Hardwick on Method

After a fairly long post on the recent Brockton Consultation, the question remains by what doctrinal standard shall the Continuing movement rally itself? Will it be a strict or nominal reading of the St. Louis Affirmation? What will be the status of the 39 Articles? Some traditionalists mistrust the Thirty-Nine Articles because they believe the Settlement too inclusive of Puritanism and therefore unstable. Hardwick’s historical method instructs the proper reading of Articles precluding these worries.  

When push comes to shove, either the Affirmation or Articles have to give way. A couple scenarios unfold regarding the Continuum’s future based on how the Thirty-Nine articles might be treated. If the Affirmation is read a nominal way, then the ACC will harden and isolate itself against any rising whiff of Protestantism. In this scenario, the APA and/or UEC might take a lead midst the ACC’s self-paralysis, reclaiming the 39 Articles for Continuing Anglicans as well eventual dialog with GAFCON churches. But, if a strict reading of the Affirmation prevails, then the ACC will remain the center of a the Continuing movement. The ACC will continue its ecclesiastical embargo against ACNA partners on the basis of an exaggerated view of apostolic succession neither found in the Articles nor the Ordinal. AB Haverland said– again and again– the 39 articles have no normative authority in the ACC.

Another possibility is the thirty-nine articles are simply confused by Tract 90, placing the Continuum in basic theological alignment with Trent. In either case, the maligning of the Articles would isolate and neutralize the Continuum, so how the thirty-nine articles are treated will determine if continuing movement will ever arise as a leaven for the future North American Anglicanism.  A longtime continuing churchman, Mr. Stephen Cooper, said of the Denver Bishops had no intention to keep the thirty-nine articles:

“The Continuers who formed in 1977 Congress did well in seeking to rectify this situation, but they labored under a like deficiency. They rightly stood for the 1928 BCP, but they excluded the 39 Articles. This marked a break with faithful Anglicans world-wide and with the Continuers‟ own spiritual fore-fathers of the previous century. The high-church bishops among those at the first Lambeth Conference in 1867 proposed a resolution stating their commitment to the faith “defined by the first four General Councils, and reaffirmed by the Fathers of the English Reformation.” The Continuers‟ failure to take this stand allowed for latent disagreement among them about whether they truly meant their position to be Anglican – i.e., consistent with the English Reformation and its governing Formularies. This gave an opening to those of their bishops who tacitly rejected the English Reformation. These bishops, under the name of continuing Anglicans, immediately set up separate and decidedly un-Anglican systems and doctrines. Thus began the self-defeating syndrome that has discredited and kept a stranglehold on the Continuum ever since.” (p. 1-2, Continuing What?: part VI)

Robinson 2 Hardwick: A couple years ago I contacted Bishop Robinson inquiring about UECNA standards, wanting to know their relative ranking. AB Robinson’s answer was surprising. Without hesitation he placed the 39 articles on top, then prayer book, and last Andrewes’ formula. I recall in between these three points, Robinson included other well-known documents like Homilies, 1604 canons, etc. However, the order of the first and last shocked me because it was an answer I was not accustomed to hear within the Continuing church, namely, particular formulae preceding so-called catholic tradition. Furthermore, when it comes to embracing Anglican particulars, modern Anglicans usually prefer the Prayer Book before acknowledging the Articles. This is likely a prejudice stemming from late-19th century liberal Catholicism which “dispersed” authority away from the confessional statements of the Settlement toward less definitive liturgical forms of Creed and Eucharist. At the Reformed Catholic blog, the Reverend Charles Erlandson recently said:

“A second commonly mentioned stylistic characteristic of Anglican identity is the fact that authority in Anglicanism is a dispersed authority.  As delineated by a statement of bishops to the 1948 Lambeth Conference, authority is dispersed or distributed among Scripture, tradition, creeds, the ministry of the word and sacraments, the witness of the saints, and the consensus fidelium, liturgy being the crucible in which these elements of authority are unified.  This notion of dispersed authority is important because depending on how highly these authorities are valued and how they are valued relative to one another, Anglicanism might be described in very different terms; this is especially true if Scripture is seen as only one among many dispersed authorities of equal importance and its normative authority thereby diminished.”

Liberal Catholicism tends to radicalize the ‘incarnation‘ by equating  knowledge to mystical experience, sacramental union, and real presence. When confronted by more systematic counter-reformation or certain tridentine dogma, Anglicanism is left with nearly zero rejoinder aside from a lipid or rearguard pleas for ‘comprehension’. This tends to buckle because it refuses to sort out contradictions. The Reverend Charles Erlandson explains,

“Stylistic definitions by their very nature also tend to be vague.  For example, when the idea of comprehension is enlarged from meaning a comprehension of both Catholic and Protestant principles (a generally useful stylistic definition) to meaning the kind of comprehension or toleration in which contradictory ideas are all seen as true, then a common, clear identity becomes difficult to maintain, and clear norms are undermined.”

Worst, unbridled Incarnationalism opens unbridled ‘experience’ as a parallel  source of doctrine, justifying “charismatic reception” or the ‘holy spirit’ acting in ways sometimes very differently from scripture or catholic history. We might wonder if Christ’s incarnation wasn’t circumscribed by forms of humiliation, predestined forthe Cross, suffering under the law, etc.. Normally, incarnation is constrained by the moral law which dictates blood for sin. Consequently, revelation is likewise constrained by Logos, or what God chooses to show mankind. Anyway, Bishop Robinson’s strong conviction in the articles, even by making them above BCP as a source of doctrine, was refreshing because it didn’t strum the well-worn harp of catholic mysticism. If the Articles are given the kind of priority Robinson suggested, how should they be interpreted? I recently came across some advice that reminded me of this conversation with the UECNA bishop while reading Hardwick’s History of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, 2nd ed. (1863). Hardwick doesn’t believe the Articles are a substitute for Catholic faith. Nor, does he pit the two against each other. Indeed, Hardwick insists the reformers’ intent to restore primitive doctrine,

“They [reformers] did not wish to break away in a schismatic temper from the rest of Christendom, but only to extinguish the unlawful jurisdiction of the proud and bold usurper, and, by following in the footsteps of the primitive church, to rescue for their nation many a pure and evangelic element of faith, of feeling, and of ritual” (p. 10)

However, the birth of articles coming from a national synod does not make them less catholic:

“Nor in asserting this great principle of national independence did our legislators overstep the powers which had been claimed and exercised by the domestic synods of the best and purest ages. Till the founding and consolidation of the papal monarchy such bodies had been always held not only competent but morally responsible for the correction of all heresies and errors which sprang up in a particular Church.” p.4

The Articles provide a map through the enormities of the Roman church as well as the Radical reformation. They also rule out certain Swiss teachings typical with Zwinglianism.  However, the problem has been reading doctrine into the articles that is otherwise absent. Anglo-catholics often blame the Articles’ comprehension on secular politics. There are likely numerous ways to legitimize the articles, yet Hardwick  seems conscious of pitfalls. The Articles cannot be read in isolation. Hardwick suggests a historical method of interpretation, and we should consider this method especially if the Articles are to be normative:

First, to weigh the history of Reformation movement in the midst of which the Articles had been produced. Secondly, to read them in this light, approximating as far as possible to the particular point of view which had been occupied by all the leading compilers. Thirdly, to interpret the language of the formulary in its plain and grammatical sense (i.e., the sense which it had borne in the Edwardine and Elizabethan periods of the church), bestowing on it ‘the just and favorable construction, which ought to be allowed to all human writings, especially such as are set forth by authority. Fourthly, where the language of the Articles is vague, or where (as might have been expected of their history) we meet with a comparative silence in respect of any theological topic, to ascertain the fuller doctrine of the Church of England on that point, by reference to here other symbolic writings– the Prayer, Book, the Ordinal, the Homilies, and the Canons. Fifthly, where these sources have been tried without arriving at explicit knowledge as to the intention of any article, to acquiesce in the deductions which the ‘the catholic doctors and ancient bishops’ have expressly gathered on that point from Holy Scripture; in accordance with the recommendation of the Canon of 1571, in which subscription to the present Articles had been enjoined upon the clergy.” p. 221

Hardwick’s interpretative method is very similar to Edward H. Browne’s instructions on discerning the minds of the original compilers. Browne also ranks high a knowledge of the controversies of the time, requiring a cleric to be something of a historian, while listing catholic tradition towards the end. Browne advises:

“In the interpretation of them [the Articles], our best guides must be, first, their own natural, literal, grammatical meaning; [secondnext to this, a knowledge of the controversies which had prevailed in the Church, and made such articles necessary; [thirdthen,  the other authorized formularies of the Church [like the BCP]; after them [fourth], the writings and known opinions of such men as Cranmer, Ridley, and Parker, who drew them up; [fifth] then, the doctrines of the primitive Church, which they professed to follow; and lastly, [sixth] the general sentiments of the distinguished English divines who have been content to subscribe to the Articles, and have professed their agreement with them for now 300 years. These are our best guides for their interpretation. Their authority is derivable from scripture alone.” (p. 16, An Exposition of the 39 articles)

An amazing feature of Hardwick’s canon is the regard for the Reformation period. It’s pure fiction to distance the protestantism of Anglican divines by treating them aloof from events on the continent. Hardwick documents the official conferences between held by Henry’s delegates with Lutherans, “to weigh the history of Reformation movement in the midst of which the Articles had been produced”. This occurred at an early phase of Article development, and therefore it left an indelible mark. The Henrician church established a lasting impact by Saxony:

“No one can deny that the compilers of the Forty-Two articles in the reign of Edward VI drew largely from the Lutheran formulary  probable that such derivation, instead of being direct, took place entirely through the medium of the Anglo-German channel.” (p. 61)

Ironically, a study of the Reformation provides the most powerful argument against calvinist influence since the bulk of the Articles predate the rise of Geneva’s influence. Thus, the late-Henrician and early-Edwardine become a reservoir for conservatism that Elizabeth and Stuarts apparently drew upon. Few traditional Anglicans take advantage of these histories because their assumption is Cranmer or the Tudors appeased Zwinglians. The 1625 Declaration warned Anglicans to read the Articles in their “plain and grammatical sense”. The grammatical approach, in addition to the intertextual comparison with other confessions, was another hedge against puritanism, “when they [supports of the Declaration] urged that ‘calvinism’ is not accordant with the letter of the articles, and cannot be deduced from them by any of the rules which judges commonly apply to the interpretation of a legal document” (p. 206). The convenience of royal seal is usually lost upon Anglicans who are accustom to ‘free church’ where the faith of the Christian prince is suspect of flimflam or ‘compromise’. Hardwick recommends writings “especially such as are set forth by authority” deserve special attention. In the case of the Reformation church of England, being ‘set forth’ meant a document had royal approval. Authoritative texts are therefore easily recognized by royal warrant, the foremost being (in the order of their genesis) 39 Articles, canons, bible, ordinal, prayer book, and two books of homilies. Against our own prosperity, we flippantly disregard what nursing parents of old worked to establish in our church, namely, articles of belief for the sake of concord and quiet. The last two points generally follow Frere’s Rule of Analogy. The prayer book is never taken alone but measured by both explicit and implicit texts. Explicit includes the faire mentioned above but also less recognized texts such as the homilies and canons. The homilies are really the next best thing to a national catechism, containing much practical and hortative material. Injunctions likewise shed light on certain theological points. Both the 1604 and 1640 canons provide surprisingly long rationale for bowing at the Name, reverencing altars, and crossings. It was often the case when prayer book revision was politically unfeasible corrections were made to rubric through canons. Many of the changes in the 1662 were put into the 1559 acts. A good example being the ornament’s rubric. It is curious this St. Vincent’s rule or the allusion to  the 1571 canon comes at the end as our final security when other means are less perceptible. The Affirmation also invokes the Vincentian canon. But the ACC understands this to include a wide swath of post-patristic tradition. Anglican divinity appears a bit more skeptical, limiting ‘reliable centuries‘ to undisputed ecumenical councils with little confidence beyond the seventh century. Later Anglo-catholics attempt to extend reliability well into the medieval period, thereby opening questionable theological doors which undermine the very reason for the Articles. Consequently, the reformation applies the test of six centuries keeping whatever is  “consonant” with that period in the Western Church. For this reason Andrewes’ formula is usually more clear than St. Vincent’s. Conclusion: I’ve found this  historical method to be fairly accurate. It is certainly is better than the ‘incarnation’ or ‘apostolic’ kind that liberal catholics prefer. This latter sorts is quick to discard the Settlement as peculiar, adopting minimalist ‘experiental’ Creedal approach that leaves huge gaps in Anglican theology against the counter-reformation, or is some cases radicalism, that is typically filled in by neo-marxism or Roman Catholicism. Finally, the Affirmation vs. Solemn Declarations will eventually come to a head. Either the Affirmation’s take on sacraments will be read nominally or the 39 articles will become Tract 90.  Historical method instructs us how the Book of Articles are read in order to preclude both Newman’s error and Puritan embellishment. Confidence in the Settlement is the gateway by which the rest of the Continuing movement might unfetter itself from intransigent aspects of St. Louis and thereby influence and inspire larger North American Anglicanism in a leaven-like fashion.

14 responses to “Hardwick on Method

  1. I think I have discussed this before, but it bears repeating. Knowingly or unknowingly, Newman’s thesis as given in Tract XC is derived from Christopher Davenport (Franciscus a Sancta Clara—no connection to Abraham in Vienna) per his book on the 39. This, by a 17th c RC writer, was intended to square the 39 with the Council of Trent. This is why serious scholars treat Tract XC and the Affirmation the way they do. They are aware of the RC antecedents of these documents.
    Also, strictly speaking, the Articles, Prayer Book, Homilies have a certain equality in stature. All three formularies were drawn up by the same groups of men in their time. The 1549 and 1552 BCPs, the 42 Articles, the First Book by Cranmer and his fellows. The 1559 BCP, the 39 Articles, the Second Book by Parker, Jewell, and their fellows. There is a unity of thought and purpose here: The Articles as the theological expression, the Prayer Book as the liturgical and devotional expression, the Homilies as the pedagogical expression. All were intended by their framers to serve a united purpose. One does not come before the others.
    One cannot legitimately argue a Calvinistic intent. The Puritans themselves and the Lambeth Articles and the matter of the Synod of Dort demonstrate otherwise. The Lutherans were not too happy about the Articles either. The RC demonstrated its lack of sympathy by action and document right on through the period—the Four Bishops, the excommunication of Great Eliza, and the Armada.

    In +, Benton


    • Hi Benton,
      I concur 100%. I had a bit of trouble in this post distinguishing rank vs. method. I believe in each case, standards cannot be read alone. Interpretation begins with immediate context. However, it’s interesting Hardwick wants us to start with the period of composition before author’s intent. I suppose divines like Cranmer were engaged in a running debate with continental counterparts. However, the full meaning of a formula isn’t grasped until we go through each step, finally considering the relation of approved texts with each other, and, last, in terms of (what Anglicans typically assume reliable) the first five centuries.

      Excellent point on Lambeth. It’s pretty obvious our standards belie full-blown dortian calvinism. Lutherans would probably disagree with our more vague or spiritual (sacramentarian) view on the real presence. However, handling Lutherans is a bit tricky. You have to distinguish between gnesio- and Philipist. The Gnesio- literally burned the books of the sacramentarians and drove them out of Wittenberg.. At the time of Cranmer’s writings on the Lord’s Supper, he was most influenced by what we might call “bucerian” or the german-sacramentarian position. It turns out Parker would steer the final version of the 39 articles back in this direction, and we end up with something that is mid-way between the ‘official’ Lutheran and Calvinist convictions w/ respect to the eucharist. This is after 1562. During Henry’s reign we definitely have some serious disagreement with Lutherans over the eucharist and clerical celibacy as spelled out by the 1539 articles. However, these would soon give way after Henry’s passing. Of course, the second area of possible disagreement would be over the three-offices in our Ordinal.


  2. Dear Colleague,

    Whatever you write or think, it seems to me as a priest, or, Clerk in Holy Orders, within the Communion of the ACC, that our desire to retain the reformed measures achieved after the Reformation, in conjunction with a longing to retain the Revelation of Christ once made to the Saints, is the way forward. Recorded in Scripture and explained, Interpreted and Completed by the Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils is the way necessary to retain our Catholic Beliefs. They, the Councils, (7) were the beliefs of Cramer and his fellow martyrs and it was expressed on a regular basis all through the 17th, Cent! 1537 The Bishops Book, 1543, The Kings Book, and in 1559, the Laity through an Act of Parliament. the Elizabethan ,Act of Supremacy all stated their faith in the Seven Councils. These were re-affirmed at the height of the Elizabethan Reformation with the Act, or Canons of 1571. Constantly through the ages there has been restatement after restatement by individuals, BishopHall, Laud, Taylor and Bramhall to name but a few.
    Kidd in his 39 Articles calls for the Articles to be read through the prism of the Seven Councils which seems to be the catholic and reformed view! It is certainly the only one which I agree with. I joined the Anglican Catholic Church because of all the offers to Anglicans that were made, Rome, Orthodoxy and the various Anglican Sects, it was the ACC, that sought to preserve and further the ancient Anglican doctrines through both traditional sources and through the English Reformation. Your continual undermining of traditional teaching is regrettable, even though honestly felt.


    • Hello James,
      I was confirmed in UEC and presently worship in a former-APA jurisdiction that benefits from REC auspices. The APA was the first of the “Continuing Churches”. We are the only St. Louis jurisdiction presently inside ACNA, and therefore truly obedient to the Affirmation’s section V. We also continue under the old APA’s Solemn Declaration that keeps “the spirit of the Affirmation of St. Louis of 1977″. I italicized “spirit” because the Affirmation and 39 articles can’t be equally maintained without equivocating or modifying one of the two. Here’s my actually criticism of the St. Louis. Let me know what you think.

      The rest of the Affirmation is either very good or very forgivable. However, the section on sacraments vs. Article 25 are impossible to mesh in any honest way. Moreover, every exposition I’ve read on the sacraments, including Bicknell, which Haverland says is authoritative in the ACC, says the enumeration of “seven” sacraments is not ancient but a medieval development, so I’m not sure what ancient faith you’re talking about. While it’s largely an issue of how we define the term, the Affirmation goes especially too far in doing such, saying all seven are ‘efficacious’ and ‘objective’. The Affirmation itself might have been more modest respecting the vocabularly.

      “Seven” councils is not the same kind of attack as this particular wording of seven objective and efficacious sacraments. Jewel makes clear our acceptance of the seventh ecumenical synod through the council of Frankfurt. This isn’t a big deal unless you start taking later councils, especially the fourth Lateran as Lord Robinson has pointed out, and unfortunately this is where ACC is getting its sacrament terminology.

      We generally accept as reliable centuries the first five. If folks want to stretch it to six or even ten, I don’t find that too bothersome. However, when we throw out Settlement theology, which was a return to the western patristic tradition, and trade it for papist or late medieval doctrine in an ecumenical move doomed to fail, we have a problem. Stahl did this with ACC C&C, and du Bois did it the Affirmation, both under the encouragement of Mote. The ACC can do better than this.

      Unfortunately, the pre-St. Louis continuum must deal with it because it appears we cannot move forward without ACC setting the course. The alternative would be the Bartonville churches– APA, ACA, OAC, etc.,– creating another rally point through their SD, but this remains to be seen.


  3. There is another point we need to keep in mind is the thorough knowledge of the Fathers by the English Reformers. This is most marked in the writings of Cranmer, Parker, Jewel, Becon, et alii. I cannot say if the Continental Reformers had such solid knowledge. One thing that I can say is that there is probably not one man living in the whole of the Continuum that could equal the English Reformers in Patristics. The only man ever in the Continuum to have had such knowledge was Carmine de Catanzaro. His translations of the Syraic Fathers are still standard. So, my word to anyone asserting a particular position is that we all need to know what we’re talking about. Pre-conceived notions won’t cut it, period.


  4. Charles! Your criticism of the Acc’s stand for the traditional Anglican Faith is flawed. If anyone is out of kilter, it is those Sects that follow , not the teachings of the Anglican Church of the ages, but of post Stuart times. As one of the post WWII Archbishop of canterbury said,”We have no beliefs that are not shared by the whole church.” One of the beliefs is that of the Councils. When Revelation is talked about, surely the people who received the revelation, ‘once committed to the Saints,’ were the Apostles and the early father. Isn’t this what is meant by the term apostolic succession, a succession not only of Orders, but of the Revealed Faith.
    The ACC holds to the ancient beliefs of the Anglican Church and Fathers of the Reformation we can see only too clearly that the Bishops and Synods of the time were quite clear, in 1537.42 and 58 I have already pointed out that the formula adopted by the Henrician Synods was no more than the common continental usage from as far back as Pope Hadrian’s time and was used regularly by early English Councils at Hatfield and so on. At the time of the Early English Reformation, the French Ambassador and the Venetian envoy to England both tell virtually the same tale to their political and religious masters,”Nor do they differ from from those of the Roman Catholic religion save that in England the take an oath to renounce the the doctrine and authority of the pope! ( Barbaro, Patriarch of Aquileia. Cal.S.P. ) But if we look at the immediate Reformation usage we should seek Field’s book, “On the Church,’ there the Dean says clearly, ( of Jurisdiction that the General Councils, (seven) were of the highest level within the Church,”They have supreme power, that is the Bishops assembled in a general Council may interpret scripture and by their authority suppress all them that disobey.”
    Dean Saywell an opponent of James II’s Pro Roman policies explained the English Reformation from the view point of these same seven councils. These fathers of the later Reformation were followed by the Bishops of the Stuart Church, Laud,Bramhall , Taylor along with Thorndyke the Interregnum theologian with Hammond and the Non Jurors such as Brett and Jeremy Collier!

    To leave this road trod at so much cost by our fathers and their successors would be an abandonment of our history and tradition, we would not be Anglicans, but neo Anglicans.
    By your favour,


  5. “the Affirmation and 39 articles can’t be equally maintained without equivocating or modifying one of the two. Here’s my actually criticism of the St. Louis. Let me know what you think”.

    According to Kydd and others of his era, High Churchmen all, the 39 Articles do not hold the same authority as the Seven Councils and these articles should be viewed through the, ‘prism,’ of the Seven Councils.


  6. “these articles should be viewed through the, ‘prism,’ of the Seven Councils.”

    What does that mean, exactly? Please be specific.


  7. It appears that some of the differences of opinion on these matters arise from an unfamiliarity with primary sources.

    For instance, the above misquote of Dr. Fields, see “Of the Church” book V chapter XLVIII, was refuted by him in the third part of the Appendix to “Of the Church”, see volume IV page 518 of the 1847 Cambridge edition.

    It is manifestly evident by his own words that Dr. Fields did not regard any council after the departure of the Ethiopians and Armenians as a general council in the sense in question.

    Can one imagine that much of the enormities that preceded the drafting of the ACC C&C would have ever been had such original sources been readily available to Americans prior to the advent of the internet?


  8. Hello High Churchman,

    The preface to the 1536 Ten Articles gives four criteria for doctrine, these being scripture, creed, convocation, and finally antiquity. In fact, the articles are presupposed as resting upon the faith of the “whole church”. Regarding antiquity the Articles say,

    “That they ought and must utterly refuse and condemn all those opinions contrary to the said articles, which were of long time past condemned in the four holy councils, that is to say, in the council of Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedonense, and all other since that time in any point consonant to the same“.

    Interestingly, the last council on Henry’s list, Chalcedon, was closed by 451 or 453 once Pope Leo received its canons. A boundary line for ‘sure orthodoxy’ (without dispute) apparently ends after the fourth universal council in the fifth century. So, we have this idea of “reliable centuries”. Cosin says of the early church,

    “For the nearer they were to the Apostolic days, the better must they have understood the truth, and the more correctly, as we believe, have they explained it.”.

    What doctrine might be received afterwards depends on Henry’s last clause, ’consonant to the same’. John Cosin also says of later councils, “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.”

    I have read this clause in many places elsewhere, but have yet to find Anglican divinity providing for times after the seventh century. Anglicans typically are skeptical about the late-antique and medieval doctrine, generally not keeping post-patristic thought without applying a little scrutiny.

    So, this is the context of “not departing from anything” and “agreeing with the whole church”, etc.. The fact is Anglicans did depart from deformations in medieval Roman Catholic teaching upon the outset. Claiming ‘seven councils and seven sacraments’ to be a universal witness somewhat skims over the reality that:

    1. the full reception of the seventh council remains in question. Anglicans and Orthodoxy do not agree on a) realism in the icons; b) how to reverence images. The prism of which you beg is really the earliest four councils which happen to be summed by the first five articles of the 39.

    2. the exact enumeration of sacraments as “seven” is a medieval development, and while we might be charitable about the number, the question is finally a matter of definition. However, Anglican divinity does not define the lesser sacraments as “objective” and “efficacious” or signs of the new covenant as does the St. Louis Affirmation.

    I don’t believe the St. Louis Affirmation is the best statement of catholic faith for Anglicans since it opens doors to questionable post-patristic thought. I much prefer the 39 articles, BCP, and homilies backed with a strong Solemn Declaration or the Quadrilateral over the poorly worded principles dotted in the Affirmation. A favorite Solemn Declaration is the APA’s which says, “the spirit of the Affirmation of St. Louis of 1977”. Also, please recognize the continuing church existed prior to the Chamber consecrations by at least a decade, e.g., the AEC in 1968 and AOC in 1964.


  9. I’m not sure what what ancient faith you’r talking about?”

    I’m talking about that faith which is mentioned in Jude and stems from the Revelation of Christ and is recorded in Scripture, it being interpretated by the Holy fathers in Council. (The Seven Ecumenical Councils.)

    I agree that the the Authority of the Councils and the 39 Articles do not mix well together, but the authority of the Seven Councils are of some 1200 years at least and are the product of the whole Catholic Church, if only by their acceptance! The Articles are the product of some two provinces of that same church and designed to counter the antics of the wild men, of both left and right. Being of recent provenance and designed as barriers beyond which the weaker, if wilfull bretheren must not go! This is what I was taught in the 1940’s of the last century in a Parish Church which was famed in its day as a classical ,’High Church,’. For myself I have not found it out of kilter with historical teaching! Also, whilst there are many individuals who have cried out against the idea of the Seven Councils, or at the most, damned them with faint praise, at no time that I can see has the Anglican Church has ever denied them, the Seven Councils, through its Synods or Convocations, not even under the Hannoverian dead hand.


    I regret Field’s change of mind even more than my errors, I do accept your comments, but my copy is electronic and the machine has frozen. However within the discussion, my error is of no consequence,, Field at no time has denied the seven councils, which are at the base of the discussion.
    I disagree with your suggestion that Field, ‘Did not regard any council after the departure of the Ethiopeans and Armenians as a general council , you will have to explain , at the very least!


    I assume that it means that the 39 Articles being the outcome of local synods and dealing with local problems have not the same authority as the Ecumenical Councils of the First thousand years. These Councils are the product of the Ecumenical Bench of Bishops and have been accepted by the Universal Church.

    To all, I must apologise for the late replies! I have been ill.


  10. Hello High Churchman,

    Hardwick would disagree about the greater validity of ecumenical vs. provincial councils, vindicating perhaps the 1562 convocation as well as older, regional ones like the council of frankfurt. Both convocations were legitimate means of resolving error of the larger church. I already quoted Hardwick’s general, subsidarian idea, but here’s the full section wherein Hardwick quotes Laud in defense of lesser councils:

    “Nor in asserting this great principle of national independence did our legislators overstep the powers which had been claimed and exercised by the domestic synods of the best and purest ages. Till the founding and consolidation of the papal monarchy such bodies had been always held not only competent but morally responsible for the correction of all heresies and errors which sprang up in a particular Church. ‘This right of provincial synods, that they might decree in causes of faith, and in cases of reformation, where corruptions had crept into the sacraments of Christ, was practised much above a thousand years ago by many, both national and provincial synods. For the council at Rome under pope Sylvester, anno 324, condemned Photinus and Sabellius (and their heresies were of a high nature against the faith). The council of Gangra about the same time [between 325 and 380] condemned Eustathius for his condemning of marriage as unlawful. The first council at Carthage, being a provincial, condemned rebaptization, much about the year 348. The provincial council at Aquileia, in the year 381, in which St. Ambrose was present, condemned Palladius and Secundinus for embracing the Arian heresy. The second council of Carthage handled and decreed the belief and preaching of the Trinity; and this a little after the year 424. The council of Milevis in Africa, in which St. Augustine was present, condemned the whole course of the heresy of Pelagius, that great and bewitching heresy, in the year 416. The second council of Orange, a provincial too, handled the great controversies about grace and freewill, and set the Church right in them in the year 444. The third council of Toledo (a national one), in the year 589, determined many things against the Arian heresy, abut the very prime articles of faith, under fourteen several anathemas. The fourth council of Toledo did not only handle matters of faith, for the reformation of that people, but even added also some things to the Creed which were not expressly delivered in former creeds. Nay, the bishops did not only practise this o condemn heresies in national and provincial synods, and so reform these several places and the Church itself by parts, but they did openly challenge this as their right and due, and that without any leave asked of the see of Rome; for in this fourth council of Toledo they decree, ‘That if there happen a cause of faith to be settled, a general, that is, a national synod of all Spain and Galicia shall be held thereon;’ and this in the year 643: where you see it was then Catholic doctrine in all Spain that a national synod might be a competent judge in a cause of faith. And I would fain know what article of faith doth more concern all Christians in general, than that of the Filioque?– and yet the Church of Rome herself made that addition to the Creed without a general council….And if this were practised so often and in so many places, why may not a national council of the Church of England do the like?” p.4-5

    In conference, section 24, Laud reiterates the right of provincial over ecumenical synods under the following circumstances:

    “Is it, then, such a strange thing that a particular Church may reform itself, if the general will not? I had thought, and do so still, that in point of reformation of either manners or doctrine, it is lawful for the Church since Christ to do as the Church before Christ did, and might do. Was it not lawful for Judah to reform herself when Israel would not join? To reform what is amiss in doctrine or manners is as lawful for a particular church as it is to publish and promulgate anything that is Catholic. What should we have suffered this gangrene to endanger life and all rather than be cured in time by a physician of weaker knowledge and less able hand? If this were practised so often and in so many places, why may not a national council of the Church of England do the like as she did? For she cast off the Pope’s usurpation, and, as much as in her lay, restored the King to his right. That appears by a book subscribed by the Bishops in Henry VIII’s time, and by the records of the Archbishop’s office, orderly kept and to be seen. In the Reformation which came after, our Princes had their parts and the clergy theirs, and to these two principally the power and direction for reformation belonged. (p. 81, Old Anglicanism)”

    As an aside, Laud quotes continues explaining the presence of both negative and positive doctrine within the 39 articles:

    “That our Princes had their parts is manifest by their calling together the Bishops and other of the clergy to consider of that which might seem worthy reformation. And the clergy did their part, for, being thus called together by regal power, they met in the national synod of 1562, and the Articles there agreed on were afterwards confirmed by Acts of State and the royal assent. In this Synod the positive truths which are delivered are more than polemics; so that a mere calumny it is, that we profess only a negative religion. True it is, and we must thank Rome for it, our Confession must needs contain some negatives; for we cannot but deny that images are to be adored, nor can we admit maimed sacraments, nor grant prayers in an unknown tongue; and in a corrupt time or place it is as necessary for religion to deny falsehood as to assert and vindicate truth.” (ibid)

    The legitimacy of a provincial council against an ecumenical synod takes us to Jewel’s Defense, where, in part VI, he explains how such can be necessary for the reform of the church:

    “And forsomuch as our desire was to have the Temple of the Lord restored anew, we would seek none other foundation than the same which we know was long ago laid by the Apostles, that is to wit, ‘Our Savior, Jesus Christ.’ And forasmuch as we heard God Himself speaking unto us in His Word, and saw also the notable examples of the old and primitive Church; again, how uncertain a matter it was to wait for a general council, and that the sucess thereof would be much more uncertain, but specially forsomuch as we were most ascertained of God’s will, and counted it a wickedness to be too careful and overcumbered about the judgments of mortal men: we could no longer stand taking advice with flesh and blood, but rather thought good to do the same thing, that both might rightly be done, and hath also many a time been done, as well of good men as of many Catholic bishops– that is, to remedy our own churches by a provincial synod. For thus know we the old fathers used to put in experience before they came to the public universal council. There remain yet at this day canons written in councils of free cities, as of Carthage under Cyprian, as of Ancyra, Neocaesarea, and Gangra, which is in Paphlagonia, as some think, before that the name of the general council at Nice was ever heard of. After this fashion in old time did they speedily meet with and cut short those heretics, the Peagians and the Donatists at home, by private disputation, without any general council. Thus, also, when Emperor Constantine evidently and earnestly took part with Auxentius, the bishop of the Arians’ faction, Ambrose, the bishop of the Christians, appealed not unto a general council, where he saw no good could be done, by reason of the emperor’s might and great labor, but appealed to his own clergy and people, that is to say, to a provincial synod. And thus it was decreed in the council at Nice that the bishops should assemble twice every year. And in the council at Carthage it was decreed that the bishops should meet together in each of their provinces at least once in the year, which was done, as saith the council of Chalcedon, of purpose that if any errors or abuses had happened to spring up anywhere, they might immediately at the first entry be destroyed where they first began. So likewise when Secundus and Palladius rejected the council at Aquileia, because it was not a general and common council, Ambrose, bishop of Milan, made answer that no man ought to take it for a new or strange matter that the bishops of the west part of the world did call together synods, and make private assemblies in their provinces, for that it was a thing before then used by the west bishops no few times, and by the bishops of Greece used oftentimes and commonly to be done. And so Charles the Great, being emperor, held a provincial council in Germany for putting away images, contrary to the second council at Nice. Neither, pardy, even amongst us is this so very a strange and new trade. For we have had ere now in England provincial synods, and governed our churches by homemade laws. What should one say more?” p. 70-71

    Jewel seems to think there are circumstances, mainly, the reform of the church, where general councils aren’t necessary. Jewel says:

    “Whatsoever it be, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ dependeth not upon councils, nor, as St. Paul saith, upon mortal creature’s judgment. And if they which ought to be careful for God’s Church will not be wise, but slack their duty, and harden their hearts against God and His Christ, going on still to pervert the right ways of the Lord, God will stir up the very stones, and make children and babes cunning, whereby there may ever be some to confute these men’s lies. For God is able (not only without councils), but also, will the councils, nill the councils, to maintain and advance His own kingdom.” (ibid)

    So, the reform of the church does not always demand a general council anymore than it does the Pope’s command. Jewel’s appeal, like Luther and other late-medieval concilarists, rather, is to wider Christian society, especially to the role Kings play. Jewel says,

    “some will say, these things ought not to have been attempted without the Bishop of Rome’s commandment, forsomuch as he only is the knot and band of Christian society.” (p.72)

    Of course, the head of Christian society in the national sense is the Crown,

    “And if our kings in that darkness and blindness of former times, gave them [the papacy] these things of their own accord and liberality for religion’s sake, being moved with a certain opinion of their feigned holiness; now when ignorance and error is espied out, may the kings, their successors, take them away again, seeing they have the same authority the kings their ancestors had before. For the gift is void, except it be hallowed by the will of the giver, and that cannot seem a perfect will, which is dimmed and hindered by error.” p. 75

    Jewel concludes the Defense:

    “And that we have searched out the Holy Bible, which we are sure cannot deceive, one sure form of religion, and have returned again unto the primitive Church of the ancient fathers and Apostles; that is to say, to the first ground and beginning of things, as unto the very foundations and headsprings of Christ’s Church. And in very truth we have not tarried for in this matter the authority or consent of the Tridentine council, wherein we saw nothing done uprightly, nor by good order; where also everybody was sworn to the maintenance of one man; where our prince’s ambassadors were contemned; where not one of our divines could be heard, and where parts taking and ambition was openly and earnestly procured and wrought; but, as the holy fathers in former time, and as our predecessors have commonly done, we have restored our churches by a provincial convocation, and have clean shaken off, as our duty was, the yoke and tyranny of the bishop of Rome, to whom we were not bound; who also had no manner of thing like, neither to Christ, nor to Peter, nor to an Apostle, nor yet like to any bishop at all. Finally, we say, that we agree amongst ourselves touching the whole judgment and chief substance of Christian religion, and with one mouth, and with one spirit, do worship God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” p. 76

    I don’t see the reason to dismiss the 39 articles just because they originated from a national church. According to Jewel, a national church can be perfectly catholic. The Crown did not act alone, but summoned the convocation of York and Canterbury to draft and present the 39 articles and larger Settlement. This process was catholic.

    As to “seven ecumenical councils”, Nicea II appears outside the bound of reliable centuries and not directly dealing with any doctrinal point. Western agreement with it is conditioned by mediators like the Council of Frankfurt (which our homilies endorse) rather than Pope Adrian. In charity Anglicans will usually stretch reliable centuries but rarely past the sixth century. If the seventh council is recognized, it is by a qualified reception, ‘consonant with the same’ or sometimes, ‘agreeable with scripture’. This later qualification is not unknown to Anglican divinty. Both Cranmer and Taylor made use of the exception. In his proposed Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum, Cranmer said,

    “Although we freely grant great honour to the councils, and especially to the ecumenical ones, yet we judge that all of them must be placed far below the dignity of the canonical Scriptures, and even among the councils themselves we make a huge distinction. For some of them, such as the special four, Nicaea, the first of Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon, we embrace and accept with great reverence. And we make the same judgment with regard to many others which were held later on, in which we see and confess that the most holy fathers determined many things, in a most serious and holy manner, concerning the blessed and highest Trinity, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and the redemption of mankind procured by him. But we do not regard them as binding on our faith except in so far as they can be proved out of the Holy Scriptures.” (c.1.14).

    Furthermore, Cranmer admits councils may error, echoing article 21:
    “For it is most obvious clear that some councils have occasionally erred, and defined things which are contrary to each other, partly in [our legal] actions and partly even in faith. Therefore the councils are to be studied with honour and Christian reverence, but at the same time they are to be tested against the godly, certain and right rule of the Scriptures.”

    You may also read Taylor’s opinion on the same when councils are contrary to scripture.

    However, the problem with the Affirmation is not the seventh council (which can be qualified through Frankfurt/Charlemagne) but alleging the seven sacraments are each ‘objective’ and ‘efficacious’. This is wild language. I am not entirely contrary to 7/7 given correct qualifications affixed. We can say there are many sacraments but only two gospel sacraments. Nonetheless, seven sacraments is a medieval enumeration unknown to the primitive church, so says lauded Anglo-catholic divines like Andrewes and Cosin:

    Andrewes writing from Responsio ad Bellarminum:

    “For more than a thousand years the number of seven sacraments was never heard of. How, then, can the belief in Seven Sacraments be Catholic, which means, always believed? (p. 31, Old Anglicanism)

    Cosin from Notes on the Office of Holy Communion:

    “The Papal invention that there are neither more nor less than seven sacraments properly so called, and that that must be held as part of the Catholic faith, was certainly unknown to the ancient Church and unheard of. For if it had been received formerly in the Church some one of the Fathers would have expressed it in his writing, but not one out of so many has confirmed by his authority the sevenfold number of the Sacraments. That opinion did not prevail before Hugo de St. Victor and Peter Lombard, and there is no Council earlier than that of Florence in which this sevenfold number has sanctioned, AD 1439. These are the fine monuments of antiquity by which this cause is defended by the Papists against our Church.’ (p. 117, Old Anglicanism)

    The APA Solemn Declaration better deals with the Affirmation by speaking about “the spirit of the Affirmation”, perhaps allowing a nominal reading. This goes back to a time when the APA had a stronger identity with 1968 rather than 1977 Congress.


  11. I think it boils down to this:


    I’ve not read a cleaner, more sane explanation of the entire liturgical mess of the last fifty years, than this simple column.

    Not that it won’t be a bitter pill to swallow for any of us…..


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