Monday, October 16, 2006
A Short Reflection on Terminology. . .
As the Patristic Anglican has pointed out on his blog on not a few occasions, the use of the term "Anglo-Catholic" is a bit elastic (at best); I sometimes lament that I even use the term, for it often confuses instead of clarifies: "Oh, that means you're closer to Rome--why don't you just 'join the Catholic Church'?" The follow up attempt to explain many of the points set forth in the post below will often lead to more confusion. Many people today proudly proclaim that they or their parish is "evangelical," but if you ask them if their priest wears a chasuble and celebrates the Eucharist every Sunday and they've already said they're "evangelical" you can point out that these are the marks of early Anglo-Catholicism. However, the parish may very well be "evangelical," for this is not a dirty word and it is not opposed to "Catholicism." Again, more confusion than clarity.
Similarly, terms such as "low church" or "evangelical" are often meaningless and usually depend on who is talking. One person will look at the service at St. Andrew's and call it "low church" because we don't use incense. Another will call it "just right" because it is nearly identical to the old Episcopal services from the 1950s. A third person will think us too "high church" or "catholic" because we're always making the sign of the cross and bowing (to the cross, to the Holy Table, at the Name of Jesus, at the Name of the Trinity, etc), and we've got all of those fancy gold vessels on the altar.
While I consider myself an "Anglo-Catholic," my thinking is most in line with the Caroline divines, the early Tractarians like Pusey and Keble, writers like Staley, and those who sought to conform the reformed Church of England to the theology of the ancient Church (so I also have an affinity for Eastern Orthodox authors such as Fr. Alexander Schmemann). I know that others will say, "Well, you're not really Anglo-Catholic" and then go on to expand the definition of the term to eliminate my line of thinking or place me into some other category.
I think that I and other like minded bloggers (if I may be so bold as to include writers such as the Patristic Anglican and the Anglican Parish Priest) are simply attempting to foster "mere Anglicanism" centered around the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the teaching of the ancient Church.