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.


axegrinder said...


You could certainly add my name to your list of like minded bloggers, that is, if I pass the entry exam.

Jason Kranzusch

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Axegrinder: Welcome to the club! If we had a bishop we could start another Anglican jurisdiction (just kidding).

Patristic Anglican: Good commentary--I think I'll begin using the term "English Use Prayer Book Catholic." I think you are right about your comments concerning the REC, esp the diocese of Mid-America. Our Synod was almost totally Dearmer/Staley in terms of ceremonial.

On another blog someone called the REC "Calvinists in stoles" (!); I took exception to the label, given that I think all of our bishops are just traditional Anglicans. True, many clergy have an affinity towards Calvin, but some have an affinity for Wesley, some for Luther, some for Augustine, etc. And as I've tried to illustrate with photographic documentation on this blog, the churchmanship of the REC is comparable to old-style ECUSA churchmanship and much of what you might find in the APA.

In an case, I think the like minded Anglicans of every jurisdiction should come together around our common heritage.

Anglicans Aweigh said...

Hear, Hear! Nice post, and I am flattered by the mention of my blog along with the words, "simply attempting to foster 'mere Anglicanism' centered around the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the teaching of the ancient Church". A truer post has never been written.

Personally, I find that the "Anglo-Catholicism" of today in the year 2006 is a very Decadent form of Anglo-Catholicism that would be scarcely be recognizable to the Caroline Divines or even to most Tractarians. What the term means today is so elastic, so subjective and individualized in many cases, that it has almost become (to my mind) an expression of Sectarianism rather than Catholicism.

Forgive me, everyone.

Anyway, I prefer to call myself an Anglican High Churchman, rather than an Anglo-Catholic, for that at least implies that I stand upon the theological tradition of the Anglican Formularies. I would not want to merely substitute my own personal opinions (based in my own limited studies in the Anglican Way) for the formulation of Doctrine/Discipline/Worship which is so ably and wonderfully expressed in The Book of Common Prayer (and necessarily, the Ordinal and Articles).

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

From reading the works of Orthodox and Anglicans in the 1950s it looked like reunion between East and West (at least Orthodox and Anglican) could have happened: a quote that stands out in my mind is one Orthodox bishop saying "there is no reason the Anglican Church is not an Orthodox Church." But, as you said--the 1970s and all of the weirdness happened instead. I pray that the Continuum can unite and again reach out to our brothers in the Eastern Churches.

Anonymous said...

An excellent post and conversation! Please include in the category of those who blog or write for the sake of traditional Prayer Book Anglican Catholicism my own site,, which uses as its moniker the faithful profession of Martyr Archbishop William Laud, who contrasted 'orthodox' with 'puritan.'

In the crisis which currently bedevils Anglicanism in our modern age, it is the restoration of authentic Anglican identity which is essential, at the heart of rediscovering our theological strength and our mission. As Father Arthur Middleton beautifully puts it, the Book of Common Prayer is not only our ethos or our doctrinal standard, it is our magisterium, our living teaching office. An Anglicanism without the historic Common Prayer Book, Ordinal, Articles and Formularies is, I submit, simply unthinkable and unintelligible. May we all journey ad fontes, to the sources, in order to maintain and promote our Anglican way of praying, believing and living. God bless you!

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Fr Chad--Amen!

Bud said...

I whole heartedly agree with you all, and your blogs and comments certainly have made me feel theologically and liturgically at home in your circles. I think Death Bredon is quite right to distinguish among the current strains of Anglican evangelicalism.

In our "Essentials of Evangelical Theology" class at TESM, our prof made the point in the first lecture that 'evangelical' has become an almost meaningless word, much like 'Anglo-Catholic'. There are very liberal "evangelicals" in England, the mega-church crowd (the Falls Church, VA; Christ Church, Plano TX), the Virgina low-churchmen and then there's the hard-core Reformed, Proclamation Trust, J.C. Ryle crowd, which seems to be nearly extinct in the U.S., though growing in the U.K. All of which make for strange bedfellows under the term 'evangelicalism.' (However, I would take exception to lumping Zahl in with VA lowchurchmen. I know him well, and while he may be there liturgically, his theology is fully Lutheran and he thinks Packer & co. are semi-pelagians.)

For myself, I'm striving to be the sort of "High Church Bible man" that Dr. Toon and Bishop Muhlenberg represent: faithful to the Scriptures, the faith of the Fathers, the formularies and the BCP. I may be Reformed in certain aspects, and would certainly commend a study of the doctrines of grace to everyone, but I do not think they are essential to be a good reformed catholic Anglican, nor do I think debating them is the best place to spend our energies when we're united around Bishop Andrewes' "rule of five".

Clement Ng said...

death bredon wrote:

"I suspect, John Stott, Zahl, and Sproul are probably the last representatives of this type of reserved evanglical Antlicanism."

But Sproul is Reformed Presbyterian. Is his work popular in evangelical Anglican circles (of the high doctrine variety)? Isn't J.I. Packer a more obvious choice?

J. Gordon Anderson said...

All of these labels are confusing. "Anglican" is confusing, and using old labels like that is somewhat anachronistic, anyway. The labels just confuse and bore the laity, it seems.

I just tell people that I am Anglican or Episcopalian. But even that is confusing sometimes. I can't tell you how many people think I am priest of the Church of England when I tell them I am an Anglican priest!

As for "Prayer Book Catholic", it is nice, but very ambiguous in my mind. Is a Prayer Book Catholic (PBC) someone who does not use the extra propers and services in the missal? If so, then what do they do about things like Blessing of Palms, Paschal Candles, Candlemass, Good Friday liturgies, etc.? That is not in the BCP. The same goes for Lessons and Carols - that's not in there either. Many of the cherished things that we do are not in the BCP. Now, if PBC means something else, which I guess it must, then it would be helpful to articulate what exactly that is.

Is it, in your guys' minds, solely connected to the use of the BCP? And in terms of vestments and such, is it based entirely on Dearmer? If so, are the altars in PBC parishes set up as Dearmer says they should be in Parson's Handbook?

I am not saying this to be contentious or argumentative. I just need some clarification to better understand where some of you are coming from.


Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

I'd ask The Patristic Anglican to address the question of what falls in or out of the realm of Prayer Book Catholic. I'd imagine that the Dearmer/Staley vision of worship and fidelity to the BCP might be an ideal, and that the further one strays from that the more tenuous the label might become.


Paul Goings said...

I'd ask The Patristic Anglican to address the question of what falls in or out of the realm of Prayer Book Catholic.

I'd very much like to see this as well. Many of Fr Anderson's questions are mine also, and no one seems to be able to articulate a reasonable answer to them.

J. Gordon Anderson said...

All of that is fine and well, but none of it really answers my question or Paul Goings' questions. What does the main Sunday mass and the larger Church Year look like from a "Prayer Book Catholic" perspective? Death Bredon has not given us an answer.

p.s. Anglican Cleric, you must comment on REC orders at All Too Common.

Anonymous said...

A true Prayer Book Anglican parish would begin Sunday services like it would begin any day with Morning Prayer. That would be followed by a celebration of the eucharist in which the priest and other ministers would wear the vestments used in the English Church in the year before the introduction of the first prayer book. The ceremonial would be largely of the same (See the Alcuin Club's Directory of Ceremonial.) The old English colour sequence would be used instead of that of Rome. If the parish were rich enough and large enough the service would be sung and incense used. The service music would be based upon that of Sarum rather than Roman chant. And the theology would be that of the earliest fathers and Catholic bishops in keeping with the canon of 1571.

Now, what has happened with The Patristic Anglican?

Canon Tallis said...

So this entry is a few years old, but it is stll relevant to where we as Anglicans are and, hopefully, going. And that itself is surprising.