Sunday, January 06, 2013

Confusing extramural Anglicans

This started as a long reply to Tubbs here.
“By the way, funny how a movement that started by reacting against Catholic emancipation ended up imitating the Catholic Church.”

And I thought I was the only one who picked up on that irony.

And speaking of irony, how does the “Reformed Episcopal Church” end up so Romish now? Go figure.....
Thanks. I noticed that too about the REC online. Once stopped in at Christ Memorial Church, 43rd and Chestnut, now moved away after the building partly collapsed, and got to see old-school REC. They have a few other churches around here but I don’t know what they’re like. My guess is the REC was dying out and they thought they could save themselves by reinventing themselves as higher and identifying with the largely Anglo-Catholic Continuing Churches (Episcopalians who left and started their own churches at the end of the ’70s because of women’s ordination and arguably the new Prayer Book, symbolically their ‘Vatican II’ even though the old Prayer Book’s arguably more Protestant), maybe to encourage highish ex-Episcopalians to join.

In the early 2000s they almost merged with the Anglican Province of America, a small group that started out in 1968 as the American Episcopal Church, good-intentioned ex-Episcopalians reacting to their denomination’s perceived sellout in the Sixties (not realizing the rot was in the roots, from the king wanting a divorce to the loss of faith at the ‘Enlightenment’). That was about keeping the Protestant Episcopal Church as it was, but then I think in the ’90s it merged with a Continuing church, the Anglican Catholic Church. The merger failed but I think the APA essentially is now a high-churchified Continuing church.

That’s another one: the ‘Anglican Catholic Church’ recently seems to have reinvented itself as more classically Anglican/anti-Roman/via media.

Then there‘s the ‘Traditional Anglican Communion’, a name that makes me think of old-school REC and Morning Prayer with surplice and scarf, which was actually Anglo-Catholic (some of the national names reflected that: Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, etc.) and has partly come into the Catholic Church in groups. What’s left behind probably, understandably, will go the ACC’s route emphasizing what it thinks Anglicanism is vs. Rome.

Archbishop Peter Robinson, the presiding bishop of the smallest and lowest-church of the original Continuing groups, has noted that his movement’s theological divide is between those like his denomination, who are about continuing the old Protestant Episcopal Church minus name-the-innovation, and the more Catholic-minded majority of Continuers, who replaced the Protestant Thirty-Nine Articles with the more Catholic Affirmation of St Louis (the ‘charter’ of the first Continuing church, which split into a few denominations), which at points reads more like Orthodoxy or conservative Old Catholicism (seven sacraments, seven ecumenical councils) than Anglicanism (Articles, first five centuries of the church per Andrewes; I never understood that cutoff date). Prayer Book vs. the old unofficial Anglican missals.

I think the Affirmation reflects American Anglo-Catholicism as it was around the ’50s: somewhat Tridentine ceremonially (missals) but attached to much of the Prayer Book and believing in something high but non-papal, seeing themselves as sort of the American version of conservative Old Catholics.

The few sincere would-be Roman Catholics, Anglo-Papalists, understandably have come into the church, first under John Paul’s Pastoral Provision and now under Benedict’s ordinariates, with the highest of them, Tridentine, just joining the trads, as has happened around here. One of the first four Continuing bishops, Peter Watterson, was of that persuasion and soon converted, ending up a Catholic priest. My line: the ordinariate’s great for married ex-Anglican priests who want to be Catholic priests and for those jonesing for the Prayer Book in some form. (Celibacy’s just a rule and hooray for the American Missal but I’m sticking with the Tridentine Mass close to home.)

Speaking of ‘continuing the old Protestant Episcopal Church minus name-the-innovation’, you have the Anglican Church of North America (interestingly the name of the first Continuing church), relatively conservative Episcopalians who mostly went along with WO and left over the denomination’s moves Unitarianwards and homosexualist. The Continuers got started because they hoped Canterbury would kick out the Episcopalians for breaking with Catholic order with WO and recognize them as the official Anglican church here, which of course didn’t happen, because Canterbury’s just as liberal as the Episcopalians. (The Church of England is now essentially Episcopalians in an uneasy state merger with Evangelicals, in an anti-religious country.) The new ACNA’s the Episcopal Church 10 years ago minus the wackier theological stuff and annoying political liberalism (which p*ssed off the ’60s and ’70s leavers too); I call it Slightly Less Liberal Protestant Denomination. Amazingly, what were until recently the Episcopal Church’s last three Anglo-Catholic dioceses joined this outfit and not the Continuers despite not doing WO. The Episcopalians’ first homosexualist bishop managed to do what WO and the 1800s high-low war that started the REC didn’t: four dioceses quit! (And a fifth just got kicked out.) Though both WO and homosexualism go against nature and the church on the sexes, WO’s a theological matter that most chivalrous Protestant Episcopalians didn’t mind; homosexualism’s another matter; more primal I guess.

A little perspective: while the conversions are great of course, more troops in Pope Benedict’s conservative renewal, in all these cases, including all these relatively new denominations, we’re talking about only a few thousand people.

Earlier I’ve noted the conservative Presbyterian success story, the PCA, who like the Continuers left the liberal mainline in the ’70s. They seem to have their act together (ditto our cousins the Missouri Synod Lutherans) while the Continuing Anglicans, for all their Catholic order, splintered again and again.

1 comment:

  1. "Amazingly, what were until recently the Episcopal Church’s last three Anglo-Catholic dioceses joined this outfit and not the Continuers despite not doing WO."

    You answer your own comment a little later on: The Continuers are crazy - Iker and Co. would rather start their own church than deal with the likes of them! "Catholic order" is a joke for these guys.

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