Friday, July 18, 2014

Conversation on Lutherans and Anglicans

Until Swedish Lutherans started ordaining women, they had the Apostolic Succession, still had bishops, and were recognized by Rome as having valid orders.
I find that hard to believe. More likely, Rome never ruled on Swedish orders because Lutheran doctrine, that the episcopate is optional, made such a ruling unnecessary. The Church of Sweden has always claimed apostolic succession but it's always been in communion with non-episcopal Lutherans. So it lost apostolic succession.
Apostolic Succession, within Lutheranism, is not a question of have or have not but of 'why'? Church governance is adiaphora. As is liturgy, vestments, titles, etc.
Somebody told me that non-episcopal Lutheran pastors could always serve in Sweden, and somebody else told me non-episcopal ministers have served a few times in the Church of England. So to the church, the Swedish claim was always moot.

Swedish immigrants to America didn't try to keep apostolic succession (bishops) when they formed Lutheran denominations - because they were Lutheran. Lutheran and Episcopal have always been more or less interchangeable even before the TEC/ELCA concordat (interchangeable clergy) and Porvoo - the Hanoverian kings were Lutheran at home and Anglican in England, no problem. Now, although the TEC/ELCA agreement is changing ELCA by introducing Episcopal orders (former ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson has the Dutch touch, which the church doesn't recognize), it seems the Lutheran view of holy orders has won in liberal high church. It was never really settled in Anglicanism like high churchmen including the Protestant Episcopal Church's (TEC) Scottish ties thought. That apostolic succession is only optional was a rallying point of the Reformed Episcopal Church (now high-churched and reinvented as the oldest Continuers) and I understand has long been English Evangelical opinion. The English Church recognized continental non-episcopal ministers when it was politically convenient for the king (so Laud for example wasn't as Catholic as supposed; same for Charles I). Porvoo and TEC grandfathering in non-episcopal ELCA pastors = Anglicans are now Swedish Lutherans.

A friend has explained to me that the non-episcopal continental Protestants, in Geneva, for example, saw the Anglicans as part of them, but happening to have bishops. "Not what we would have chosen, but fine."
I think the ELCA is a bit more diverse than merely "liberal high church." That is where the bulk of the church is headed, but there are plenty of churches and pastors in the ELCA who do not see themselves that way. Just yesterday I had a retired ELCA pastor pop in... and made a remark about the icons we have in the nave of our church, asserting that their presence was a reminder that we aren't Protestant if the term means what it has come to mean in American society (SWPL, as you put it). I admit that churches like ours are no longer in the driver's seat of the denomination, but I think that there are more of us out there than people think.

Heck, I have a three-foot-tall statue of the BVM in my home study... I can't be too Protestant...
Good point, Pastor. Thank you. I know but was trying to be brief. A problem all high-church clergy in the mainline and LCMS run across: fresh out of seminary as Anglo-Catholics (including New Anglo-Catholics, such as some women priests) and LCMS pastors of the Gottesdienst Lutho-Catholic persuasion, going to congregations that are old-school American Protestant: "What? That's Catholic! We don't want to be Catholic." (Pastor Peters' point.) Thinking a lot about "Holy Women, Holy Men," for example, when the congregation doesn't think in terms of canonized saints and celebrating their feasts; "that's for Catholics." Anglo-Catholics outside of certain parishes have always run across that resistance.

There's the irony that my Catholic buddy Karl notices: that the 1928 Book of Common Prayer became a rallying point of the pre-Vatican II ethos among some conservative Episcopalians when it is an obviously Protestant book: "The Articles condemn everything you're doing!" (Its consecration prayer at Communion isn't allowed in the Catholic Church.) At face value, 1979 is more Catholic, but other stuff and connotation make it a liberal thing, much like the Novus Ordo it partly copied. "Wait, you Novus Ordofied Cranmer's fine prose to be closer to us, but at the same time you ordained women?" Maybe they were really about creating a new liberal church, like Catholic liberals, and not about ecumenism all along. Also, for about 15 minutes in the Sixties, Catholics were cool as part of the War on the Old America, especially thanks (ha) to Vatican II, so some mainliners liked and emulated us, including our new liturgical mistakes, then Humanae Vitae and Roe v. Wade (what, the Pope's still Catholic?) made the liberals hate us again.

I have no hard feelings anymore against liberal high church, but at the same time I wish the church would stop wasting its time and our money talking to these people about reunion since they're not the church and obviously don't want to come back.

1 comment:

  1. "Until Swedish Lutherans started ordaining women, they had the Apostolic Succession, still had bishops, and were recognized by Rome as having valid orders."

    Absolutely untrue; Rome has never recognized "Swedish Orders," and, in cases of convert clergymen, has always treated them as invalid.

    "Somebody told me that non-episcopal Lutheran pastors could always serve in Sweden, and somebody else told me non-episcopal ministers have served a few times in the Church of England."

    True as regards Sweden, right down to the present day. In England, any recognition of non-episcopal orders was ruled out in 1661 - but in the period c. 1570 - c. 1625 there are two absolutely documented cases of two men (one ordained in Leiden by the Dutch Reformed Church, and another in France by the Huguenots) being given benefices in the Church of England, not sinecures but having cura animarum; and there are about three more that seem probably (including that of the Flemish/Spanish Calvinist clergyman, Adrian Saravia [1532-1612], who ended up in England as an apologist for episcopacy!).

    "Lutheran and Episcopal have always been more or less interchangeable even before the TEC/ELCA concordat (interchangeable clergy) and Porvoo - the Hanoverian kings were Lutheran at home and Anglican in England, no problem."

    A bit of an exaggeration; if they were regarded as "interchangeable" it was off the record. Some Lutherans, even in the colonies, regarded Anglicans as dangerously Reformed; some Anglicans regarded Lutheran Orders as deficient. What happened fairly often, though, is that a Lutheran pastor ordained as such here in the colonies would travel to London to be ordained by the Bishop of London, so as to be able to minister to both Anglicans and Lutherans.

    "Maybe they were really about creating a new liberal church, like Catholic liberals, and not about ecumenism all along."

    Yup.

    ReplyDelete

Leave comment