Sunday, February 21, 2016

Why Anglo-Catholicism isn't convincing: Archbishop Peter Robinson explains

Archbishop Peter Robinson wrote:
Anglo-Catholicism and I had a long flirtation when I was in my twenties, but I never found it completely convincing. I can see High Church Protestant (either Anglican or Lutheran) or Roman Catholic as positions with integrity, but not so much Anglo-Catholicism.
So why didn't Anglo-Catholicism convince you, so that you agree with me and Bill Tighe that Anglicanism is really Reformed? Historical facts? Anything else?
The line of argument Newman took in Tract XC is all too reminiscent of Samuel Clarke's line of argument for Arian subscription to the Articles of Religion back in the early 1700s in that it indulges in a lot of special pleading and logic-chopping. It got well and truly whomped by Daniel Waterland's defence of Nicene orthodoxy, which was a standard theological work for the rest of the 18th century, and into the 19th. Newman's great error is that he tries to assert that the AoR are not talking about Trent, which is patently a falsehood, and if it is you can logic-chop your way around it, which is unconvincing to say the least, when you consider that except for Christopher Davenport's efforts back in the 17th century, Newman's take on the articles appears like a certain king of Salem in 1841. Newman is fairly convincing on the first reading, but not on the third.

Liberalism is invalid for the same reason as Newmanism, which leaves two possible ways of reading the AoR. The first is in the context of the Reformation, which is generally what Evangelical Anglicans do. However, the old-school Evangelicals relied heavily on folks like Payne-Smith, Wace, and Boultbee, who knew their way around the Fathers of the first five or six centuries.

The other way of looking at the AoR is that of the old High Churchmen, who went to the Father of the first five centuries, and then read them in the light of the AoR. The primary interest of the OHCs was the ante-Nicene Fathers and the Four Latin Doctors. Martin Routh spent about thirty years working on a monumental edition of some of the minor Fathers of the second and third century, and this is typical of the more archaeological approach of the Old High Churchmanship.

I think you do have to be a little careful with the word 'Reformed' when talking about Anglicanism, as the harsher forms of Calvinism — especially Dortian orthodoxy — did not have a long-term effect on Anglican theology. The middle way between Lutheranism and Calvinism, with the episcopal form of government, would be on the money.
Thanks, but "Reformed" doesn't necessarily mean "Calvinist." So it's accurate to say Anglicanism is at heart Reformed.

A movement that set out to assert Anglicanism's true-church claim vs. the Catholic Church eventually imitated the Catholic Church.

That Newman converted early on seems to say he came to agree with you.


  1. Newman tried and tried but ultimately came to the conclusion: Anglicanism is not the Catholic Church (or part of it). Honest Anglicans either except it and stay protestants or convert to Catholicism (or Orthodoxy). I wish in the early 2000s there had been a Ordinarite. I would have converted to Catholicism then, though I am grateful for God's grace in leading me to the Church through the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.

  2. Having visited Rome this summer (accompanied by two pope worshiping, singing "On Eagle Wings" Roman Catholics), having had deep personal experience of Vatican II liturgical monstrosities for many years whilst a resident in France, I can honestly say, "Roman Catholicism isn't convincing" as well.


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