Friday, November 27, 2015

The Reformation Already Undermined in North America?

By Robin G. Jordan

The sermon that Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, gave at the inauguration of the Church of England’s Tenth General Synod, has sparked controversy in the Anglican Church.  This controversy is related not only to his remarks about human sexuality but also to those about the doctrine of justification by faith and the supposed Anglican via media “between Roman Catholicism and Reformed Christianity.” The full text of the sermon can be found here.

As Lee Gatiss correctly points out on the Church Society blog, the Anglican Church is not both Reformed and Catholic. It is Reformed Catholic, which is an entirely different thing. The idea that the Anglican Church embraces two extremes is a theory that Tractarian leader John Henry Newman cooked up in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile his increasingly Roman Catholic views with the Protestant Reformed faith of the Church of England. He eventually rejected the idea.

I prefer not to use the term “Reformed Catholic” because Catholic Revivalists apply the term to what are unreformed Catholic teaching and practices. I prefer the term “Protestant” because it cannot be reinterpreted in this fashion. It leaves no doubt as to the true character of the Anglican Church.

Catholic Revivalism in the North America Anglican Church has moved beyond the stage of mixing together “Reformed and Roman,” marrying “some bits of Reformed theology” with "the errors of Antichrist (as Cranmer termed them)."  In the case of the Anglican Church in North America, it blends Rome with Constantinople and adds a dash of Azusa Street to the mixture. Reformed theology, even “bits of Reformed theology,” is blacklisted.

While the Anglican formularies may be mentioned in the jurisdiction’s fundamental declarations, the faith and doctrine revealed in the Bible and taught in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571 and the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal of 1662 are disregarded in the jurisdiction’s other formularies—its catechism and its proposed Prayer Book.

The beliefs and convictions of Anglicans who are faithful to that faith and doctrine and stand in the Reformation tradition of the Anglican Church officially have no standing in the Anglican Church in North America. They are not recognized as the beliefs and convictions of a legitimate school of Anglican thought nor are they recognized as a valid alternative to the unreformed Catholic teaching and practice countenanced in the jurisdiction’s formularies. The status of Anglicans who hold these beliefs and convictions is in limbo. 

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