I always enjoy reading the Old High Churchman and the reasoned reflections of Archbishop Peter Robinson, a case in point being his most recent Keeping Things Tidy. As usual, I see the same binary choice being offered between an idealised “patristic” style of worship and doctrinal belief and “corrupt” Rome. Falsus in uno falsus in omnibus. A man has a small cancerous tumour on his back, so the surgeon removes the brain and puts it in some kind of futuristic life-support machine and sends the dead body to the morgue. The analogy is horribly crude, but this is what comes to mind.
How can anyone conceive of a church with formularies that go back four and a half centuries and expect some kind of tolerant comprehensiveness to come out of it?
I am brought back to the old article by William Tighe, Can the Thirty-Nine Articles Function As a Confessional Standard for Anglicans Today?. There may be two consequences of trashing the Articles and other relics of English legalism, becoming Roman Catholic or devising some form of English Gallicanism or Old Catholicism – a local or national Catholicism that transposes Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology onto a western idiom and cultural context.
It is surprising to find a systematic omission of the pre-Reformation English tradition, unless it is simply assimilated to the “abomination of Popery” or so-called corrupt Roman Catholicism. I don’t know if Archbishop Robinson has read Eamon Duffy and the work of other historians who concluded that early sixteenth-century religion in Europe was less superstitious and corrupt than previously believed.The Reformation seems to be just as much built on prejudice and ideology as infallibilist propaganda in the 1860′s. Or the racial and occultist theories of Göbbels and Rosenberg for that matter! Perhaps religion really is something for little children and to be grown out of!
One thing that attracts me to Dr Tighe’s thesis is that he is a historian and submits belief to reason and knowledge.
It seem to become clearer that if the kind of “classical Anglicanism” that insists on the Articles and the other sixteenth century reformed formularies cannot tolerate the “Old Catholic” tendency, then it would seem appropriate for there to be a peaceful and courteous parting of the ways along that line. That would ensure coherence and stability in the two Christian communities.