Things have been slow here on the blog, but we also have activity on our Face Book Page.
Archive for the ‘RTBP’ Category
Richard Hooker is oftentimes described as the founding figure of the Anglican tradition. This is, however well intentioned, a half-truth. It is certainly true that Hooker’s great, unfinished theological work, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie (hereafter, Laws), was a key text in Anglican arguments against Puritanism. Indeed, the Laws remains the most thoughtful and detailed refutation of Puritanism ever written. It is also true that although Thomas Cranmer gave us The Book of Common Prayer, Richard Hooker is the one who most shaped our understanding of it. But it is unfair to see Hooker as the founder of Anglicanism. He was, instead, one of several key figures in the early history of our church, neither more nor less important than Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, and William Laud — not to mention Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, and King Charles the Martyr. Without Hooker, Anglicanism would not be what it is today, but this point also holds for each of these other foundational saints.
This essay introduces the theological vision of Richard Hooker by focusing on his highly influential Laws. The impetus behind this multi-volume treatise was twofold. First was Hooker’s opposition to the claim, made by Puritans, that they were free to disobey both civil and ecclesiastical law when these infringed upon the convictions of conscience. Second was Hooker’s rejection of the ardent Puritan belief that the Church of England’s retention of liturgical ceremonies made it a handmaiden of anti-Christ. Against the first argument Hooker offered a robust theology of law that was rooted in the work of Thomas Aquinas; against the second argument Hooker lovingly and painstakingly detailed the meaning and purpose of liturgy. As we will see, Hooker was a theologian of law and liturgy who first and foremost discerned the majesty of divine wisdom as the guiding principle of all theological orthodoxy.
I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions — as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else.
It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall, I have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into the room you will find that the long wait has done some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling.
In plain language, the question should never be: “Do I like that kind of service?” but “Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?”
When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. This is one of the rules common to the whole house.
Do you know who the first Anglican saint was? Here’s a hint: it wasn’t Henry VIII. The title of this article says it all, but don’t feel embarrassed if you are unaware of King Charles the Martyr. Since the founding of the Episcopal Church (USA), Anglicanism’s first and longest-loved saint has been curiously absent from our province’s liturgical calendar — and this despite repeated and growing calls for his reinstatement.
Sadly, the American case is not unique. Anglicans today pay scandalously little attention to the saint whose cult fueled the Anglican imagination for centuries. Yet King Charles the Martyr witnesses to important facets of the Anglican heritage, especially the Anglican Counter-Reformation and the importance of martyrs, miracles, and relics. If it is true, as many now claim, that Anglicans are out of touch with their history and tradition, then the life and legacy of King Charles the Martyr are important for our reintegration.
My name is Benton H Marder. I live in Palm Beach County, Florida. I was raised at Lutheran on the Jersey shore during the late ’40s-mid-’50s. Moved with family to Martin County, Florida in 1957. Church attendance, due to location, was sporadic–mostly Southern Methodist. After finishing school, with some college, I moved to Miami where I trained and worked in optical laboratories. In 1966, I moved to Vero Beach to work with instrument optics. The first Sunday there, I decided to walk up to town to attend church—I had more or less lapsed. Had intended to attend the Lutheran service, Never got that far. Saw a sign, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You”. Walked on further, and saw another sign, same as the first one. Followed the sign and came upon Trinity Parish. The service that day was Morning Prayer with sermon. For whatever reason, the Lutheran services had never resonated with me. The Prayer Book service did resonate. I returned the next week, and the following weeks. The service varied: Morning Prayer with Litany, Morning Prayer with Ante-Communion, Litany with Ante-Communion, the full Communion, spread over the month for that service time. Frequently, I would stay over so to worship with the later service time. Made up my mind that I would stay there. Spoke to the Rector. He, realising that I learned better through reading, opened up the parish library for me. During the week, I more or less ‘read myself’ into the Church. This reading brought me to the Articles of Religion, which made a lot of sense to me, having grown up with the Lutheran materiel. In coming into the Church, I never thought I had to abandon my Lutheran heritage. Much more reading followed over the years.
Trinity Parish at Vero was a Prayer Book parish. I would say that churchmanship was ‘central’. Certainly, my understanding of Anglicanism was strongly shaped by my time there.
In 1970, I moved to Vermont, and later to Springfield, Massachusetts. Attended ChristChurch Cathedral there for four years and more. ChristChurch was also a Prayer Book parish, with some differences, of course. Again, I had access to a decent library, which I used a lot. Here, I also learned the width and breadth of the Anglican Communion through the then Dean and his family. I met many clergy from different parts of the Communion; I learned a lot from this experience.
In 1976, I moved to Portland, Maine. By this time, I could see that the rot was setting into the EC. I had been sheltered from this previously, but my time in Burlington, Vermont, made me aware of this. While the EC cathedral parish was much closer to where I lived and worked, I attended St Paul’s Parish in Portland. St Paul’s had been ‘central’ to ‘low’ before and during the war, but the coming of a new Rector after the war, the parish became a missal parish, with the attendant consequences: the loss of half the membership. The parish had become somewhat sectarian almost to the point of ‘cult of personality’. It took me some years to discover the past of the parish.
Since the rot had set in well by the time I came to Portland, there was no other remotely congenial parish in the area for me. So, I stayed at St paul’s and served as Sacrist and Magister there for more than 20 years. Right about 2000, I became finally fed up with missal religion and left St paul’s, going to the cathedral parish near my apartment and stayed there until I left Portland and moved down here to Florida at my Mother’s request—to be near her the rest of her life.
Down here, I have found nothing congenial or convenient for me. So, I use my Bible and BCP and my music CDs for worship at home.
Now, to backtrack a bit. The Rector and parish of St paul’s, while remaning in the EC, strongly favoured the Continuing Church movement right from the beginning. However, we did not join any part of the CC until the Rector’s 72nd birthday: he had the choice to make. Either he took the parish out of the EC or he retired. He chose the way he wished and the parish with him, and joined the ACA diocese, which had been the ACC diocese before the Deerfield Beach affair.
If I had stayed at St paul’s, and in Portland, I would have left the ACA over the Roman Church matter. I was enough of an Anglican by conviction not to go that way. Also, my studies had iformed me that additions to the Faith were just as pernicious as subtractions.
So, what of my convictions? Was and still am convinced that certain parts of the Affirmation of St louis are pernicious. This means that any jurisdiction of the CC that makes a big deal of the Affirmation, specially the problematic parts, will not be attractive to me. Essentially, I stand with the BCP and the Articles. Due to my studies, I have gained a decided preference for the 1662 BCP, it being more coherent with the Articles and vice-versa. Here is the truly Apostolic, truly Catholic, truly Anglican expression of Christianity. “Here I stand; I cannot do other.”
Benton H Marder
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) is off to a good start in the process of becoming a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. For Anglicans to then dismiss him as a convert and to let Roman Catholicism entirely appropriate his legacy would be a mistake, in my mind. Similarly, it would be regretful if the only Anglicans who held the torch for Newman were of the High Church, Anglo-Catholic, and Anglo-Papalist varieties. Newman is representative of the unique tension of Anglicanism, the tension created by the pull toward purity (doctrinal or otherwise) that exists in all churches on the one hand and the pull toward breadth. Allow me to illustrate this by referring to a particular post and comment on my personal blog (O God, come to my assistance). In discussing the Divine Office, the paradox of the Prayer Book office when compared to other liturgies such as The Anglican Breviary, is that it is broad-minded precisely because it is exclusive (restrictive) in content. Or, for another example, this very group blog is representative of the kind of diversity that exists within Anglicanism; the Book of Common Prayer is at the center of all our spiritualities, yet our spiritual/theological leanings are not identical. In fact, it is a testament to the liberal (generous) spirit of Anglicanism that the River Thames Beach Party is home to Anglicans on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in the Anglican Communion and Continuum. If you haven’t already, I encourage our readers to take a glance at the authors’ pages. You will see that Charles describes his blog, Anglican Rose as “a quest for magesterial Protestantism within the context of antique orthodoxy and medieval Catholicism,” Kevin describes himself on Ohio Anglican as a “Broad-Church Orthodox Anglican,” and Nicholas at Comfortable Words invites us into the world of the 1662 English Prayer Book. The truth of the group’s commitment to the Anglican spirit may perhaps be best exhibited by my own inclusion here as I am the only Episcopalian ’79 BCP using contributor.
All of these examples, I hope, make the Anglican tension between purity and breadth come to life in a real way. This tension not only exists in Newman’s writings, but I believe fueled the fires of his devotion to the faith of the Church. This can be seen as early as 1834 when Volume I of his Parochial and Plain Sermons was compiled. In these sermons he displays an incredible fidelity to the prayers of the Church. In Sermon 11, “Profession without Hypocrisy,” he describes the regression in the prayer life of one who fails to maintain their duty in saying the prayers:
Accordingly, such persons in their own case first give up the Church prayers, and take to others which they think will suit them better. Next, when these disappoint them, they have recourse to what is called extempore prayer; and afterwards perhaps, discontented in turn with this mode of addressing Almighty God, and as unable to fix their thoughts as they were before, they come to the conclusion that they ought not to pray, except when specially moved to prayer by the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Extemporaneous prayers do have a place in the lives of the faithful, but Newman warns against substituting these prayers for the common prayers of the Church. In sermon 12, “Profession without Ostentation,” Newman moves to address the question of professing Christ as an individual vs. as a body. He warns against a man “standing on his own ground” because he is “grieving and disturbing the calm spirit given us by God.” He writes:
Men are to be seen adopting all kinds of strange ways of giving glory (as they think) to God. If they would but follow the Church; come together in prayer on Sundays and Saints’ days, nay, every day; honour the rubric by keeping to it obediently, and conforming their families to the spirit of the Prayer Book, I say that on the whole they would practically do vastly more good than by trying new religious plans, founding new religious societies, or striking out new religious views.
Here Newman prescribes something profoundly simple, the most efficient way we profess Christ as individuals is by conforming our lives to the spirit of the Church’s prayers and pattern. Describing the model of the Liturgy in Sermon 14, “Religious Emotion,” he reminds us that the Church’s prayers come from the lessons and examples of Christ himself:
Now let me remind you how diligently we are taught the same by our own Church. Christ gave us a prayer to guide us in praying to the Father; and upon this model our own Liturgy is strictly formed. You will look in vain in the Prayer Book for long or vehement Prayers; for it is only upon occasions that agitation of mind is right, but there is ever a call upon us for seriousness, gravity, simplicity, deliberate trust, deep-seated humility. Many persons, doubtless, think the Church prayers, for this very reason, cold and formal. They do not discern their high perfection, and they think they could easily write better prayers. When such opinions are advanced, it is quite sufficient to turn our thoughts to our Saviour’s precept and example. It cannot be denied that those who thus speak, ought to consider our Lord’s prayer defective; and sometimes they are profane enough to think so, and to confess they think so. But I pass this by. Granting for argument’s sake His precepts were intentionally defective, as delivered before the Holy Ghost descended, yet what will they say to His example? Can even the fullest light of the Gospel revealed after His resurrection, bring us His followers into the remotest resemblance to our Blessed Lord’s holiness? yet how calm was He, who was perfect man, in His own obedience!
By way of a final selection of his words, I would like to direct us to his warnings in Sermon 19 “Times of Private Prayer” where he is unwavering in his insistence in keeping the daily prayers of the Church. He reminds us that “Nothing is more difficult than to be disciplined and regular in our religion” along with the assurance:
Be sure, my brethren, whoever of you is persuaded to disuse his morning and evening prayers, is giving up the armour which is to secure him against the wiles of the Devil. If you have left off the observance of them, you may fall any day; – and you will fall without notice.
Newman demands nothing less than a conforming of our individual lives to the life of the Church. He does not demand this out of mere civic or ecclesiastical obeisance, but for the very best and holy of reasons: it is the way of conforming our lives to that of Christ himself, the most efficacious way of preaching the Gospel in the world, and the most secure way to resist evil. He is also profoundly aware of the inclinations of human nature, “if we leave religion as a subject of thought for all hours of the day equally, it will be thought of in none” (Sermon 19, “Times of Private Prayer). This vision of the Church is nothing less than that of Paul’s vision of one body with Christ as the head and each of us as different members. We need not all be the same. The Anglican tradition is one that embraces both purity and breadth fed by the prayers taught by Christ’s very word and example.
My journey to the beach has been a very long one full of wrong turns, bumps and delays. Now that I have arrived, my only regret is that I did not get here sooner.
It wasn’t until I was well into my 30’s that I had found the love of God in Jesus Christ, and it took finding love to find love. I had been an Agnostic most of my life with exposure to Christianity happening only in my early childhood; it took meeting, falling-in-love with and marrying the love of my life to put things into perspective for me.
The new found responsibility of becoming a husband and father has shown me my own shortcomings and the dangers of a sinful and fallen world. I wanted my new family to have the moral direction that I had lacked as a child and young adult, to build for them a better future. I had been researching Christianity, trying to find what I had missed and wanted for myself and family. While studying the doctrinal differences between various Christian denominations, along with theology, morality, philosophy and history, I discovered the Book of Common Prayer and Anglicanism.
The more I read the Prayer Book, the more I wanted to learn about the Anglican tradition and practice. This discovery, combined with my overall research and study of Christianity, made me feel what I was reading was true and comforting and loving and right. My reading of the Bible (especially the Gospel) had put into my heart for the first time, God’s covenant with man through Jesus Christ–a true understanding of His love for us and reinforced by reading the works of the Anglican Fathers and other great minds in the Anglican tradition. This was cemented into my being when I read Mere Christianity; Lewis had come to the same conclusions that I had come to independently, which made them ring more true to me than ever. I left the hall and entered the room marked Anglican in which I had found holiness, yet I will always remember those still in the hall and the other rooms with charity.
I was trying to put together all of the things I had been reading and learning, as well as my personal devotions, so I started blogging. At first, it was a personal venture for my own edification, but soon I noticed that others were reading what I was writing. It felt good to know that I was connecting with others who wanted to learn as I did, or wanted to share in faith and devotion. In this way, I began to learn and share more. During this process, I found that there were others who really felt that traditional Anglicanism was worth preserving and promoting, which led me here with these guys.