Sunday, July 13, 2014

Henry McAdoo: What is Anglicanism?

"[Anglicanism] is a liturgical and sacramental and devotional religion for everyday use by committed people. It is deeply aware that the individual is responsible for living his own life and doing his own decision-making in cooperation with the grace of the Spirit. Yet he is an individual who is a member of the eucharistic fellowship of the baptized and he is called to live 'the new life' of the imitation of Christ in the company of his fellows to whom he owes the duty of love. It is alive to the demands and the difficulties which being human makes on the vocation of 'walking in newness of life' but it is aware too that at the heart of this threefold duty to God, the neighbor and the self, is 'the mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.' Always the strictness of discipline, the care of observance, and the affectivity of devotion are centered on 'the new possibility' which is there when the Life recreates lives through faith and repentance."

~ Henry R. McAdoo, First of its Kind: 
Jeremy Taylor's Life of Christ (1994)


William G. said...

I would say Anglicanism is two things: a dying denomination corrupted by its own latitudinarianism, that at one time was the pinnacle of Christian Orthodoxy in the West, and has now embraced every form of dogmatic and liturgical corruption, in spite of the heroic efforts of men like Fr. Owen; a religion that is presently exploited as a distribution channel for the Nashville Christian music genre, and one that will eventually transition into being one of the nation's largest real estate investment trusts, a process being artificially hastened through the avarice of certain hierarchs.

Anglicanism on the other hand is also a very beautiful religion, one that, like our savior, is being reborn, even as it is dying, even in the moribund Episcopal Church. A new Anglican church will emerge from the ashes of the old, perhaps initially with more humble places of worship than the great temples it now enjoys, but one that is fully Orthodox, and that has refined its Latitudinarianism to facilitate a unity in diversity, but only within the boundaries set by the limit of its confession, which was indeed the objective of the early reformers. This might be accomplished through more of a reliance on creeds and confessional statements than on a shared liturgy, although the Book of Common Prayer will remain vital; I believe a new Book of Common Prayer will eventually emerge that will provide enough flexibility so that the desires of Anglo Catholics, people attached to previous versions of the Book of Common Prayer, and low church Evangelicals can be met, perhaps by emphasizing conformity with certain standard portions of the liturgy, while allowing variations in other parts, subject to approval by the Bishop (which is in fact the model used by the Orthodox Church).

This new Anglicanism, which is now in an embryonic state, and is found both in confessional Episcopal parishes like St. Luke's and in the ACNA and the Anglican churches of the Global South, will most likely be able to join the Orthodox Church if desired, and will provide a real alternative to Roman Catholicism for traditional, pious Christians in the West, who wish to continue to worship using traditional Western liturgy.

The spark that created this painful regeneration was, like the spark that created the Church of England to begin with, a sin; whereas Anglicanism was born out of the insatiable lust of Henry VIII, it is being reborn out of the insatiable lust of those unable or unwilling to adhere to the traditional modes of Christian sexuality, those being holy matrimony and holy celibacy.

God transformed the initial schism, itself a disaster, into a means by which the English were graced by the Gospel, which in turn facilitated a number of positive events, including the better half of the Enlightenment, the liberation of all Englishmen from the bonds of tyranny, and the birth of the United States.

In the same manner, I believe God is working through the evil perversion of the corrupted Anglican jurisdictions to restore Anglicanism, and to enable it to achieve the most excellent ideal of faithful adherence to the Apostolic faith, to which it has always aspired, and very nearly attained in the early 20th century.

Most likely, I see this taking the form of union with the Orthodox; the Orthodox will impart to the Anglican church the ancient doctrines, freed from certain corruptions that crept in following the Great Schism, and the inevitable overreactions of the Reformers to these innovations; in return, Anglicanism will impart Orthodoxy with a greater sense of Catholicity, freeing it from the ethnocentric aspects that alienate outsiders, and introducing, ironically enough for a church always held together by liturgical consistency, an appropriate and healthy liturgical diversity.

Bryan Owen said...

Wow, William, that's one impressive comment you've offered! It's worthy of being a stand-alone blog posting.

There's so much packed into your comment that I'm not sure where to start, other than to say that I certainly hope that "a new Anglican church will emerge from the ashes of the old."

I'm particularly intrigued by your suggestion that this renewal might take place from "union with the Orthodox." As you may be able to tell from other postings here, I have a soft spot for Orthodoxy, and so it's hard for me not to share such a hope. But on the other hand, I'm also aware of a number of obstacles that hinder moving towards a closer relationship between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on how such a union might take place.

William G. said...

Well Bryan I think Anglicanism has to be focused on the process of recovering Orthodoxy, and not wedded to the specific artifacts of its initial creation. In other words, Cranmer should not be lionized in the manner of Luther or Calvin; those 39 articles which most Anglicans other than the tiny minority of low church parishes (like those in Virginia we've discussed) that invoke the heresy of iconoclasm should be rescinded.

At the same time, in approaching the Eastern Orthodox, the Anglicans who want to go in that direction should conduct a point-by-point study of the relevant Patristic authorities. Specifically, the writings of John of Damascus and Gregory of Palamas are very important in defining what Eastern Orthodoxy ought to look like.

There is also cause for looking at the Oriental Orthodox and indeed the Assyrians. One should thoroughly talk to each of the three Eastern communions and compare what they're saying with the the theology of Irenaeus and Athanasius, who as I see it, are our two primary dogmatic links to the Apostles; more than anyone else, they define the extra-Biblical aspects of the Christian faith that are universally accepted.

One also ought to study the canons of all of the ecumenical councils, bearing in mind the Oriental Orthodox reject Chalcedon, but in principle agree with nos. 5, 6, and 7, and the Assyrians reject Ephesus, but in principle accept Chalcedon and the following councils.

Of particular trickiness is the Quinisext Council, which defines rules for liturgical practice in the Byzantine Rite, but which was never accepted by Rome. In rejoining the Eastern churches, Westerners must be adamant about not acceding to those portions of the Quinisext council that were not implemented in the West; while this may have contributed a bit to the strain between Rome and Constantinople, it was never cited by the likes of Ss. Photius or Mark of Ephesus, or by Rome, as a reason for the schism.

In addition, one should also be prepared to point out where Orthodox churches are not acting in accordance with their own canons. I've witnessed pious Orthodox at a hierarchical divine liturgy on a Sunday performing full prostrations in Lent; this act is in fact prohibited by Canon XX of Nicea, and the Bishop should have stopped them, but didn't catch it. It has to be a two way dialogue about adhering to the Orthodox faith as defined Patristically, one that reocgnizes the historic work Anglicanism did in searching for Orthodoxy, in its initial formation, in the work of the Caroline divines, in John Wesley's work on re-introducing the concept of Theosis, the very Eastern-oriented thinking of the Non-Jurors and the Scottish Anglicans, and of course the Anglo Catholic movement leading through to men such as Gregory Dix, when union with the Orthodox nearly occurred.

It should lastly of course be observed that, regrettably, this will not occur in the actual functional framework of some existing Anglican jurisdictions, such as the ECUSA. There is no way any Eastern church can have a serious conversation with the ECUSA about anything, given the very problems you outline on this blog; the entire denomination is simply toxic. Eventually, some process will occur by which those remaining traditionalists like yourself will cease to be in communion with the likes of the Presiding Bishop, and within this new framework, whether it is the ACNA, or breakaway dioceses uniting themselves with Southern Anglicans, or another process, is where the possibility to move forward will exist. This will in all probability entail a regrettable loss of real estate, given how most American cities have two great Cathedrals, one Episcopal, and the other Catholic, and the Episcopal Cathedrals, the way things are going, might well mostly be concert halls or office buildings in 2050, although perhaps through our prayers we can salvage something out of it.