Friday, July 11, 2014

De-churching Anglicanism, out of respect: this blog's theological changes

He's like the campanile, calling the people into the church, but he stays outside.

- Pius IX on Pusey (so I think I read once)
There have really only been a couple of theological changes here in 12 years, being generally conservative high-church. In the beginning this blog tried to be Orthodox but that was too narrow; started dropping that here as far back as 2003. Back then, in the last years of John Paul II (so traditionalists were still pretty much out in the cold, but the turnaround was slowly under way), the Anglo-Catholics (in this case, Anglo-Papalists: just about everything the church teaches, except on Anglican orders), who helped teach me pre-Vatican II practices years before, became my hangout again. Not buying the full Anglican branch theory; more like an ad-hoc thing to justify being outside the institutional church: the Dutch Touch, or thanks to Anglicans getting lines of apostolic succession from liberalish Dutch and German schismatics, the Old Catholics, Apostolicae Curae didn't apply. (The church says no. Ordinations at an Anglican service, even with those bishops, are Anglican. The man who coined that term is now Catholic.) Because of that, I got back into Episcopalian fights online vs. the dominant liberals there, trying to defend a good thing. Then Benedict became Pope, freed up the traditional Mass and - wow - fixed English Novus Ordo. No practical reason or excuse to remain outside anymore. Our close cousins, conservative high-church Anglicans, have ideas and practices worth considering. (Liberal high church are the Anglo-Catholics now: still the same credal orthodoxy and similar liturgy as us traditionalists.) Why not semi-congregationalism (trusteeism, the way the Greek Catholics used to own their American parishes) and married priests in Latin Catholicism? Not against our doctrine, and close-knit congregations can be a hedge against liberalism. But being outside the official church is a bug, not a feature. Once you start pushing it as objectively good (the SSPX doesn't, so it's a last resort, nowhere near the case now), there's a problem. The full branch theory denies church infallibility, which would mean there is no church. And I realized I had no business trying to tell the Episcopalians what to do. So I came around 100% to the church's teaching: the Anglicans are not the church. I did it partly out of respect for them, strange as that sounds. All of them, not just the Anglo-Catholics. It's what it is. Let them be. Guess I've made my peace with them after all these years. Our modified branch theory is our teaching on valid orders: credal orthodoxy so basic the Nestorians pass, unbroken claim to apostolic succession, and uninterrupted true teaching about the Eucharist. That's how the Orthodox are estranged Catholics, not Protestants. The church is best when it's the Church Local ("me and Stosh down at the Sportsmen's Club"), but there is only one church.

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