Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What’s in a name
Forward in Faith’s and New Directions’ Fr Geoffrey Kirk on Anglican identity. From T19.
The Church of England. The name is an ecclesiology in itself.
The part of the Catholic Church that happened to be in England (Anglican Church simply means English Church) and as such ‘the church in this realm’ (the old High Church position before High Church meant ceremonial).

Not a church and communion unto itself including the Erastianism one also saw in the 1700s: ‘a wholly autonomous state with power to order its own affairs both civil and ecclesiastical’.

The former — ‘There’s already a church in England!’ — is why Anglicans have parishes or churches and dissenters chapels and also explains the Establishment view of setting up an RC hierarchy in England, ‘The Italian Mission to the Irish’*; more than anti-Romanism or snobbery though as Fr K points out those continue to this day and among the politically correct too.
It is remarkable to the modern observer how long that view persisted. Though it could not logically survive the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution, it nevertheless continued into the twentieth century by way of the Oxford Movement. When High Churchmen referred to the CofE as 'the Catholic Church of this land' they were speaking as much of historical and institutional continuity as of theological positioning or colour.
Actually if you spin it right and don’t use the commonly understood meaning of Protestant the old American name Protestant Episcopal translates as an accurate description of Eastern Orthodoxy: ‘does not accept the later papal claims but run by bishops, the divinely instituted form of church government’.

Catholic or commonly understood Protestant? On church infallibility hang all the law and the prophets.

*Today it’s Polish — hundreds of thousands of immigrants. London Mayor Ken Livingstone recently threw a pierogi party to woo voters and in Brighton for example Deacon Jim would be in luck as the local RC parish has a weekly Msza po polsku. The Irish don’t go to church any more.

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