordinal and the 39 Articles - the classic Anglican Formularies. TAC is committed to the "Faith and Worship" of the English Reformation.
The TAC Archbishop is surely aware of the morally untenable position he occupies, 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 recognizes the material conflict between the Reformation and Roman positions. But because he has chosen the Roman position and rejected the Reformation, it is essentially false and indefensible for him to continue as the head of TAC or any traditional Anglican body.
All TAC bishops and other Continuing Anglican clerics are in this untenable position insofar as they are 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.
---Stephen Cooper is editor of The Sojourner, v. 27, no. 1, April 10, 2011 He is a member of The Anglican Church of the Redeemer, Fairbanks, Alaska. This is excerpted from the magazine. Mr. Cooper is an assistant U.S. attorney
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Bishop John Rodgers - Anglican Pathfinder
ESSENTIAL TRUTHS FOR CHRISTIANS: A Commentary on the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles and an Introduction to Systematic Theology. Classical Anglican Press, $24.95 paperback, $49.95 hardcover.
Reviewed by Charles Raven
April 13, 2011
With the publication of his new book, orthodox Anglicans are doubly indebted to Bishop John Rodgers. In January 2000, along with Chuck Murphy, he was consecrated as a founding bishop of the Anglican Mission in America, a bold stroke which galvanised the struggle against false teaching in the Anglican Communion. The subsequent emergence of GAFCON, the Jerusalem Declaration and the Anglican Church in North America have vindicated that action and now, after many years' work, Bishop John has produced a book which will be truly essential for all those committed to rebuilding global Anglicanism as a confessing Communion with a confident and clear witness to the gospel.
The Jerusalem Declaration articulates the key commitments of confessing Anglicanism and in clause 4 it is affirmed that 'We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God's Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today'. Unfortunately, at least in the Churches of the West, the Articles, are commonly regarded as merely historical whatever their formal status, but 'Essential Truths', following Gerald Bray's excellent but briefer survey The Faith we Confess: An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (London: Latimer Trust, 2009) will go a long way to rectify this confessional deficit.
Bishop John writes in his introduction 'there is a pervasive ignorance of our Anglican Reformation heritage on the part of many in active leadership in Anglican Churches today. This condition makes it crucial to provide a book that can be read or referred to easily in the midst of busy lives.' I believe he has achieved his aim admirably.
Firstly, the accessibility of his style does not compromise depth. For example, when discussing the sequence of the Articles he sets out a fundamental insight about revelation rediscovered by Karl Barth with admirable simplicity. The logic of beginning with the nature of God rather than the knowledge of God is because 'we know different things differently. How we know anything depends in no small measure on the nature of that which is known. For example, we know a person differently than we know a rock. In the same way, how we know God will depend greatly on Who God is, on the kind of God He is, and on what He has done "for us men and our salvation."
Secondly, this book is an impressive exercise in Anglican systematic theology, with each Article analysed by using a logical progression through four sections: a) Explanation, based on a breakdown of the Articles key teaching points b) Biblical Foundations are demonstrated with extensive quotations from Scripture, rooting everything back in Scripture c) False Teachings Denied and Objections Answered - this section is especially helpful in bring a patristic and historical and apologetic perspective to bear d) Implications in which the teaching of the Article is applied, followed by a brief conclusion.
This systematic approach enables the reader to see how the whole structure of Anglican teaching hangs together in a way which gloriously combines a humble respect for our forbears in the faith yet never at the expense of the great doctrines of grace. And system is always subservient to Scripture; for instance Bishop John acknowledges that in the Trinity and in questions of human agency and divine sovereignty we come up against the limits of intellect, but nonetheless the mystery is entailed by the coherence of the biblical narrative as a whole.
This orderliness and clarity is more than a matter of style - it reflects the conviction that God does speak clearly through the inspired Scriptures. In marked contrast, the theological writing of Archbishop Rowan Williams typically betrays a persistent suspicion of systematisation because for him, revelation is much more slippery, lying behind the words of Scripture rather than within them, as I have demonstrated in my own 'Shadow Gospel: Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis' (London: Latimer Trust, 2010).
As the Anglican Communion goes through a period of profound change, I am sure that 'Essential Truths' will have a powerful impact on the emerging 'new wineskin' in ways that we cannot yet see, but this book would have radical consequences immediately if its lessons were taken to heart.
For instance, Bishop John's discussion of the marks of the visible Church of Article 19 argues persuasively that godly discipline is an implicit third mark of the Church alongside preaching of the 'pure word of God' and the place where the 'sacraments be duly ministered' . In support of this he quotes from the Homily for Whitsunday as follows: 'The true church is a universal congregation or fellowship of God's faithful and elect people, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone. And it hath three notes or marks, whereby it is known: Pure and sound doctrine; the sacraments ministered according to Christ's holy institution; And the right use of ecclesiastical discipline'.
This is not to bring in an extraneous or lesser authority because Article 35 specifically commends the Homilies as 'godly and wholesome doctrine'. As John Rodgers observes 'Not all groups named "church" truly qualify for the name they claim the right to bear'.
Applying this principle to the current state of affairs in the Anglican Communion, it is clear, for example, that the inclusion of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada in the Dublin Primates' Meeting implicitly ignored all three marks of Article 19 as those are 'Churches' which promote a false gospel of humanistic inclusion, discipline the orthodox rather than the heterodox and increasingly open the Lord's Table to the unbaptised. Those Primates who absented themselves as a matter of principle were following the only course open to them because their presence would have endorsed institutions that according Article 19 no longer qualify as Churches.
However 'Essential Truths' is about much more than its capacity to unglue false unity. It is a rich resource for firming up hearts and minds of laity and clergy alike as we address the task the GAFCON movement initiated in 2008 of reshaping the Anglican Communion. In his conclusion, Bishop John reflects that 'these Articles are remarkable, in that they are "Catholic and Reformed." Anglicanism stands along side the other Catholic Churches, the Orthodox Churches of the East and the Roman Catholic Church of the West, in keeping all the wisdom into which the Holy Spirit had led the Church prior to the great Reformation of the 16th Century. There are no strange innovations, no errant subtractions, and no unnecessary or odd additions, just a due appreciation of the Fathers, the Ecumenical Creeds and the Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, except where they contradicted Scripture or required things not required by sound exegesis of Scripture.
We might add that compared to the other great Communions of East and West, Anglicanism is yet young, a mere 450 years or so old; 'Essential Truths' increases our confidence that despite the dwindling gathering power of its dysfunctional Western governance, it will yet fulfil its promise.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011