Thinking Anglicans

Anglicanism and Protestantism

Alister McGrath writes an article in the Church of Ireland Gazette under the title: Focus on Anglican Identity – Anglicanism and Protestantism.

You can read it all here.

This appears to have been provoked by this article from the Church Times some months ago:
Ecumenical spring is already here
by Gregory Cameron.

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poppy tupper
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poppy tupper

McGrath argues, as you would expect, from his own protestant point of view. he also, I suspect has a personal interest at the moment in appearing very protestant (cf Wycliffe Hall events), and he wants to make a political point about the future of the Anglican communion. Historians differ on his conclusions about the various strands of ecclesiology which have held sway at different times in the history of the C of E, and the case against a reformed catholic understanding is by no means as decisive as he would like us to believe. It is, however, on the political… Read more »

Kurt
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Kurt

McGrath is spouting Prod propaganda. Of course Anglicanism/Episcopalianism is Reformed Catholic, and not Protestant.

John F
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John F

McGrath’s points re the cohesiveness which remain within Methodism and Presbyterianism in Ireland as a model to signify the continued cohesiveness of the Church of Ireland are true to a degree. However, it is with increasing alarm that the Sydney Diocese is increasingly colonising parts of the ArchDiocese of Dublin. In the Dublin Diocese there are a number of “trustee” churches and organisations, whose properties would be held in trust by nominated members rather than by the diocese. These particular churches are having increased alignment with Sydney, with the establishment of links with MTS (a Sydney Based Training Programme), links… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Professor McGrath writes as if words never change their meanings — “Protestant” in modern America certainly means something other than what the lived witness of The Episcopal Church currently is (hence the change of name).

In earlier eras in British history “Catholic” meant “papalists dedicated to overthrowing the government” (something which the government found objectionable). McGrath may lament that the Oxford Movement succeeded in changing this understanding, but succeed they did (well, perhaps not in Ireland).

BTW, I find Canon Cameron’s piece unjustifiably ecumenically optimistic, but we have to have people like that if ecumenism is ever to obtain any successes.

Pluralist
Guest

It does not follow that a family of Churches implies Protestantism. This is the case with the Orthodox. It is a “family” with different groupings and connections. One group I found while looking at independent and wandering bishops was the British Orthodox Church, so named now as it plugged itself into another Orthodox Church, but had followed the same pattern of ordinations and consecrations as other independent groups, including one of particular interest, The Liberal Rite (which has episcopal lines from the Liberal Catholic Church and out of the Roman Catholic Church). None of these groups are Protestant or even… Read more »

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Historically, “Reformed Catholic” — which characterizes much of Lutheranism as well as Anglicanism — is a strand of Protestantism, located between Roman Catholicism on the hand and the radical Protestant groups (Anabaptists, Mennonites, etc.), on the other. If many people today use “Protestant” only with reference to “low church” groups (or whatever), that’s too bad and may even be a reason for dropping “Protestant” from your name, but it is no excuse for theologians and historians to consider Anglicanism an island all of its own, located between the Protestant and Catholic continents. The observations on Anglicanism developing from “single denomination”… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

An interesting element of the Gregory Cameron article is how the Old Catholic Church of the Utrecht Union is understood by some Catholics. After Arnold Harris Mathew set up the British branch, the perception was that the Utrecht Union became increasingly Protestant, and the fact that the Church of England was able to come into full communion with it is cited as evidence of its own shift. One small Church that looks to Arnold Harris Mathew rather than subsequent Liberal catholic developments (but they are all related) and seems to have an ecumenical outlook is the Open Episcopal Church, another… Read more »

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Of course everything depends on definition of terms, here are mine: “Catholic” refers in this context to continuity with the Western (Latin) church as distinct both from “Orthodox” which refers to continuity with the Eastern church, and from various discontinuous versions of Christianity. “Reformed” in this context refers to affinity with the theology of the magisterial Reformers of the sixteenth century. “Protestant” = “of any of the Christian bodies that separated from the Roman communion in the Reformation (16th c.), or their offshoots” — so in my Concise Oxford Dictionary which sounds reasonable to me. Anglicanism is situated between Roman… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

I would guess that these and similar issues and questions are arising, just at the present time, mainly because we are all aware – at so many conscious and indeed preverbal levels – that we are living through a rather more deeply changing time, than not. My take? Some old – in some cases, perhaps, very old? – frames are more visibly passing away than ever before in global religious life. First nominee for the old guard changing into something else, which we do not quite yet discern very much as a new emergent whole – involves a whole storehouse… Read more »

John Bassett
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John Bassett

I think it was Charles Haddon Spurgeon who called the Church of England “semi-demi-reformed.” That always seemed pretty accurate both historically and theologically to me.

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Alistair is spot on and the sooner he is made a Church of England bishop the better.

daithi
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daithi

In response to John F,there are (I think)2, possibly 3, “trustee” churches in Dublin. One is evangelical, with Sydney connections, to be sure; another is charismatic; the third is definitely Anglo-Catholic. While there would be some conservative evangelical clergy, the majority are of central, liberal, or moderate catholic churchmanship.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

McGrath makes these extraordinary accusations: “Canon Gregory Cameron …..publicly distanced Anglicanism from Protestantism.” “Canon Cameron spoke of ………Anglicanism as lying beyond the pale of Protestantism.” “Canon Cameron appears to belong to the revisionist school of thought which is trying to airbrush out Anglicanism’s Protestant heritage and tradition.” “Cameron may wish that Anglicanism was not Protestant; he cannot, however, rewrite history to suit his tastes.” Cameron’s piece for the Church Times is “remarkable” for what it summarises in fewer than 900 words – as far as I can see it gives an honest and accurate account of its subject – Can… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Protestantism” is a word of the Roman Office of Propaganda Fide trying to smear everybody and everything as same old, same old…

But we are not.

The Church is ever the Church, never the Sect – and the Sect is never the Church.

Simple as that.

Adherants of the Confessio augustana reject the Ecclesiology of Rome (1073 Dictatus papae) as sectarian, and the teachings of Calvinism (Christology, anti Sacraments, Straff-mir-Gott moralisms) as Heretical.

Simple as that.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Thanks John F and daithi for some reports from the ground. Drdanfee, I agree that the whole penal subsitution model is just falling over. As I said to a girlfriend the other day, the continuing vilification against Cheva (aka Eve), and thus all women, refutes Jesus’ success at being “the” atoning sacrifice for all humanity for all time. Thus either Jesus failed, and is not what some priests purport him to be, or those same accusatory priests are in rebellion by refusing to acknowledge that sin has been forgiven. McGrath’s comment about attempting to airbrush and rewrite history is particularly… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“Historians now regard this account of Anglicanism as an unfortunate aberration.”

Oh brother: I tuned out right there! (Historians NEVER agree on anything, except that his/her own *unique* perspective deserves tenure. ;-/)

Jerry Hannon
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Jerry Hannon

Is Mr. McGrath’s piece anything more than the customary redefinition of the facts, by some Calvinists, so that his (their) partisan wishes may be seen by the less demanding as having validity?

You have to wonder what will be next, before these forces of extremism decide to either live peaceably within the historical broad tent of Anglicanism, or else depart to form a new Calvinist sect.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Wow, I had no idea PSA kept women barefoot and pregnant. Thanks for the flashback to campy 1960’s dorm room chatter.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Maybe you should profit from the occasion to reflect for a while upon the Question:

Is it possible to be one Communion when you have opposed and contradictory histories?

Claiming the Church Catholic as your own – and rejecting it?

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Martin – I agree that McGrath uses forceful language. I suspect he would not have done so, if the author of the CT piece had not been Canon Gregory K. Cameron, whom one should expect to know better. The objectionable phrases are “local co-operation between Anglican and Protestant Churches” and “dialogue with the Protestant traditions” which should have the little word “other” in it. The lack of “other” here claims for Anglicanism a status beyond the Protestant-Roman divide which it never had. This is not to deny that the Anglican tradition had at one time greater potential for upholding a… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

As regards that question (Göran Koch-Swahne) having two or more histories is useful in that each qualifies each other and tends to limit the extent of effective traditionalisms. Two histories create a space for moderation.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Thomas I am not sure I gather your meaning – here is an eminent academic personally attacking a member of the Anglican “civil service” – if you are right and the basis for this attack is the omission of the word “other” when referring to “Protestant Churches” then perhaps you might suggest to McGrath he patently needs a very long holiday. Or are you saying that McGrath HAS a deep association with this man and has a profound knowledge of Cameron’s position and thinking, that in fact this scholar was basing these cutting remarks and damaging assertions on such an… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

I would not be surprised to hear that McGrath and Cameron have met before but I think the omission of the word “other” is rather significant and not a minor point. All one needs to know about Cameron to draw some conclusions from this is that he is not a sloppy writer. There is of course a history to this debate (“the revisionist school of thought”), which makes it unlikely that anyone would just happen to miss out a word (twice). McGrath’s complaint is that Cameron “appears to” associate himself with an indefensible position. The lesson McGrath has to share… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Well now, Thomas Renz’ last was surprisingly polemic.

It sure takes good will on both hands, absent which there are no limits – but are you not at all sorry that your church is being rent asunder?

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Hi Goran You asked “Is it possible to be one Communion when you have opposed and contradictory histories? Claiming the Church Catholic as your own – and rejecting it?” I couldn’t help thinking that is parellels the dynamic between the masculine and feminine. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice and you are forgiven and set free, but if you are a female that means you are enslaved to your husband/church for millenia and must continue to listen to accusatory speeches from the pulpit about one woman to justify the ongoing enslavement and abuse of all women, who are “free” in Christ… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Thomas, I am truly amazed. So you are saying – McGrath (and you too it seems) don’t have to know anything of Cameron other than he is not a sloppy writer. As Cameron is not a sloppy writer you know his omission of “other” TWICE was deliberate. By omitting “other” we KNOW what he REALLY means and thinks and all the stuff McGrath spews up about Cameron is true. And this is what McGrath would say too? The Cameron piece appeared in the Church Times all of six months ago. Tell me Thomas as you imply there is no careful… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

McGrath should be happy that despite acquiring a deeply Catholic complexion over the centuries, whether we date that from Hooker or Laud or from the Oxford Movement, Anglicanism still embraces the prophetic thrust of the Reformation. It is the bridge between the two halves of western christianity.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

I suppose there’s no chance that Thomas’s “missing word” could have been removed from the original in the course of editing for publication?

Or alternatively, that many (though clearly not all) Anglicans don’t hold to the particular view on this issue that Thomas, and by implication Alister, holds.

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Martin, I cannot understand your amazement. We all know that little words sometimes make all the difference. “There is no exit” is a different sentence from “There is no other exit.” It is precisely the fact that there are people who seek to deny that Anglicanism is one strand of Protestantism which makes, or at least appears to make, the omission significant. Note that the initial response from TA posters was not along the lines of “Anglicanism is of course part of Protestantism and McGrath is rather silly to claim that Cameron would be so stupid as to claim otherwise”… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

I grieve to see the Anglican way disintegrate. Anglicanism is beautiful when it is Reformed and Catholic. I think I can see why some people felt they had to shed some “Protestantism” to become more “Catholic”. But I am convinced that a return to the insights of the magisterial Reformers (in opposition to much of contemporary Protestantism) would have made us more “Catholic”, not less so. But that’s not the issue. The issue is whether Anglicanism has evolved into a super-denomination (?) which transcends and lies somewhere beyond the Protestant-Roman divide and might even be able to mediate between them.… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Maybe I ought to clarify one or two things. First, to say that Anglicanism is a strand of Protestantism is to make a historical claim in the first instance. To the best of my knowledge, this is an entirely uncontroversial claim. If there is any evidence to the contrary, I would love to hear about it. Are there any historians disagreeing with McCulloch and McGrath et al. on this? Secondly, I realise of course that the CofE (never mind other forms of Anglicanism for the moment) has changed a lot since the 16th c. but do these changes imply that… Read more »

Kurt
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Kurt

Thomas Renz, I don’t have a problem with viewing Lutheranism as Reformed Catholic or as something other than Protestant. In fact, the American Episcopal Church is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and has been for several years now. We and the Lutherans, both ceremonially and doctrinally, are far different from, say, the Baptist sects, which are very “typical Protestants” here in America.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Thomas, It is an incredibly controversial claim. First, Catholic doesn’t mean Roman, as I’m sure you are aware, so just because something Anglicans do doesn’t look like Rome doesn’t make us Protestants. Further, I’ve been taught to consider us Reformed Catholic rather than Protestant per se. Now, locally, being CofE meant you were considered Protestant, most of us did ourselves. We inherited the Prot/RC hatreds of Ireland, and thus we Anglicans were solidly in the Prtoestant camp. Us Anglo-catholics are still looked on with the same suspicion you would have found in rural England 150 years ago. To claim baldly… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

In a sense Anglicanism is a strand of protestantism but as far as the Church of England is concerned there is a strong sense of continuity either side of the Reformation.Hence Rowan being the 104th Abp of C…Have I got the no right?-Im not sure this is the case with Lutherans and Calvinists is it? well perhaps in Sweden and other Nordic Churches.The Roman Catholic Church,of course, officially differentiates between Protestants and Anglicans; and ARCIC and I suppose the dialogue with the Orthodox began with a view to the resumption of ecclesial communion.I’m not sure RC/ Methodist or Reformed or… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Not being Roman is not the same as being Protestant. “Protestant” is a political word of the Roman Officium de Propaganda fide trying to make Catholic Lutherans, who adhere to the 1530 Augsburg Confession, into non Catholic Calvinists, who rejected the 1530 Augsburg Confession – and consequently were outside the 1555 Peace of Augsburg as (surprise, surprise) non Catholics. Moreover, few Reform friendly German Princes in fact signed the Protestation which (much later) led to the Word “Protestant” – it was the usual suspects, Phillipp of Hesse and others. The Church of Sweden, not being in any way party to… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Thomas

I loved your postings and also grieve about those who are trying to sweep away the broad tent Anglicanism that many of us love and cherish.

Ford, Catholicm might be more than the pope, but what is at issue is that some are trying to establish authority controls with a “new pope” that will impose their theological autocracy on the whole communion. They are trying to create a power model and for all the wrong reasons.

Frederick Jones
Guest
Frederick Jones

Once upon a time there was a church which called itself the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA. and there are still Supreme Governors (in all
causes ecclesistical as temporal)of the C of E who swear at their coronation to preserve the Protestant and Reformed faith of the C of E.

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Ford and Kurt, maybe “Protestant” has a narrower definition in the USA. In my experience, the term is not prominent in UK usage, which may allow it to retain its more technical sense more easily. The problem is the assumption that Protestant-Catholic is a zero sum game. Perry is of course right to observe that the continuity in the CofE before and after the Reformation is greater than in many other versions of Christianity. But this is more to do with geography and politics than anything else. There are advantages to being situated on an island and adopting a totalitarian… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

To say that churches in the Anglican Communion belong to the Protestant wing of Christianity is to observe something about ecclesiology and the organization of the Church. Note that the two articles to which these postings are attached are about ecumenical relationships and Anglican polity. The Roman Catholic Church may not consider Anglicanism “Protestant” (Perry, do you have a ready reference for that? I am intrigued) but, as we know, this does not mean that we are considered “church” rather than “ecclesial community”. (At least, we are no longer “sect” but then neither are Lutheran and Presbyterian churches called “sect”… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

By the way, “Western Christianity that is not subject to papal authority” is the definition of Protestantism found on a TEC website, see http://www.episcopalchurch.org/19625_15125_ENG_HTM.htm

Frederick Jones
Guest
Frederick Jones

Some of the people posting here seem to come very near to “1066 and all that” which declared “The Pope and all his followers seceded from the Church of England, that was called the Reformation”.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“how confident are we to define what it means?” How confident ought any group to be? Rome defines it as allegiance to the Pope. The Christian East disagreed, and, 500 years later, so did the English. The Eastern Church defines it in its own way, but, rather than deny the catholicity of their opponents, refers instead to their “heterodoxy”, which appears to mean “not catholic”. Defining it in the traditional way “what has always been believed by everybody everywhere” is just silly. That would mean the Catholic faith has never existed. One thing is sure, it encompasses a set of… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Ford, you surely do not want to define “Catholic” as the flavour of Christianity which tastes a bit like Roman Catholicism but isn’t Roman? It is one the differences between the magisterial Reformers and the radical Reformers that the former sought to remain Catholic and the latter did not. “Catholic” here expresses a commitment to the continuity of the church throughout the ages (time) and to the visible unity of Christ’s church on earth (place). The CofE and the Church of Sweden are in the fortunate historical position of being able to claim visible continuity as national churches but Rome’s… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Dear Thomas, I was thinking of the time when I studied at the Gregorian ( Jesuit )University in Rome where most professors I came in contact with talked in these terms. But if you look at the Second Vatican Council Decree on Ecumenism Ch 3 (Section 13) third para “since then ( i.e. the Reformation) many communions based on nationality or common belief, have been separated from the Roman See.The Anglican Communion has a special place among those vthat continue to retain ,in part, catholic traditions and structure”. It is the only ecclesial body named in this way. Of course… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

P.S. We’ve had references to MacCulloch here; Ford Elms reminds me of M’s remark, Reformation p.xix ; “”Catholic” is clearly a word which a lot of people want to possess”. Perhaps we need to revisit the early 1950’s and the reports the then Abp commissioned-“The Nature of Catholicity” ( written mostly by one M Ramsey, I think ) and “The Fullness of Christ”–which occasioned the Free Church response, “The Catholicity of Protestantism.”Those were the days!!

Frederick Jones
Guest
Frederick Jones

Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, an extreme Evangelical at the end of the 19th century, wished to celebrate the Lord’s Supper while in Switzerland and his clerical hosts were happy to make preparations for him. They assumed that he was Protestant and accordingly in the best Lutheran manner prepared an altar with candles, etc. He reacted in horror and on replying in the affirmative to the question as to whether he was Reformed they provided him with the bare table to which he was used. Henry VIII may have provided England with Lutheranism without Justification by faith as a religion, but… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Ford, you surely do not want to define “Catholic” as the flavour of Christianity which tastes a bit like Roman Catholicism but isn’t Roman?” No, I don’t. I also do not want to define catholic as “in communion with Rome”. Communion with the bishop of Rome would be important for any Catholic Cristian, as would communion with the bishops of Abuja or Sydney, but Rome doesn’t define what’s catholic. “Catholic” here expresses a commitment to the continuity of the church throughout the ages (time) and to the visible unity of Christ’s church on earth (place).” Agreed. As to dislike for… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Perry – many thanks for the reference about the special place of the Anglican Communion in Roman eyes. I have myself at times considered the Anglican way to be the most Catholic expression of the Protestant faith but -in my case- this reflected a lack of awareness of various forms of Lutheranism and Presbyterianism. There is of course Protestantism which is not or barely “Reformed Catholic” but I contend that there is no “Reformed Catholicism” which is not Protestant in some way. Those of us who gather together in worship in the West and who seek to be truly Catholic… Read more »

Frederick Jones
Guest
Frederick Jones

Before dismissing the papal claims so definitely perhaps Mr Ems should consult such eminently Anglican works as “The Recovery of Unity” Chapters 9 & 10 by EL Mascall, and “The Church and the Papacy” by Trevor Jalland. Both certainly regard the Papacy as at least the bene esse of the church, while Gregory Dix regarded it as of the esse.

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

I suspect that one of the reasons that the Roman Catholic authorities found it easier to deal with the Anglican Communion in 1964 is the presence of apostolic succession and the nature of the Anglican Communion as an organic network of provinces, different from the (Lutheran) federation of independent national churches. While apostolic succession was also preserved in a few Lutheran national churches, all of these churches remained independent national churches. This is where we return to the argument at the beginning. For a time it looked as if Anglicanism was more than another “denominational family” of Protestant churches and… Read more »