A glimpse into the Anglican mind

Prayer in the Anglican Communion

I have written yesterday about the drama of Anglicanism, where more and more people are discovering that they belong to the wrong shop without being able to draw the uneasy, but necessary consequences.
Today I’d like to point your attention to an article from the Anglican “Church Times” giving some insights of what is happening within the Anglican Communion and how most Anglicans will react.
Last weekend, a South East Asian representative of the Anglican Communion put to the vote the proposal to….. kick their American province out. It does make sense: once acknowledged that their theology has become so fundamentally different in a lot of key areas, it is plainly absurd to continue to pretend the existence of a unity which is not there anymore.

As a Catholic, one understands them all too well. To be united in one religious community means to believe the same things, failing which we have different communities. The Arians, the Nestorians, the Pelagians etc. have been declared not to be part of the Church because…. they didn’t believe what the Church believed.

Anglicanism seems to work differently, at least in its (as the Church Times says) “overwhelming majority”. No theological difference is so big that it would justify a separation. Rather, compromises are sought (and invariably found). For an Anglican, a separation would (and I quote again) “inhibit dialogue” and be therefore “unhelpful”.

As a result, the Anglican Communion will continue to have in its midst people who believe everything and its contrary; in transubstantiation, in consubstantiation, or in none of the two; who are in favour of bishopesses and priestesses, in favour of priestesses but against bishopesses, or against both; who consider themselves Catholics of the One Catholic Church (funny, this), Catholics of a separated church (funny that, too) or (correctly) Protestants; who believe in apostolic succession, or select their bishops through a democratic process; who consider homosexuality a perversion, or fine until one doesn’t commit sodomy, or jolly good and perfectly in order whatever one does; who want their bishops straight, or homosexual provided they are celibate, or homosexuals and living with their lover provided there is no sex (it gets funnier and funnier), or homosexual with a lover and full-blown sodomy and this is absolutely spiffing.

This is modern Anglicanism. Its only commandment is “Thou Shalt Not Split”. No difference is so big that it should “inhibit dialogue”, even when the differences are clearly insurmountable. Some of them will one day, unavoidably, recognise that this has become a parody of a Communion (and Anglicanism in vast parts a parody of Christianity) and will leave; but they’ll be a minority, no doubt considered “intolerant” and “judgmental” from the rest.

Imagine now Christianity of the first centuries. Imagine the Church saying to the Arians that there are differences, but they will be dealt with in a spirit of dialogue; telling the Nestorians that to declare them heretics would be “unhelpful”; telling the Pelagians that they will not be excluded from communion because the work of the Church “would be diminished if it lacked a range of opinions”.

“Ahh – I hear you saying – but the Church would never do that because the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and these ecclesial communities aren’t; which is why they change theology, split continuously or remain together with different creeds and end up believing in inclusiveness and niceness as only guiding values”. And you are right, very right.

It remains a mystery to me how Anglicans can see the scale of the mess and still believe that the Holy Ghost is in any way, shape or form behind the Anglican Communion; how they can see the transformation of their communion into something completely different, nay, into many things completely different from each other and still pretend that it is the same thing as, say, only 100 years ago; how they can see the Holy Spirit inspiring one generation to believe the exact contrary of what former generations have been inspired to believe.

When we Catholics complain (as we should) that the one or other priest is heterodox, the one or other bishop socialist or the one or other cardinal outright devilish we should still reflect that no Pope or Council has ever said that divorce, abortion, sodomy, priestesses, bishopesses, consubstantiation & Co., & Co. are, henceforward, to be considered just fine. We should consider this and say: Thank God I’m Catholic.


Posted on August 3, 2010, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Mundabor — I won’t lower myself to a bun fight over this post. Many orthodox Anglicans — the faithful remnant — would agree that the Holy Spirit has left the proverbial building. They are anxious to reclaim its orthodoxy and are working and praying towards that goal.

    I don’t see that the Catholic Church has much to gloat about on this score. If you took a poll of any given group of Mass-goers you would find differing Catholic views on transubstantiation (many do not believe in it) and other aspects of the Church. Many younger ones haven’t even been catechised. The USCCB is an informal arm of the Democratic Party. CHD funds support advocacy groups for abortion and Marxist community organisers and have done over the past 40 years. Then there is the current ongoing scandal, of which we are all aware.

    In closing, two points:

    1/ There seems to be a bit of projection going on in criticising the Anglicans for not wanting to split when a recent post of yours intimated that the Pope would not discipline the bishop supporting female ordination because he (the Pope) did not wish to risk a schism.

    2/ There will be some orthodox Anglicans who desperately wish to be Catholic and who, fully accepting Church teaching, will convert. Let us pray that Catholics will welcome them into the fold without denigrating the church from which they came. It would appear that some Catholics would prefer not to see any Anglicans converting at all, even the most sincere among them.

    • Churchmouse,
      on the Anglicans: I can doctrinally not accept the position that the Holy Ghost first enters the house and then leaves it. If an Anglicans is of th eextraordinary opinion that the Holy Ghost has gone away, he must seriously ask himself whether he has been there in the first place. The answer is, he hasn’t and this is the reason why the mess is there in the first place. It had to happen, because the Holy Ghost is not there and it happens because the Holy Ghost is not there.

      Secondly, you are confusing the Church as theological entity with the prejudice and ignorance of the people in the pews. Catholic faithful are neither representative of Catholic doctrinal positions, nor can they change them, nor are they any metre of judging their righteousness. Catholics have possibly been in the past, and will possibly be in the future, even more ignorant about the tenets fot he faith than they are now, but this doesn’t change a iota in Catholic doctrine.

      And this is all the difference with the Anglicans: by the Anglicans it is not a matter of poor presentation, it is a matter of changing the substance. To decide to have priestesses is to change the substance of the teaching, not to be mediocre in presenting or defending it.

      As the Church has the Holy Ghost with Her, she will never, ever change the Teaching. Never, ever.

      If you don’t see the difference between the weakness of Paul VI and the novelties of Rowan Williams, of course the logical consequence of this is to even contemplate that one day the Church might have priestesses. But the fact is, that there is a huge difference, there is a fundamental difference of quality between them.

      Even at his most corrupt, the Church has preferred to be wiped out from an entire country than to compromise of I do not say priestesses, but her decision on *one* marriage. It tells you something about how the Holy Ghost works in Her, and how it is completely absent from the ecclesial communities.


    • On your closing points:

      1/ you must not confuse the weakness of a Pope in reacting to abuse with a change in doctrine. If nuns begin to become worshipers of Baal and the Church doesn’t do anything for, say, 200 years it doesn’t mean that the Church now approves the worship of Baal. It means that she makes a mediocre work of defending the immutable and unchanged Teaching. There is a fundamental difference.

      2/ Catholics who will convert must be the first to see all the error they came from. It is not about denigrating, it is about seeing the Truth. Egos don’t have to play any role in that. The Anglicans are a heretical ecclesial commuity, fact.

      I was once (through ignorance, culpable ignorance in part) an abortionist. I was wrong. Fully, entirely, completely, appallingly wrong. To be firmly opposed to abortion and to denounce it as the Holocaust it is is not denigrating me, or my former position. It is saying the Truth. When one sees the light one doesn’t care if you say that the darkness is dark.

      If the Truth had been told to me before, with the same forcefulness I have found only in the books I have read when the Truth started to dawn on me, I would have seen my error earlier. The reason why I spent so many years in appalling ignorance is that this message was never presented to me with anything near the forcefulness I needed to start questioning my opinion.


  2. Fine.

    The point about the Holy Spirit leaving the building is a take on someone ‘leaving the building’ — it’s a phrase often used, e.g. in emails to announce in a lighthearted way that someone is leaving their current employer for another job: ‘John Q Smith has left the building. Join him for drinks down the pub after work.’

    • Ah, it’s a turn of phrase then 😉
      But it still doesn’t make clear to me how an Anglican can see the mess and believe that his organisation is a purely human construct.


  3. You seem to be the one saying it is a purely human construct. 😉

    • Well let me rephrase 😉

      How can they say that:
      1) the Holy Ghost is not there, but
      2) it is not a purely human construct ?

      And as we are there: how can they say that the Holy Ghost has changed His mind between, say, 1900 and today in so many ways and in such a a dramatic fashion?

  4. What they really mean — please look at this figuratively, not literally — is that many are ignoring the Holy Spirit.

    • Very instructive, 😉

      so they do admit that the Holy Ghost does not help their church as such and when their hierarchy ignores Him, everything goes down the drain?

      You see, Catholics have a different outlook: they believe that the protection of the Holy Ghost is given to the Church as the Bride of Christ, irrespective of how many errors, murders, or assorted atrocities the Popes can commit.

      This is why the Teaching remains the same even when criminals are elected Popes or when other Popes are weak, ineffective, lazy, coward or such like.


  5. Mundabor — Their use of English was figurative. If a large group of people is discarding and ignoring the Holy Spirit, of course, the Holy Spirit is still there, they are wilfully not paying attention.

    • But we are still not there, Churchmouse 😉

      If so many people do not pay attention, that as a consequence doctrinal principles are changed, than it is obvious that the Holy Spirit is not protecting the institution, but merely trying to be heard by individuals.
      This has never happened with the Church. Irrespective of any many people have been stupid, hereitcs or corrupt, not one iota of the doctrine has ever changed.

      This is a fundamental difference and proves that the Holy Ghost protects the Church, and doesn’t protect the ecclesial communities.


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