Thursday, May 11, 2006

Okay, here it goes: My Definition of Anglicanism


Long Answer: The sum total of the historical, spiritual/theological, and political/constitutional factors and influences that formed, shaped, and continues to guide the British expression of the catholic and apostolic faith, particularly as this expression is manifested in and mediated through the historical succession of the Church of England and of all her descendent, apostolically-constituted churches and jurisdictions throughout the world.

Short Answer: The British expression of the catholic and apostolic faith as manifested in and mediated through the Church of England and her descendent, apostolically-constituted churches and jurisdictions throughout the world.

Until next time.

22 comments:

Mark said...

You know, Dan, I think your definition has real merit. It seems, however, to presuppose two things:

1)That the "British expression" of the faith once delivered, as manifested through the Church of England et al, since the 16-th century, is genuinely "catholic and apostolic"

2)That the sum total of various influences forming, shaping and guiding "the British expression of the catholic and apostolic faith" continue to preserve its integrity in the early 21st-century.

Now I happen to believe that the first presupposition is true. ( I'm less than certain about the second ). But our RC and EO brethren have never bought into it. It seems, moreover, that the usual course of appealing to formularies, canon law, Anglican divines, the Fathers etc. has yielded little in terms of demonstrating the catholic pedigree of the CoE to the RC and EO churches.

In short, Anglicans may like to think of themselves as catholics; but RC and EO Christians are convinced that, for all their talk about maintaining catholic faith and order, Anglicans are, in fact, Protestants.

This, I should add, is not a complaint. It is just an observation which accurately reflects ( I believe ) the dilemma of Anglican self-perception since the Reformation.

-Mark

Anonymous said...

By the way, what figure is this, whose visage adorns your post ? Don't think Iv'e ever seen him before.

-Mark

Mark said...

Sorry about that last post. Can't figure out why it came up "anonymous".

-Mark

lexorandi2 said...

Joseph of Arimathea. It's the stained glass window that adorns the parish church in Glastonbury, I believe.

CSPellot said...

Told ya, Doc. Anglicanism is "a many splendid thing!"

Anyway, it would have served us better if you had made a clear, conceptual distinction between Anglicanism and CoE from the get go. Since a lot of us have tended to equate the two at some point or another, it would have made for a smoother discussion on the way towards your definition. Not that it wasn't, but it would have helped.

CSPellot said...

Forgot to mention that I appreciate your use of religious art in your blog.

joseph said...

Mark,
I knew you were the anonymous one. I think you are right about Rome and Orthodoxy always seeing Anglicanism as Protestant.Rome and Orthodoxy would cease to be catholic if they admited Anglicanism as catholic. Anglicanisms definition of catholic is very different from the other two in that Anglicanism seeks to define catholicity in terms of a minimalist perspective. For example an Anglican might say, let's say everyone who has apostolic orders and confesses the Nicene Creed is catholic. Rome and Orthodoxy define catholicity in a maximalist way. For example icons are neccesary for catholicity. So our definition or understanding of catholicity is very different. Anglicanism tends to emphasize the catholicity as universality while Rome and Orthodoxy emphasize catholicity as fullness. Not to have icons is to lack fullness and to lack fullness is to cease to be catholic.

jon said...

Related to Mark's point (that our RC and EO brethren don't buy our claims), what about the historical fact that the Anglican church in America was originally and for two centuries called, "the Protestant Episcopal Church int the USA"? (Is it still officially the PECUSA? This article - http://episcopalchurch.org/3577_51039_ENG_HTM.htm - doesn't say, but it does cite formal use of PECUSA as late as 1967.)

I hope you won't write me off as one caught up in an oversimplified version of the first option in your previous post, i.e. Anglicanism as Reformation Tradition; I actually think there's a lot to be said for both. Here's to mixing and matching!

Of course, one could say, "Well, look where their Protestantism got them." And I would have to concede in remorse. I don't think Protestantism necessarily leads to a rejection of the faith once delivered, but it has often done just that. Nevertheless, the fact remains that American Anglicans have long considered themselves to be, among other things, Protestants by definition.

lexorandi2 said...

It's a bit of a red herring to suggest that both RCs and EOs gang up with each other against the Anglican claim of catholicity, when in fact not only do they reject Anglicanism's claim for DIFFERENT REASONS, they also mutually reject each other's claim to full catholicity.

The irony here is that out of the three main "branches" that claim catholicity, only the Anglicans recognize and acknowledge the claims of the other two.

Mark said...

I'm largely ignorant regarding the history of ecumenical relations between the "three main branches that claim catholicity". Aside from betraying a uniquely magnanimous spirit, the fact that the Anglican branch acknowledges the catholicity of the other two - even as the legitimacy of her claim to catholicity goes unrecognized- might indeed support Joseph's point about differing, if not conflicting, views of what it means to be catholic in the fullest sense of the word.

-Mark

joseph said...

Dan,
I think it would be helpful if you could give us a definition of catholic from an Anglican perspective.

Mark said...

Hey Joseph,

You said something to the effect that recognizing Anglicanism as a genuinely catholic church would, in effect, de-catholize Rome and Orthodoxy-since the latter tend to regard catholicity in the sense of fullness, ( "in and through the whole" ), rather than in the more "minimalist" terms of universality. Interesting thought, though it does raise some difficulties-well, it does for me, at any rate.

For example:

Wouldn't it force you to admit that pre-schizm Latin Christendom, was not catholic in the "maximalist" understanding of the word, since it rejected Nicea II as a "psuedo-synod" at the provincial council of Frankfort ? ( What's more, I believe that official recognition of Nicea II in the West didn't appear until the Council of Constance-notwithstanding that the veneration of images had been a component of Latin piety for some time ).

There also was a time when a number of Eastern Patriarchs allowed Orthodox immigrants in America to avail themselves of Anglican sacraments, if it so happened that there simply were no Orthodox churches where they could worship. Of course, this occured at a time when Anglicanism wasn't the byword it now is. Nevertheless, does not such a gesture-which granted Anglicanism in all of its "comprehensiveness" a remarkable degree of legitimacy-mean that the complying Orthodox Patriarchs voided their jurisdictions of catholicity?

-Mark

lexorandi2 said...

I have been in and out of my office all day. Tomorrow is our graduation ceremony, and today was the last session of my course for the semester. So just be patient with me and know that I'm extremely busy, and will try to address some of your issues when I can catch my breath. I do want to respond to one statement of Mark's.

Mark said, "The fact that the Anglican branch acknowledges the catholicity of the other two - even as the legitimacy of her claim to catholicity goes unrecognized- might indeed support Joseph's point about differing, if not conflicting, views of what it means to be catholic in the fullest sense of the word."

This statement would hold much more water IF Rome and Orthodoxy did not hold conflicting views against each other as to what it means to be catholic in the fullest sense of the word. The fact is we are not dealing with two definitions of what it means to be "catholic" (Roman/Orthodox and Anglican), but three (Roman, Orthodox, and Anglican).

I'd also rather timidly suggest that the scope of the Anglican understanding of "catholic" is its strength, not its weakness. It is rather ironic that the word "catholic" means universal, and that two of the three claimants have rather limited and restrictive ideas of what it means to be universal.

Steve Blakemore said...

I am very interested in this discussion. As a Methodist, my own link to any possible historic claim to Apostolicity (however tenuous an Anglican might think that claim) is via Anglicanism. John Wesley was a good Anglican priest until the day he died. So, I will continue to "eavesdrop" on your conversations with great interest.

CSPellot said...

"It's a bit of a red herring to suggest that both RCs and EOs gang up with each other against the Anglican claim of catholicity, when in fact not only do they reject Anglicanism's claim for DIFFERENT REASONS, they also mutually reject each other's claim to full catholicity."

In all fairness, Rome is way far more conciliatory as regards catholicity than the East will ever be. The likelyhood of hearing the Patriarch of Constantinople, or any of the Eastern Patriarchs for that matter, saying that the Catholic and EO Churches "are the two lungs of the Church" is nil. In Rome it has already happened. We have Papa Juan Pablo el Grande to thank for it and for what we have seen so far, we don't have any reason to believe that Papa Ratzinger has any intentions of proceeding differently.

"It is rather ironic that the word "catholic" means universal, and that two of the three claimants have rather limited and restrictive ideas of what it means to be universal."

I also find it ironic, but it makes me think as well about what is the ultimate test of catholicity, at least for our bigger brothers in the East and West. Certainly, our Eastern and Roman brothers don't see the issue of catholicity so much as universality or even fullness, but as communion. And given the rift between these two, our beloved Anglicanism comes only as an afterthought to them. I think they'd say "membership has its privileges.":)

joseph said...

Mark,
I am not familiar enough with the historical situation that you bring up to give an educated response.I will have to look into it though I am much more interested in trying to understand Dan's definition of Anglicanism. Your second example was a big propaganda move by many episcopal clergy in the early 1900's. If you want to read about it go here http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/hawaweeny.aspx

Dan,
I would say that Rome and Orthodoxy agree on the general definition of Catholicity as fullness but disagree on what characterizes that fullness and thus who has it. Both seek a maximum and not a minimum definition of catholicity. That is all I am going to say until you give your definition of Anglican catholicity.

lexorandi2 said...

Joseph,

Let's set aside the question of how much agreement there is between Rome and Orthodoxy on the definition of "catholic" for the moment. I want to explore further your "maximalist" notion, maybe in my next post. I can see why, given your experience in a small, 39 Articles-oriented denomination, you are inclined to perceive things this way.

Now while you are correct that Anglicans tend to define catholicity on essentials (e.g. the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral) and work their way out from the center in application, I don't perceive this as necessarily a minimalist approach at all. Quite the opposite. That Anglicans can more readily embrace a wider range and variety of pieties as "catholic" other than what is natural to their own context is more maximalist to my way of thinking. Xenophobia is a distinctly Eastern problem, remember.

In fact, I would suggest that a better distinction to make is between what I might term "centrifugal" and "centripetal" approaches to catholicity. Generally speaking, the Anglican approach is the former, and the approach of Rome, Orthodoxy, and (dare I say) the more Reformed-minded Anglicans among us is centripetal.

And may I humbly (very humbly, meekly, and timidly) suggest that the only essential difference between your present moorings and your past ones is that the body of central doctrine and practice (tradition, etc.) of your present communion is quite a bit larger (i.e., maximal) than your previous one. But the movement of application towards the center is generally the same.

Dan

joseph said...

Dan,
Thank you for the psychological evaluation. I do not think you understand what I mean by maximalist. By maximalist I do not mean "broad" but full. Orthodoxy is catholic in her very being. Anglicanism obviously does not see her catholicity as her very being since she does not claim exclusivity. ORthodox theologian Geoege Florovsky says, "The Church is Catholic precisely because it embodies all Truth and stands opposed to all forms of particularism and sectarian separatism or heresy which would compromise the Truth". I think this points to a major difference in our ecclesiology and it is why Orhodoxy still considers Aglicanism Protestant. There are no catholic minimum requirements for Anglicanism to meet. I wish you would give us a clear definition of what you think catholicity is so we can understand how it includes Orthodoxy and Rome.I am not interested in arguing over whos ecclesiology is better. I have been trying to point out the differences and answer Mark's question as to why Orthodoxy and Rome still see Anglicans as Protestant. This thread is about your definition of Anglicanism and I have simply been trying to understand it. You have the term catholic in your definition . I am asking for a clear definition of your use of that term.

lexorandi2 said...

Thanks for the clarification. I see where you're coming from now. I will write more in a later post.

Darel said...

This discussion may have come to an end, but I have followed it all and still have not seen a better definition than "a Protestant church with some Catholics in it".

This captures the Calvinist theological core of Anglicanism as well as the attempts at creating a "broad Church" ever since Elizabeth I.

It captures the minority position of Anglo-Catholics who wish to see Anglicanism as something which most Anglicans reject -- even in Anglicanism in the Global South which is thoroughly Reformed, not Catholic.

It captures the RC rejection of Anglicanism as a true expression of the catholic faith while still seeing Anglicans as a quite different order of protestant from all others.

Finally, it also differentiates Anglicanism from other so-called "high church protestants" such as Lutherans because there really is a relevant minority of catholics among Anglicans while among Lutherans (and much less among Presbyterians or other Reformed) there are either none or at best far too few to even count.

Darel

lexorandi2 said...

Hi Darel,

Thanks for your insights. There is perhaps one point that I would take issue with, and that is that Anglicanism has a Calvinist theological core.

Dan

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