Tuesday, September 28, 2004

From Pontifications
The incoherence of sectarian Catholicity
In their earlier restorationist mode, they [the proto-Anglo-Catholics] had insisted that the entire church should conform to the normative orthodoxy that they claimed was constitutive of the Anglican tradition. By the 1870s, however, it had become evident that any steps toward uniformity would be at the expense of the Anglo-Catholics. Whereupon Anglo-Catholics became the foremost opponents of uniformity and enthusiastically championed ecclesiastical pluralism. All they were asking for, they said, was “tolerance and forbearance” for their way of being Anglican. In 1867, the Rev. Charles Walker was urging upon the Royal Commission on Ritual that peace could be found in the agreement “that the National Establishment embraces in its bosom two separate religions.” Of course that appeal failed to carry the day, as is almost inevitably the case when previously tolerated options threaten the establishment.
As I wrote on the AC page:

...what happened in Anglicanism as Anglo-Catholicism became larger and more noticeable in church life was not the conversion of most Anglicans to Catholicism but rather a toleration of Catholic trappings and of Anglo-Catholic beliefs as opinion, not essential matters of faith. Some Anglo-Catholics themselves fell for this and basically gave up their faith while settling for a place in the English (and American) mainstream. Thus today you’ll find lots of Episcopal churches with women ministers and agnostic or a New Age grab-bag of beliefs but also with a smattering of ‘high-church’ trappings, ironically more traditional-looking than what many Roman Catholics do.
So the Achilles' heel in the movement goes back to the 1870s!

John Shelton Reed, an Episcopalian who teaches at the University of North Carolina, sums up the irony of Anglo-Catholicism: “A movement that originally championed orthodoxy had come to defend freedom; begun in opposition to religious liberalism, the movement now appealed to liberal values for its survival.”
Actually what's left of the National Establishment has at least three religions, Catholic, Protestant and non-Christian liberal; roughly, High, Low and Broad. A house divided against itself...

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