A Missing Link

No, it’s not a Barbie doll’s head dug up in the garden and submitted to the palaeontology faculty of the local university, but an earlier article of Archbishop Haverland about the doctrinal basis of the Anglican Catholic Church.

I have reproduced the article in full for the sake of convenience, with a link to the source.

I intend to dig for more light on the so-called Henrician Settlement and will be writing further.

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Archbishop Haverland on the Formularies of the ACC – original article with its 8 comments

The following is an article by the Most Reverend Mark Haverland, Ph.D., Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church.

What are the Formularies of the Anglican Catholic Church?

What are the Formularies of the Anglican Catholic Church? What documents and authorities have the greatest weight for the ACC in determining debated issues of doctrine and morals? The question should be of interest, of course, to members of the ACC in particular. The question also may be of some interest to some others.

In such matters one often has to distinguish intrinsic and formal authority from practical and material authority. For instance, most Christians would agree that Scripture is intrinsically more important than a Conciliar formula, say the Tome of Saint Leo. However, often as a practical matter a less intrinsically important authority may provide the practical lens which brings the more fundamental, greater text into focus. Roman Catholics, for instance, certainly would acknowledge that Saint John’s gospel is more fundamental and important than a papal encyclical. However, as a practical matter Roman Catholics view, for instance, S. Matthew 16 or Saint John 21 in the light of developed assumptions and teachings about papal authority which have a kind of practical, interpretive priority. The lesser authority as a practical matter determines the meaning of texts which can be and are interpreted in widely different senses by different sincere, intelligent, and learned readers.

So while no sane or sensible person would assert that the Constitution and Canons (C&C) of the Anglican Catholic Church have any profound intrinsic authority, they have a kind of priority in any attempt to identify the authoritative formularies of the ACC.

One approach to the question before us is to apply to the ACC a line of argument following from the term ‘Continuing Church’. On this theory the ACC is a Continuing Church; what the ACC continues is classical Anglicanism; and the formularies of classical Anglicanism are, in the reckoning of the late Father Peter Toon, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (with its Ordinal), the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, and the Homilies.

As an approach concerning the formularies of the ACC the obvious problem for this theory is the fact that none of the documents mentioned in the previous paragraph is established in the ACC’s Constitution and Canons. The Articles are not given any authority at all, for the C&C do not mention them. The Homilies are not given any particular authority. And the Prayer Books explicitly authorized for use in the ACC do not include 1662 but rather are the ones in use in the U.S. (1928) and Canada (1962) at the time of the ACC’s formation, along with the first book (England 1549) and the traditional books in use in places to which the ACC has later spread, namely the South African book of 1954 and the Indian book of 1963 with its official Supplement. The C&C also explicitly authorizes the use of the American, Anglican, and English Missals.

Whatever one makes of the difference between the Toon list of authorities and the C&C’s list, any correct answer to the question posed in this article has to begin with the actual formularies mentioned in the C&C rather than with various other possible lists of documents which have been given some authority by various commentators in various places and various times in the many centuries of Anglican history.

The actual authorities recognized in the C&C, in addition to the Prayer Books and missals already listed, include:

1. The Affirmation of Saint Louis. In the light of the collapse of Christian orthodoxy and Catholic Order in the Churches of the official Anglican or Canterbury Communion (in 1975 in Canada, 1976 in the Episcopal Church, and in the early 1990s in England), the ACC correctly asserts the need to fix and establish definitely our teaching concerning many matters that long were debated in the Anglican world. Some of these matters were the precipitating issues at question in the late-20th century collapse: the male character of Holy Orders, the sanctity of unborn life, and the inadequacy (or worse) of the modernist liturgies. But other issues which the Affirmation settles were long debated in Anglican circles. The Affirmation does not debate, but affirms and asserts, for example: that there are seven sacraments, not two; that there are seven Ecumenical Councils, not four; and that valid sacramental marriages are simply indissoluble. The Affirmation also asserts that all Anglican formularies and authorities are to be interpreted in accordance with the clarified, definite teaching of the Affirmation and its basic principles. In short, within the ACC many long-standing Anglican debates are definitely and clearly settled by the Affirmation.

2. The ‘Henrician Settlement’. On a number of basic matters of doctrine, polity, and Church law the C&C fix as authoritative the state of English Catholicism in the reign of Henry VIII after the break with Rome but without the Royal Supremacy. The teachings of the Fathers and of the Councils are accepted ‘as received in the Church of England through the year 1543′ (Canon 2.1). So too canonical matters not determined by the ACC otherwise are to be governed by the state of affairs in the Church of England ‘in its estates in convocation assembled as specified by the Acts of Parliament of 1534 and 1543’. (Canon 2.2) This is not quaint antiquarianism. Rather the ACC establishes as its default assumptions the Henrician rather than the Elizabethan Settlement. However, the liturgical fruits of the Elizabethan Settlement, as improved by later Prayer Book revision and as viewed through the lens of the Affirmation, are also established. The ‘Henrician Settlement’ would include: the rejection of the papal office in its late medieval form; episcopal and synodal Church government; three-fold Holy Orders; the doctrinal and credal orthodoxy found in the large number of patristic authorities named in the C&C; the sacramental system which the Henrician Church retained; and large chunks of the Corpus Juris Canonici and the custom and common law of the Church. This starting point looks much more like the Church consensus of the first millennium than it does Protestantism in the common meaning of the word.

3. Subsequent, positive Anglican legislation insofar as it is consistent with the Affirmation and the ACC’s C&C. The Henrician Church included mandatory clerical celibacy, legally-enforceable tithing, mandatory Latin liturgy, and many other things which the ACC does not retain. The Henrician Church also did not include many things which the ACC establishes, such as a house of laity in all Synods. Desuetude and explicit or positive canonical legislation explain the differences in question. I am not asserting that the ACC is governed in detail by Henrician norms. I am asserting that Henrician Catholicism is a more authoritative starting point in many, particularly non-liturgical, matters than is the state of the Elizabethan Church. But desuetude and subsequent legislation affect almost all matters since the 16th century. For the ACC the most significant locus of such normative legislation is the C&C.A quick review of the official footnotes of the C&C is instructive. Scripture, the Prayer Book, the Ecumenical Councils, and the Fathers are the authorities most often cited. John Cosin is the only individual Anglican theologian or Churchman cited by name. The C&C are not some odd invention of canon-mad Continuers, but a fairly workable set of rules which limit lawless bishops and help regulate most of our affairs. These rules are explicitly drawn from Scripture, the Prayer Book, the Councils, and our own past.

So, given this information about the ACC’s formularies and authorities, what are we to make of some of the other authorities sometimes cited?

A. The Articles. The Articles of Religion, as I have said, are not an ACC formulary, though they are undoubtedly an historical Anglican formulary. From this I conclude that when the Articles are useful they may usefully be quoted. When they are understood so as to harmonize with the actual formularies of the ACC they may be very useful. There is great apologetical and historical value in careful reading of the Articles in the manner familiar to readers of The Continuum in the writings of E.J. Bicknell or Father Robert Hart. But the Articles themselves have no independent authority within the ACC: like it or not, there it is.

B. The Tudor and Stuart theologians. C&C quotation of individuals after the Patristic era is very rare. John Cosin is quoted. Saint Thomas Aquinas is quoted. That’s about it. As a general matter I would suggest that particular theologians of the 16th and 17th century have to be read and judged as individuals. I would agree with A.M. Allchin who once wrote:

…The position of the seventeenth-century Anglican theologians is,…and must remain, of real importance for all Anglican theological thinking. But this emphatically does not mean that we have to follow them in every particular, nor that we are limited by their positions and conclusions. What it does mean is that we may find in them certain attitudes, certain approaches to theological problems, which are still valid for Anglican thinking to-day and, we would dare to say, still of value for Christian thinking as a whole. By their constant appeal to “the Scriptures interpreted by the perpetual practice of God’s Church”, to use the words of Herbert Thorndike, they provide us with a method and a starting point for our own researches. But they do not give us a complete and finished system. (Our Lady in Seventeenth-century Anglican Devotion and Theology, 1963)

I wrote a master’s thesis on Richard Hooker and a doctrinal dissertation on Henry Hammond. Obviously I see a very great value in understanding the great writers of our own Church and tradition. Modern Roman Catholic scholars have argued that in moral theology the Caroline divines better preserved the great medieval synthesis than did any of their Roman contemporaries. Nicholas Lossky has argued something similar in the case of Lancelot Andrewes, whom Lossky sees as a better synthesizer of the Fathers than his 17th century Eastern contemporaries. But in any case what we gain now from these classical Anglican writers builds on firm foundations established by our own formularies.

C. The Anglo-Catholic movement. If the main impetus for early lay membership in the ACC was Prayer Book loyalty, the main impetus for early clerical membership in the ACC was partisan Anglo-Catholicism. These two obvious facts of our history are such that any wise ACC leader will incline towards American rather than English Anglo-Catholicism. At the risk of oversimplifying, I think it is true that American Anglo-Catholics were more loyal to the Prayer Book than English Anglo-Catholics. We also were less inclined to be Anglo-Papalists. In both cases our greater confidence in our own Anglicanism may have come from the fact that our disestablishment limited the power of our bishops to persecute and to suppress the positive developments of the Tractarian and Ritualist revivals. It also comes from the fact that the 1928 American book is much more adequate than the 1662 English book. Americans did not feel as great a need to fiddle with what was in place. In any case, in matters liturgical I know of no ACC bishop who would attempt to foist a missal or any addition therefrom on a parish that is happy with an unadorned Prayer Book rite. It also is clear that no ACC bishop could get away with an attempt to stop a united priest and parish from doing anything liturgically which can be clearly supported by any authorized missal. There is a spectrum of accepted liturgical usage, and I think we have achieved a broad agreement on that spectrum.

In brief, then the Affirmation of Saint Louis is the lens through which we view all Anglican authorities. This place for the Affirmation is established by material provisions of our Constitution and Canons. The particular Anglican authorities actually received in the ACC are not what they were in the Churches from which we came. Nor are specifically Anglican authorities a razor for trimming the basic affirmations of the ACC as found in our actual formularies. We are not a Church in which Catholic opinions (e.g., that there are seven sacraments and Councils) are tolerated. We are a Catholic Church in which all opinions are subject to correction on the clear basis of our formularies.

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1 Response to A Missing Link

  1. Michael Frost says:

    Fr. Anthony, Reading the above doesn’t have me think 16th century England at all, either immediately before, during, or after Henry’s reign. But it does have me scratching my head and saying, “The 18th century Non-jurors were saying pretty much everything you’ve said.” I think the proper model is the later Non-jurors. They may have failed, but they are the real genesis in England for the thinking that you’re expressing.

    Then Bishop of London’s J.W.C. Wand’s magnificent little book, The High Church Schism (Faith Press, 1951), is a great introduction. But the best work is probably still Thomas Lathbury’s: A History of the Nonjurors: Their Controversies and Writings: With Remarks on Some of the Rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer (William Pickering, 1845). Lathbury’s book is readily available in a public domain photocopy reprint. As he states in his preface, ” One portion of the volume will be read with considerable interest. I allude to the correspondence on the Nonjurors with the Greek Church in the east, which, with the exception of some brief extracts, is now for the first time published.” Their thoughts now read like the programme for so many of the comments above?

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