Well, very warm greetings from me as I make my first post on our Anglican Catholic Blog. I am somewhat indebted to Fr Anthony for his kind words below and, indeed, for all the support that I have received from him during my passage from the Established Church to a jurisdiction that takes the word of God and His Commandments outside the milieu of modern philosophy.
Of course, in the U.K., Continuing Anglicanism is tiny with the giants of the Established Church on one side and the Roman Catholic Church on the other overshadowing all that we do. It takes us a great deal of work to get our little voice to be heard above Canterbury and the Vatican. But we try.
We have booked a stall at the Christian Resources Exhibition and we find ourselves really thinking about who we are and what we represent. For a Continuing Anglican, it’s very, very easy to define ourselves by what we are against. I’ve touched on this before on O Cuniculi. Often one indeed, must approach God by the via negativa in order to experience what is truly Divine. However, the Church itself has its limitations, unlike God, and it is much easier to tell what is than what is not, albeit to a certain degree.
Continuing Anglicans have to start here. What are we for?
The answer must surely be, “we are for Christ!” Of course, we then run into St Paul’s discussion in the first chapter of his first epistle to the Church in Corinth. We could just be a number of voices that go around saying, ” I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” In which case, St Paul says, “Is Christ divided ? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” So, we we truly say that we are for Christ, we must ensure that this is the same Christ as St Paul is talking about- indeed, the same Christ as appears throughout all ages. We cannot let Christ be divided by epoch, any more than we can allow Christ to be divided by philosophy, political allegiance, scientific or historical criticism or raw, emotional and charismatic sensations. Immediately, just by saying that we are for Christ, we find ourselves needing to accept the Tradition of the Church. So this shows us how powerful being for Christ can be. In being for Christ, we must be for the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order and Orthodox Worship.
The indivisibility of Christ means that there is only one Catholic Faith. It holds for all time and in all places, to paraphrase St Vincent of Lerins. The reality of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the world must mean that there is a real, objective and universal faith that is true in all frames of reference. If it is the same Jesus Christ, then our worship has an objective standard. There is indeed a right way to worship God and it is the way that we have been taught, and again it must apply universally. This is Orthodox Worship. To deny the existence of Orthodoxy is to deny the objective reality of Our Lord and His teaching. To bind all this together in all places and all times, Our Lord Jesus Himself gave us the gift of Apostolic Order. The apostles are all gifts to the Church as are their successors. They may be flawed human beings like the rest of us (and some have been very flawed), but nonetheless, it is the existence of the Bishops that binds us to the person of Christ. A bishopric is not a gift to a person, it is a gift to the Church.
This being for the undivided Christ is the mark of an Orthodox Catholic and is what gives Continuing Anglicanism its driving force to maintain its direction into the future despite the falling away of many who seek to “reinterpret” according to the zeitgeist. Our Anglicanism demonstrates the colour of that Catholicism.
If words in English expound the same Faith as words in Latin and in Greek, then there is still unity with the undivided Church. The fact that there are very seldom exact equivalences between English, Latin and Greek, forces continual dialogue in unpacking all the subtle nuances of the understanding of that Faith, but it is still the same Faith whether it be in English, Latin or Greek. In the same way, English Catholicism is as much part of the undivided Church as Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy.
The accidents of History may indeed cause one to doubt that unity but then, so does the behaviour of Christians throughout all ages. If we are for Christ, then we are for unity and thus for Rome, for Constantinople and for all Anglican groups who follow the same Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order and Orthodox Worship.
On this blog, we intend to demonstrate the integrity of being an Anglican Catholic and that our size does not discourage us from our vision of the reality of the Undivided Church in the present age. I, for one, am very excited to be on this exploration. I hope you are too.