"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A quote from 1843 that reflects beautifully why I have been an Anglican since the day I was baptized in 1990, and why I remain one today.

"The Romish Church had been accustomed to defend her errors by the authority of vague traditions, having their origin in the obscurity of the dark ages, or in the selfish cunning of her hierarchy. The continental Reformers went to the extreme of rejecting all tradition, and church authority, even though they pertained to primitive times, and were calculated to illustrate and harmonize the doctrines of the Gospel. The Reformers of the Church of England, while they maintained the supreme authority and the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and rejected such traditions as inculcated articles of faith in addition to what they contained, yet received with respectful veneration all those catholic and primitive usages of the Church which were in accordance with Scripture, and paid a due regard to the testimony of those holy men of early times, whose writings were peculiarly calculated to throw light upon the doctrines of the Saviour and the Apostles, and to show us how those doctrines were received and carried into practice in the primitive ages. This course is in accordance with the dictates of reason and common sense. In the investigation of any fact, especially if it pertain to remote antiquity, the first rule of evidence requires that we should examine it by the light of contemporary history. And, though the English Reformers ascribed no Popish infallibility to the Church, or to the early Fathers, yet, as the instruction they afforded came from sources where the truth was likely to be well understood, at a time when there was no motive to pervert it, and when the Holy Spirit seems to have been more abundantly shed upon the Church and upon its ministers, for the establishment of the Christian faith, they felt bound to receive that instruction, and to take it as a most useful guide, in all doubtful questions relating to the interpretation of the Scriptures, as well as to the rites and ceremonies which properly pertained to the Church.

In the "Necessary Doctrine of a Christian Man," agreed upon by the whole Church of England, in the year 1543, it is declared that "All those things which were taught by the Apostles, and have been by an whole universal consent of the Church of Christ ever sith that time taught continually, and taken always for true, ought to be received, accepted, and kept, as a perfect doctrine Apostolic."

In the preface to the Ordinal, agreed upon in the year 1552, the three Orders of the ministry are continued, on the ground that "It is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and Ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' times there have been these Orders of ministers in Christ's Church." The "Homilies of the Church" frequently refer to the authority of the early Fathers, in confirmation of the doctrines they inculcate. And all the venerable champions of the English Reformation have concurred in these sentiments. They never thought of a general license to every man to act as the interpreter of Scripture, according to his own private fancy, nor of giving to every one an unlimited freedom to exercise his own private inventions, in matters of Church Reform.

The general exercise of private judgment, and of the freedom of the will, is indeed the natural and inalienable right of every man. But he is responsible to his God, and, in a minor degree, to his fellow-men, for the manner in which he exercises those faculties. He may not rightly set them up in opposition to the word of God. He may not rightly exercise them in a spirit of vanity, of perversity, or of self-conceit. He may not rightly exercise them in a way injurious to the peace and order of society, nor without a due veneration for the judgment of the Church, and its ministry;--so far as that judgment is supported by primitive tradition and usage, and is in conformity to the divine Word. We deem him self-sufficient and conceited, who pays no respect to public opinion, even though that opinion may perhaps be founded on the caprice of the day. Much less is he to be commended who sets at nought the opinions of the wise and the good;--opinions which have stood the scrutiny of ages, and which have for centuries received the sanction of the universal Church."

from "A Charge to the Clergy of the Diocese of Connecticut" delivered at their diocesan convention in 1843 by the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Brownell. Hat tip to TitusOneNine. Emphasis added by RWF.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, you know, mostly I enjoy reading your blog, but now and then a post like this shows up that reminds me why there is a a major difference between being "Anglo-Catholic" -- and actually being a Catholic.

I'm now a happy parishioner over at St. Michael on Harwood Road. While I do miss some of the high church trappings of both St. Vincent's (where I went from late 1999 to early 2004), as well as All Saints' (mid 2004 to late 2007), I miss all that less and less as time goes by. Now that I am in the Catholic Church, I have begun to experience firsthand a depth and richness in a way I could not before last Easter. I wouldn't want to return to Anglicanism now.

The only thing that I really do regret, is that once I actually crossed the Tiber, for real, I lost most of my Anglican and Episcopal friends. (Literally, some of them within 7-10 days of the event.) The cost was high, but I would do it all over again if I had to.

8:09 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

If it helps, DoniM, I really don't qualify as an "Anglo-Catholic." I would describe myself as a "high church evangelical Anglican" instead. (There is no real prospect of me becoming Roman Catholic so long as papal infallibility remains in its present form, and a few other RC dogmas are also problematic for me [e.g., the Immaculate Conception of the BVM]. If I ever became convinced that there was no future for traditionalist Anglicanism (unlikely), it is the Bosporus that would beacon to me, not the Tiber. :-) )

A fair number of the "Anglo-Catholics" I know here in dioFW are actually AC's of the "Anglo-Papalist" variety. They are eager for immediate reunion with Rome, though they would strongly prefer to keep their beautiful liturgy and ceremonial intact. So in fact many of the Anglo-Catholic clergy you could meet here would be more kindred spirits with you than this blog might suggest.

God bless!

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is this blog a part of the Anglo-Catholic blog ring then?

6:41 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Indeed. Once upon a time I did harbor delusions that I was an Anglo-Catholic, but my time here in Fort Worth with my authentically Anglo-Catholic brethren has shown me my high church Anglican tendencies. :-) I will devote some effort to removing my blog from that ring, though it does seem unlikely that many people come here from that ring.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an Anglo-Catholic (not of the Anglo-Papist variety) and I thought this quotation was lovely. Also, I sympathize in that if I could no longer be Anglican, I would most likely find myself in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Robin_G_Jordan said...


Bishop Brownell quotes from the King's Book, that defended transubstantiation and the Six Articles. The following was taken from Wikkipedia:

"In 1538 three German theologians – Francis Burkhardt, vice-chancellor of Saxony; George von Boyneburg, doctor of law; and Friedrich Myconius, superintendent of the church of Gotha – were sent to London and held conferences with the Anglican bishops and clergy in the archbishop’s palace at Lambeth for several months. The Germans presented, as a basis of agreement, a number of Articles based on the Lutheran Confession of Augsburg. Bishops Tunstall, Stokesley and others were not won over by these Protestant arguments and did everything they could to avoid agreement. They were willing to separate from Rome, but their plan was to unite with the Greek Church and not with the evangelical Protestants on the continent. The bishops also refused to eliminate what the Germans called the "Abuses" (e.g., private Masses, celibacy of the clergy, invocation of saints) allowed by the reformed English Church. Stokesley considered these customs to be essential because the Greek Church, as the Eastern Orthodox Church was called at that time, practised them. In opposition, Cranmer favoured a union with the Germans. The king, unwilling to break with Catholic practices, dissolved the conference."(Continued below)

11:44 AM  
Blogger Robin_G_Jordan said...

"Henry had felt uneasy about the appearance of the Lutheran doctors and their theology within his kingdom. On 28 April 1539 Parliament met for the first time in three years. On 5 May, the House of Lords created a committee with the customary religious balance to examine and determine doctrine. Eleven days later, the Duke of Norfolk noted that the committee had not agreed on anything and proposed that the Lords examine six doctrinal questions which eventually became the basis of the Six Articles. The articles reaffirmed traditional Catholic doctrine on key issues:

2.the reasonableness of withholding of the cup from the laity during communion,
3.clerical celibacy,
4.observance of vows of chastity,
5.permission for private masses,
6.the importance of auricular confession.

"Penalties under the act ranged from imprisonment and fine to death. However, its severity was reduced by an act of 1540, which retained the death penalty only for denial of transubstantiation, and a further act limited its arbitrariness. The Catholic emphasis of the doctrine commended in the articles is not matched by the ecclesiastical reforms Henry undertook in the following years, such as the enforcement of the necessity of the English Bible and the insistence upon the abolition of all shrines, both in 1541.

"As the Act of the Six Articles neared passage in Parliament, Cranmer moved his wife and children out of England to safety. Up to then the family was kept quietly hidden, most likely in Ford Palace in Kent. The Act passed Parliament at the end of June and it forced Latimer and Nicholas Shaxton to resign their dioceses due to their outspoken opposition to the measure. After Henry's death the articles were repealed by his son, Edward VI."

While you might like to think of yourself as "evangelical," you are hardly an Evangelical or even an old-fashioned High Churchman. You may not be as "Catholic" as some so-called "Anglo-Catholics," but you certainly belong to that school of thought. No real Evangelical would post Brownley's charge with its affirmation of the King's Book.

Being evangelistic and being Evangelical are not the same thing. No doubt you are genuinely motivated to spread your faith and the opinions of your church party, that I do not doubt. But are you really a "Gospel man" as the English Reformers and their Evangelical successors understood the term? From the views that you have expressed on your web log and else where, it is quite evident that you are not.

Neither John William Burgon, a High Church man of the old school, or Bishop J. C. Ryle, an Evangelical with a high respect for High Churchman of that school, would recognize you as belonging to it. You have been too greatly influenced by "Romanism" and "Ritualism."

I would leave your web log in the Anglo-Church ring. From an Evangelical perspective that is where it rightly belongs.

As David Mills observed, Anglo-Catholics have not really faced up to Protestant and Reformed character of Anglicanism. They need to decide whether they are "Anglo" or "Catholic" with all its implications and make the appropriate choice. Mills, as you may know, was an Anglo-Catholic who converted to Roman Catholicism.

I do have to commend for your clear beliefs in comparison to the rather nebulous beliefs of some who identify themselves as "evangelicals."

11:45 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Mr.Jordan, I continue to be amazed by the vehemence with which you attack anyone who does not share your limited, ultra-Reformed, J.C. Ryle-style vision of Anglicanism, both on your own blog and anywhere else you can find an opportunity to post.

You said above, "No real Evangelical would post Brownley's charge with its affirmation of the King's Book." Are you serious? Nothing in Brownley's quote from the 1543 text talks about those six "Romish" doctrines from the Wikipeidia summary that obviously make you skin crawl. Yet you apparently believe that if Bishop Brownley quoted one sentence from that entire King's Book he necessarily endorsed every single word in the whole volume. Do you maintain that level of purity in your own intellectual life? If you quote a sentence of any book or document, can I safely assume that you accept every other word in that book or document unreservedly? Preposterous.

I am no fan of Bishop Ryle, that I freely admit. I own several of his books and have read almost all of them, and there is much commendable in them. But his unrelenting attacks on "Romanism" turn my stomach. That kind of hyper-Protestant anti-Catholicism is certainly not what I am about, and I hope that no place is ever made in the ACNA for that kind of bigotry. If by "Evangelical" you mean only people who can channel the spirit of Bishop Ryle (or Bishop Hooper in the sixteenth century or any other quasi-Puritan) or only someone who is a Five Point Calvinist, then I certainly am not an Evangelical, nor do I ever aspire to be one!

I believe, however, that I am well within the mainstream of contemporary Evangelicalism. There is not a single word of Fuller Theological Seminary's Statement of Faith that I could not sign without the tiniest reservation, for example. I recently read J.I. Packer and Thomas C. Oden's fine book on the "evangelical consesus", One Faith (Downer's Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004), in which the doctrines of dozens of contemporary Evangelical statements are collated and juxtaposed. There was hardly a word in the volume that caused me to raise an eyebrow. Or, if we turn to the writings of Alister McGrath, I assure you that his definition of "evangelical" easily encompasses me (see his A Passion for Truth: The Intellectual Coherence of Evangelicalism (Downer's Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varisty Press, 1999)).

I am quite confident that I fall comfortably within the ambit of contemporary evangelical Anglicanism [certainly at the Bedford meeting I rubbed elbows with the evangelicals present quite comfortably!], though admittedly I am an evangelical with a bit higher liturgical sensibility than many of my ACNA peers manifest. The fact that Bishop Ryle wouldn't hail me as a brother Evangelical doesn't bother me one whit, I assure you! :-)

Why in the world you are devoting so much time and energy to trying to get the constitution of the ACNA changed so that people of your Ryle-ite convitions will feel "welcomed" escapes me. Why do you long to become a member of an organization that is full to the brim with people whose theological convictions you find so unacceptable? From Day One inside ACNA you would hold 90% of your fellow members in contempt, either for their "Romanism" or for their holding only the "nebulous beliefs of some who identify themselves as 'evangelicals.'" You would surely be happier in an ecclesial body whose membership is limited only to people who have never found a word in the King's Book they could quote approvingly and who remain fully committed to further Bishop Ryle's cause!

8:23 PM  
Blogger Reformation said...


Quite an allergic reaction on your part to Robin who rather factually stated his case, without rancour or vehemence.

The 1843 statement contains some overstatements that are underwhelming. It's a bit much to claim that Bucer and Vermigli, or Luther for that matter, tossed ancient practices as if they were Occamists.

Let's all keep reading. Good to read both sides.


9:17 PM  
Blogger Robin_G_Jordan said...

I have been regularly reading your blog and I have found much on your blog that belies your assertion that you are an "evangelical." Whether you meet in your estimation a set of criteria does not trump the consideration of your views on key issues that have historically divided Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals. These views certainly do not support your claim that you are an "evangelical." No Evangelical would express concern over the possibility that the Thirty-Nine Articles would be given such a place in the ACNA Constitution and Canons so as to eliminate Anglo-Catholic eucharistic devotional practices as you have.

I researched Bishop Thomas Brownell's theological outlook before I drew attention to his citation of the King's Book. The charge to which you refer in your post was itself a cause of controversy in 1843. Brownell touched on a number of key issues over which Anglicans are still divided. My comments took into consideration what I read elsewhere, including what your yourself have written on your blog.

As for poor Jim Packer he has acquired the reputation of being something of an "accomodationist" in some quarters. Since I do not know the whole story, I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Thomas Oden, on the other hand, is a United Methodist theologican who is known for his stress upon "the wisdom of the early Church," that is, the Patristic writers. He hardly can be described as holding classical evangelical Anglican views.

A substantial number of members of the ACNA who define themselves as "evangelicals" sit quite loosely to the beliefs and practices that have distinguished traditional evangelical Anglicanism. Some may be "evangelical"in the very broad sense "evangelicalism" is used in the United States but they are far from "evangelical" in the classical evangelical Anglican sense.

The way that you classify traditional evangelical Anglicanism, for example, "hyper-Protestant anti-Catholic," itself reveals that you are not really at heart an evangelical Anglican.

Just as in the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church liberals and revisionists are seeking to appropriate for themselves the title "orthodox," in the ACNA individuals like yourself who are not by stretch of the imagination "evangelical" as classical evangelical Anglicans have historically understood the term are seeking to appropriate for the themselves the title "evangelical." You may be an evangelicalistically-minded High Churchman, Randall, but an "evangelical" you are not.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Edwin Byford said...

This was going to be a very short inquiry concerning the "occasion" for these remarks in the nineteenth century. Why did the Bishop of Connecticut deem it necessary to say what he did in 1843 — a time when John Henry Newman was still Rector of St Mary's, Oxford.

But some comments need to be made about the use of labels within the Anglican Communion. There is no doubt that the the traditional labels of "Evangelical" and "Catholic", whether "Anglo" or not have lost their nineteenth century connotations.

In the new environment when the battles that revolved around the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 and the Reform Act of 1832 are so distant that they are hardly even a memory we need to look at what we believe and how we believe it and bring it to expression both in our corporate and private prayer lives as well as in our corporate and individual involvement in the communities and societies of which we are part.

It is not a new situation in our church that we are seriously arguing about what it means to be Christian in a faithfully Anglican way. We have always argued about these very questions. Most of the time the arguments have been confined to the halls of Oxford and Cambridge while Rectors and Vicars got on with the job of baptising, marrying, burying, and caring for the faithful according to the orders set out in the Book of Common Prayer.

If we continue to defend some label then we will be seduced away from the crying need to live and proclaim the Gospel.

No doubt each and every one of us has particular attractions to particular expressions of the Christian vocation. The genius of the Elizabethan Settlement is that a certain breadth of expression was tolerated. The Restoration and the Act of Uniformity of 1662 set the broad limits of that toleration but as those of us who sing the Vicar of Bray know we have some room for manoeuvre.

Evangelical has usually indicated that the sufficiency of Scripture is significantly at the centre of one's Christian devotion and expression. Catholic has usually carried connotations of finding real solace in the sacraments as the means of grace. Many people would quite properly describe themselves and sacramental evangelicals.

The time is past for labelling according to nineteenth or even sixteenth century definitions. (If one stuck to nineteenth century definitions then those who are styled "Conservative" in the United Sates would need to call themselves "Liberal" for that is what they are.}

If I were to describe Randall's self image then it would probably be Sacramental Evangelical which is expressed with both post Wesley and post Tractarian elements.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Robin_G_Jordan said...

A "sacramental evangelical"?! Are you serious? I have read a substantial number of Randall's blog entries and I beg to differ with such a description. I stick with my original appraisal of his theological position. If one adopted your definition of "evangelical" if indeed it can be regarded as such, anyone who wishes to call himself an "evangelical" could call himself by that epiphet. By the kind of revisionist thinking you are espousing liberals could also call themselves "orthodox."

11:18 AM  
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10:57 PM  

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