Tuesday, June 20, 2006
We have no doctrine of our own. . .We only possesses the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and these Creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that Rock.
Geoffrey Francis Fisher
Archbishop of Canterbury
As everyone well knows, there is a crisis in Anglicanism going on outside of the traditional continuing Churches (and within some of them as well); as the “official” and largely heterodox Episcopal church crumbles the faithful Anglicans in this body are left with the question “Where should I go?” As a traditional Anglican priest I would suggest seeking out a parish of one of the faithful Anglican bodies in the United States (such as the Anglican Province of America, the Anglican Province of Christ the King, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the United Episcopal Church, the Anglican Catholic Church, etc--this is by no means an exhaustive list, but I have worshipped in these communities). In these bodies, I believe, the Catholic Faith as described by Fisher is held, taught, and worshipped in.
Others may seek the comfort and security of Rome—indeed, many have done so, and have entered into the Roman Communion with the same fanfare as Cardinal Newman. However, when they arrive they often quickly start throwing stones—in love, they say, because they fear for our immortal souls—back towards orthodox and catholic Anglicans because we are “not in communion with the Holy See.” This necessitates that the bishops, presbyters, deacons and laity of classical Anglicanism have a ready response. Too often we do not, and the strength of orthodox Anglicanism is sapped.
To the clergy and laity I suggest two short texts that will provide good foundational information for answering the historical and theological claims of former-Anglicans-turned-Roman. The first is the late Father Louis Tarsitano’s An Outline of an Anglican Life. It has been endorsed by and used in the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Province of America, and the Reformed Episcopal Church. This text is very good for covering basic Anglican doctrine and practice and can be purchased from the publication society of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
The other text I’d recommend is Archbishop Mark Haverland’s Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice (available from the Anglican Parishes Association via the link in the post “What is the Catholic Church”); this book contains a wealth of historical information dealing with the ecumenical councils, the papal claims, and Marian doctrines (which are “necessary to salvation” in the Roman Communion). However, this text is a bit lighter on basic doctrine than Father Tarsitano’s text, and some of it is oriented directly toward the Anglican Catholic Church. Both books, when taken together will provide the educated cleric or layman with the tools to respond to demonstrably false historical and theological claims made by Roman Catholic proselytizers.
To paraphrase the Rev'd Dr. C.B. Moss, the Anglican claims are minimal: we claim to be Christians in the apostolic tradition, teaching apostolic doctrine, and worshipping according to apostolic patterns. The Roman claims are a bit more bold: they claim to be The One True Church, having universal jurisdiction over all Christians, and having an infallibility (uniquely held by her head Bishop) that allows new doctrines to be added to the faith of the undivided Church. It is the duty of the one making the greater claims to prove her case. As Anglicans, we need to know what the claims are and be ready and able to respond.