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The Rev. Thomas Scott. Holy Bible .

Last Sunday our Morning Lessons, as found in the 1943 Lectionary, were Isa. 61.1-3 cf. Luke 4:16-32. Normally, I try to restrain articles about Holy Days of certain Precedent rather than Ordinary Sabbaths. However, this specific lesson stood out because Christ reads to the Jewish Synagogue that portion of Isaiah which declares our Glad Tidings. Of course, ears should perk up whenever scripture sets forth the promises of the Gospel. But, unusual was the Lord’s omission from the scroll of the Prophet his “day of vengeance” (v.2). For me, the Messiah’s manner of reading and preaching left a few questions, especially why dire warning or judgement was absent? As usual, I gleamed what I could from one of my principle 18th-century commentators, mainly the Reverend Scott, late Rector of Aston.  (more…)

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Recently, at Anglican Rose, I sketched a controversy held by Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church against the Oxford Movement prior to the Bp. George Cummins’ departure. According to Cummins, if Evangelicals had been relieved by suggested reforms at the Conventions of 1868/71, many low church-men would have stayed put. The proposed Relief consisted of three points (see link above)– two of which, interestingly, have since been met half-way (say, by changes in canon and/or rubrics). However, the third matter-of-relief had to do with the term ‘regenerate’ in the baptism of children. It’s this latter proposal I’d like to investigate.  (more…)

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Divided We Stand


I would like to recommend Divided We Stand:  A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement, by Douglas Bess, to all those interested in Continuing Anglicanism.  Having done some ad hoc research into the history of Continuing Anglicanism myself over the years, which has included in-depth conversations with several of the key participants in such landmark events as the St. Louis Congress, the Denver Consecrations, and the Dallas Synod, I can say with some confidence that Bess has done an excellent job of making an accurate record of the Movement’s key events.  Moreover, let me also say that this record is of crucial importance for anyone who wishes to understand the state of Continuing Anglicanism today.

My recent rereading of Divided We Stand left me with the firm impression that the Continuing Anglican Movement is fundamentally divided between two, discrete visions of Anglicanism.   There are (1) those holding an exclusively catholic-minded vision of Anglicanism, most of whom, but are not all, are distinguished by their use of the Anglican Missals and by their distinctively Tridentine theological outlook and piety; and (2) those adhering to a conservative, comprehensive vision of Anglicanism centered on the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion but otherwise tolerant of quite a bit of theological and liturgical latitude.  Today, the predominant catholic jurisdictions are the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) and the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), while the comprehensive jurisdictions are the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the Anglican Province in America (APA).

Having stated that Divide We Stand, as its title suggests, leads the reader to a dichotomous view of the Continuing Anglican Movement, I must give Bess credit for not painting this division in overly stark terms.  Indeed, as Bess correctly points out, the catholic jurisdictions, such as the ACC and APCK do, in fact, have parishes that do not use the Missals, and steer clear of Tridentine teaching and piety.  On the other hand, Bess notes that the comprehensive jurisdictions are hardly the exclusive province of low-church parishes, but instead contain many fully Anglo-Catholic parishes, some of which, I would note, are replete with the Missal Mass, Marian Statuary, and frequent use of the Rosary.  Thus, on the surface of things, the distinction between the two competing visions of Continuing Anglicanism might be viewed as merely involving differing centers of gravity in churchmanship, and Bess does not dispel this possibility in his text as far as I can tell.

Thus, I would not fault a reader of Divided We Stand for coming away with the impression that the difference between the catholic jurisdictions and the comprehensive jurisdictions is one of emphasis rather than substance–at least not enough substantive difference to justify continuing schism.  But, this conclusion would be, in my opinion, incorrect.  In the first place, as Bess’s narrative demonstrates,  experience has shown that the catholic and comprehensive camps have generally been suspicious of and adversarial toward each other throughout the history of the Continuing Movement.  Indeed, the conflict between the two visions of Continuing Anglicanism and the resulting political machinations that have occurred within the Movement is the very drama driving the main plot line of Divided We Stand.  Thus, I cannot help but conclude that something more fundamental must keeping the division alive.  And, what that something is, I believe, is, in a word, Calvinism.

Indeed, in the conservative, comprehensive vision of Anglicanism, Calvinists have been recognized as having a legitimate place at the Anglican table since the Glorious Revolution.  Thus, for the comprehensives, Evangelical Churchmanship, often denominated as “low churchmanship” in contemporary parlance, which is perhaps most seminally expressed in W. H. Griffith Thomas or D.B. Knox’s expositions of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, deserves its share in the Continuing Anglican Movement.  In contrast, for the ardently catholic-minded Anglicans, the Evangelical Party has always been a bridge too far.  Indeed, for the catholic-minded Anglican, Missal Anglo-Catholics, Prayerbook Catholics, philOrthodox, Old High Churchman, and perhaps even Conservative Central Churchman can be tolerated under one big tent, but the “low” churchmanship of the Evangelicals  cannot.

Thus, in my view, the real reason that the predominantly Anglo-Catholic jurisdictions such as the ACC and APCK will not seriously entertain union with a conservative comprehensive jurisdictions like the APA or the ACA, is that comprehensive formulations of Anglicanism are simply too tolerant of Calvinism or Reformed principles.  Indeed, the existence of Evangelical expositions of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion is precisely why the catholic jurisdiction have shied away from giving the Articles constitutional status.  Moreover, it is also my opinion that, despite the prevalence of Tridentinism in the catholic jurisdictions, they do have a valid point.  Whereas the differences in the exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles evinced by decidedly non-Tridentine works of such catholic-minded men as W. Beveridge, E.H. Browne, or E. J. Bicknell can theologically co-exist along side the Tridentine-friendly expositions of A. P. Forbes and Newman (Tract XC), on the ground that each merely express differing theological opinions about secondary aspects of the same underlying faith, once the Evangelical point of view is introduced, fundamentally inconsistent understandings of the very faith itself are being asked to cohere, which is logically intolerable.  Indeed, atonement is either limited or it is not; grace is irresistible or its is not; men are predestined to death as well as life or they are not.

In sum, while much of Divide We Stand, leads me to believe that a great consolidation of the jurisdictions presently comprising Continuing Anglicanism is possible in the near future, I nevertheless believe that the irreducible minimum number of Continuing Anglican jurisdictions are two.  This is so because a significant number of catholic-mined Anglicans, whether of a Tridentine, Missal Anglo-Catholic persuasion or not, will simply never agree to the comprehension of Calvinist or Reformed principles as a legitimate component of Continuing Anglicanism.  Thus, a significant number of Continuing Anglicans are always going to hold hold against the supposed reasonableness of even the most conservative schemes of comprehensive Anglicanism and unification of the Continuing Movement into a single body will remain and elusive goal.


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Brothers, we have lost a giant.

The Reverend Dr. Crouse, Patristics scholar and Anglican theologian passed away in his sleep last week.  Dr. Crouse was a professor and mentor to a number of people currently on the board of the Prayer Book Society in the United States, and without his instruction and influence Anglicanism in North America would be in much greater disarray than it currently is.  It is our fervent prayer that in future years Dr Crouse’s multiple essays on classical Anglican and Patristic theology will serve to guide those who desire to continue within the Anglican Way.

The following paragraphs are excerpted from the obituary written this week by Dr. W. J. Hankey, a colleague and long time friend in the Classics Department of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

On the night of Friday the 14th, in his 81st year, the Reverend Professor Robert Darwin Crouse died in his sleep in his childhood home in Crousetown, Lunenburg county, where his family has been established for more than 200 years.  He had been very ill for several years, but played the organ for the Liturgy at St Mary the Virgin, Crousetown, the Sunday before last.  His contributions of the highest level to the Classics Department of Dalhousie University, to the University of King’s College, and to their students, to international scholarship, to the Anglican Church of Canada, and to the musical life of Nova Scotia make his passing momentous.  The Department of Classics has received condolences from many parts of Europe and North America.

In 1981 Robert was the founder of St Peter Publications in Charlottetown and of the Atlantic Theological Conferences, both of which continue.  For five decades Fr Crouse delivered uncounted theological and spiritual addresses, conferences, and retreats and guided the hundreds who came to him for help.  The extent of his labours, which embraced North America and Europe, was suggested when the Diocese of Saskatchewan made him its Canon Theologian.

Harvard granted him an S.T.B. (cum laude) in 1954.  After he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Nova Scotia, Robert moved to Trinity College, Toronto where he was a Tutor in Divinity for three years and earned a Master of Theology (1st class Honours) in 1957.  Trinity awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1983.

In 1970 Robert became PhD of Harvard University.  His dissertation was a critical edition of the De Neocosmo of Honorius Augustodunensis.  He supervised scores of MA theses at Dalhousie and directed and examined dozens of doctoral dissertations there and throughout North America and Europe.  His lectures, sermons, and scholarly publications (he published over seventy articles, reviews, and translations) were polished artefacts characterized by the greatest economy, precision and beauty of language. … In 1990 the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome named him Visiting Professor of Patrology, a post he took up repeatedly until 2004; he was the first non-Roman Catholic to be given this distinction.

In 1972 he joined other members of Classics, as well as members of the Departments of German and Sociology, as the first co-ordinators responsible for the structure and lectures of the Foundation Year Programme at King’s.  His Section on the Middle Ages was a model of the integration of literary, philosophical, religious, social and artistic culture.  With camera in hand he crisscrossed Europe bringing back the history of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.  His lectures on architecture and music opened many students to hitherto hidden mysteries.  His lectures on Dante’s Divine Comedy were so loved that he continued them well after retirement, giving his last series in 2003.  Former students returned annually to hear them.  Suitably his last lectures in the University were delivered on the Confessions of St Augustine in 2004 in the Foundation Year Programme. … Outside of the classroom his greatest contribution there was in the Chapel.  His celebration of the liturgy and his sermons had enormous influence on the lives of students and faculty.  Moreover, he established the choir for the Thursday Solemn Eucharist which is now the foundation of the musical renaissance at King’s.  

Robert’s gifts as an organist and choirmaster, were extended not only to parishes (notably in his home parish of Petite Riviere, Holy Trinity, Bridgewater, and St James’, Halifax) and chapels.  Soon after he returned to Nova Scotia, he assisted in the rescue and restoration of an early 19th century tracker organ which became the centre of forty-seven years of Summer Baroque concerts at St Mary’s Crousetown.  While such concerts of early music have now become staples of our Summer fare in the Maritimes, Robert was a pioneer.

After the concerts, receptions at his house allowed musicians and their audiences to admire Robert’s extraordinary gardens.  He was always an organic gardener, and inspired many to imitate his practices; his salads provoked awe, and his rosary, with 129 varieties, delight. … He eschewed radio, television, and telephone.  Around the walls of the room where Robert spent most of his time, [there is] carved in Carolingian Latin, an inscription from Scripture.  They are words St Bernard took from Isaiah for the habituations of his Cistercian monks and nuns who keep silence strictly, they translate thus: “The solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the lily…and a highway shall be there and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness” (Isaiah 35.1-9)  At the heard of all Robert’s apparently endless practicality lay a carefully guarded silence which enabled the depth of his thought, his communion with God, nature, and humanity, and his unmovable independence of mind.  Among his greatest gifts as a teacher was his communication of the necessity, goodness, and beauty of contemplative silence.

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Andrewes Hall is a Theological College affiliated with the Reformed Episcopal Church.  I stumbled across its website yesterday and was taken with the College’s statement of doctrinal standards.  Personally, I found the statement to be an excellent summary of the classical Anglican point of view.  This should not surprise anyone, however, given that I am very devoted to Lancelot Andrewes and consider among a handful of the most important Anglican divines.   In any event, I thought I would share the principles for discussion.

* * * * * * *

Perhaps the best shorthand statement of our doctrinal position as a seminary is the famous formula set forth by Lancelot Andrewes’ in defining the boundaries of faith and practice for the Church of England:

One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, fourgeneral councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.

“One Canon”

We affirm that the Canon of Holy Scripture is central to our Rule of Faith, standing as the ultimate norm of belief and practice. We affirm the Bible to be the infallible and revealed Word of God. Hence we test all things by God’s Word written.

“Two Testaments”

We affirm the 39 canonical books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament to be the limits of biblical inspiration. The received books of the Deuterocanon or “Apocrypha”, while being an important subdivision of the greater biblical corpus, are in no way afforded the same status as the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments. The Church may read them “for example of life and instruction of manners,” yet they are not used or applied to establish binding doctrine (cf. Article VI of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England).

We also affirm Two Sacraments as ordained by Christ Himself – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord – ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him (cf. Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886/1888).

“Three Creeds”

We affirm (1) the Apostles’ Creed, as our Baptismal symbol; (2) the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith; and (3) the creed known in the West as the “Creed of Saint Athanasius”, as affirming the mysteries of the Triune God and the Personal union of two Natures in our Divine Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“Four Councils”

We affirm the dogmatic definitions of the first four ecumenical councils of the undivided Church – (1) Nicaea, A.D. 325, (2) Constantinople, A.D. 381, (3) Ephesus, A.D. 431, and (4) Chalcedon, A.D. 451 – as representing the true mind of the Church Catholic in the face of heresy and controversy, and the consensus of the faithful as led by the Spirit of God into all truth. The later ecumenical councils (i.e., the fifth, sixth, and seventh) are affirmed as orthodox to the degree that they are consistent with, while adding nothing to, the substance of dogma defined by the first four.

“Five Centuries”

We affirm the witness of the Spirit of God during the formative period of the Church, otherwise known as the Patristic era, contained primarily in the writings and testimonies of the great Fathers of the first five centuries (roughly from the Apostles to Gregory the Great). This witness continues to inform our faith and practice, especially in the areas of polity, worship, and evangelical mission.

One further note…

Andrewes Hall finds its identity in the Reformed character of the historic Protestant Church of England and the greater Anglican tradition. Thus we cherish and honor the heritage of the Book of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion contained therein. Nevertheless, we also remain open to fellowship, dialogue and interaction with Christians of all branches of Christ’s Church in the spirit and heritage of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886/1888.


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I have revived The Patristic Anglican blog over at “patristicanglican.blogspot.com.” I think I have learned enough about Blogspot through trial and error to keep the blog alive for good this time!

As usual and as the title of the blog suggests, I will be mainly posting on the patristic foundation of authentic Anglicanism. Drop by everyone!

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Assumptions about Mary

The Blessed Virgin Mary

The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950, in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma states that “the fact of [Mary’s] death is almost generally accepted by the Fathers and Theologians, and is expressly affirmed in the Liturgy of the Church, to which he adduces a number of helpful citations, and concludes that “for Mary, death, in consequence of her freedom from original sin and from personal sin, was not a consequence of punishment of sin. However, it seems fitting that Mary’s body, which was by nature mortal, should be, in conformity with that of her Divine Son, subject to the general law of death.”] The point of her bodily death has not been infallibly defined, and many believe that she did not die at all, but was assumed alive into Heaven.

The Orthodox feast of the Dormition is very similar to what Roman Catholicism calls the Assumption of Mary. According to Orthodox Tradition, Mary died like all humanity, “falling asleep,” so to speak, as the name of the feast indicates. She died as all people die, not “voluntarily” as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world. But, unlike Roman Catholicism, Orthodox has a decidedly fixed tradition that Mary did in fact die before her bodily Assumption.

Both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches celebrate the Assumption or Dormition on August 15th.  In contemporary practice, many Anglicans simply set aside August 15th to commemorate St. Mary, the Blessed Virgin, Mother of our Lord, without focusing on the manner of her repose.

The ancient Church, however, knew nothing about either the Roman Catholic Assumption or the Eastern Orthodox Dormition. To the contrary, in chapter 78 of Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis’s heresiological handbook, the Panarion, completed in 377, Epiphanius writes that, if one searches Scripture carefully, “one will find that neither the death, nor whether she died or did not doe, nor whether she was buried or was buried…. Scripture is simply silent, because of the exceeding greatness of the Mystery [of her repose], so as not to over power people’s mind with wonder.” Indeed, despite the conflicting conjectures of a few, heretical sects, Epiphanius ultimately concluded that, “in fact, no one knows [Mary’s] end.”

Today, mere Anglicans would do well to join in Bishop Epiphianius’ caution regarding her repose from the earthly life of the Church, not only because Scripture is silent on the matter, but also because the early Church catholic was silent on this matter both in its writings and liturgical observances. Indeed, the earliest writings giving accounts of her bodily assumption did not appear until the last half of the fifth century, and even then, the accounts conflict regarding significant portions of the story. Moreover, it was not until the late sixth century that most of the credulous Church accepted one of the other, inconsistent and fantastic accounts of Mary’s bodily assumption. In sum, Scripture, the sensus fidelium of the first five centuries of the Church, and common sense all three recommend to us a reverent silence regarding Mary’s repose, leaving the matter in God’s often mysterious, but always reliable, hands.

Sources: Celebrating the Saints, Wikipedia, Orthodox Wiki, & Bruce E. Daley’s “On the Dormition of Mary”

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