Classical Anglican Blow-Out Department

This page, compared with the Orthodox Blow-Out Department, is intended for polemics and arguments along the lines of what is “true” Anglicanism, between the Prayer Book and Thirty-Nine Articles, fidelity to the raw and unabridged Reformation.

Here is the space where you can say what you want as as violently as you want with the “fire in your belly”.  I will only moderate “true trolls” (usual criteria).

The value of this page will be in the comments.


21 Responses to Classical Anglican Blow-Out Department

  1. Michael Frost says:

    I do hope a variety of commentators appears here. Being EO, my view of “Anglicanism” is usually skewed heavily by the Anglicans I interact with. Over the past 30 years or so, nearly all of them have been High Church or Anglo-Catholic, so I tend to think that “orthodox” Anglicanism is to be found there. Though I remain more than a bit confused as I leaf thru the 1928 BCP that is in the pew, look over the catechism & 39 Articles contained within, and then see or hear something that appears to directly contradict what I’m reading in their pew. And every now and then I encounter an Anglican who doesn’t quite fit this mold. Then suddenly an entirely different view of Anglicanism springs forth. It could be over the dogmatic value of the 39 Articles, the way the liturgy is celebrated or the nature & numnber of sacraments, but when I encounter it I realize there is more than one established strain of Anglicanism within the family.

    • Stephen K says:

      Michael, I’ve now just read your post. I think I know what you mean. In an aesthetic sense, I am attracted to a ‘high’ religious form, and so what is called ‘High Church” is my pietistic home. But I am also a democrat or a socialist or whatever that is in theological terms – because of my study and experience – and so I refuse to reject other forms and pieties on principle. I play the organ twice a month for my local village’s Anglican Morning Prayer service. I generally play the classic and traditional hymns and insist on seasonal repertoire – but I cannot remain aloof in the face of the ‘low-church’s’ community fervour and Gospel-based energy. So, here I am, a renegade Roman, investing my predilections into a motley congregation filled with ex-Presbyterians, ex-Catholics, ex-Baptists as well as a few remnant broad-church Anglicans and being edified by the mix. I still attend mainstream Roman Mass twice a month but have come to view religious differences as gnats not worth straining. It is Love, the Good Samaritan, the agape, the kiss of the leper that will trump doctrinal exactitude every time.
      I would never “become” an Anglican; the notion suggests any splinter of sincere Christianity is somehow “better” than any of the others, whereas all I see is that people do good and bad wherever they find themselves. But I don’t ever think my native Romanism is anything a virtue, just a mystery, accident, challenge or nuisance.

      • Peter Jericho says:

        > I would never “become” an Anglican; the notion suggests any splinter of sincere Christianity is somehow “better” than any of the others,

        Not meaning to get negative here, but I think I might become an Anglican if I had started out, say, Presbyterian or Baptist.

  2. If anyone is interested, Embryo Parson has me in his sights again – Initial Report on the New Anglican Catholic Church Blog.

    Comments are welcome, but keep them to this page.

  3. ed pacht says:

    Embryo Parson is a man of parts and often has good things to say. There is much of high value to be found in the 16th C Reformers he is so fond of and in many of their heirs. The Medieval Church had indeed lost sight of much of what really gave substance to their own tradition, and did need to be enriched and corrected by much that had been marginalized or hidden. It is this that I value in what is called the Classical Anglican approach. When EP advances these insights, he is at his best, and should be listened to. That said, I find myself deeply disturbed, sometimes angered, by the tone and tenor of his polemical remarks, which are many. He falls into the trap that so many of us share with him, of spending much more time and emotional energy on condemning what he opposes than on presenting the wondrous truths of the Gospel – or so it seems to me. Such a narrowness of view is endemic among controversialists, whether, like him, on the “Protestant” end of the spectrum. or like many Anglo-Catholics on the traditionalist end. (Hey, dogmatic liberals – who are legion – are not much different.)

    Any of these restricted viewpoints results in a strangely unappealing message, sometimes (especially in some expressions of the Classic” view) so thoroughly reasoned out as to become no more than an intellectual assent, without positive emotional engagement, without deep-seated awe, without engagement with the beauty of creation and of man’s attempt to participate in it. This, frankly, is no better at all than the vapid and substanceless aestheticism or the content-free mysticism one sometimes encounters. A true Christianity is one that offers salvation to the whole man, to his mind, yes, but also to his emotional makeup, to his inbuilt sense of awe, to his esthetic sensibilities, to his five physical senses, to his rootedness in history, to so much more.

    I can’t condemn the center of EP’s piety and theology – I believe a truly Catholic Christianity requires that these insights be spoken, heard, and considered – but I will condemn his condemnation of those he chooses not to agree with – as I will condemn the condemnation from Anglo-Catholics of those insights. Somehow each possesses a portion of truth and each fails in understanding other portions. We need each other.

    • Stephen K says:

      I’ve just read your post, ed. I do so agree with your perspective. I don’t know so much as you about the details of other Christian traditions – cradle Roman Catholics have a very quarantined religious experience – but you have really influenced me and I thank you for helping me move to a coherent articulation of my better instincts.

  4. Peter Jericho says:

    Here’s a question that relates to many of the blog-entries …

    We speak of Anglicans being “Catholic and Protestant” (or sometimes “Catholic or Protestant”, if the focus is on very high Anglicans and/or very low Anglicans) … but does anyone have any thoughts about being called “catholic and protestant”? Does it make much of a difference to you whether the words are capitalized?

    • Stephen K says:

      Peter Jericho, it makes no difference to me because I don’t think the terms ultimately mean anything absolute. We use labels like these to attempt to get at the essence of what we think we, or others, are. But I believe it is ultimately futile. In the end, I think we are all in some ways ‘protestant’ against some focus of external authority and in some way desirous of ‘catholicity’ i.e. belonging to something universal.

      In my view and experience, at least, none of us succeed to be just one or the other. None of us keep ‘pure’. I don’t think the spiritual life works like that, or can be confined to the labels we love to use. I think all Christian traditions tap into different but equally human and legitimate psychic outlooks. There is a kind of catholicity in species of Protestantism and vice versa. But, I have to say, never having been an Anglican – formally – myself, I think Anglicanism in all its forms (and I mean “with-all-its-forms”) seems a healthy religious dispensation.

    • Peter Jericho says:

      P.S. I should probably say a bit about myself at the start of this B.O.D. I tend to identify with the PNCC (partly due to circumstances: there’s a PNCC parish, that I’ve been going to for several years, not far from me, a lot closer than any ACNA or Continuing Anglican parish). Technically I’m in the Roman Communion, since I was baptized into it as an infant and have never departed from it. (I’ve many times said that if I were Orthodox [resp. PNCC, Continuing Anglican] I wouldn’t convert to RCism, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to leave the Roman Communion for Orthodoxy [resp. PNCC, CAism].)

    • ed pacht says:

      For myself, I’ve come to have a hearty disrespect (in most situations) for the logical construct either/or. I find, especially in theology, that the healthier outlook is generally one of both/and, and that truth is very often found at the intersection of apparent opposites, neither side being true without the other. I identify primarily as an Anglo-Catholic, but have come to learn that without also affirming myself to be “protestant” (a word I do find emotionally uncomfortable) as well, my theology is unbalanced. Ultimately it is rarely what one affirms that makes one a ‘heretic’, but what one denies in searching for a logical consistency. Ultimately, when a finite being is dealing with the Infinite, a complete logical consistency is a sign that important data is being ignored in order to reduce infinity to the finite and comprehensible.

      • Stephen K says:

        “reduce infinity to the finite and comprehensible”. That is what a lot of religious dogmatism is about. Natural perhaps, but ultimately disrespectful of the infinite.

    • Michael Frost says:

      Peter, When you ask about words being capitalized, I think to grade school teachers and The Elements of Style. 😉

      Over the years more than a few writers have opined about being “Catholic and Protestant” or “catholic and protestant”. Two works I’ve found interesting…. Jaroslave Pelikan’s Obedient Rebels: Catholic Substance and Protestant Principle in Luther’s Reformation (Harpers & Row, 1964). He wrote this as a Lutheran, though he eventually become EO. And The Catholicity of the Reformation, edited by Braaten and Jensen (Eerdmans, 1996), also from a Lutheran perspective.

      • Peter Jericho says:

        > Peter, When you ask about words being capitalized, I think to grade school teachers and The Elements of Style. 😉


        With the capitalization topic in general (not specifically with regard to “Catholic and Protestant”/”catholic and protestant”) I think a lot of people on the internet could stand to pay closer attention to standard rules of grammar.

        I’m not saying there should never be any exceptions. I can think of several good examples of capitalizing extra words.
        (“It is at her centre, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests at the centre of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice.” – C.S. Lewis)
        But some people will capitalize so many extra words that the exceptions aren’t really exceptions any more.

  5. Michael Frost says:

    I saw this recently posted on the former EP’s OJC blog: “It will be interesting to see whether not any of his readers respond to his offer to discuss Calvinism in his “Classical Anglican Blowout Department.” Thus far they are silent on the issue.”

    I’d like to think that “classical Anglicans” today discussing these issues will use the voices of “classical Anglicans” like Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Jewel, Parker, and Hooker, as well as invited guests like Bucer and Peter Martyr, rather than rely mainly on John Calvin (Geneva). Calvin, who dies in 1564, wasn’t that influential in England in the 16th century. His “influence” is mainly through Knox (Scotland), Beza, the Synod at Dordt (Holland), and, esp., the Westminster Confession (1640s) in the 17th century. In that era one sees the differing theological perspectives of Archbishops Laud (England) and Ussher (Ireland) “battling”, with Charles I and Cromwell making it bloody. Bullinger (Zurich) and Bucer (Strasbourg/England) were more influential in England during the Anglican Church’s formative period from about 1550-1575. And the Reformed thoughts of Bucer and Bullinger weren’t necessarily as strident as Calvin. Bullinger’s highly influential 2nd Helvetic Confession (1561/1566) seems nearly fully in accord with the 42/39 Articles and vice versa. Or study Bucer’s lectures from his teaching days at Cambridge.

    It is fascinating how the post-Reformation English Church was so driven and often torn apart by these issues. And it wasn’t limited to Anglicans. Though it may be hard for us to believe it today, 18th century Methodists have their warring camps of Arminians (Wesley) versus Calvinists (Whitefield)! Though I guess it makes some sense. Wasn’t Pelagius from the Isles? 🙂

  6. ACHC says:

    Were I still an Anglican (or more properly: “were I ever an Anglican at all”, given that it lasted only about 4 months in 2013), I would say that true Anglicanism is, really, the ecclesiastical body and content of the Church of England. I would also say that true Romanism is the body & content of the Church of Rome. True “Orthodoxy” is hard to pinpoint, given the already highly-ethnic conception of localism present in their reality, but I’d say true X-national Orthodoxy must be the body and content of the Church of X nation.

    I don’t really believe in the 3-part Branch theory, given the continuance of (Luthern) bishops in Scandinavia as well. If anything, I’d say there are so many true branches of the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ that it is more a thicket (or even a forest) than a tree.

    Since validity of episcopal orders seems to be the defining aspect of what makes a Church for more than half of all Christians, or 1 280 000 000 (R.C., E.O., Anglican), it seems best to start there, at least. It makes no sense to me to apply some Roman encyclical written in 1896 to the validity or invalidity of “Orders” — especially when the Roman Church has chosen to re-write its own ordinal (1967) in a way that would, by the 1896 definition, invalidate it.

    The way I see it, if any man known to be a Bishop publicly consecrates any other man as a Bishop, then the latter is a Bishop. It doesn’t matter which “form” he uses, so long as it’s publicly clear that he’s calling on God to consecrate a new successor to the Apostles. It doesn’t matter if the ordinal uses the words “sacrifice” or “fullness of the priesthood”, or any of those semantics. God knows the intention. Whether you call it a sneaker or a running shoe, it’s still a shoe and everyone knows the cobbler’s intention in making it. Given that there were at least 513 apostles (The Twelve, Paul, and the 500 others to whom the risen Christ appeared; cf. 1 Corinthians 15) in first days of the Church, it doesn’t seem wrong to me that the office of their successors should be small or restricted.

    As to right belief, I do have to say that I think the 39 articles reflect a Reformation-era set of priorities. I don’t agree with all of them. I just want a family of God, assembled by the Holy Spirit, to worship the Father who allowed Christ to rise from the dead. Give me a bishop, give me the Eucharist, and we shall go on from there.

    • You will find a great diversity of opinions on this blog depending on which Church people belong to. I respect everyone’s loyalties, which include believing in the teaching of their hierarchies. We all want to believe that we are at least in a true church if not the true Church. I won’t go into arguments concerning apologetics of this kind.

      In terms of “theology of the Church” usually called “ecclesiology” these days in universities, the “branch theory” is a little désuet these days, but the notion of The Church subsisting in a number of bodies not in canonical communion with each other carries a little more credibility in terms of Platonic metaphysics and sacramental theology.

      Whose bishops are valid? That is a harder question. Two sources of the episcopate: an unbroken succession of A consecrated B, B consecrated C, etc. – and Z is the legitimate successor of A. Beyond a certain date, such lineages are difficult to prove. Another source is the communion of a church community, even if it is not in canonical communion with other similar churches. Who can say which are “true” and which are “false” or fraudulent?

      Simply, we all have our loyalties, and I too have my Bishop, diocesan synod, provincial synod and all our internal organization. Dr Tighe has his in the RC Oriental Rite. Some of my commenters are Orthodox or attracted to Orthodoxy. Naturally, I keep “true church” polemics at a distance.

      The best thing I can say on this blog is to encourage everyone to love their churches and spiritual life they find in them. Only go to another Church if you find a local parish or other community to which you relate and find happiness. That’s me at my least Platonic! Don’t worry about everyone else, just yourself, and then you can do good for others.

      Sorry to talk like this, but I have long experience with discussions that can end up badly.

  7. William Tighe says:

    “given the continuance of (Luthern) bishops in Scandinavia as well”

    You should be aware that, in the case of the Dano-Norwegian-Icelandic episcopate the succession of bishops was broken at the Reformation, for those bishops (or “superintendents” as they were called at the time and into the 17th Century) who were chosen to implement the Lutheran Reformation after the deposition of the Catholic bishops in 1536 were all “consecrated” by Johannes Bugenhagen, one of Luther’s colleagues, a man in pre-Reformation presbyteral orders only.

    The Swedish case is more complicated, but while there was “a succession of touches” in the period 1531 to 1575, whether this succession constituted a “succession of bishops” is one of the questions. It is noteworthy that until the 19th Century Swedish bishops could perform all episcopal acts, including ordinations, after they had been appointed to their sees but before they had been consecrated.

    • Dale says:

      Yes, this is very true, and what complicates the issue is that most Lutherans, many in full communion with one another, accept the “priesthood” (if that concept as a Sacramental one can even be applied to Lutheranism) of one another regardless of their ordaining authority, episcopal or not.

      But ACHC following statement is problematic for modernist Roman Catholics: “[I]t seems best to start there, at least. It makes no sense to me to apply some Roman encyclical written in 1896 to the validity or invalidity of “Orders” — especially when the Roman Church has chosen to re-write its own ordinal (1967) in a way that would, by the 1896 definition, invalidate it”; this does indeed seem to be true. The rejection of Anglican orders was based upon their new ordinal which seemed, to 19th century Roman authorities, to lack a proper intention; but indeed, the same criticism can be made of the new ordinal in the Roman Church.

  8. William Tighe says:

    “It is noteworthy that until the 19th Century Swedish bishops could perform all episcopal acts, including ordinations, after they had been appointed to their sees but before they had been consecrated.”

    There were a couple of 18th-Century Swedish bishops who, in the chaos and disorganization following Sweden’s defeat in “the Great Northern War” (1721) were never actually consecrated – in one case dying after only four years as a bishop – but acted as “bishops” nevertheless. Also, until 1786 Swedish bishops could delegate the performance of ordinations to cathedral deans and ordained Theology professors. Such “delegation” is still occasionally practiced in the Danish and Norwegian Lutheran churches, and was only abolished in the Finnish Lutheran Church ca. 2002, as a consequence of the “Porvoo Agreement.” The Norwegian Lutheran Church, alone of these Scandinavian bodies, also permits “lay celebration” in certain circumstances.

    What happened in 1876 was that the “ritualist” King Gustav III, who was mildly pro-Catholic, and who actually paid a formal visit to a pope (Pius VI, I think) when touring Europe, but who found his ultimate spiritual solace in Freemasonry, abolished the possibility of such “delegation.” He also (1) abolished “superintendents,” unconsecrated “overseers” in some subdivisions of Swedish dioceses who could undertake all “episcopal acts,” and (2) returned to the bishops the pastoral staves which had been confiscated bu King Gustav I Vasa in the 16th Century, and ordered them to resume the wearing of mitres, which had ceased in the 16th Century.

  9. William Tighe says:

    Also, in ca. 1884 all three Finnish Lutheran bishops died within weeks of one another, and the consecration of their successors was performed by a Finnish Lutheran Theology professor. It was not until 1934, when a Swedish Lutheran archbishop participated in the consecration of a newly-chosen Finnish Lutheran archbishop, that Finnish Lutheran bishops were restored back into the “Swedish succession.”

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