Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Need for Prayer

There are many responses that believing Christians may have to the abominable and diabolic decision of a slight majority of the U.S. Supreme Court vainly attempting to redefine marriage, but the first and most enduring response should be prayer. And for me, the following petitions from the great Litany apply to such times of trial.

Remember not, Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers; neither take thou vengeance of our sins: Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry with us for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.

From all evil and mischief; from sin; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from thy wrath, and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

Monday, June 01, 2015

What is classical Anglicanism?

In skimming some frequently read blogs, I found an interesting post on Prydain (https://prydain.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/an-interesting-anglican-blog-once-again-i-thank-you/) about an English blogger's view on the Five Points of Classical Anglicanism (http://1nc-again.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-five-points-of-classical-anglicanism.html). The five proposed points can be summarized briefly:
1. Classical Anglicanism is confessional. This point asserts that the Thirty-nine Articles are a binding theological statement meant to guide one's understanding of other Anglican formularies such as the Book of Common Prayer.

2. Classical Anglicanism is universal/catholic. Anglican doctrine and practice respect patristic and even medieval Christianity as long as they do not contradict Scripture.

3. Classical Anglicanism is protestant. Anglican theology is based on the "solas" of the Reformation and rejects the Roman Catholic system, especially ideas about the papacy and merits of the saints.

4. Classical Anglicanism is supposedly Reformed or Calvinist. This assertion claims that Anglican views of the sacraments and of predestination and related beliefs (TULIP) are moderately Calvinist.

5. Classical Anglicanism is normative, not regulative. Unlike continental and puritan Calvinists, Anglicans think that Scriptural principles guide church practices, but do not exclude all use of tradition.

While this five-point summary is interesting, I see two main problems. The first is the issue of defining "Classical Anglicanism." In many areas of the humanities, classical does not refer to beginnings but to high development. In Anglicanism, when does "classical" begin and end? Does one include the developing ideas of the Oxford martyrs and certain Marian exiles while rejecting Lancelot Andrewes and the Caroline churchmen? While I admire the heroism and struggles of Cranmer and his contemporaries, it seems to me that they were pre-classical because of their turbulent times and the early deaths of some. To me, classical Anglicanism is more descriptive of the development from Elizabeth I to the Restoration, including people such as Jewel, Hooker, Andrewes, Cosins, Ken, Laud (who was more "protestant" than many of his later admirers admit), and perhaps even later figures such as Taylor and Law.
The second problem is point four about Calvinism. For good or ill, there is no denying that Reformed views and even self-conscious Calvinism have been influential on the thought and practice of many Anglicans. However, despite such influences, it seems that both practice and official standards such as the Thirty-nine Articles and the Books of Common Prayer deliberately tried to be open to moderates of various persuasions. A moderate Renaissance Catholic, a moderate Lutheran, a moderate Calvinist, and varying degrees of high and low church belief and practice could find things they liked in Anglicanism without finding everything stated exactly the way they would have chosen. Extreme positions were not acceptable, and for good or ill, confessional Anglicanism allowed more breadth than other systems of the time.