Are Anglicans allowed to resist and reject a Bishop?

Discussion in 'Questions?' started by Elijah148, Jun 21, 2022.

  1. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    That's your opinion. There is no defined teaching of the Church that actually says that. Certainly, nothing that I have written here could be confused as endorsing an antinomian perspective.
    Again, that's just your opinion. It is an ad hoc attempt to justify schism, and it runs afoul of everything episcopal polity stands for, especially as far as the proper attitude of the laity toward the clergy is concerned. You may think a particular bishop was a 'heretic' but you, as a layperson, do not get to act as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner over a bishop in an episcopal polity. There is a system in place to deal with that, and just because the system fails here and there does not remove one's obligation to obey it once one is a member of it. "I'll obey my bishop as long as he/she doesn't tell me something I don't like or don't agree with" is simply not the attitude of a faithful layperson. That is a Baptist attitude, not an Anglican one.
    It is not ridiculous. We either live our lives according to a rule or we don't. It is not my place (or yours) to judge another man's soul. Did you know Bishop Spong? Did you ask him what he meant when he said 'x' or 'y'? As I said above, I'm not defending Spong or his public statements. I am saying that in an episcopal polity, laypeople do not have the right to pass their own post mortem verdict on any person, let alone a bishop. We don't get to pick and choose which parts of episcopal polity we're going to follow and which parts we aren't. Do it all or don't do any of it. So who's being antinomian here?

    A seemingly half-hearted endorsement of episcopal polity and a simultaneously holier-than-thou attitude in the very act of justifying its arbitrary rejection is not an institution that will last. You claim, without evidence, that
    • having heresy trials is necessary for the Gospel to be proclaimed, yet also claim that
    • heresy trials are not necessary to know that a hierarch is in fact guilty of heresy (so that you are no longer obligated to obey him/her).
    Which is it? If you don't think you actually need them to justify disobeying a bishop, then what is their purpose after all? Your position is incoherent.
     
  2. Elijah148

    Elijah148 New Member

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    Then why do Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and many Anglican divines not only profess a mere affirmation of his existence, but are in fact also actively warning against the spiritual harm he causes? Most of those who deny the existence of the devil rely on a historical-critical Study Bible which not only attacks the existence of the devil, but virtually all the Prophets, miracles, places, events etc.
     
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  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Spong is the thief who published his robberies in books, in public, for all the world to see. His views were not known only to a few around him, he was not an occult heretic (legal term), but a manifest heretic (legal term), openly professing his thoughts for all the world to see and draw their conclusions. It’s not wrong of us to draw our conclusions.

    And by the way, @Invictus, for all your efforts to play nice with the world, and not have them disown you, the Episcopal Church still has ecclesiastical trials. The last time they used it was as recently as 2020. Ironically they used it against an orthodox Diocesan Bishop, who refused to sanction sodomy, summarily stripping him of his rank and office. So not even the Episcopal Church is as liberal as you regarding ecclesiastical authority.

    https://livingchurch.org/2020/10/05/bishop-love-loses-trial-on-same-sex-marriage/

    https://wnyt.com/albany-new-york-news/episcopal-church-bishop-love-guilty-albany-diocese-/5884187/

    https://www.episcopalnewsservice.or...oke-church-law-in-banning-same-sex-marriages/
     
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  4. Elijah148

    Elijah148 New Member

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    The other small minority are Gnostics who have their very own understanding of the Bible. They flip things around by making Lucifer some type of liberator, while condemning the "Demiurge" as the source of all evil.
     
  5. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    A lot of things are part of popular piety and devotion. That doesn't mean they all carry the same doctrinal weight. All the articles of the Creeds can be subscribed without necessitating a belief in a literal Devil, as Lewis pointed out.

    I noted this merely because a number of people on this site casually and at times even irresponsibly throw around words like "heresy", without any regard for its actual ecclesiastical use and meaning, and seem to think that if they read something in the Bible somewhere, that makes whatever they read "dogma", and its denial "heresy", and that's simply inaccurate, to put it mildly.
     
  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    What the, what?!!!

    There are hundreds of references, this is just embarrassing. Episcopalian catechesis strikes again. The 1662 BCP Baptismal Rite alone mentions the devil 5 times, and has the priest make the godparents swear the following:

    Priest: I demand therefore,
    Dost thou, in the name of this Child, renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow, nor be led by them?

    Answer. I renounce them all.
     
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  7. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Goodness, it's in a lot more places than that, Stalwart! That still doesn't make it a defined dogma, though. Why are so many Anglicans so fuzzy on this? (This is not an issue in Eastern Orthodoxy, for example, despite the lack of a detailed Confession or a common prayer book.) A dogma is a conciliar pronouncement, in the name of the whole Church, which (usually) pronounces an anathema on anyone who denies the truth of the definition. For example, from the Council of Ephesus in 431, the dogma that the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God:
    That is a defined dogma from the Third Ecumenical Council. To deny it is therefore heresy. Something being in the liturgy might be a reasonably accurate doctrinal guide for Eastern Orthodoxy, but that's never been the case for Anglicanism. The Devil is only mentioned once in the Thirty Nine Articles (Art. 17), and not in such a way that denial of his literal existence could be construed as denial of the Faith. As I said, and as Lewis thought as well, there is no dogma on the subject that I am aware of.
     
  8. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    @Invictus I have not been following the whole debate and probably will not be able to follow this one all that well but I was pretty sure that the prayer book in Anglicanism is near what the Divine Liturgy was in the Eastern Orthodox Church?Lex orandi, lex credendi
     
  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    What are you even talking about.


    Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That the Form of God’s Worship in the Church of England, established by Law, and contained in the Book of Common Prayer and Administration of Sacraments, is a corrupt, superstitious, or unlawful Worship of God, or containeth any thing in it that is repugnant to the Scriptures: Let him be Excommunicated ipso facto, and not restored but by the Bishop of the Place, or Archbishop, after his Repentance and publick Revocation of such his wicked Errors.
    -1604 Canons

    This forces every Anglican, in the most solemn possible way possible, to equate the doctrine of the scriptures and the teachings of the liturgy.
     
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  10. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Relevance?
     
  11. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    A lot of Anglicans seem to think that, but it’s simply not true. Whatever similarities there are, are mostly superficial. I’ve been both, and Eastern Orthodoxy is a completely different approach than Anglicanism. The two are not similar at all.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022
  12. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I guess one thing this highlights is that we need to be clear in our understanding of heresy.

    There is the core essential faith, that which we must all believe.

    There is the wider context of faith, which often is connected to the culture in which it is expressed.

    Now for some the understanding is to pile everything into the core, to establish that everything is essential. For others, the understanding is that the core is quite small, and so we come to a glorious unity in the midst of diversity.

    In a sense, you see a very large volume from the Latins in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which denotes the essentials of the faith as they understand it.

    The Orthodox take a via-negativa approach where they are far more clear about things that constitute wrong beliefs, or heresy. The strongest positive statement of the essentials of the faith is expressed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381.

    Anglicans tend to be more Orthodox in these matters, though we do not have an extensive list of our own as to what we cannot believe, however, most Anglicans would see the 39 Articles as the tram tracks to keep us on the straight and narrow way.

    We have had several discussions along the way in this Forum where much of the debate could be understood about where things belong in terms of the inner core, or the wider context.
     
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  13. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Meaning that there’s nothing in the BCP which may not be said to be true doctrine. Not just implicitly, lex orandi lex credendi, (which would be true regardless), but here also legally and canonically. Everything in the Anglican liturgy be said to be a true doctrine. So yes the teaching on the devil is at the core of Anglican doctrine. None of these sly Episcopalian tricks of the last 20 years will fly any longer.


    I appreciate your kind words for the 39 articles, but it’s much more extensive than that. Having an “extensive list” is a red herring here. You’re probably thinking of the 1993 RC Catechism, and this supposedly is what a church must have: a list of all its doctrines. Which is ludicrous, because prior to 1993 the Roman Catholics had no such thing; as recently as 1992 there was no one book you could go to read “all” of Roman Catholic doctrine. Prior to 1911 they didn’t even have a single code of canon law. So asking for “extensive lists” may match the needs of our fake Instagram era, but the Church is eternal and doesn’t think and move in those terms. It can be arguable that the 1993 RC Catechism is a grave violation of church practice, which will come back to bite them (already started to). It is against the practice of the Church to have a single list neatly typed up; the Church Fathers never wanted to write one.

    So back to Anglicanism, the sources of Anglican doctrine are the classical Prayer Books, the Articles of Religion, the BCP Catechism, the Ordinal, and the code of ecclesiastical law, such as the 1604 Canons. On top of that are all the commentaries on the above by the Anglican Divines, which together constitute the entire body of the Anglican divinity. It is something you study, pray and meditate on over time, not something you read over 30 minutes at Starbucks.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
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  14. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I agree. It's the closest thing to the "standard Anglican confession" that you're going to come across. However, the 39 Articles strike many liberal and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans as being too much in the Reformed/Calvinist school. (The early Tractarian John Henry Newman did try to wrench the 39 Articles into conformance with Roman Catholic doctrine, without success.) It's been an enduring oddity in the Anglican world that a core statement of doctrine would be ignored or outright rejected by so many who claim the Anglican heritage. Most Lutherans, liberal or otherwise, still claim adherence to the Book of Concord (the Augsburg Confession); Presbyterians still claim adherence to the Winchester Confession and Larger and Shorter Catechisms. I suppose the difficulty for Anglicans is the complicated history the Church went through in England, and the swings from Roman Catholic to Protestant during the reign of the Tudors and the subsequent English Civil War. Anglicanism tried to encompass a very broad doctrinal spectrum during a period of intense political turmoil, with a resultant tension between declared faith and actual practice.

    I should note here that affirming a creed or confession does not necessarily mean a church follows the creeds or confessions they affirm. In fact modern churches of whatever denomination (in America, at least) tend to honor their creeds and confessions more in the breach than in the observance. Perhaps it has always been this way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
  15. Elijah148

    Elijah148 New Member

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    I have to interject and point out the following:

    A certain James Beavan published a Catechism on the 39 Articles (1850): Article XX. on pages 65-66 says that a layperson is in fact invited to discern matters of the faith. In case a Church teaches doctrine contrary to sacred scripture the believer is free to revoke his allegiance to that particular Church.

    An antinomian Bishop would in any case be a notoriously heretical individual, it doesn't require a study of deeper theology to see that a Church or Bishop who is preaching antinomian doctrine is in fact heretical.
     
  16. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I don't understand how you could be so mistaken. The very canon you quoted doesn’t say anything of the kind. The subject of the canon is the Form of Worship, not the Church’s doctrine. Why would there be a canon in 1604 prohibiting statements that the public liturgy were contrary to Scripture, I wonder? - Answer: Because there were Puritans making precisely that claim, up to and including the contention that written prayers themselves were contrary to apostolic teaching. Theologically, the Puritans and the bishops were both Calvinists, for the most part. They weren't condemning each other's doctrine. The main difference between the bishops on the one side, and the Puritans and the Continental Reformed on the other, was that the former adhered to the normative principle of worship, while the latter adhered to the regulative principle. Thus, the 39 Articles state in multiple places that the Church of England ordained “nothing repugnant to the Word of God” (Art. 34, 36). That statement does not mean that the lex orandi in the Church of England is the lex credendi for the whole Church, which is what it would have to mean in order for mere inclusion in the public liturgy to automatically confer the status of unalterable, universally valid dogma upon a statement. It just means that the Church of England observes the normative principle, and thus that there is nothing in its liturgy that the Scriptures say must not be done. That does not mean that every element of the liturgy has a scriptural precedent, or that all parts of it carry the same weight or have the same doctrinal import. The Puritans thought everything in worship had to be based upon a positive command (including that principle itself); therefore, the Church of England was out of bounds simply for adhering to the normative principle in the first place, according to the Puritan position. It was this difference, which was the source of enormous controversy at the time, that the 1604 canon you cited was addressing. I don't understand how you could have overlooked something that basic and then made the astounding claim, which no other Church ever has, that everything in the Anglican liturgy represents binding doctrine.

    As I've already pointed out, dogma is a conciliar statement, promulgated in the name of the whole Church, with a solemn curse attached to its denial. The statements in the original Nicene Creed of 325 - which incidentally are never read in the liturgy - are what dogmatic pronouncements look like, and are the pattern that have been been followed ever since:

    We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten (γεννηθέντα), not made, being of one substance (ὁμοούσιον, consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say
    - that there was a time when the Son of God was not (ἤν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν), or
    - that before he was begotten he was not, or
    - that he was made of things that were not, or
    - that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or
    - that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion [τρεπτὸν in Greek; convertibilem in Latin]
    — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.
    Your understanding of history and dogmatics here is just faulty. It doesn't have anything to do with "Episcopalian trickery", nor is it clear what relevance that would have for C.S. Lewis, whose genuineness in the Christian faith no one questions, and whose Anglicanism was British, not American. Stereotypes won't get you very far; I don't conform to them. Truth just has an Episcopalian bias, apparently.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
  17. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    But that's precisely what it means. It is incorrect to reduce this to only the form of worship, because the canon demands that we also include the substance of the said worship also.

    Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That the Form of God’s Worship in the Church of England, established by Law, and contained in the Book of Common Prayer and Administration of Sacraments, is a corrupt, superstitious, or unlawful Worship of God, OR containeth any thing in it that is repugnant to the Scriptures: Let him be Excommunicated ipso facto, and not restored but by the Bishop of the Place, or Archbishop, after his Repentance and publick Revocation of such his wicked Errors.

    The canon refers to both the form of worship, and the substance and content of the said worship.

    So let me ask you a question: when the priest demands, "Dost thou, in the name of this Child, renounce the devil and all his works", is he demanding something which is at odds with Scripture? Or does it accurately represent Scripture? Because if it's the former, then you automatically excommunicate yourself from The Church.

    You're just making things up. Who says what 'dogmatic pronouncements' look like? You're confusing 'dogma' with 'doctrine' and lacing all kinds of Papistical interpetations on each of those words. Nicea itself never defined "what a dogmatic pronouncement looks like" and in the history of the Church they always looked different.

    But if you want, we can keep the word 'dogma' for the Trinitarian definitions of the early church, and for everything else use 'doctrine'. So let's just be simple and precise: is it a part of Anglican teaching, of Anglican doctrine, that the devil is a real being? If it's not, then the 1662 BCP demands that you profess and swear to a falsehood. Saying which automatically excommunicates you from The Church.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
  18. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The canon only refers to worship. It enjoins the denial that the "Form of God's Worship" either "is corrupt, superstitious, etc." or "containeth any anything in it that is repugnant to the Scriptures". The context is the normative vs. regulative principle of worship that was a point of contention between the puritans and the established church. That's all in the world it's talking about.

    Nowhere is the statement made that just because a statement occurs in the liturgy, that a particular and explicit understanding of it is also binding dogma, to deny which is to place one's soul in danger. That is simply absurd. It's not the way the relationship between Christian doctrine and liturgy works, and it never has been. You can try and twist this any way you like, but the fact remains that the Church of England never claimed to speak for the whole Church, so its liturgies - which went through multiple revisions - do not and cannot have the normative dogmatic status you are claiming for them.
    Rubbish. "Dogma" is simply what results from the Church making a binding judgment on its members. How does one know if the Church has done this? Well, for starters, their intention to do so has to be clear. Another is that the ones collectively making the ruling have to possess the requisite authority to do so, and they have to be doing so free of compulsion, and so on. Compile all such rulings as we have known to us in history, and a common pattern emerges. It's really not that hard. I genuinely don't understand why some here are so fuzzy on this despite a veritable mountain of evidence. The only Councils that even claimed to speak for the whole Church which Anglicans have also historically recognized, are the first Six. The Eastern Orthodox claim the first Seven. Catholics claim over twenty. I've already quoted the decree from the 1st Council of Nicea; here's the decree from the 2nd Council of Nicea/7th Ecumenical Council:

    The holy Synod cried out: So we all believe, we all are so minded, we all give our consent and have signed. This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the faith of the orthodox, this is the faith which has made firm the whole world. Believing in one God, to be celebrated in Trinity, we salute the honourable images! Those who do not so hold, let them be anathema. Those who do not thus think, let them be driven far away from the Church. For we follow the most ancient legislation of the Catholic Church. We keep the laws of the Fathers. We anathematize those who add anything to or take anything away from the Catholic Church. We anathematize the introduced novelty of the revilers of Christians. We salute the venerable images. We place under anathema those who do not do this. Anathema to them who presume to apply to the venerable images the things said in Holy Scripture about idols. Anathema to those who do not salute the holy and venerable images. Anathema to those who call the sacred images idols. Anathema to those who say that Christians resort to the sacred images as to gods. Anathema to those who say that any other delivered us from idols except Christ our God. Anathema to those who dare to say that at any time the Catholic Church received idols.
    A Synod...of bishops...lawfully gathered...speaking for the whole Church...definitively declaring opposed teaching as 'another Gospel', via the use of the Pauline 'Anathema' = explicitly declaring the boundary of the Faith. If we did not have the word "dogma" to describe this, we would have to invent it. Another example is some of the Canons of the Council of Trent:

    CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

    CANON II.-If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

    CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.
    You know what just happened there? - They defined dogma for the Roman Catholic Church = the whole Church (by their lights). So, I'm not sure what gave you the idea that I was somehow "making it up", but it should be abundantly clear that I have done no such thing. What has been pulled from thin air is the notion that Anglicanism somehow represents the fullness of the Church in a way that even Rome and the Orthodox do not.

    Lastly, to address the original point of contention, I do not have to subscribe - nor does the rite of baptism require that I subscribe - to a literal, personal, Devil, in order to make a baptismal vow. What I am promising in that rite is to renounce allegiance to anything that is opposed to the will of God. I have absolutely no trouble uttering those words in complete sincerity, and I think something would be lost if the rite were watered down so that only those things which could be understood literally were included. Plus, there are some out there who do believe in a literal devil, and it is far easier to allow for diversity of interpretation while using the traditional language, than to narrow the range by unnecessarily modernizing it. There is no dogma that I am aware of regarding the existence of the devil as a personal being, therefore it is adiaphora.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
  19. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think you've unconsciously intepolated the (unique) US jurisprudential principle of "innocent until proven guilty" into Ecclesial jurisprudence, which I think is not a valid assumption.
     
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  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Heresy is a bit like porn. As one Supreme Court justice said, I can't define it but I know it when I see it! :laugh: