Going Downhill with Anglicans Ablaze’s Robin Jordan

Those of you who have followed my recent posts on Calvinism (this and this) and even my exposition on Origen and the literal sense of Scripture know that these have elicited a vigorous rejoinder by Robin Jordan of Anglicans Ablaze.  With the responses from same and now his own blog post on the “slippery slope” it’s time for yet another extended response.

Let me start with some “close to home” factual issues from his blog post:

On Positive Affinity Don C. Warrington, a former Pentecostal, now with the Church of God…

In addition to messing up the blog name, his unfamiliarity with certain parts of Christianity comes through.  Perusal of both my own odyssey and the Church of God’s Declaration of Faith should make it clear that he has made a distinction without a difference.  (Note to myself: if my novel At the Inlet is ever made into a movie, I should attempt to retain Jordan as a technical advisor for the role of the Anglican bishop, especially for scenes like this, if the link doesn’t take you halfway down the page, scroll to the horizontal rule).

Turning back to his responses on this blog, I have responded to some of these but not all.  So let’s take a look at three important topics, starting with the matter of Charles Finney:

Charles Finney has been roundly criticized for asserting that humankind did not need the help of God’s grace to be saved. Indeed he has been described as the father of easy decisionism…A correction–I meant easy believism, not easy decisionism. Finney’s revivalism would produce “converts” whose “conversion” lasted little longer than the revival at which in midst of the excitement that typically accompanied such gatherings they made “a decision for Christ.”

Believism?  Maybe.  Easy?  Hardly!  The best way to see this in action on a long-term basis is to look at the churches which are the direct heirs of his revivalistic tradition, the Wesleyan Holiness and Pentecostal churches.  Until fairly recently, these have been strict and demanding of their members.  The whole business of “go down, shake the preacher’s hand and join the church” without any significant examination of converts is a later change.

The reason Finney ends up on many Reformed dartboards is because he a) succeeded where “traditional” churches did not and b) he upended Reformed theology in the process.  One of the major gaps between European and American Protestanism is the Americans implicitly or explicitly rejected a purely predestination-driven dynamic of salvation.

As a matter of opinion, I think that Augustinianism’s (and all Reformed theology is a part of this) noblest attack on “easy believism” was the Jansenists conflict with the Jesuits.  It’s hard to get Anglophone Reformed people to go along with this because the Jansenists had the bad taste to be a) French and b) Roman Catholic.

Now let’s go to the issue of Patristics:

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, while well acquainted with the Patristic writers, preferred to defend his views from Scripture. Bishop John Jewel in his handling of the Patristic writers followed these guidelines:

  1. He cited only an opinion of the Patristic writers on a matter where several Patristic writers were in agreement. He never cited the isolated opinion of a single Patristic writer.
  2. He then cited their opinion if he himself from his own reading and study of Scripture was convinced that their opinion was agreeable to Scripture. It could be clearly read out of Scripture and was consistent with the plain and natural sense of the text.
  3. He never cited what a later Patristic writer’s opinion of what an earlier Patristic writer believed, only what that earlier Patristic writer himself had written.
  4. He recognized the views of the Patristic writers for what they are–opinions. He did not credit them with an special inspiration, as did the Roman Catholics and subsequently the Anglo-Catholics..
  5. He gave greater weight to the opinions of the earlier Patristic writers than to the latter ones, particularly to those who wrote in the first three to five centuries of Christianity.

First: the reason I went though Origen’s exposition on the allegorical interpretation is because his development of the concept was extremely influential for the later Church Fathers (including Augustine) and through the Middle Ages, and needs to be considered when evaluating the Fathers’ weight to the literal senses.  It was the Reformers within Christianity (the Jews had a running start on this) which turned away from it, and I’m surprised that a Reformed stalwart like Jordan missed that.

Nevertheless the Anglican which discounts the Patristic witness does so at his or her own peril, because the Anglican enterprise is a complete waste of time without it.  Why? The basic reasons are two: the monarchial episcopate and liturgical worship.  Neither of these has direct sanction in the New Testament; without some regard for development during the Patristic era, their existence cannot be justified.  In that respect the Scots (and guess where they got their theology and ecclesiology from)? are more consistent; perhaps that is what Jordan would like to end up with.

Jenny Geddes would be proud…

Finally let’s take a look at yet another attack at the universalism issue:

Are you extrapolating to outside North America what you are asserting happened in North America? If so, on what basis? Have you considered the other factors that contributed to the development of universalist thought in North America such as Socianism?

As an engineer, I understand the dangers of extrapolation.  No, I’m not trying to extrapolate anything.  Neither am I trying to say that Calvinism is the only way people become universalists.  What I’ve tried to say is that Calvinism’s view of election is a weakness in the system that makes universalism an easy solution to those who are uneasy with its implications.  I, as Morey noted for many Evangelicals, believe that Finney’s solution is the best way out of this dilemma, as distasteful as it is to Reformed theology advocates.

Readers who are interested in more of my rationale re Reformed theology in an Anglican context can find it here.

16 thoughts on “Going Downhill with Anglicans Ablaze’s Robin Jordan”

  1. No, Don, I simply reported what I read in your “About This Site.” page.

    In some ways I think your are labouring to turn molehills into mountains.

    As for my comments regarding Finney, I was again reporting what I have read. However “strict” the Pentecostal and Wesleyan traditions may have been does not overturn the fact that Finney is viewed as the father of modern-day “easy believism.”

    As for the Patristic writers, they can be classified into two groups–the Literalists such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Iraneus, Tertullian, and John Chrysostom and the Allegorist such as Barnabas, Allegorists, Origen, Cassian,and Jerome. This points to two traditions of Bible interpretation.

    Obviously you have decided to set yourself up as judge of the adequacy of any response to your assertions. In my experience folks who do that will always find some fault or problem in the response. It is easy to do because we are fallible and cannot thinks of everything. The result is an argument that goes on and on and accomplishes nothing.

    I do not plan to pursue this discussion. It is distraction. How does that make you feel? Victorious? Vindicated? Consider the possibility that is the pay-off you have been seeking all a long.

    1. First, re Finney I think you’ve relied too much on conventional wisdom and not looked at things as they are. It’s too easy to retreat into formulae and received “wisdom” rather than investigate things for ourselves.

      What bothers me about this debate is that many of the really serious issues I brought up re Reformed theology and Anglicanism were not addressed, such as the Article XVII problem, the whole business of worship and church governance in the Church of England vs. what Calvin and his disciples set up in Geneva, Holland and Scotland, and of course the relative merit of the 39 Articles vs. the Westminster Confession as a statement of faith.

      Anglicanism isn’t, to use a favourite word of Aquinas, univocal. Novak, in his VOL piece, is simply wrong not to see the heavy influence of Reformed theology–Lutheran and Calvinistic–in the 39 Articles. But it’s also Catholic in its liturgy and episcopal governance. The whole of Anglican history, until the rise of the revisionists, can be seen as this tug of war being played out, sometimes violently, especially in the seventeenth century.

      Personally I think there’s a better way, and I think that Anglicanism, in its complexity, contributed significantly to finding that better way. But for those who are partisans of one side or the other, it’s impossible to see that.

      As far as your last paragraph of how I feel about the end of this debate, since you are a Calvinist, I will use this illustration. One day a Presbyterian was coming out of church when he tripped and fell down the stairs. He got up, brushed himself off, and said, “Glad that’s over with”.

  2. Don,

    You went off in too many directions and a number of the new tracks that you started were not related to what we were originally discussing. They may have been things that came to mind but how germane they were to the topic of Calvinism leading to universalistic thinking is debatable. I don’t think a pack of Tennessee fox hounds could have chased the scent on all those tracks.

    The form of church government that was adopted for the Church of England was NOT monarchical episcopacy but was similar to that of the other continental Reformed churches, the exception being Geneva. In those churches the magistrates of the city state appointed its pastors and they in turn served as the conscience of the magistrate. In England the king replaced the city state magistrates. Parliament also played a role. The bishops were ministers of the state and while they were elected by the cathedral chapter, they were nominated by the king. The chapter elected whoever the king nominated. As what happened in the case of the recusant bishops and her second Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Grindal in the reign of Elizabeth I, they could be imprisoned or sequestered and royal commissioners appointed to perform their duties.

    The system in Geneva was closer to.that of the Roman Catholic Church in the Vatican State and in other states where the Roman Catholic Church held sway. The church not only selected its pastors but also the magistrates. The church governed the state rather than the state governing the church.

    In England bishops were not above the law. A series of critical judicial decisions in the nineteenth century affirmed this principle. Like any other minister he was bound by the rubrics of the Prayer Book, the canons of the church, and the laws of the land. He could exercise no more discretion than the rubrics, canons,and laws allowed him.

    In the United States the situation was different. In the nineteenth century a number of Anglo-Catholic bishops would assert that all authority in the church was derived from them as the successors to the apostles. Any authority exercised by the diocesan standing committee and the diocesan convention was delegated and might be withdrawn. They reserved the right to veto the decisions of these bodies.

    This thinking was a departure from the original ecclesiology of Bishop William White upon which the constitution and early canons of the then Protestant Episcopal Church were based. In this ecclesiology authority is derived from Christ through the local parish. The diocese was a voluntary association of parishes deriving its authority from the parishes forming it. The bishop of the diocese was a presiding presbyter whose authority was also derivative. The national church was a voluntary association of dioceses; general convention derived its authority from the dioceses forming the national church. The presiding bishop was the senior most bishop by date of consecration.

    A number of the continental Reformed Churches adopted liturgical forms of worship as did the Lutheran Churches. Farrel who was Calvin’s predecessor at Geneva compiled a service book for use in the Genevan church and Calvin adapted that book when he became lead pastor in Geneva. John Knox put together a service book for the Scots and the French Reformed Church adopted its own liturgy. All of these liturgies incorporated Medieval or earlier elements that their compilers believed were agreeable to Scripture.

    Anglo-Catholics like to suggest that the Book of Common Prayer is an English language version of the Medieval English service book used at Salisbury Cathedral–the Sarum Rite. However, a comparison of the 1549 and 1552 Prayer Books with the Sarum Rite shows that not to be the case. In keeping with the principle of using the old where it was agreeable to the Bible and might be well used, Cranmer used material from the Sarum Rite. But he purged it of everything associated with Medieval Catholic teaching and superstition, even rewriting prayers and other texts where necessary so that they conformed with the teaching of Scripture. He also used material from the German Church Orders, including the Consultation of Archbishop Hermann, which Reformed theologian Martin Bucer compiled for him. The 1549 Prayer Book was only a transitional service book, a temporary expedient until a fully-reformed Prayer Book could be compiled. That Prayer Book is the 1552 Prayer Book, which survives with some minor changes as the 1662 Prayer Book

    Critics of the use of liturgical forms of worship overlook the fact that the worship of the Temple in Jerusalem was liturgical. It followed a fixed pattern of worship and used set forms–the Psalms. So was the worship of the synagogue in which our Lord participated. The Holy Spirit, after all, is the Spirit of order. He inspired the apostle Paul to write that when Christians gather, everything they do should be done in a decent and orderly fashion. Even churches that pride themselves on not being liturgical generally follow fixed worship patterns albeit these patterns are locally-determined and often show the influence of a particular worship tradition–Praise and Worship, Sandy Creek Revival, etc.

    Returning to our original topic, my reading points to Charles Finney’s views having developed as a reaction to Old Light Presbyterian ultra-Calvinism, not to what some folks call “Evangelistic Calvinism.” Ultra-Calvinism represents one extreme; Finney’s views would eventually come to represent another.

    1. I think we have more than one terminology problem here.

      By “monarchial episcopate” I mean any prelate who is over in some way local churches or parishes, almost always in some kind of territorial/diocesan context. I’m perfectly aware that, over the centuries and in different places, the amount of authority ascribed to same has varied, as has the method of their choosing. They don’t have to be or claim to be successors of the apostles either; the Church of God has all kinds of state, regional, national and international overseers, and I would classify these as “monarchial bishops”, especially in our centralised church. Perhaps my use of the term “monarchial” is too broad.

      There is no witness to such in the New Testament, and that fact is used by some Christian groups (especially the Baptists) against the rest of us.

      It’s worth noting that your outline of the Episcopal Church’s early history is certainly relevant in the current struggles of TEC.

      The other term is “liturgy”. Until very recently I always seen the term “liturgy” used very narrowly, to include very structured worship such as we see in Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches. To put it another way, I think that BCP’s/missals and the like are for liturgies, service books not.

      Your definition of liturgy evidently includes any structured worship order. In that respect you’re one with my Pentecostal pastor, who admitted in front of the congregation that we worship according to a “liturgy”. After years of hearing the word “formalism” used as almost a curse word, I almost felt like jumping up and saying “So let’s do it right and bring in the BCP”! I doubt that would get a positive response. The one time I saw that tried in the Church of God the response was, to say the least, unenthusiastic, although not as hostile as Laud got…

      There’s no doubt (people obsessed with formalism notwithstanding) that Christian worship in the NT was structured; whether it was “liturgical” depends upon how broadly you apply that term. At this point arguments from silence are dangerous, but I doubt that same worship was as structured as you see in, for example, the 1662 BCP, 1928 BCP or NOM. Patristic evidence shows that the order of worship moved from the simpler to the more elaborate.

      Here in Tennessee we like to stay ahead of the fox hounds. I actually brought up three weaknesses of Calvinism in my original post, and in a subsequent post discuss another.

  3. Don,

    The term “monarchial episcopate” I generally equate with the views of Iraneus and those who appeals to his views in support of their own notions of the nature of the episcopate. Classical Anglicanism and Reformed Anglicanism view presbyters/elders and bishops/overseers as belong to the same order but performing different offices or functions. Classical Anglicanism and Reformed Anglicanism finds no support for any particular kind of church polity or form of ecclesiastical governance in the New Testament. Bishops were retained in the Church of England for a number of reasons. The office of bishop had a long history and had proven its usefulness. The English people were accustomed to bishops superintending the church. While the New Testament does not prescribe the appointment of bishops to superintend a district and the churches within it, the New Testament does not prohibit the practice.

    I’ll get back to you with my views on worship.

    1. “The English people were accustomed to bishops superintending the church.”

      So were the Scots, but they got over that.

      I really think that the English, if they had really wanted to, could have dispensed with the episcopate, and did under Cromwell. But they did not.

      The Church of England was and is basically the RCC in England nationalised, so the bishops did not lose all of their status they had before the Act of Supremacy.

      The Kirk replaced the RCC in Scotland.

  4. “The Church of England was and is basically the RCC in England nationalised, so the bishops did not lose all of their status they had before the Act of Supremacy.”

    I would suggest that this statement is something of an oversimplification.If you examine the history of the Christian Church, you will find a number of examples of particular churches in which the prince played a significant role in the affairs of the church, nominating bishops, convening councils, and so on. This was especially true in what would become the Byzantine Empire. It was also the case in the British Isles. A Saxon prince convened the Council of Whitby and ruled in favor of the Church of Rome. While his decision only affected his principality, the other Saxon princes would adopt a similar policy over time. But the Bishop of Rome was not recognized as having full authority in England until King John got himself into hot water with the pope and was excommunicated. The pope agreed to remove his excommunication if he accepted the pope as his feudal overlord. This is one of the reasons the English barons drew up the Magna Carta. Henry VIII, when he broke with the Bishop of Rome over the pope’s refusal to annul his marriage to his older brother’s wife, was asserting the ancient independence of the English Church. Making himself the temporal head of the English Church had precedence in that the Byzantine Emperors had exercised authority over the churches in their empire. It was not the only precedent but it was an important one. During the reign of Henry VIII the English Church would essentially remain Medieval Catholic in doctrine. The Litany and the Bible were translated into English and the use of these translations authorized. After Henry VIII died, his son Edward VI assumed the English throne. During Edward VI’s reign a concerted effort was undertaken to reform the English Church in a Protestant and Reformed direction. This reform was interrupted by Edward VI’s death and the ascension of his older sister Mary, a devote Roman Catholic. Mary took steps to undo the reforms of Edward VI’s reign. She imprisoned and burned a number of Protestants, including the Oxford martyrs, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. Mary died from an ovarian cyst and her younger sister. Elizabeth I, ascended the English throne. The reform of the Englsh Church in a Protestant and Reformed direction would continue during her reign and the reign of her successor, James VI of Scotland. Considering the English Reformation during this period made substantially changes in the doctrine and worship of the English Church and the Thirty-Nine Articles adopted in 1571 is a rejection of the dogmas of the Council of Trent and an affirmation of Biblical and Reformation doctrine, I do not see how anyone can say that the Church England is the Roman Catholic Church nationalized. The historical facts do not support such a contention.

    1. As I said for the title of this blog piece, this thing is really going downhill…

      Anyone familiar with this history of Western Europe knows that the various sovereigns had some degree of control over the Catholic Church. Let’s consider the French. For centuries the king had la regale, i.e., the control over episcopal and other appointments. The degree of control of the papacy vs. the sovereign was a long-running bone of contention and a significant leitmotif in European history. In France la regale only ended with the Restoration, when the Ultramontainists finally got their way. (It’s significant that, in Latin America, the Pope was unwilling to give la regale to the newly independent states, which started church-state relations there on a sour note).

      The Act of Supremacy was entirely different in that the entire control of the church was vested in its “Lord and Governor,” King Henry VIII. As Article XXXVII put it, “The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England”. Before he had some. With that supremacy Henry closed the monasteries and the changes (some of which were made and unmade) which you detail above began to unfurl in what was dizzying, confusing, and in some cases fatal to the participants.

      I think same transfer of control can be characterised as a nationalisation, with regard for the changes in corporate and political structures between the sixteenth century and the twentieth when we saw the likes of British Rail, British Steel and British Leyland. I have no idea why you would take offence at that.

      Having done this, the basic episcopal structure remained the same. The chief sees of York and Canterbury were retained. Although the doctrinal and liturgical changes surely altered the life of the church (to say nothing of Article XXXII) the English had the option of going the same route as the Scots. They didn’t. The bishops were still regarded as the successors of the Apostles, as they had been before. The English Reformation, especially once it settled down, was a decidedly conservative adventure when compared with other reformations but very significant when compared with Roman Catholicism, which explains why Papist and Puritan alike had problems with it.

      In all of this, I realise that your objective is to portray the Church of England as a Reformed church, against competing claims of the Anglo-Catholics. It has never been my intention to defend the “unEnglish and unmanly” Anglo-Catholics in this regard; I think that, if one concludes that one needs to be in communion with Rome, one should swim the Tiber. But OTOH, if I were to choose a church for the purity of its Reformed doctrine and worship, an Anglican/Episcopal church would be well down my list. In that respect the Scots and the Dutch are correct.

  5. Don,

    A congregation that is accustomed to worshiping in a particular way can be expected to have difficult in transitioning to a different way of worshiping. This happened in the sixteenth century when the Latin Mass was replaced with services in the vernacular. It happened in the twentieth century in the 1920s and in the 1970s with Prayer Book revision. Every congregation has its preferences and its prejudices. It is much easier to start a new congregation using a new style of worship than it is to introduce a new style of worship to an existing congregation. It can be done but it takes time and some folks will not respond well to the changes and will leave.

    The use of set forms does not necessarily lead to formalism anymore than the use of extemporaneous prayer lead to spontaneity and openness to the Holy Spirit. What you have here is a prejudice. I base this conclusion not only upon my study of the worship of a number of traditions but also my experience in worshiping in both liturgical and non-liturgical churches. This experience includes evangelical Church of England worship, charismatic and non-charismatic Episcopal worship, blended United Methodist worship, blended Evangelical Lutheran Church worship, contemporary Assemblies of God worship, traditional Anglo-Catholic worship, and contemporary and traditional Southern Baptist worship.

  6. But “…basically the RCC in England nationalised…” That is stretching things.

    Scots replaced their bishops with superintendents, or overseers.

    “The bishops were still regarded as the successors of the Apostles, as they had been before.” Were they now? Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformers rejected that doctrine. They maintained as did the continental Reformers that apostolic succession was a succession of doctrine. I refer you to John Jewel’s Apology for the Church of England.

    If you examine their concerns of the Puritans, they have more to do with the implementation of their own particular preferences and prejudices than making the English Church conform more to Biblical teaching. I do not find anything in Scripture stating that the minister must do everything in a service of worship, prayers must be very long, and the congregation must say “Amen” and sing metrical Psalms only.

    The Puritans were a mixed bag. Some used the Prayer Book; others refused to use it. Some Puritan ministers wore vestments; others, street clothes. And so on.

    The Puritans may have had legitimate concerns in a number of areas but they also showed a pronounced tendency to quibble over secondary matters–a tendency Professor Gillis Harp has observed in modern-day Presbyterians.

    We must not neglect to point to our readers’ attention that the Anglo-Catholics began making their claims in the nineteenth century while undertaking the self-appointed task of changing the identity of the Church of England. Their aim was to so “Romanize” the English Church that the pope would take it back into the Roman fold. In 1688 the English Parliament had adopted the Coronation Oath Act officially recognizing what had been tacitly recognized since the reign of Edward VI (with the exception of a brief hiatus during Mary’s reign) that the Church of England was a Protestant Reformed church.

    As for the assertion that you make in regards to the opinions of the Scots and Dutch, you need to be more specific–giving names, specific documents, dates, and so forth. A number of Reformed writers on the continent such as Philip Schaff take a different view. You may be confusing Reformed with Presbyterian.

    If going uphill is contingent upon you always being right, I am afraid that we have a long way to go before we hit bottom.

  7. “For whereas some use to make so great a vaunt, that the Pope is only Peter’s successor, as though thereby he carried the Holy Ghost in his bosom, and cannot err, this is but a matter of nothing, and a very trifling tale. God’s grace is promised to a good mind, and to one that feareth God, not unto sees and successions. “Riches,” saith Hierom, “may make a bishop to be of more might than the rest: but all the bishops,” whosoever they be, “are the successors of the Apostles.” If so be the place and consecrating only be sufficient, why then Manasses succeeded David, and Caiaphas succeeded Aaron. And it hath been often seen, that an idol hath stand in the temple of God. In old time Archidamus the Lacedaemonian boasted much of himself, how he came of the blood of Hercules.” Jewel, Apology for the CoE, VI.

    I don’t see Jewel contradicting Jerome on this point. Jewel does emphasise that the apostolic succession doesn’t revolve around the succession of Peter at Rome, but then again neither do the Orthodox. Jewel also contends that, just because a person is a bishop, they are really a worthy follower of Christ or the Apostles, but Catholic authors like Dante have made the same contention.

    One way of looking at the CoE’s retention of bishops is that, in the long run, it was a strategic mistake, because it opened the doors (if by appearance only) to Anglo-Catholicism.

    That, however, is a good intro to my contention that the CoE is not the optimal Reformed church. Playing the role of the Reformed purist, this is what I would say.

    First, as mentioned, the existence of bishops, with that title and all of the trappings scattered about England, suggests Catholicism.

    Second, the liturgy, which follows the same pattern as the Mass, also suggests Catholicism. I will not argue with you over how the pattern came up for both; I have spent a lot of time concerning this subject on this blog and presented a great deal of information regarding ancient liturgies. You will recall that the Act of Uniformity made it mandatory to celebrate the rites of the church according to the BCP. There was no other legal way to worship in fair Albion for many years, and it was restricted for many years after that.

    “Bring everything to the test; cling to what is good; Shun every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) The Reformers believed that the RCC was evil. Jewel believed that it was evil. You probably believe that it is evil, along with the Anglo-Catholics. So, to avoid any form of evil and confusion, the better way of making a clean break with the evil past is the way the Scots and the Dutch did it, not the English.

    This is not complicated and may not take into account all of the variations in Protestant churches that you would like to lard this conversation with (you and Bossuet, quite a pair) but simple reasoning like this drove many things during the Reformation.

    And now for a couple of other items.

    “If you examine their concerns of the Puritans, they have more to do with the implementation of their own particular preferences and prejudices than making the English Church conform more to Biblical teaching.”

    The problem with the Puritans was that they frequently didn’t distinguish between their preferences and prejudices and Biblical teaching. Sad to say that hasn’t changed for some.

    “If going uphill is contingent upon you always being right, I am afraid that we have a long way to go before we hit bottom.”

    I’m not really sure what you’re trying to prove at this point. I’ve never attempted to deny the Reformed underpinnings of the 39 Articles or the English Reformation for that matter. I’ve not a fan of Anglo-Catholicism. You know, OTOH, that I’m not an adherent of Reformed theology. However, you haven’t really challenged me on doctrine and theology (unless you consider your attack on Finney as an indirect way of doing that).

    You’ve accused me of presenting an ideal construct. But what I think sticks in your craw is that I won’t accept yours re the CoE: that it was an ideal, Reformed church in its birth and would be so today if the Anglo-Catholics, Arminians and other undesirables hadn’t messed it up, both from within and without.

    Well, I won’t. History shows that the CoE was complicated (and compromised in many ways) in its birth and subsequent development. There’s nothing unique about that; desultory courses of development are the stuff of the history of the English church and people, the results aren’t always the happiest but then again we haven’t had the revolutions like the French and the Russians, either.

    But ideal constructs and myth making are also weaknesses of the Anglophone world, and when they are let loose the result is generally tragic. Just ask Laud or Charles I.

    I’ve had more informative dialogue with Muslims, maybe I should stick with that.

  8. Don,

    You are putting your own spin on John Jewel, selectively quoting him–what the Tractarians did in the nineteenth century. I suggest that you read Philip Edgcumbe Hughes’s Theology of the English Reformers. Hughes summarizes the English Reformer’s position on a apostolic succession.

    Are you asserting that because a church to some has the appearance of being “Catholic”–what they associate in their minds as being “Catholic,” it is “Catholic.” I suspect that using the same kind of logic I could draw some interesting conclusions about your present church. We could have a lot of fun with that kind of subjective thinking.

    I would not assume anything about what I think.

    You might have more fun playing with the Muslims. They like Charles Finney believe that we are saved by our own efforts. Or at least we can make a good stab at it . Allah might be merciful and admit us to paradise. On the other hand, he might not. Despite our efforts he might cast us into hell. If that happens, it was kismet, fate.

    1. I think it’s reasonable to ask how you would convince a Reformed-minded person that the CoE is a superior Reformed church to its neighbours.

  9. I wouldn’t. First, I am not convinced the notion of a superior or perfect church of any kind is consistent with the teaching of Scripture. A faithful or obedient church but not a superior or perfect church. Second, the Church of England today is a far cry from what it was in its Reformed heyday. This is not particular to the Church of England. The Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed, and Wesleyan churches and a number of other denominations are also a far cry from what they once were. They are all wheat fields in which the tares flourish.In these churches one finds congregations, clergy, and individual Christians who are more faithful and obedient than others. I would suggest that this has always been the state of the Christian Church throughout its history, even in New Testament times.

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