Covenantal Basis of Sacramental Validity

Discussion in 'Sacraments, Sacred Rites, and Holy Orders' started by Chartreux, Dec 23, 2020.

  1. Chartreux

    Chartreux Member

    Posts:
    39
    Likes Received:
    15
    There's a local church I investigated going to which turned out to be Anglo-Catholic once I spoke to the Reverend on the phone. He was fairly cold and distant. He said he had never heard of the problem often brought up about transubstantiation being a philosophical attempt to explain a mystery, and seemed confused why someone would use that argument. He said the church has always believed in transubstantiation, that the people on this forum don't know what they're talking about, and that Anglo-Catholicism, which tolerates things like adoring the eucharist, is in fact traditional Anglicanism as they practice it at their parish. He said Rome gave the Reformers what they deserved at Trent, and that he didn't think Cranmer or Tyndale's martyrdom was a big deal. He just said awkwardly, "Eh, it doesn't matter." He also seemed to confirm what I was told about Anglo-Catholics on this forum, saying in one conversation that they follow all the articles, then later on saying it's just a spectrum and a product of it's time. He also seemed to dodge certain questions of mine regarding the sanctity of their practices while claiming the articles don't really mean what they say. When proscribing how often you need to come to communion, he was undecided and just settled with Rome's 'every Sunday' view, because he couldn't think of anything else, like he had never thought this out before. He said the same thing about venial/mortal sin, and that the apocrypha was scripture. He said the articles claiming Jerome rejected them are in error. Lastly, he said that if you are not in either the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Anglo-Catholic churches, you will go to hell. I never ended up visiting his church.
     
  2. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,645
    Likes Received:
    1,206
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    You shall know them by their fruit. His tastes particularly 'bitter'.
     
    Invictus likes this.
  3. Moses

    Moses Member

    Posts:
    99
    Likes Received:
    70
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    If he's a decently informed, Novus Ordo conservative type, he'll know that the Orthodox have "valid" holy mysteries regardless of what his priest says.

    And if that's the case, he might be interested to know that displaced Orthodox in America communed at Anglican/Episcopalian parishes from the time of Phillip Ludwell III all the way up until the Episcopal Church began ordaining women. Not only that, but in the early 20th century most of the Orthodox patriarchs explicitly stated belief in the legitimacy of Anglican orders.

    If he's a Roman Catholic, he should obey his own Church's rules about where to commune. But that's not to say that he shouldn't know that the two One True Churches have recognized the existence of the Body of Christ outside their own official boundaries.
     
  4. Moses

    Moses Member

    Posts:
    99
    Likes Received:
    70
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    What exactly is wrong? For me, at least, it is distracting when someone on the altar doesn't seem to know what to do. On the other hand, when everyone on the altar knows exactly what to do, they fade into the background and become a coordinated whole. A part of the liturgy instead of an interruption.

    Maybe I'm misunderstand the criticism.
     
  5. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,645
    Likes Received:
    1,206
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Nothing wrong with doing everything in worship in good order and a dignified manner, so as not to become a distraction.

    Everything wrong with insistence on military pecision with a view to getting the ritual right so it 'works', and thus becoming the focus of attraction.
    .
     
    Moses likes this.
  6. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

    Posts:
    643
    Likes Received:
    251
  7. Kabane

    Kabane New Member

    Posts:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    Hi- I am the author of this piece.

    Some of you seem to have taken this very personally. The piece was not about Anglicanism per se, but was an attempt to restate the theology of priesthood and sacrament in terms native to Scripture: namely, the invocation of the Name of the LORD on account of that Name's role in signifying the LORD in His absolute fidelity to fulfill what He has promised. This fidelity is precisely what is at stake when we deal with the sacraments: God has promised to do something specific under specific conditions, which is why we can be assured that such has been accomplished when those conditions are met, even though there are usually no extraordinary manifestations of divine presence.

    One of the commenters stated that though I am formally Orthodox, I seem to have remained "Roman" internally. A few things. First, with all due respect, this is not my first dog show- I have been reading serious work on Orthodox theology and its relation to other Christian traditions for eleven years and have two graduate level degrees in theology and its intellectual history. This doesn't mean that I can't be mistaken- there is always more to learn- but one will have to do more than vaguely motion at an unacceptable affinity with Rome to establish that such a basic error has been made. Second, Orthodoxy and Catholicism are very similar, so much so that sainted theologians like Philaret of Moscow have not hesitated to appropriate Latin Catholic phraseology after the schism to instruct their flocks in Orthodox faith.

    Third, I have no issue with the notion of propitiation (the exclamation point reflects the impression that Kalomiros' critique in "River of Fire" is an incontestable expression of Orthodox tradition, which it most certainly is not), assuming it is interpreted correctly. Whereas most people seem to assume that "satisfaction" means something like "satisfaction of divine wrath by receiving it", it is better articulated in terms of a reparation of debt. I have addressed this at more length here:

    https://kabane52.tumblr.com/post/186809881740/the-doctrine-of-restitutionary-atonement-in-light

    The typical critique that "the West" teaches an angry God whereas the Orthodox tradition teaches a God of love is both bad history and bad theology. Anselm was, in large part, simply expressing the perennial teaching of the Church in the language of his native Latin tradition. And Orthodox critiques of Latin theology on this point are extremely recent and are mostly dependent on one theologian (Romanides) whose work is seriously questionable at theological and historical levels. To speak of a "charism" is to speak of a divine Gift entailing a promise. In the Pastorals, for example, St. Paul refers to the imposition of hands as transmitting a "Gift" from the Spirit which is fanned into flame. Moreover, a notion of validity is inescapable. All it means is "what is necessary to fulfill those conditions according to which God has promised to act in X way." If there is no such concept, one can have no confidence that a Eucharist is a real Eucharist at all without extra-ordinary manifestations.

    And yet God acts in contexts outside of those conditions. There are circumstances in which God has promised to act 100% of the time- yet He also acts in circumstances where His divine grace was not guaranteed by promise. This article was actually written largely to unfold how it might be that an Anglican Eucharist may, in certain circumstances, be a real one. There is no guarantee as there is in a Roman Catholic or Orthodox liturgy, but there may be Anglican Masses where God chooses to act Eucharistically.

    In short, I think that Bellarmine was largely correct. That a Catholic theologian says X does not carry any stigma, so far as I am concerned. Plenty of Catholic theologians have said true things, and the Orthodox liturgical norm for Anglican priests is to ordain- whereas the norm for the vast majority of Orthodox history is *not* to ordain received Catholic priests.
     
  8. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    2,710
    Likes Received:
    2,502
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Welcome! Always good to speak to the person directly.

    Well of course we take it personally, since in one blog post you've just tried to erase our essence as a Church, without a solid reason. Let's remember that right up until the 1960s, the Orthodox Churches were preparing to enter into communion with the Episcopal Church and the Church of England. This has nothing to do with "Elizabethan reforms". You're shooting the arrow and then painting the target around it. This only has to do with modernism in Anglican churches in the 20-21st centuries. And you are importing Roman apologetics (Bellarmine, etc) into an Orthodox conversation, and they never invoked Bellarmine or thought of the priesthood in the way he had.

    And just on the Bellarmine apologetic, it fails from this really simple and embarrassing fact, that the Roman holy orders were revised and rewritten in the 1960s-70s, when all of the Roman sacraments were rewritten from scratch. Thus the argument to nullify Anglican orders which Pius XIII published in the 1890s, if applied to Roman orders of today, would mean that their orders are null also.

    The attempt to nullify our orders is just an embarrassing and unnecessary shot across the bow, at a Church jurisdiction that is misunderstood, using arguments that have been discredited, accomplishing nothing more than chest pumping. So what if you nullify our orders; how does your life get better? How do you become a better, stronger, more courageous, more virtuous person? Even if you win against us, you yourself don't become a better person. Like, at all. It is always easier to cast a stone at another man's house than to pull the gigantic log from out of one's own eye.


    There is a very simple way to dismiss the argument you made: it's an argument made by a blogger on the Internet. Simple. It doesn't even need to be studied and understood. There's absolutely no need. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It would take a little bit more than an anonymous student of theology to dent the validity of our orders, especially after so many much greater men like Bellarmine and Pius XIII themselves have tried and failed.
     
    Invictus and bwallac2335 like this.
  9. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,631
    Likes Received:
    902
    Religion:
    ACNA
    Historically many orthodox churches did say we had valid apostolic succession, of course it would have to fixed a bit somehow like Catholics are. Things went off the rails for us Anglicans in the 70's with WO but not all of us did that.
     
  10. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,093
    Likes Received:
    1,072
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Episcopalian
    I've read the piece, and detected no actual argument therein. It's all very "stream of consciousness", more or less what I've come to expect from 'Internet Orthodoxy' (and frankly much 'Published/Academic Orthodoxy' as well). In Eastern Orthodoxy, "schism" is only what other Churches do, and borrowing from (recent) Roman Catholic arguments about "sacramental validity" has become a standard rhetorical alibi for that blind spot, especially among converts. It's a textbook case of theological gaslighting.
     
  11. Kabane

    Kabane New Member

    Posts:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    I don't know if any churches affirmed that per se- the concrete expression of such an affirmation would be the reception of an Anglican presbyter without ordination. To my knowledge, that never occurred, even though certain Orthodox theologians of some repute defended the validity of Anglican orders. In any case, as an Orthodox person the witness of our liturgical tradition and approach to the reception of Anglican clergy seems to be best explained if Anglicans do not have apostolic succession proper.

    In the 20th century dialogues with the Anglicans were tremendously productive and hopeful, and what happened was a tragedy, but it's not the case that the Orthodox churches collectively were preparing to enter into full communion with the Anglican Communion unless by "preparing" you mean that some intelligent and learned theologians suggested that it was a realistic possibility based on the quality of the dialogue. As always, it depends on what one means- but to me a phrase like "preparing to enter communion" suggests widespread synodal ratification with the final details being hammered out. As a contrasting example (even here, the phrase "preparing to enter communion with" would not accurately reflect the situation) in the early 1970s the Patriarchate of Moscow actually formally permitted Catholics to receive the Eucharist at a synodal level- i.e. at the ecclesiastical level where the prerogative for administering and managing the Eucharist rests.

    With all respect (and I honestly do mean that), if the very idea of someone rejecting a belief you hold dear is personally upsetting, then you shouldn't read material that's not by those with whom you agree. I've certainly had to take breaks from certain kinds of writing in the past. But at the end of the day, I believe what I believe because I think it to be true. Does it "erase" your identity as a church? First, even if it did, what if in reality the Anglican Communion was no church at all and had not been one for four-hundred years? If I discovered, to my horror, that Islam was true and that every prayer to Jesus had been detestable to God, I would be shattered. No matter how shattered I was, though, things would be as they were. In one sense, I can understand why you subjectively felt my rejection of Anglican Orders (though see below) personally. But in another sense, what would you like me to do with that? As Lewis- the great Anglican himself- puts it in Screwtape Letters, in this kind of arena the proper adjectives are "true" or "false." That doesn't mean that "speaking the truth" means the same thing as "speaking the truth in love", but if I understand the issue you're taking, it's not the way I communicated what I did that you find upsetting, but the very fact that I said I did not believe Anglican Orders to be valid.

    You are mistaken about the lack of precedent here. Catholic sacramental theology was utilized so heavily in Orthodox Christendom (take a look at St. Peter Moghila or the catechism of St. Philaret of Moscow and especially the canons of the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672) that some have called it, as I'm sure you're aware, a Latin captivity. Whether or not such influence is good or bad is besides the point here if the contention is that my conscious appropriation of certain Catholic patterns of thought lacks meaningful precedent.

    I also think that it is inconsistent to expect a great deal of deference towards the legitimacy of the Anglican Communion by Orthodox, only to justify it by appealing to the idea that Orthodoxy is intrinsically permeated by anti-Roman animus. Orthodoxy shares a great deal in common with Catholicism. That idea is upsetting to a number of individuals in my own tradition, but it is true.

    -

    So even if I did "erase" your existence as a church, I did it in a response to a question, and I have never asked a soul to read the article except if they asked me the same question. The irony here is that I actually wrote the article to resolve some questions in my own mind about Anglican experiences of grace (I'm thinking particularly of Lewis' experiences with the Eucharist) as well as analogous Lutheran piety which suggests to me that God does, sometimes, act freely to genuinely confer sacramental, priestly, and eucharistic graces in Anglican sacraments. So while Catholic sacramental theology has actually exerted substantial and historical influence over Orthodox theology (Gennadius Scholarius translated Aquinas' Summa into Greek, praised it to high heaven, and did so as leader of the opposition to the union with Rome, so your statement of the history is seriously mistaken), my own view is different. I think there is a rock solid guarantee at every Catholic Mass and Orthodox Liturgy that Jesus will show up personally in the elements. I do not think that there is a rock solid guarantee that He will do so in an Anglican context. But there is neither a rock solid guarantee that He won't do it. I think there are times that He freely chooses to do so.

    I also affirm the reality of Anglican baptism and thus the reality of a genuine bond between Anglicans and other baptized Christians. I affirm it because I think it's true. I once encountered an Orthodox person who was so upset by the idea that Coptic Christians were baptized that he threatened to punch in the face anyone who thought so- I'm not joking. Well, at the end of the day, if it's true, he could threaten to shoot them and it'd still be true. I've been excoriated by other Orthodox for being too pro-Western, reading too much N.T. Wright, too much C.S. Lewis, and affirming too much grace in your church. They told me that I was spitting on the legacy of generations of Orthodox who painstakingly transmitted the whole apostolic tradition. Well, in short, I don't care how upset they are. If it's true, whether it constitutes spitting on anyone won't make it untrue.

    I'm not trying to "win" anything. You'll notice that I actually was asked a question directly. I answered the question, directly, on my own blog. I did not send it to any Anglicans. I did not raise it or post it here. It was posted here by someone else. I do not believe that it is a reasonable inference from the words of our Lord that all persons must hold their tongue about the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of Anglican Orders. To extend the metaphor, I didn't cast a stone at all. I was out skipping rocks with others- you then walked over, took one of those rocks, wounded yourself with it, and then claimed that I threw it at you and should be ashamed of myself.

    Your arguments against Bellarmine's specific criticisms may be sophisticated, and perhaps they might be persuasive. But I cannot take seriously the idea that questioning Anglican Orders is a sin against charity while questioning Catholic doctrine is perfectly fine.

    Look, at the end of the day, if I had made an account here unprompted and posted that article, it would not have been appropriate and you might have a point. But I didn't. Someone asked me a question on my own blog, which I answered. Then someone posted my answer to that question here and criticized certain things I said.


    You are free to do exactly that. I do not know you, I did not ask you to read it, and I did not send it to you. I didn't even post it here. You're an Anglican and presumably persuaded of its legitimacy. So you're absolutely free to that assessment. At the end of the day, I don't agree with it, but I'm not going to pursue the matter. It's quite possible that if you don't respond again here, the next time we will actually speak to one another is on the other side of the age to come. We all hold certain things very dear that others reject entirely.

    Sagan's dictum about extraordinary claims is usually used to insist that Jesus is dead and miracles never happen. To be honest, it seems to me to reflect a kind of intellectual solipsism. What one person regards as extraordinary, another regards as eminently plausible. The validity of Anglican Orders is not self-evident. Is it really that astonishing to you that some people do not affirm the complete and total legitimacy of historic Anglicanism? When a friend of mine became Christian (from Islam), her friends assumed that she still affirmed the prophetic calling of Muhammad and the divine authorship of the Qur'an. Of course, you're a baptized Christian and my brother in the Lord, and they are not. I'm not talking about how important the issue is but how we assess the extraordinary standing of an idea. They were stunned when she said that Muhammad was not a prophet and that the Qur'an is just a work of Arabic religious literature. At a very deep level, it seemed to them utterly ludicrous- akin to insisting that we live on the underside of a hollow earth.

    The idea that Anglican Orders are not valid is not an extraordinary idea. It's just not. It might be mistaken. But calling it an extraordinary claim is like me telling you that you're a nutjob if you think the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father. There are Orthodox people who say the same sort of thing, and on that blog I've called them out for it too. Choosing to study theology at any level means that one is going to need to accept the fact that there will be some people who hold things that you hold dear to be false. I can understand the gut reaction- but there is no genuine basis for taking it personally. It's an unreasonable standard that I don't hold you to and you don't hold yourself to.

    It wasn't an argument against Anglican Orders. It was an answer to the question of what I thought and then an attempt to figure out how that hangs together with the rest of Christian truth. Dude, I mentioned Anglicanism, in passing, once. No, that is not "theological gaslighting." The fact that someone, somewhere on the internet disagrees with something you think is important does not constitute emotional abuse. I'm sorry to speak sharply, but the idea that I or anyone else gaslit you because I told someone honestly what I thought after they asked me for my view and on my own blog is just silly.

    Yes, it is indeed stream of consciousness. It's a blog post. I put it on Tumblr. It sounds to me like the only thing that wouldn't constitute "gaslighting" in your mind would be an eloquent and systematic affirmation of what you already believe. And if you really feel like it constitutes genuine emotional abuse and victimization for some dude to disagree with something you believe on his blog, you should disconnect your wifi, because what I said about Anglicanism is chocolates and flowers compared to much of the other stuff you might stumble across.

    Orthodox generally do hold their own communion to be the fullness of the faith and that other Christian traditions have imperfections that are not present in Orthodoxy. So do Catholics and many Protestants about their own communions, for that matter. Of course I think my tradition is true. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't affirm it. Of course I think Anglicanism is lacking in a way Orthodoxy is not. I think Christianity is true in a way that the old paganism isn't (and no, I'm not saying you're a pagan, I wouldn't say you were a pagan, and I'd call you my brother in Christ because I think it's true and not false). So if some old pagan came and accused me of saying that idolatry is only something that non-Christians do, I guess I'd shrug my shoulders- so what?

    In any case, schism does happen within the Orthodox communion (i.e. the partial rupture between Moscow and Constantinople) though it has a different significance than other Christian traditions proper which are corporately out of sacramental communion with Orthodox churches.

    In any case, I'm looking right now at an icon of C.S. Lewis whom I revere and pray to daily. If this comparatively mild assessment of historic Anglicanism from an Orthodox perspective offends you, then you are not in the right state of mind (at this point, and this is not an insult) to be actively engaging these questions. You need to have some ability to accept the fact that there will be people who reject things that you believe.

    If you keep a prayer list, please add me to it. (name is Thomas.)
     
  12. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,011
    Likes Received:
    1,053
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    The Oriental Orthodox are very close to accepting Anglicans. If only Canterbury could get out of its own way we would probably already have an agreement. Traditional Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox need each other, to be frank.
     
    bwallac2335 likes this.
  13. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,631
    Likes Received:
    902
    Religion:
    ACNA
    This makes me hopeful for the future.
     
  14. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,645
    Likes Received:
    1,206
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    No church needs anyone other than Christ. Quite a lot of them get by without him though, it would sometimes seem. :laugh:
    .
     
    Invictus, ZachT and Rexlion like this.