Thursday, May 20, 2010

More on the Faillure of Anglicanism

I want to enumerate more the reasons why Anglicanism failed in my eyes.

I could maneuver around the Caesaropapism if I tried hard enough. Surely a ruler choosing a bishop does not invalidate the sacrament of Episcopal Consecration.

The best defense I had of Anglicanism was my argument that a portion of the Church - validly ordained in apostolic succession - voted (even under duress it is still valid) to separate with Rome. Under the six articles of Henry VIII which were very Catholic, this could be defensible. It would be the same case the Eastern Orthodox made with Photius.

The problem arises not even with the Edwardian ordinal (making Anglican ordinations basically presbyterian ordinations of elders, rather than priests). Rome can argue all it wants about the invalidity of the liturgy, etc, but theoretically one could argue that Rome cannot change the catholic tradition of Episcopal Ordination and make requisite that "roman innovation" of the addition of "intent" to matter and form, for a sacrament.

The problem arises when one looks at the theological history of Anglicanism. Under the former Presbyterian John Tillotson as ABC (Archbishop of Canterbury), transubstantiation was declared a horrifying and immoral error in accordance with the 39 articles. However, Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI could substantially agree (pun intended) on the Eucharistic presence.

If the argument is made that a body of bishops in the historic episcopate of England are allowed to descent and remain catholic, and that I may submit to them, then that means I have to submit to them and commune with them. This is the problem. If I live in the era of Elizabethan Calvinism, I can't talk about infusion of righteousness, and likewise after 1930, I can't in the Anglican church declare contraception (and eventually homosexuality) to be disordered acts. If I follow the logic of my apologia of Anglo-dissent, it leads me to Liberalism, not to Confessional Protestantism. Perhaps in the days before Women-Bishops and gay clergy, in the 1928 and the glory days of Anglo-Catholicism I could make my case and proudly be Anglican. But the reality of the situation is that if I wanted to cross the Thames, I would not be in Nigeria with the Anglican Church in North America or the Reformed Episcopal Church, I would be with Desmond Tutu and Katharine Jefferts Schori.

It is as Cardinal Newman so wisely prophesied: there is only Rome and Liberalism, and Anglicanism is the half-way house.

As I've previously noted, if I was in search of the 'comforting doctrine', that is, justification by faith alone, which would free me from perpetual fear, guilt, and necessary auricular confession, then I would not be obliged to look for it in an apostolically successing episcopate. The Presbyterians or the Lutherans, or the Baptists would do. As I cannot conceive of a non-episcopal church as in any way catholic, and as I am unable to conceive of women in the presbyterate -much less the episcopate- as being in any way catholic, I am forced to deny both the Anglican communion, and the Protestant communions.

This - I think - is my killer argument against Anglicanism. That it was possible to be one pre-1967, but after that, not likely. Luckily my argument only grows stronger as time goes on, as the Anglo-American churches are slowly killing their apostolic succession by adding women into the mix, who cannot receive the sacrament.

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