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Author Topic: THe Substance of Anglicanism  (Read 1074 times) Average Rating: 0
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All-Knowing Grand Wizard of Debunking
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« on: August 19, 2003, 05:35:49 PM »

I'm sorry if this doesn't sound right, but I don't know how else to ask it.  What, exactly, is the substance of Anglicanism?  It seems to me that Anglicans going over to Roman Catholicism would be retrieving more substance, at least as far as theology goes.  

The central unifying point of Anglican churches lies in the episcopate and in the liturgy, specifically the prayer book. Almost everyone in christendom finds some unification in (their) polity, but most churches point at some set of doctrinal statements and say "agree with these or else". And usually it's a pretty extensive list.

Anglicans don't do this. Theoretically there is a certain minimum set (the Righter court officially determined that there was) but even what that constitutes that minimum is argued about (that's what the prelates are going to get to fight out in October, among other things). If you are willing to have me exclude Spong and the various radical liberals, one can identify a set of core beliefs, and one could certainly label the Creed as doctrine.

But Anglicanism has a different view about theological process. We see that everyone does theology the same way, but applies different rules within this process. And a lot of groups-- Orthodoxy for one-- try at times to deny that they do use this process.

Therefore Sola Scriptura functions differently for us than it does for other Protestants. We simply refuse to establish doctrines that don't trace back into scripture, but we aren't going to reject things simply because they can't be traced into scripture. For instance, nobody in Anglicanism gets wound up about the doctrine of the Assumption; it isn't scriptural, so it can't be doctrine, but it is a very old tradition and it's perfectly OK to believe it and honor it.

Likewise, doctrine becomes doctrine because it is irrefutable, not becoming irrefutable because it is doctrine. The Nicene formulation of the Trinity has withstood all attempts to refute it and classical Anglicans put the burden of proof on the Spongs and such who try to overturn it. But we know that in practice doctrines have to be defended.

Our episcopate looks more like the Orthodox model than the Catholic. Cantuar's recognition at Lambeth holds the whole thing together, but he cannot order individual clergy around in other provinces as the Pope can in this jurisdiction.

This is why Anglicanism doesn't fit well into either Orthodoxy or Catholicism. Liturgically we are more akin to the Roman Catholics, and of course there is a certain shared history. But the ongoing development of Catholic theology is a problem, never mind the miserable state of Catholic practice in the USA. The situation with Orthodoxy is more subtle. I don't think Anglicanism would ever take the "can't pray with heretics" aspect seriously anymore, and there's also the "Western=bad" problem. But the biggest issue is that we see Orthodoxy as buying into a vision of the inarguability of doctrine which we can't accept. For my personal part I constantly see Orthodox arguments trying to hide obviously wrong positions under the aegis of the doctrine of the Church. Orthodox-Anglican dialogue has always suffered under the impression (even before women priests) that the Orthodox side simply wasn't listening. Orthodoxy is unreformable-- from the Orthodox side, because it can't need it, and from the Anglican side, because it's just stubborn.

That's why I don't think that hiding Anglican rites in these other churches works in the long run. When I went to the western rite Antiochian church, what I saw were people who were continuing to act more or less like Anglicans, but were being taught to be Eastern Orthodox underneath. Eventually there will have to be some serious dissonance, and they will act less and less like Anglicans and more and more like Antiochians. Or they will evolve into so strange little sect within the Antiochian church. The Catholic situation, in this country, is even worse. Dissident Catholics already think a lot like Anglicans, but the immigrant Anglicans will constantly have to fight to (essentially) tell the Catholics how to do their own rites correctly. The situation could hardly be stable.
The Caffeinator
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2003, 03:17:03 PM »

You bring up some valid objections, some that I've never heard before. I just keep thinking of Christ's prayer for Christian unity. Looks like we all blew it!
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 10:45:47 PM »

As one who is fed up with protestant/pentecostalism, EO was something I studied and looked into even buying the Orthodox Study Bible. However, there is no Orthodox church within reasonable driving distance where I live. So I considered Roman Catholicism. I even attended RCIA to learn more, but just can't agree with Papal Supremacy/infallibility or Co-Redemptrix doctrines. I have been attending an Anglican church close by and find anglican spirituality beautiful and the liturgy full of life. The original post is spot on, imo.
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