Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wayfarers All


By Robin G. Jordan

Conservative North American Anglicans have reached another crossroads. The fingerpost points in a number of directions. They can join the exodus from the Anglican Church, abandon what small part of the Anglican heritage onto which they have hung, and become Roman Catholics. They can continue in their present direction away from authentic historic Anglicanism, pulled this way and that way by whatever ecclesiastic fad of the moment grips their imagination. Or they can turn back to the old paths of the Bible and the Reformation, of the Protestant faith of the reformed Church of England and her venerable formularies. They can once more set their feet upon the true Anglican Way.

Those who do will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the true Anglican Way in broad enough for High Churchmen in the Anglican Reformed tradition as well as classical Evangelicals. They will also find it broad enough for those who highly esteem the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, as a perusal of the Homily on the Holy Spirit for Whit-Sunday will reveal. While requiring uniformity on primary matters, the true Anglican Way permits liberty on secondary matters and encourages Christian charity in all things. The true Anglican Way has never sought to bind men’s consciences any tighter than the Scriptures bind them.

The true Anglican Way gives great weight to the teaching of the Bible. For those treading its path the Bible is the Word of God written, and the final and supreme authority in all matters of faith and life. The Holy Scriptures is the test by which the truth of every doctrine must be tried. What weight the true Anglican Way gives to the Creeds, the Councils of the Church, to early Church Fathers, and the historic Anglican formularies comes from their agreement with the teaching of the Bible. Where their teaching parts from that of the Holy Scriptures, farers on the true Anglican Way part from their teaching.

The true Anglican Way gives a place to the sacraments, to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, in the spiritual journey of the Christian. Those who tread its path recognize these two ordinances of Christ as more than bare signs: they are means of grace. Through these two sacraments God shows his goodwill and favor to us. However, those to whom these sacraments are administered do not automatically or invariably benefit from them. Requisite conditions for them to possess the benefits of the sacraments are that they must also possess true repentance and a lively faith. They must turn from sin and to Christ. They must trust in Christ for their salvation. Repentance and faith are the fertile soil upon which the seeds of sacramental grace must fall in order to bear fruit.

Farers on the true Anglican Way do not count confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, or extreme unction as sacraments. They understand that these five “commonly-called (i.e., mistakenly called) sacraments” have grown partly from the corrupt following of the apostles. They are partly states of life that the Scriptures allow. Unlike Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, they do not have the nature of sacraments: they do not have any visible sign or ceremony that God ordained.

Those who tread the true Anglican Way are very mindful of the vital role of the Holy Spirit in their spiritual lives. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life to those who are spiritually dead. Without the Spirit’s quickening we have no will to please God and without the Spirit’s working within us we have no power to do so. The Holy Spirit equips, empowers, guides, and sanctifies us, enabling us to bear much fruit to the glory of God.

Those who take the time to explore the true Anglican Way discover to their delight that the three elements of the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the Spirit, three elements that the Ancient-Future or Convergence movement has appropriated, are very much a part of that path. At the same time the true Anglican Way does not depart from the Bible and the Reformation while the path of the Ancient-Future or Convergence movement leads those upon it into the howling wilderness of unreformed Catholicism and then disappears like a rabbit track in the woods, fading into nothing. The Bible and the Reformation are God’s gifts to his people—the first to keep them on the right path and the second to return them to the right path. They show us how to follow Jesus and to be a part of the true apostolic church.

Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae: Part II


Also known as An Apology, or Answer, in Defense of the Church of England and An Apology for the Bible

We believe that there is one certain nature and Divine power, which we call God: and that the same is divided into three equal Persons--into the Father, into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost; and that They all be of one power, of one majesty, of one eternity, of one Godhead, and of one substance. And although these three Persons be so divided, that neither the Father is the Son, nor the Son is the Holy Ghost, or the Father; yet, nevertheless, we believe that there is but one very God, and that the same one God hath created heaven, and earth, and all things contained under heaven.

We believe that Jesus Christ, the only Son of the eternal Father (as long before it was determined before all beginnings), when the fulness of time was come, did take of that blessed and pure Virgin both flesh and all the nature of man, that He might declare to the world the secret and hid will of His Father; which will had been laid up from before all ages and generations; and that He might full finish in His human body the mystery of our redemption; and might fasten our sins to the cross, and also that handwriting which was made against us.

We believe that for our sakes He died, and was buried, descended into hell, the third day by the power of His Godhead returned to life, and rose again; and that the fortieth day after His resurrection, whiles His disciples beheld and looked upon Him He ascended into heaven to fulfil all things, and did place in majesty and glory the self-same body wherewith He was born, wherein He lived on earth, wherein He was jested at, wherein He had suffered most painful torments and cruel kind of death, wherein He rose again, and wherein He ascended to the right hand of the Father, "above all rule, above all power, all force, all dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come:" and that there He now sitteth, and shall sit, till all things be full perfected. And although the Majesty and Godhead of Christ be everywhere abundantly dispersed, yet we believe that his body, as St. Augustine saith, must needs be still in one place; and that Christ hath given majesty unto His body, but yet hath not taken away from it the nature of a body; and that we must not so affirm Christ to be God that we deny Him to be man: and, as the Martyr Vigilius saith, that Christ hath left us as touching His human nature, but hath not left us as touching His Divine nature; and that the same Christ, though He be absent from us concerning His manhood, yet is ever present with us concerning his Godhead.

From that place also we believe that Christ shall come again to execute that general judgment, as well of them whom He shall then find alive in the body as of them that be already dead.

We believe that the Holy Ghost, who is the third person in the Holy Trinity, is very God: not made, not created, not begotten, but proceeding from both the Father and the Son, by a certain mean unknown unto men, and unspeakable; and that it is His property to mollify and soften the hardness of man's heart when He is once received thereinto, either by the wholesome preaching of the Gospel, or by any other way: that he doth give men light, and guide them unto the knowledge of God; to all way of truth; to newness of the whole life; and to everlasting hope of salvation.

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We believe that there is one Church of God, and that the same is not shut up (as in times past among the Jews) into some one corner or kingdom, but that it is catholic and universal, and dispersed throughout the whole world. So that there is now no nation which may truly complain that they be shut forth, and may not be one of the Church and people of God: and that this Church is the kingdom, the body, and the spouse of Christ; and that Christ alone is the Prince of this kingdom; that Christ alone is the Head of this Body; and that Christ alone is the Bridegroom of this spouse.

Furthermore, we believe that there be divers degrees of ministers in the Church; whereof some be deacons, some priests, some bishops; to whom is committed the office to instruct the people, and the whole charge and setting forth of religion. Yet notwithstanding, we say that there neither is, nor can be any one man, which may have the whole superiority in this universal state: for that Christ is ever present to assist His Church, and needeth not any man to supply His room, as His only heir to all His substance: and that there can be no one mortal creature, which is able to comprehend or conceive in his mind the universal Church, that is to wit, all the parts of the world, much less able rightly and duly to put them in order, and to govern them rightly and duly. For all the Apostles, as Cyprian saith, were of like power among themselves, and the rest were the same that Peter was, and that it said indifferently to them all, "feed ye;" indifferently to them all, "go into the whole world;" indifferently to them all, "teach ye the Gospel." And (as Hierom saith) all bishops wheresoever they be, be they at Rome, be they at Eugubium, be they at Constantinople, be they at Rhegium, be all of like pre-eminence, and of like priesthood. And, as Cyprian saith, there is but one bishopric, and a piece thereof is perfectly and wholly holden of every particular bishop. And according to the judgment of the Nicene Council, we say, that the Bishop of Rome hath no more jurisdiction over the Church of God than the rest of the patriarchs, either of Alexandria, or of Antiochia have. And as for the Bishop of Rome, who now calleth all matters before himself alone, except he do his duty as he ought to do, except he minister the Sacraments, except he instruct the people, except he warn them and teach them, we say that he ought not of right once to be called a bishop, or so much as an elder. For a bishop, as saith Augustine, is a name of labour, and not of honour: because he will have that man understand himself to be no bishop, which will seek to have pre- eminence, and not to profit others. And that neither the Pope, nor any other worldly creature can no more be head of the whole Church, or a bishop over all, than he can be the bridegroom, the light, the salvation, and life of the Church. For the privileges and names belong only to Christ, and be properly and only fit for him alone. And that no Bishop of Rome did ever suffer himself to be called by such a proud name before Phocas the emperor's time, who, as we know, by killing his own sovereign Maurice the emperor, did by a traitorous villainy aspire to the empire about the six hundredth and thirteenth year after Christ was born. Also the Council of Carthage did circumspectly provide, that no bishop should be called the highest bishop or chief priest. And therefore, sithence the Bishop of Rome will nowadays so be called, and challengeth unto himself an authority that is none of his; besides that he doth plainly contrary to the ancient councils, and contrary to the old fathers; we believe that he doth give unto himself, as it is written by his own companion Gregory, a presumptuous, a profane, a sacrilegious, and an antichristian name: that he is also the king of pride, that he is Lucifer, which preferreth himself before his brethren: that he hath forsaken the faith, and is the forerunner of Antichrist.

Further we say, that the minister ought lawfully, duly, and orderly to be preferred to that office of the Church of God, and that no man hath power to wrest himself into the holy ministry at his own pleasure and list. Wherefore these persons do us the greater wrong, which have nothing so common in their mouths, as that we do nothing orderly and comely, but all things troublesomely and without order; and that we allow every man to be a priest, to be a teacher, and to be an interpreter of the Scriptures.

Moreover, we say that Christ hath given to His ministers power to bind, to loose, to open, to shut. And that the office of loosing consisteth in this point: that the minister should either offer by the preaching of the Gospel the merits of Christ and full pardon, to such as have lowly and contrite hearts, and do unfeignedly repent themselves, pronouncing unto the same a sure and undoubted forgiveness of their sins, and hope of everlasting salvation: or else that the same minister, when any have offended their brothers' minds with a great offence, with a notable and open fault, whereby they have, as it were, banished and made themselves strangers from the common fellowship, and from the body of Christ; then after perfect amendment of such persons, doth reconcile them, and bring them home again, and restore them to the company and unity of the faithful. We say also, that the minister doth execute the authority of binding and shutting, as often as he shutteth up the gate of the kingdom of heaven against the unbelieving and stubborn persons, denouncing unto them God's vengeance, and everlasting punishment: or else, when he doth quite shut them out from the bosom of the Church by open excommunication. Out of doubt, what sentence soever the minister of God shall give in this sort, God Himself doth so well allow of it, that whatsoever here in earth by their means is loosed and bound, God Himself will loose and bind, and confirm the same in heaven. And touching the keys, wherewith they may either shut or open the kingdom of heaven, we with Chrysostom say, "They be the knowledge of the Scriptures:" with Tertullian we say, "They be the interpretation of the law:" and with Eusebius, we call them"The Word of God." Moreover, that Christ's disciples did receive this authority, not that they should hear the private confessions of the people and listen to their whisperings, as the common massing-priests do everywhere nowadays, and do it so, as though in that one point lay all the virtue and use of the keys: but to the end they should go, they should teach, they should publish abroad the Gospel, and be unto the believing a sweet savour of life unto life, and unto the unbelieving and unfaithful a savour of death unto death; and that the minds of godly persons being brought low by the remorse of their former life and errors, after they once began to look up unto the light of the Gospel, and believe in Christ, might be opened with the Word of God, even as a door is opened with a key. Contrariwise, that the wicked and wilful folk, and such as would not believe, nor return into the right way, should be left still as fast locked, and shut up, and, as St. Paul saith, "wax worse and worse." This take we to be the meaning of the keys; and that after this sort men's consciences either be opened or shut. We say, that the priest indeed is a judge in this case, but yet hath no manner of right to challenge an authority, or power, as saith Ambrose. And therefore our Saviour Jesu Christ, to reprove the negligence of the Scribes and Pharisees in teaching, did with these words rebuke them, saying: "Woe be unto you Scribes and Pharisees, which have taken away the keys of knowledge, and have shut up the kingdom of heaven before men." Seeing then the key whereby the way and entry to the kingdom of God is opened unto us, is the word of the Gospel, and the expounding of the law and Scriptures; we say plainly, where the same word is not there is not the key. And seeing one manner of word is given to all, and one only key belongeth to all, we say, that there is but one only power of all ministers; as concerning opening and shutting. And as touching the Bishop of Rome, for all his parasites flatteringly sing these words in his ears, "To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (as though those keys were fit for him alone, and for nobody else), except he go so to work, as men's consciences may be made pliant, and be subdued to the Word of God, we deny that he doth either open, or shut, or hath the keys at all. And although he taught and instructed the people (as would God he might once truly do, and persuade himself it were at the least some piece of his duty), yet we think his key to be never a whit better, or of greater force than other men's. For who hath severed him from the rest? Who hath taught him more cunningly to open, or better to absolve than his brethren?

We say that matrimony is holy and honourable in all sorts and states of persons, in the patriarchs, in the Prophets, in the Apostles, in holy martyrs, in the ministers of the Church, and in bishops; and that it is an honest and lawful thing (as Chrysostom saith) for a man, living in matrimony, to take upon him therewith the dignity of a bishop. And as Sozomenus saith of Spiridion; and as Nazianzen saith of his own father, that a good and diligent bishop doth serve in the ministry never the worse for that he is married, but rather the better, and with more ableness to do good. Further, we say, that the same law which by constraint taketh away this liberty from men, and compelleth them against their wills to live single, is the doctrine of devils, as Paul saith: and, that, ever sithence the time of this law, a wonderful uncleanness of life and manners in God's ministers, and sundry horrible enormities have followed, as the Bishop of Augusta, as Faber, as Abbas Panormitanus, as Latomus, as the tripartite work, which is annexed to the second tome of the councils, and other champions of the Pope's band, yea, and as the matter itself, and all histories do confess. For it was rightly said by Pius the Second, Bishop of Rome, "that he saw many causes why wives should be taken away from priests, but that he saw many more, and more weighty causes why they ought to be restored them again."

* * * * *

We receive and embrace all the canonical Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, giving thanks to our God, who hath raised up unto us that light which we might ever have before our eyes, lest either by the subtlety of man, or by the snares of the devil, we should be carried away to errors and lies. Also that these be the heavenly voices, whereby God hath opened unto us His will: and that only in them man's heart can have settled rest; that in them be abundantly and fully comprehended all things, whatsoever be needful for our salvation, as Origen, Augustine, Chrysostom, and Cyrillus have taught: that they be the very might and strength of God to attain to salvation: that they be the foundations of the Prophets and Apostles, whereupon is built the Church of God: that they be the very sure and infallible rule, whereby may be tried, whether the Church do stagger, or err, and whereunto all ecclesiastical doctrine ought to be called to account: and that against these Scriptures neither law, nor ordinance, nor any custom ought to be heard: no, though Paul his own self, or an angel from heaven, should come and teach the contrary.

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Moreover, we allow the Sacraments of the Church, that is to say, certain holy signs and ceremonies, which Christ would we should use, that by them He might set before our eyes the mysteries of our salvation, and might more strongly confirm our faith which we have in His blood, and might seal His grace in our hearts. And these Sacraments, together with Tertullian, Origen, Ambrose, Hierom, Chrysostom, Basil, Dionysius, and other Catholic fathers, do we call figures, signs, marks or badges, prints, copies, forms, seals, signets, similitudes, patterns, representations, remembrances and memories. And we make no doubt, together with the same doctors, to say, that these be certain visible words, seals of righteousness, tokens of grace: and do expressly pronounce, that in the Lord's Supper there is truly given unto the believing the body and blood of the Lord, the flesh of the Son of God, which quickeneth our souls, the meat that cometh from above, the food of immortality, grace, truth, and life, and the Supper to be the communion of the body and blood of Christ; by the partaking whereof we be revived, we be strengthened, and be fed unto immortality; and whereby we are joined, united, and incorporate unto Christ, that we may abide in Him, and He in us.

Besides, we acknowledge there be two Sacraments, which, we judge, properly ought to be called by this name; that is to say, Baptism and the Sacrament of thanksgiving. For thus many we say were delivered and sanctified by Christ, and well allowed of the old fathers, Ambrose and Augustine.

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We say that Baptism is a Sacrament of the remission of sins, and of that washing, which we have in the blood of Christ; and that no person which will profess Christ's Name ought to be restrained or kept back therefrom; no, not the very babes of Christians; forsomuch as they be born in sin, and do pertain unto the people of God.

We say, that Eucharistia, that is to say the Supper of the Lord, is a Sacrament; that is to wit, an evident token of the body and blood of Christ, wherein is set, as it were, before our eyes, the death of Christ and His resurrection, and what act soever He did whilst He was in His mortal body: to the end we may give Him thanks for His death, and for our deliverance: and that, by the often receiving of this Sacrament, we may daily renew the remembrance of that matter, to the intent we, being fed with the [true] body and blood of Christ, may be brought into the hope of the resurrection and of everlasting life, and may most assuredly believe that the body and blood of Christ doth in like manner feed our souls, as bread and wine doth feed our bodies. To this banquet we think the people of God ought to be earnestly bidden, that they may all communicate among themselves, and openly declare and testify both the godly society which is among them, and also the hope which they have in Christ Jesu. For this cause if there had been any which would be but a looker-on, and abstain from the Holy Communion, him did the old fathers and bishops of Rome in the primitive Church, before private mass came up, excommunicate as a wicked person and as a pagan. Neither was there any Christian at that time which did communicate alone, whiles other looked on. For so did Calixtus in times past decree, "that after the consecration was finished, all should communicate, except they had rather stand without the church-doors; because thus (saith he) did the Apostles appoint, and the same the holy Church of Rome keepeth still."

Moreover, when the people cometh to the Holy Communion, the Sacrament ought to be given them in both kinds: for so both Christ hath commanded, and the Apostles in every place have ordained, and all the ancient fathers and Catholic bishops have followed the same. And whoso doth contrary to this, he (as Gelasius saith) committeth sacrilege. And therefore we say, that our adversaries at this day, who having violently thrust out, and quite forbidden the Holy Communion, do, without the word of God, without the authority of any ancient council, without any Catholic father, without any example of the primitive Church, yea, and without reason also, defend and maintain their private masses, and the mangling of the Sacraments, and do this not only against the plain express commandment and bidding of Christ, but also against all antiquity, do wickedly therein, and are very Church robbers.

We affirm that bread and wine are holy and heavenly mysteries of the body and blood of Christ, and that by them Christ Himself, being the true bread of eternal life, is so presently given unto us as that by faith we verily receive his body and his blood. Yet say we not this so, as though we thought that the nature and substance of the bread and wine is clearly changed and goeth to nothing: as many have dreamed in these later times, which yet could never agree among themselves, of this their dream. For that was not Christ's meaning, that the wheaten bread should lay apart his own nature, and receive a certain new divinity: but that he might rather change us, and (to use Theophylact's words) might transform us into His body. For what can be said more plainly, than that which Ambrose saith: "Bread and wine remain still the same they were before, and yet are changed into another thing:" or, that which Gelasius saith: "The substance of the bread, or the nature of the wine, ceaseth not so to be:" or, that which Theodoret saith: "After the consecration the mystical signs do not cast off their own proper nature; for they remain still on their former substance, form, and kind:" or that which Augustine saith: "That which ye see is the bread and cup, for so our eyes tell us: but that which your faith requireth to be taught, is this: the bread is the body of Christ, and the cup is His blood:" or that which Origen saith: "The bread which is sanctified by the Word of God, as touching the material substance thereof, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the privy:" or that which Christ Himself said, not only after the blessing of the cup, but after he had ministered the communion: "I will drink no more of this fruit of the vine." It is well known that the fruit of the vine is wine, and not blood.

And in speaking thus, we mean not to abase the Lord's Supper, that it is but a cold ceremony only, and nothing to be wrought therein (as many falsely slander us we teach). For we affirm, that Christ doth truly and presently give His own self in His Sacraments; in Baptism, that we may put Him on; and in His Supper, that we may eat Him by faith and spirit, and may have everlasting life by His Cross and blood. And we say not, this is done slightly and coldly, but effectually and truly. For although we do not touch the body of Christ with teeth and mouth, yet we hold Him fast, and eat Him by faith, by understanding, and by the Spirit. And it is no vain faith which doth comprehend Christ: and that is not received with cold devotion, that is received with understanding, with faith, and with spirit. For Christ Himself altogether is so offered and given us in these mysteries, that we may certainly know we be flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bones; and that Christ "continueth in us, and we in Him." And therefore in celebrating these mysteries, the people are to good purpose exhorted before they come to receive the Holy Communion, to lift up their hearts, and to direct their minds to heavenward: because He is there, by whom we must be full fed, and live. Cyril saith, when we come to receive these mysteries, all gross imaginations must quite be banished. The Council of Nice, as is alleged by some in Greek, plainly forbiddeth us to be basely affectioned, or bent toward the bread and wine, which are set before us. And, as Chrysostom very aptly writeth, we say, "that the body of Christ is the dead carcase, and we ourselves must be the eagles," meaning thereby that we must fly high, if we will come unto the body of Christ. "For this table," as Chrysostom saith, "is a table of eagles, and not of jays." Cyprian also, "This bread," saith he, "is the food of the soul, and not the meat of the belly." And Augustine, "How shall I hold Him," saith he, "which is absent? How shall I reach my hand up to heaven, to lay hold upon Him that sitteth there?" He answereth, "Reach hither thy faith, and then thou hast laid hold on Him."

We cannot also away in our churches with the shows, and sales, and buying and selling of masses, nor the carrying about and worshipping of bread: nor such other idolatrous and blasphemous fondness: which none of them can prove that Christ or His Apostles did ever ordain, or left unto us. And we justly blame the bishops of Rome, who, without the word of God, without the authority of the holy fathers, without any example of antiquity, after a new guise, do not only set before the people the sacramental bread to be worshipped as God, but do also carry about the same upon an ambling horse, whithersoever themselves journey, as in old times the Persians' fire, and the relics of the goddess Isis, were solemnly carried about in procession: and have brought the Sacraments of Christ to be used now as a stage play and a solemn sight: to the end, that men's eyes should be fed with nothing else but with mad gazings and foolish gauds, in the self-same matter, wherein the death of Christ ought diligently to be beaten into our hearts, and wherein also the mysteries of our redemption ought with all holiness and reverence to be executed.

Besides, where they say, and sometimes do persuade fools, that they are able by their masses to distribute and apply unto men's commodity all the merits of Christ's death, yea, although many times the parties think nothing of the matter, and understand full little what is done, this is a mockery, an heathenish fancy, and a very toy. For it is our faith that applieth the death and cross of Christ to our benefit, and not the act of the massing priest. "Faith had in the Sacraments," saith Augustine, "doth justify, and not the Sacraments." And Origen saith, "Christ is the Priest, the Propitiation, and Sacrifice: which Propitiation cometh to every one by means of faith." So that by this reckoning, we say that the Sacraments of Christ without faith do not once profit these that be alive; a great deal less do they profit those that be dead.

And as for their brags they are wont to make of their purgatory, though we know it is not a thing so very late risen amongst them, yet is it no better than a blockish and an old wives' device. Augustine, indeed, sometime saith, there is such a certain place: sometime he denieth not, but there may be such a one; sometime he doubteth; sometime again he utterly denieth it to be, and thinketh that men are therein deceived by a certain natural good will they bear their friends departed. But yet of this one error hath there grown up such a harvest of these mass-mongers, the masses being sold abroad commonly in every corner, the temples of God became shops to get money: and silly souls were persuaded that nothing was more necessary to be bought. Indeed, there was nothing more gainful for these men to sell.

As touching the multitude of vain and superfluous ceremonies, we know that Augustine did grievously complain of them in his own time: and therefore have we cut off a great number of them, because we know that men's consciences were cumbered about them, and the churches of God overladen with them.

Nevertheless we keep still, and esteem, not only those ceremonies which we are sure were delivered us from the Apostles, but some others too besides, which we thought might be suffered without hurt to the Church of God: because that we had a desire that all things in the holy congregation might (as St. Paul commandeth) "be done with comeliness and in good order." But as for all those things which we saw were either very superstitious, or wholly unprofitable, or noisome, or mockeries, or contrary to the Holy Scriptures, or else unseemly for honest or discreet folks, as there be an infinite number nowadays where papistry is used; these, I say, we have utterly refused without all manner exception, because we would not have the right worshipping of God any longer denied with such follies.

We make our prayers in that tongue which all our people, as meet is, may understand, to the end they may (as Paul counselleth us) take common commodity by common prayer, even as all the holy fathers and Catholic bishops, both in the Old and New Testament, did used to pray themselves, and taught the people to pray too, lest, as Augustine saith, "like parrots and ousels we should seem to speak that we understand not."

Neither have we any other mediator and intercessor, by whom we may have access to God the Father, than Jesus Christ, in whose only Name all things are obtained at His Father's hand. But it is a shameful part, and full of infidelity, that we see every whore used in the churches of our adversaries, not only in that they will have innumerable sorts of mediators, and that utterly without the authority of God's word (so that, as Jeremy saith, "The saints be now as many in number, or rather above the number of the cities;" and poor men cannot tell to which saint it were best to turn them first; and though there be so many as they cannot be told, yet every one of them hath his peculiar duty and office assigned unto him of these folks, what thing they ought to ask, what to give, and what to bring to pass): but besides this also, in that they do not only wickedly, but also shamefully, call upon the Blessed Virgin, Christ's mother, to have her remember that she is the mother, and to command her Son, and to use a mother's authority over Him.

We say also, that every person is born in sin, and leadeth his life in sin: that nobody is able truly to say his heart is clean: that the most righteous person is but an unprofitable servant: that the law of God is perfect, and requireth of us perfect and full obedience: that we are able by no means to fulfil that law in this worldly life: that there is no one mortal creature which can be justified by his own deserts in God's sight: and therefore that our only succour and refuge is to fly to the mercy of our Father by Jesu Christ, and assuredly to persuade our minds that He is the obtainer of forgiveness for our sins; and that by His blood all our spots of sin be washed clean: that He hath pacified and set at one, all things by the blood of His Cross: that He by the same one only Sacrifice, which He once offered upon the Cross, hath brought to effect and fulfilled all things, and that for that cause He said, when He gave up the ghost, "It is finished," as though He would signify, that the price and ransom was now full paid for the sin of all mankind. If there be any, then, that think this Sacrifice not sufficient, let them go, in God's Name, and seek another that is better. We, verily, because we know this to be the only Sacrifice, are well content with it alone and look for none other: and, forasmuch as it was to be offered but once, we command it not to be renewed again: and because it was full and perfect in all points and parts, we do not ordain in place thereof any continual succession of offerings.

Besides, though we say, we have no meed at all by our own works and deeds, but appoint all the means of our salvation to be in Christ alone, yet say we not, that for this cause men ought to live loosely and dissolutely: nor that it is enough for a Christian to be baptised only and to believe: as though there were nothing else required at his hand. For true faith is lively, and can in no wise be idle.

Thus therefore teach we the people, that God hath called us, not to follow riot and wantonness, but, as St. Paul saith, "unto good works, to walk in them:" that God hath plucked us out "from the power of darkness, to the end that we should serve the living God;" to cut away all the remnants of sin, and "to work our salvation in fear and trembling:" that it may appear, how that the Spirit of sanctification is in our bodies, and that Christ Himself doth dwell in our hearts.

To conclude, we believe, that this our self-same flesh wherein we live, although it die, and come to dust, yet at the last day it shall return again to life, by the means of Christ's Spirit which dwelleth in us: and that then verily, whatsoever we suffer here in the meanwhile for His sake, Christ will wipe away all tears and lamentation from our eyes: and that we through Him shall enjoy everlasting life, and shall for ever be with Him in glory. So be it.

The Sarum Mass Compared with 1549 Prayer Book


Church Society has republished Church Association Tract 113 comparing and contrasting the medieval Sarum Mass with the 1549 Prayer Book.

“Compared with the Missal, the First Book was a highly Protestant production: yet it was, after all, ‘a compromise which satisfied nobody.’”

The 1549 Prayer Book (the First Prayer Book of Edward VI) is well recognised as an important step towards Cranmer’s enduring legacy in the much more reformed book of 1552.

To read J. T. Tomlinson's comparison of the two liturgies, click here.

Interested in learning more about The Book of Common Prayer. Neil and Willoughby's The Tutorial Prayer Book is a great place to start. I also recommend Dyson Hague's The Protestantism of the Prayer Book.

Wee Frees Are Singing


The sound you may hear from a Wee Free chapel might just be singing. After 147 years, the Free Church of Scotland, the “Wee Frees” have relaxed their ban on musical instruments and hymn singing.

On Nov 19 following two days of what was described by the church as “harmonious” debate, a special synod of the Free Church of Scotland voted 98-84 to allow individual congregations to decide whether to permit the liberty of using music in worship services.

Formed in 1847 following the secession of evangelicals from the Church of Scotland over what they saw as the state’s encroachment on their spiritual independence, the majority of the Free Church returned to the Church of Scotland in the last century. However, a dissenting group based in the Highlands and the Western Isles remained outside and continues the name and polity of the Free Church.

The church’s canons had called for the “avoidance of uninspired materials of praise and musical instruments” in worship, leading the Wee Frees to focus their musical efforts on Psalm singing, as the Psalms, being part of the Scriptures, were inspired, while modern hymns were not.

To read nore, click here.

Related article: The Wee Free should sing their psalms unadorned

Book Reviews: Anti-Arminians: The Anglican Reformed Tradition from Charles II to George I


In 1716 William Nicolson, the bishop of Carlisle and almoner to George I, preached the Spital Sermon at St. Bride's before the assembled London magistracy. His text was Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Essentially Stephen Hampton has set out to explain why a bishop, apparently favored by the Crown, should be preaching on the theme that one is justified by faith alone a long generation after the supposed triumph of Arminianism at the Restoration of Church and Crown in 1660. After all, Reformed Protestantism was supposed to have been discredited by the Civil Wars and Interregnum, by the Puritan Revolution, and while the Reformed faith might survive among some of the Dissenting churchmen, the Reformed divinity and its adherents were supposed to have been purged from the restored episcopalian church by the Act of Uniformity in 1662. Certainly Archbishops Sheldon and Tillotson were known to be hostile to a Reformed soteriology, so what Hampton has set out to explain is how it came about that a minister and bishop as late as 1716 was still publicly preaching in defense of so central a Reformed understanding of justification.

To read more, click here.

Anti-Arminians: The Anglican Reformed Tradition from Charles II to George I

The title of Stephen Hampton's important revisionist monograph mirrors Nicholas Tyacke's Anti-Calvinists (1987; rev. ante, ciii [1988], 425–7). Both books make a strong case for the weight of Calvinist (or better, Reformed) theology within the post-Reformation Church of England. Tyacke demonstrated that, far from plotting a via media between Rome and Geneva, most of the leading theologians within the Elizabethan and Jacobean Church were firmly aligned with the orthodoxy of the continental Reformed churches. Hampton builds on Tyacke's later articles to show that, far from being vanquished at the Restoration, Reformed theology continued to enjoy some powerful support within the higher echelons of the Church. ‘The overthrow of Calvinism’, to borrow a phrase from Gerald Cragg, proves to have been exaggerated. English Arminians still had a fight on their hands.
To read more, click here.

Anti-Arminians: The Anglican Reformed Tradition from Charles II to George I

This book is a study of the Anglican Reformed tradition (often inaccurately described as Calvinist) after the Restoration. Hampton sets out to revise our picture of the theological world of the later Stuart period. Arguing that the importance of the Reformed theological tradition has frequently been underestimated, his study points to a network of conforming reformed theologians which included many of the most prominent churchmen of the age. Focusing particularly on what these churchmen contributed in three hotly disputed areas of doctrine (justification, the Trinity and the divine attributes), he argues that the most significant debates in speculative theology after 1662 were the result of the Anglican Reformed resistance to the growing influence of continental Arminianism.

To read more, click here.

The Anglican Reformed Tradition


Reformed Theology in the Church of England

In three talks Lee Gatiss looks at Reformed theology and the doctrines of grace, from the English Reformation to the Evangelical Revival.

Can those who would call themselves 'Reformed' today be happy in the Church of England? The Reformed foundations of our church history are unfolded, looking especially at the 'Evangelicals' of the 18th century such as George Whitefield and John Wesley.

Lee Gatiss unpacks some of their debates over issues such as predestination and so-called 'limited atonement.' The writings and hymns of Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) are opened up to see what this colourful figure had to say on these matters, and what he can teach us today in our context.

To listen to the talks or to download them for later listening, click here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Anglican Priest and a Former Anglican Priest Describe Their Experiences after Their Conversion to Roman Catholicism


About 50 Church of England priests opposed to the consecration of women as bishops are expected to be in the first wave of Anglicans to take up an offer by Pope Benedict and convert to Rome. The traditionalist priests will be joined by five bishops and 30 groups of parishioners, in a structure called an ordinariate, or a Church subdivision, in the new year.

About 300 priests switched in the early 1900s when women were ordained as priests. Then they did not have the comfort of moving over in groups, and nearly 70 returned to the Anglican fold.

Here, one priest explains why he stayed, while another describes why he returned.

To read more, click here.

Great Anglican Divines: John Jewel (1522-1572)


This article originally appeared in Cross†Way Issue Autumn 1985 No. 18. It has been reprinted with the permission of Church Society.

By Derek Scales

The sixteenth century love of puns makes it unsurprising that Jewel’s epitaph referred to him as ‘a jewel of jewels’ and Archbishop Edmund Grindal called him ‘the jewel and singular ornament of the Church’: but these were no empty ascriptions, for Jewel was one of the outstanding servants of Christ and his Gospel in England in the sixteenth century.

Life

John Jewel was born in Bude in 1522. He showed great diligence in study while a boy, and went up to Oxford in 1535, where his tutor was John Parkhurst (later the Elizabethan bishop of Norwich). A young man of exceptional ability and labour, and of blameless life, he worked so hard that he injured his health.

With the accession of Queen Mary, Jewel was unmolested for some time. Suddenly, however, in 1554 he was required to subscribe some compromising Romanising articles, and with the threat of possible death, he capitulated. Jewel fled abroad to Frankfurt, where he publicly acknowledged his fault: ‘I have confessed it openly, and unrequired. in the midst of the congregation’. He arrived in Zurich in 1556, where the English exiles spent their time together very profitably and happily.

On his return to England in 1559, it was clear that Jewel was destined for high office: he disputed at Westminster, he preached at Paul’s Cross (where he issued his famous challenge to the Romanists that none of their disputed points had either the authority of Scripture or the support of any reputable Church Father of the first six centuries), and he was elected bishop of Salisbury. He spent the rest of his life in that office, engaged chiefly in preaching, writing and study, and died. Burned out at an early age, in 1572.


The ‘Apology’

His classic. An Apology, or answer, in Defence of the Church of England, was published in 1562. In the first of the six main sections, Jewel records the slanders and persecutions which Protestants had to undergo, and challenges his opponents to submit to Scripture. He then expounds the doctrine taught by the Church of England, both the beliefs set forth in the Creeds, and the teachings in the light of subsequent controversies. Jewel thirdly asserts that it is the Reformed Church of England which is in true apostolic succession: ‘We have learned these things of Christ, of the apostles, of the devout fathers’. In the fourth section Jewel points out the moral and doctrinal corruption of Rome, and that error has been found within the institutional church since Old Testament times. Jewel then examines the Roman claim that they had the support of the Church Fathers: this area of learning was Jewel’s speciality, and he showed conclusively that the early church testified against the practices of Rome. Finally, Jewel dealt with the Roman contention that the Protestants should submit to the decisions of the General Council at Trent. ‘Neither do we eschew concord and peace, but to have peace with man we will not be at war with God.’

This article will have done great good if it induces the reader to seek out a copy of Jewel’s Apology and study it.

Lessons for Today

Jewel presents some important lessons to the twentieth-century Church of England. Jewel makes it plain that the difference between the Church of England and the Church of Rome are theological differences. There may have been some change in Rome’s posturing and public relations, but we are not concerned with this superficial realm: in theology Rome has not changed (except for the worse) since Jewel’s time. New ‘common ground’ is an ambiguous and false synthesis: the Church of England was reformed for valid reasons, and those reasons remain. The Reformation was not a mistake, and the Reformed Church which sprung from it was not an unfortunate anomaly. It does not therefore exist to lose itself in another church (pace the Archbishop of Canterbury), but to bear testimony to the Scriptural and Apostolic Faith in this land. Jewel emphasises our duty to maintain it.

The second point is related to the first. For the last one hundred and fifty years, some people have canvassed the via media concept, that the Church of England is a sort of halfway house between Rome and Reformation. This concept is foolish (for on the points of dispute there is no halfway position – the two opposing systems are the logical outworking of their presuppositions) and false: Jewel demonstrates that the Church of England is Reformed according to Scripture.

A third lesson from Jewel relates to leadership. Jewel’s grievous denial of the faith (like Cranmer’s) reminds us of the fallibility of all human leaders. As Protestants we deny the infallibility of the pope; yet too easily within the evangelical movement people are followers of names rather than Biblical principles. We must exercise that right judgement which measures all things by Scripture, and not put leaders in a false position.

There is also a lesson for leaders. If leaders realise they have taken the wrong path, let them publicly say so. Otherwise some become disillusioned with them, and others are confused and misled. During the evangelical downgrade of the last twenty years, many evangelical leaders have done amazing things; claims that they have not changed and that all their actions are consistent have only increased dismay. Bishop Jewel Jewel demonstrated the right course. He lived for 18 years after he ‘confessed his fault’: on only one occasion in that period was he taunted with his weakness – by his bitterest Roman opponent. Our respect for leaders who acknowledge their mistakes is increased.

Finally, Jewel reminds us of true characteristics of ministry generally and episcopacy in particular. When Jewel went to Salisbury in 1560 he was faced with an immense task and had few competent helpers. We find him an assiduous preacher: the lack of ministerial help only increased his efforts. He was a vigorous Reformer: he went about his diocese endeavouring to correct what was amiss. He was a faithful studentt: he set aside time for the study each morning when he was in Salisbury, preparing for the pulpit and his writings. Here are vital and practicable priorities for today.

Jewel reminds us of the true character of our Church, and challenges us to pray and work to reform what is amiss in it today.

Derek Scales was a Vice-Chairman of Church Society Council, and Senior Classics Master at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate.

Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae: Part I


Also known as An Apology, or Answer, in Defense of the Church of England and An Apology for the Bible

It hath been an old complaint, even from the first time of the patriarchs and Prophets, and confirmed by the writings and testimonies of every age, that the truth wandereth here and there as a stranger in the world, and doth readily find enemies and slanderers amongst those that know her not. Albeit perchance this may seem unto some a thing hard to be believed, I mean to such as have scant well and narrowly taken heed thereunto, specially seeing all mankind of nature's very motion without a teacher doth covet the truth of their own accord; and seeing our Saviour Christ Himself, when He was on earth, would be called the Truth, as by a name most fit to express all His Divine power; yet we, which have been exercised in the Holy Scriptures, and which have both read and seen what hath happened to all godly men commonly at all times; what to the Prophets, to the Apostles, to the holy martyrs, and what to Christ Himself; with what rebukes, revilings, and despites they were continually vexed whiles they here lived, and that only for the truth's sake: we, I say, do see that this is not only no new thing, or hard to be believed, but that it is a thing already received, and commonly used from age to age. Nay, truly, this might seem much rather a marvel, and beyond all belief, if the devil, who is the father of lies, and enemy to all truth, would now upon a sudden change his nature, and hope that truth might otherwise be suppressed than by belying it; or that he would begin to establish his own kingdom by using now any other practices than the same which he hath ever used from the beginning. For since any man's remembrance we can scant find one time, either when religion did first grow, or when it was settled, or when it did afresh spring up again, wherein truth and innocency were not by all unworthy means, and most despitefully intreated. Doubtless the devil well seeth, that so long as truth is in good safety, himself cannot be safe, nor yet maintain his own estate.

For, letting pass the ancient patriarchs and Prophets, who, as we have said, had no part of their life free from contumelies and slanders, we know there were certain in times past which said and commonly preached, that the old ancient Jews (of whom we make no doubt but they were the worshippers of the only and true God) did worship either a sow, or an ass, in God's stead, and that all the same religion was nothing else but a sacrilege, and a plain contempt of all godliness. We know also that the Son of God, our Saviour Jesu Christ, when He taught the truth, was counted a juggler and an enchanter, a Samaritan, Beelzebub, a deceiver of the people, a drunkard, and a glutton. Again, who wotteth not what words were spoken against St. Paul, the most earnest and vehement preacher and maintainer of the truth? sometime that he was a seditious and busy man, a raiser of tumults, a causer of rebellion; sometime again, that he was an heretic; sometime, that he was mad; sometime, that only upon strife and stomach he was both a blasphemer of God's law, and a despiser of the fathers' ordinances. Further, who knoweth not how St. Stephen, after he had thoroughly and sincerely embraced the truth, and began frankly and stoutly to preach and set forth the same, as he ought to do, was immediately called to answer for his life, as one that had wickedly uttered disdainful and heinous words against the law, against Moses, against the temple, and against God? Or who is ignorant that in times past there were some which reproved the Holy Scripts of falsehood, saying they contained things both contrary and quite one against other; and how that the Apostles of Christ did severally disagree between themselves, and that St. Paul did vary from them all? And, not to make rehearsal of all, for that were an endless labour, who knoweth not after what sort our fathers were railed upon in times past, which first began to acknowledge and profess the Name of Christ? how they made private conspiracies, devised secret counsels against the commonwealth, and that end made early and privy meetings in the dark, killed young babes, fed themselves with men's flesh, and, like savage and brute beasts, did drink their blood? in conclusion, how that, after they had put out the candles, they committed adultery between themselves, and without regard wrought incest one with another: that brethren lay with their sisters, sons with their mothers, without any reverence of nature or kin, without shame without difference; and that they were wicked men without all care of religion, and without any opinion of God, being the very enemies of mankind, unworthy to be suffered in the world, and unworthy of life?

All these things were spoken in those days against the people of God, against Christ Jesu, against Paul, against Stephen, and against all them, whosoever they were, which at the first beginning embraced the truth of the Gospel, and were contented to be called by the name of Christians, which was then a hateful name among the common people. And although the things which they said were not true, yet the devil thought it should be sufficient for him, if at the least he could bring it so to pass as they might be believed for true, and that the Christians might be brought into a common hatred of everybody, and have their death and destruction sought of all sorts. Hereupon kings and princes, being led then by such persuasions, killed all the Prophets of God, letting none escape. Esay with a saw, Jeremy with stones, Daniel with lions, Amos with an iron bar, Paul with the sword, and Christ upon the cross; and condemned all Christians to imprisonments, to torments, to the pikes, to be thrown down headlong from rocks and steep places, to be cast to wild beasts, and to be burnt: and made great fires of their quick bodies, for the only purpose to give light by night, and for a very scorn and mocking stock; and did count them no better than the vilest filth, the offscourings and laughing games of the whole world. Thus, as ye see, have the authors and professors of the truth ever been intreated.

Wherefore, we ought to bear it the more quietly, which have taken upon us to profess the Gospel of Christ, if we for the same cause be handled after the same sort; and if we, as our forefathers were long ago, be likewise at this day tormented, and baited with railings, with spiteful dealings, and with lies; and that for no desert of our own, but only because we teach and acknowledge the truth.

They cry out upon us at this present everywhere, that we are all heretics, and have forsaken the faith, and have with new persuasions and wicked learning utterly dissolved the concord of the Church; that we renew, and, as it were, fetch again from hell the old and many a day condemned heresies; that we sow abroad new sects, and such broils as never yearst were heard of: also that we are already divided into contrary parts and opinions, and could yet by no means agree well among ourselves; that we be cursed creatures, and, like the giants, do war against God Himself, and live clean without any regard or worshipping of God; that we despise all good deeds; that we use no discipline of virtue, no laws, no customs; that we esteem neither right, nor order, nor equity, nor justice; that we give the bridle to all naughtiness, and provoke the people to all licentiousness and lust; that we labour and seek to overthrow the state of monarchies and kingdoms, and to bring all things under the rule of the rash inconstant people and unlearned multitude; that we have seditiously fallen from the Catholic Church, and by a wicked schism and division have shaken the whole world, and troubled the common peace and universal quiet of the Church; and that, as Dathan and Abiram conspired in times past against Moses and Aaron, even so we at this day have renounced the Bishop of Rome without any cause reasonable; that we set nought by the authority of the ancient fathers and councils of old time; that we have rashly and presumptuously disannulled the old ceremonies, which have been well allowed by our fathers and forefathers many hundred years past, both by good customs, and also in ages of more purity; and that we have by our own private head, without the authority of any sacred and general council, brought new traditions into the Church: and have done all these things not for religion's sake, but only upon a desire of contention and strife; but that they for their part have changed no manner of thing, but have held and kept still such a number of years to this very day all things as they were delivered from the Apostles and well approved by the most ancient fathers.

And that this matter should not seem to be done but upon privy slander, and to be tossed to and fro in a corner, only to spite us, there have been besides wilily procured by the Bishop of Rome certain persons of eloquence enough, and not unlearned neither, which should put their help to this cause, now almost despaired of, and should polish and set forth the same, both in books, and with long tales to the end that, when the matter was trimly and eloquently handled, ignorant and unskilful persons might suspect there was some great thing in it. Indeed they perceived that their own cause did everywhere go to wrack; that their sleights were now espied, and less esteemed; and that their helps did daily fail them; and that their matter stood altogether in great need of a cunning spokesman.

Now as for those things which by them have been laid against us, in part they be manifestly false, and condemned so by their own judgments which spake them; partly again, though they be as false, too, indeed, yet bear they a certain show and colour of truth, so as the reader (if he take not good heed) may easily be tripped and brought into error by them, specially when their fine and cunning tale is added thereunto. And part of them be of such sort as we ought not to shun them as crimes or faults, but to acknowledge and profess them as things well done, and upon very good reason.

For shortly to say the truth, these folk falsely accuse and slander all our doings; yea the same things which they themselves cannot deny but to be rightly and orderly done; and for malice do so misconstrue and deprave all our sayings and doings, as though it were impossible that anything could be rightly spoken or done by us. They should more plainly and sincerely have gone to work if they would have dealt truly. But now they neither truly, nor sincerely, nor yet Christianly, but darkly and craftily charge and batter us with lies, and do abuse the blindness and fondness of the people, together with the ignorance of princes, to cause us to be hated and the truth to be suppressed. This, lo, ye, is the power of darkness, and of men which lean more to the amazed wondering of the rude multitude and to darkness than they do to truth and light; and as St. Hierom saith, which do openly gainsay the truth, closing up their eyes, and will not see for the nonce.

But we give thanks to the most good and mighty God, that such is our cause, whereagainst (when they would fainest) they were able to utter no despite, but the same which might as well be wrested against the holy fathers, against the Prophets, against the Apostles, against Peter, against Paul, and against Christ Himself.

Now, therefore, if it be lawful for these folks to be eloquent and fine-tongued in speaking evil, surely it becometh not us in our cause, being so very good, to be dumb in answering truly. For men to be careless what is spoken by them and their own matter, be it never so falsely and slanderously spoken (especially when it is such that the majesty of God and the cause of religion may thereby be damaged), is the part doubtless of dissolute and wretchless persons, and of them which wickedly wink at the injuries done unto the Name of God. For although other wrongs, yea oftentimes great, may be borne and dissembled of a mild and Christian man, yet he that goeth smoothly away, and dissembleth the matter when he is noted of heresy, Ruffinus was wont to deny that man to be a Christian. We therefore will do the same thing, which all laws, which nature's own voice doth command to be done, and which Christ Himself did in like case, when He was checked and reviled: to the intent we may put off from us these men's slanderous accusations, and may defend soberly and truly our own cause and innocency. For Christ verily, when the Pharisees charged Him with sorcery, as one that had some familiar spirits, and wrought many things by their help: "I," said He, "have not the devil, but do glorify my Father: but it is you that have dishonoured me, and put me to rebuke and shame." And St. Paul, when Festus the lieutenant scorned him as a madman: "I," said he, "most dear Festus, am not mad, as thou thinkest, but I speak the words of truth and soberness." And the ancient Christians, when they were slandered to the people for mankillers, for adulterers, for committers of incest, for disturbers of the commonweals, and did perceive that by such slanderous accusations the religion which they professed might be brought in question, namely, if they should seem to hold their peace, and in manner to confess the fault; lest this might hinder the free course of the Gospel, they made orations, they put up supplications, and made means to emperors and princes, that they might defend themselves and their fellows in open audience.

But we truly, seeing that so many thousands of our brethren in these last twenty years have borne witness unto the truth, in the midst of most painful torments that could be devised; and when princes, desirous to restrain the Gospel, sought many ways, but prevailed nothing; and that now almost the whole world doth begin to open their eyes to behold the light; we take it that our cause hath already been sufficiently declared and defended, and think it not needful to make many words, seeing the matter saith enough for itself. For if the popes would, or else if they could weigh with their own selves the whole matter, and also the beginnings and proceedings of our religion, how in a manner all their travail hath come to nought, nobody driving it forward; and how on the other side, our cause, against the will of emperors from the beginning, against the wills of so many kings, in spite of the popes, and almost maugre the head of all men, hath taken increase, and by little and little spread over into all countries, and is come at length even into kings' courts and palaces; these same things, methinketh, might be tokens great enough to them, that God Himself doth strongly fight in our quarrel, and doth from heaven laugh at their enterprises; and that the force of truth is such, as neither man's power, nor yet hell-gates are able to root it out. For they be not all mad at this day, so many free cities, so many kings, so many princes, which have fallen away from the seat of Rome, and have rather joined themselves to the Gospel of Christ.

And although the popes had never hitherunto leisure to consider diligently and earnestly of these matters, or though some other cares do now let them, and diverse ways pull them, or though they count these to be but common and trifling studies, and nothing to appertain to the Pope's worthiness, this maketh not why our matter ought to seem the worse. Or if they perchance will not see that which they see indeed, but rather will withstand the known truth, ought we therefore by-and-by to be accounted heretics because we obey not their will and pleasure? If so be, that Pope Pius were the man (we say not, which he would so gladly be called), but if he were indeed a man that either would account us for his brethren, or at least would take us to be men, he would first diligently have examined our reasons, and would have seen what might be said with us, what against us; and would not in his bull, whereby he lately pretended a council, so rashly have condemned so great a part of the world, so many learned and godly men, so many commonwealths, so many kings, and so many princes, only upon his own blind prejudices and fore- determinations--and that without hearing of them speak or without showing cause why.

But because he hath already so noted us openly, lest by holding our peace we should seem to grant a fault, and specially because we can by no means have audience in the public assembly of the general council, wherein he would no creature should have power to give his voice or to declare his opinion, except he be sworn, and straitly bound to maintain his authority (for we have had good experience hereof in the last conference at the council at Trident; where the ambassadors and divines of the princes of Germany, and of the free cities, were quite shut out from their company. Neither can we yet forget, how Julius the Third, above ten years past, provided warily by his writ that none of our sort should be suffered to speak in the council, except that there were some, peradventure, that would recant and change his opinion): for this cause chiefly we thought it good to yield up an account of our faith in writing, and truly and openly to make answer to those things wherewith we have been openly charged; to the end the world may see the parts and foundations of that doctrine, in the behalf whereof so many good men have little regarded their own lives; and that all men may understand what manner of people they be, and what opinion they have of God and of religion, whom the Bishop of Rome, before they were called to tell their tale, hath condemned for heretics, without any good consideration, without any example, and utterly without law or right, only because he heard tell that they did dissent from him and his in some point of religion.

And although St. Hierom would have nobody to be patient when he is suspected of heresy, yet we will deal herein neither bitterly nor brablingly; nor yet be carried away with anger and heat; though he ought to be reckoned neither bitter nor brabler that speaketh the truth. We willingly leave this kind of eloquence to our adversaries, who, whatsoever they say against us, be it never so shrewdly or despitefully said, yet think it is said modestly and comely enough, and care nothing whether it be true or false. We need none of these shifts which do maintain the truth.

Further, if we do show it plainly that God's holy Gospel, the ancient bishops, and the primitive Church do make on our side, and that we have not without just cause left these men, and rather have returned to the Apostles and old Catholic fathers; and if we shall be found to do the same not colourably or craftily, but in good faith before God, truly, honestly, clearly, and plainly; and if they themselves which fly our doctrine, and would be called Catholics, shall manifestly see how all these titles of antiquity, whereof they boast so much, are quite shaken out of their hands; and that there is more pith in this our cause than they thought for; we then hope and trust that none of them will be so negligent and careless of his own salvation, but he will at length study and bethink himself to whether part he were best to join him. Undoubtedly, except one will altogether harden his heart and refuse to hear, he shall not repent him to give good heed to this our Defence, and to mark well what we say, and how truly and justly it agreeth with Christian religion.

For where they call us heretics, it is a crime so heinous, that unless it may be seen, unless it may be felt, and in manner may be holden with hands and fingers, it ought not lightly to be judged or believed, when it is laid to the charge of any Christian man. For heresy is a forsaking of salvation, a renouncing of God's grace, a departing from the body and spirit of Christ. But this was ever an old and solemn property with them and their forefathers; if any did complain of their errors and faults, and desired to have true religion restored, straightway to condemn such ones for heretics, as men new-fangled and factious. Christ for no other cause was called a Samaritan, but only for that He was thought to have fallen to a certain new religion, and to be the author of a new sect. And Paul the Apostle of Christ was called before the judges to make answer to a matter of heresy; and therefore he said: "According to this way which they call heresy I do worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which be written in the law and in the Prophets."

Shortly to speak. This universal religion which Christian men profess at this day was called first of the heathen people a sect and heresy. With these terms did they always fill princes' ears, to the intent when they had once hated us with a predetermined opinion, and had counted all that we said to be faction and heresy, they might be so led away from the truth and right understanding of the cause. But the more sore and outrageous a crime heresy is, the more it ought to be proved by plain and strong arguments, especially in this time, when men begin to give less credit to their words, and to make more diligent search of their doctrine, than they were wont to do. For the people of God are otherwise instructed now than they were in times past, when all the bishops of Rome's sayings were allowed for Gospel, and when all religion did depend only upon their authority. Nowadays the Holy Scripture is abroad, the writings of the Apostles and Prophets are in print, whereby all truth and Catholic doctrine may be proved, and all heresy may be disproved and confuted.

Sithence, then, they bring forth none of these for themselves, and call us nevertheless heretics, which have neither fallen from Christ, nor from the Apostles, nor yet from the Prophets, this is an injurious and a very spiteful dealing. With this sword did Christ put off the devil when He was tempted of him: with these weapons ought all presumption, which doth advance itself against God, to be overthrown and conquered. "For all Scripture," saith St. Paul, "that cometh by the inspiration of God, is profitable to teach, to confute, to instruct, and to reprove, that the man of God may be perfect, and thoroughly framed to every good work." Thus did the holy fathers always fight against the heretics with none other force than with the Holy Scriptures. St. Augustine, when he disputed against Petilian, a heretic of the Donatists: "Let not these words," quoth he, "be heard between us, 'I say, or you say:' let us rather speak in this wise: 'Thus saith the Lord.' There let us seek the Church: there let us boult out our cause." Likewise St. Hierom: "All those things," saith he, "which without the testimony of the Scriptures are holden as delivered from the Apostles, be thoroughly smitten down by the sword of God's word." St. Ambrose also, to Gratian the emperor: "Let the Scripture," saith he, "be asked the question, let the prophets be asked, and let Christ be asked." For at that time made the Catholic fathers and bishops no doubt but that our religion might be proved out of the Holy Scriptures. Neither were they ever so hardy as to take any for a heretic whose error they could not evidently and apparently reprove by the self-same Scriptures. And we verily do make answer on this wise, as St. Paul did: "According to this way which they call heresy we do worship God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and do allow all things which have been written either in the law or in the Prophets," or in the Apostles' works.

Wherefore, if we be heretics, and they (as they would fain be called) be Catholics, why do they not, as they see the fathers, which were Catholic men, have always done? Why do they not convince and master us by the Divine Scriptures? Why do they not call us again to be tried by them? Why do they not lay before us how we have gone away from Christ, from the Prophets, from the Apostles, and from the holy fathers? Why stick they to do it? Why are they afraid of it? It is God's cause. Why are they doubtful to commit it to the trial of God's word? If we be heretics, which refer all our controversies unto the Holy Scriptures, and report us to the self-same words which we know were sealed by God Himself, and in comparison of them set little by all other things, whatsoever may be devised by men, how shall we say to these folk, I pray you what manner of men be they, and how is it meet to call them, which fear the judgment of the Holy Scriptures--that is to say, the judgment of God Himself--and do prefer before them their own dreams and full cold inventions; and, to maintain their own traditions, have defaced and corrupted, now these many hundred years, the ordinances of Christ and of the Apostles?

Men say that Sophocles, the tragical poet, when in his old days he was by his own sons accused before the judges for a doting and sottish man, as one that fondly wasted his own substance, and seemed to need a governor to see unto him; to the intent he might clear himself of the fault, he came into the place of judgment; and when he had rehearsed before them his tragedy called _OEdipus Coloneus_, which he had written at the very time of his accusation, marvellous exactly and cunningly, did of himself ask the judges whether they thought any sottish or doting man could do the like piece of work.

In like manner, because these men take us to be mad, and appeach us for heretics, as men which have nothing to do, neither with Christ, nor with the Church of God, we have judged it should be to good purpose, and not unprofitable, if we do openly and frankly set forth our faith wherein we stand, and show all that confidence which we have in Christ Jesu; to the intent all men may see what is our judgment of every part of Christian religion, and may resolve with themselves, whether the faith which they shall see confirmed by the words of Christ, by the writings of the Apostles, by the testimonies of the Catholic fathers, and by the examples of many ages, be but a certain rage of furious and mad men, and a conspiracy of heretics. This therefore is our belief.

An Essay on High Church Principles


Introduction

There is sometimes Fallacy in the Use of a Word. It is common this Country, to apply the Term High Churchman, when the Meaning is, simply that the designated Person is a zealous & consistent Member of the Episcopal Church. In this Essay, the Term is understood as begun to be used in England under the Stuart Line; & as it has continued to be used in the same Country at least until lately. The discriminating Marks are to be perceived in the History of it's Church; in which there have been a Proportion of her Divines attached to some Points, thought by others of them to be a retrograde Movement towards Popery; & not to be gathered from her Formularies of Faith & Worship. It is not intended, to charge those Divines with entertaining an Affection for Popery; but it is apprehended, that these Principles have an undesigned Tendency to so bad an Issue; which is the Point intended to be established in this Essay. It was be written, with the Hope of giving to those to whom it may be presented for Perusal, a Caution against an Evil occasionally shewing it's Head in our Church. It has been long since put down from the Seats of Power in England; for, ever since the Revolution in 1688, the Bishops have been of a different Description of Clergy. It would be a Pity, if there should be acquired by it an Influence over our Counsels & Administrations, for, there may be foreseen serious Dissentions as the Consequence.

The Subject shall be considered as it affects — the Constitution of the Christian Church — it's Doctrines — it's Worship, & — Civil Government, in it's Bearings on the other Points.

To read Bishop William White's entire essay, with explanatory introduction and notes by Cynthia McFarland, click here.

At the time Bishop White wrote this essay, the term "Low Church" was used perjoratively to refer to the Latitudinarians. The Oxford Tractarian movement would subsequently apply it to the Evangelicals.

Sorry Prof. Hunter, but Anglicanism is not dying


Last week National Post columnist Ian Hunter predicted a bleak future for the Church of England and Anglicanism in general.

Prof. Hunter, a convert to Catholicism, clearly has little love for the Anglican Church. But his own disappointments with the church that he fled may be clouding his vision.

He notes that in Britain there are already more people worshiping in mosques than in the Church of England. He then goes on to say how Anglicanism has drifted from its roots to something lacking definition.

“Whether one examines liturgy, doctrine, or the trendy issues like women bishops and homosexual marriages, the reality is that the contemporary Anglican Church bears hardly any resemblance to the spirit of the 39 Articles of Religion that once defined this historic institution.”

He mentions the recent statement by five Church of England bishops who said they were heading to the Roman Catholic Church because they were “distressed by developments in faith and order in Anglicanism which we believe to be incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the Church for 2,000 years.”

Prof. Hunter may be right about the Anglican Church in Britain today. But there is a problem if his readers confuse what is going on in Britain — or Canada or the United States, for that matter — with the reality of worldwide Anglicanism.

To read more, click here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Three Marks of the Visible Church—Part 7


For the sixth and seventh parts of the article series, “The Three Marks of the Visible Church, I have reproduced “A Homily of the worthy receiving and reverend esteeming of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ” with modern (British) spelling and punctuation. It further expounds upon what the English Reformers meant by the due administration and the right use of the sacraments. As the two Books of Homilies are formularies of the reformed Church of England, its explanation of the second mark of the visible church is the official doctrine of that Church.

The homily is written in two parts with the intention that each part should be read on a separate occasion. Due to the length of each part I am posting them separately.


A Homily of the worthy receiving and reverend esteeming of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ—Second Part

In the Homily of late rehearsed unto you, ye have heard (good people) why it pleased our Saviour Christ to institute that heavenly memory of his death and passion, and that every one of us ought to celebrate the same at his Table, in our own persons, and not by other. You have heard also with what estimation and knowledge of so high mysteries, wee ought to resort thither. You have heard with what constant faith we should clothe and deck ourselves, that we might be fit and decent partakers of that celestial food.

Now followeth the third thing necessary in him that would not eat of this bread, nor drink of this cup unworthily, which is, newness of life, and godliness of conversation. For newness of life, as fruits of faith are required in the partakers of this Table. We may learn by eating of the typical lamb, whereunto no man was admitted, but he that was a Jew, that was circumcised, that was before sanctified. Yea Saint Paul testifieth, that although the people were partakers of the Sacraments under Moses, yet for that some of them were still worshippers of images, whoremongers, tempters of Christ, murmurers, and coveting after evil things: GOD overthrew those in the wilderness, and that for our example, that is, that we Christians should take heed wee resort unto our Sacraments with holiness of life, not trusting in the outward receiving of them, and infected with corrupt and uncharitable manners (1 Corinthians 10.1-11). For this sentence of GOD must always be justified: I will have mercy and not sacrifice. Wherefore (saith Basil) it behooveth [= is incumbent on] him that cometh to the body and blood of Christ, in commemoration of him that died and rose again, not only to be pure from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, lest he eat and drink his own condemnation: but also to shew out evidently, a memory of him that died and rose again for us, in this point, that ye be mortified to sin and the world, to live now to GOD in Christ Jesu our Lord (Basil, De Bapt., Bk. 1, chap. 3).

So then we must shew outward testimony, in following the signification of Christ’s death, amongst the which this is not esteemed least, to render thanks to Almighty GOD for all his benefits, briefly comprised in the death, passion, and resurrection of his dearly beloved Son. The which thing, because we ought chiefly at this table to solemnize, the godly fathers named it Eucharistia, that is, thanksgiving. As if they should have said, Now above all other times ye ought to land and praise GOD. Now may you behold the matter, the cause, the beginning and the end of all thanksgiving. Now if you slack, ye show yourselves most unthankful, and that no other benefit can ever stir you to thank GOD, who so little regard here so many, so wonderful, and so profitable benefits. Seeing then that the name and thing it self doth monish us of thanks, let us (as S. Paul saith) offer always to GOD, the host or sacrifice of praise by Christ, that is, the fruit of the lips which confess his Name (Hebrews 13.15). For as David singeth: He that offereth to GOD thanks and praise, honoureth him (Psalms 50.23). But how few be there of thankful persons, in comparison to the unthankful? Lo ten Lepers in the Gospel were healed, and but one only returned to give thanks for his health (Luke 17.17). Yea happy it were, if among forty communicants, we could see two unfeignedly give thanks. So unkind we be, so oblivious we b, so proud beggars we b, that partly wee care not for our own commodity, partly we know not our duty to GOD, and chiefly we will not confess all that we receive. Yea, and if wee be forced by GOD’s power to do it: yet wee handle it so coldly, so dryly, that our lips praise him, but our hearts dispraise him, our tongues bless him, but our life curseth him, our words worship him, but our works dishonour him. O let us therefore learn to give GOD here thanks aright, and so to agnize [= recognize, acknowledge, own] his exceeding graces poured upon us, that they being shut up in the treasure house of our heart, may in due time and season in our life and conversation, appear to the glorifying of his holy Name.

Furthermore, for newness of life, it is to be noted that Saint Paul writeth: that we being many, are one bread and one body: For all be partakers of one bread. Declaring thereby, not only our Communion with Christ, but that unity also, wherein they that eat at this table, should be knit together. For by dissension, vainglory, ambition, strife, envying, contempt, hatred, or malice, they should not be dissevered: but so joined by the bond of love, in one mystical body, as the corns of that bread in one loaf. In respect of which straight knot of charity, the true Christians in the Primitive Church, called this supper, love. As if they should say, none ought to sit down there, that were out of love and charity, who bare grudge and vengeance in his heart, who also did not profess his kind affection by some charitable relief, for some part of the congregation. And this was their practice. O heavenly banquet then so used. O godly guests, who so esteemed this feast.

But O wretched creatures that we be at these days, who be without reconciliation of our brethren whom we have offended, without satisfying them whom we have caused to fall, without any kind of thought or compassion toward them whom we might easily relieve, without any conscience of slander, disdain, misreport, division, rancor, or inward bitterness. Yea, being encumbered with the cloaked hatred of Cain (Genesis 4.8), with the long coloured malice of Esau (Genesis 27.41), with the dissembled falsehood of Joab (2 Samuel 3.27), dare ye presume to come up to these sacred and feareful mysteries? O man, whither rushest thou unadvisedly? It is a table of peace, and thou art ready to fight. It is a table of singleness, and thou art imagining mischief. It is a table of quietness, and thou art given to debate. It is a table of pity, and thou art unmerciful. Doest thou neither fear GOD the maker of this feast, nor reverence his Christ the refection and meat, nor regardest his spouse his well beloved guest, nor weighest thine own conscience, which is sometime thine inward accuser? Wherefore (O man) tender thine own salvation, examine and try thy good will and love towards the children of GOD, the members of Christ, the heirs of the heavenly heritage: yea, towards the image of GOD, the excellent creature thine own soul. If thou have offended, now be reconciled. If thou have caused any to stumble in the way of GOD, now set them up again. If thou have disquieted thy brother, now pacify him. If thou have wronged him, now relieve him. If thou have defrauded him, now restore to him. If thou have nourished spite, now embrace friendship. If thou have fostered hatred and malice, now openly shew thy love and charity, yea be prest [= at hand, prompt] and ready to procure thy neighbour’s health of soul, wealth, commodity, and pleasures, as thine own. Deserve not the heavy and dreadful burden of GOD’s displeasure for thine evil will towards thy neighbour, so irreverently to approach to this table of the Lord.

Last of all, as there is here the mystery of peace, and the Sacrament of Christian society, whereby we understand what sincere love ought to be betwixt the true communicants (Chrysostom, Ad Popu. Ant. Homil. 6): So here be the tokens of pureness and innocency of life, whereby we may perceive that we ought to purge our own soul from all uncleanness, iniquity, and wickedness, lest when we receive the mystical bread (as Origen saith) we eat it in an unclean place, that is, in a soul defiled and polluted with sin (Origen, In Levit. Cap.). In Mose’s law, the man that did eat of the sacrifice of thanksgiving, with his uncleanness upon him, should be destroyed from his people. And shall we think that the wicked and sinful person shall bee excusable at the table of the Lord? We both read in Saint Paul, that the Church of Corinth was scourged of the Lord, for misusing the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11.29), and we may plainly see Christ’s Church these many years miserably vexed and oppressed, for the horrible profanation of the same (Luke 17.1, Chrysostom? Homil. 14). Wherefore let us all universal and singular, behold our own manners and lives, to amend them. Yea now at the least, let us call our selves to an accompt [= account], that it may grieve us of our former evil conversation, that we may hate sin, that we may sorrow and mourn for our offences, that we may with tears pour them out before GOD, that we may with sure trust desire and crave the salve of his mercy, bought and purchased with the blood of his dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, to heal our deadly wounds withal. For surely, if we do not with earnest repentance cleanse the filthy stomach of our soul, it must needs come to pass, that as wholesome meat received into a raw stomach corrupteth and marreth all, and is the cause of further sickness: so shall we eat this wholesome bread, and drink this cup to our eternal destruction. Thus we and not other, must thoroughly examine, and not lightly look over ourselves, not other men, our own conscience, not other men’s lives, which we ought to do uprightly, truly, and with just correction. O (saith Chrysostom) let no Judas resort to this Table, let no covetous person approach (Chrysostom, ad popul. Ant. Homil. 6). If any be a Disciple, let him be present. For Christ saith, With my Disciples I make my Passover (Matthew 26.18). Why cried the Deacon in the Primitive Church, If any be holy, let him draw near? Why did they celebrate these mysteries, the quire door being shut? Why were the public penitents and learners in Religion commanded at this time to avoid? Was it not because this Table received no unholy, unclean, or sinful guests? Wherefore, if servants dare not to presume to an earthly master’s table, whom they have offended: Let us take heed we come not with our sins unexamined, into this presence of our Lord and Judge. If they bee worthy blame which kiss the Prince’s hand with a filthy & unclean mouth: shalt thou be blameless which with a stinking soul, full of covetousness, fornication, drunkenness, pride, full of wretched cogitations and thoughts, doest breathe out iniquity and uncleanness on the Bread and Cup of the Lord?

Thus have you heard, how you should come reverently and decently to the Table of the Lord, having the knowledge of his word, of the thing itself, and the fruits thereof, bringing a true and constant Faith, the root and wellspring of all newness of life, as well in praising GOD, and loving our neighbour, as purging our own conscience from filthiness. So that neither the ignorance of the thing shall cause us to contemn [= feel contempt for, scornfully disregard] it, nor unfaithfulness make us void of fruit, nor sin and iniquity procure us GOD’s plagues: but shall by Faith, in knowledge and amendment of life in Faith be here so united to Christ our Head in his mysteries, to our comfort, that after we shall have full fruition of him indeed, to our everlasting joy and eternal life, to the which he bring us, that died for us and Redeemed us, Jesus Christ the righteous, to whom with the Father, and the holy Ghost, one true and eternal GOD, be all praise, honour and dominion for ever, Amen.

The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered


To form an idea of the situation of the episcopal churches in the present crisis, we must observe the change their religious system has undergone in the late Revolution.
[The GENERAL term “episcopal” is usually applied, among us, to the churches professing the religious principles of the church of England. It is thought by the author to be sufficiently descriptive, because the other episcopal churches in America are known by names PECULIAR TO THEMSELVES.]

On whatever principles the independence of the United States may be supposed to rest; whether merely on establishments which have very probable appearances of being permanent, or on withdrawing the protection of the former sovereign, or (as the author of these sheets believes) on the inherent right of the community to resist and effectually to exclude unconstitutional and oppressive claims, there result from it the reciprocal duties of protection and [5/6] allegiance, enforced by the most powerful sanctions of natural and revealed religion.

It may reasonably be presumed, that, in general, the members of the episcopal churches are friendly to the principles, on which the present governments were formed; a fact particularly obvious in the southern states, where the episcopalians, who are a majority of the citizens, have engaged and persevered in the war, with as much ardour and constancy as their neighbours. Many even of those whose sentiments were at first unfavorable to the Revolution, now wish for its final establishment, as a most happy event; some from an earnest desire of peace, and others from the undistinguished oppressions and ravages of the British armies. Such persons accordingly acknowledge allegiance, and pay obedience to the sovereignty of the states.
Inconsistent with the duties resulting from this allegiance, would be their subjection to any spiritual jurisdiction connected with the temporal authority of a foreign state. Such a dependence is contrary to the fundamental principles of civil society, and therefore cannot be required by the scriptures; which, being accommodated to the civil policy of the world at large, neither interfered with the constitution of states as found established at the time of their promulgation, nor handed down to succeeding ages any injunctions of such a tendency.

To apply these observations to the case of the episcopal churches in the united states. They have been heretofore subject to the ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop of London. This authority was derived under a commission from the crown; which, though destitute of legal operation, found a general acquiescence on the part of the churches; being exercised no farther than to the necessary purposes of ordaining and licensing ministers. Hereby a connection was formed, between the spiritual authority in England and the episcopal churches [6/7] in America, the latter constituting a part of the Bishop of London's diocese.

To read the rest of Bishop William White's highly controversial pamphlet on ecclesiastical polity, click here.

Bishop Wiliam White was the first and fourth Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA (1789; 1795–1836) and the first Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania (1787–1836). In the pamphlet "The Case of The Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered" he laid out the foundational thinking for the polity of the emerging Episcopal Church. Among the innovations he proposed (and which came to be adopted) was the inclusion of lay people in the decision making bodies of the church.