Difference between High Church and Anglo-Catholic and can Anglo-Catholics identify as Protestants?

Discussion in 'Questions?' started by ApostolicChristian, Apr 24, 2021.

  1. ZachT

    ZachT New Member

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    Hi friends, first post! Excited to join these sorts of discussions.

    I would ditto what PDL said; "I think defining Anglo-Catholic is difficult!". I'm an Anglo-Catholic, attend a church self-describing as Anglo-Catholic, that is listed on the diocese website as Anglo-Catholic, where most members of the parish would openly call themselves Anglo-Catholic, and engages in all the kind of candle silliness detailed above complete with a big candle for Easter right now. We also have a female rector.

    In my mind Anglo-Catholicism, as the term is now used, references a tradition of liturgical practice and not a cohesive theological or ideological opinion, nor a strict adherence to any specific doctrine not also consistent with all other Anglican churches. It is true that it is generally more conservative, but not exclusively so, and that also doesn't mean it's non-inclusive. I'd also flag that, in my experience, that tradition of practice is not Roman Catholic - although they are naturally similar. The Anglo-Catholic tradition continues to evolve and change, as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions continue to change. Given that, categorising Anglo-Catholics on what they believe is no longer accurate (if ever, I'm not certain on the theological uniformity of the Oxford Movement).

    To answer the two original questions:

    1. Anglo-Catholics are protestants, unless we remove all meaning of the word. Protestant churches are churches on the Western side of the great schism that reject the doctrine of Papal Supremacy. That's a pretty wide net, and it includes all churches in the Anglican communion. My experience disagrees with Shane R's in saying "most Anglo-Catholics are uncomfortable being labeled protestant", but I would agree that some certainly are. I think that simply comes from a discomfort with how ordinary people visualise protestant faith. What people think of when you describe yourself as "Protestant" is not how most Anglo-Catholics want people to think of them.

    2. I think in the modern era of the Anglican Church, high church is essentially synonymous with Anglo-Catholicism and low church is essentially synonymous with Evangelical Anglicans (with broad church catching everyone else that doesn't fit in a clear box). I'd also say that those terms are becoming less relevant as Anglo-Catholic tradition is adopted by broad church Anglicans, and even some low church Anglicans. An example of that is that it used to be a controversial Anglo-Catholic tradition to expect clergy to wear vestments, or mix water with eucharistic wine. I'm happy to be corrected, but I think those practices are now essentially universal amongst all churches.
     
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  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The continuity is very strong when we consider the fact that there was a time in the English church before the domination of the Papacy, namely before the Norman conquest. You will find Anglican theologians rejecting transubstantiation during that era. Also there is a record of a Saxon English historian calling Nicea II (which established icons) a blight and a curse upon the Church of God.

    Additionally, during the era of Papal dominion (Norman Conquest to the Reformation, 500 years), you will find that the Anglican Church rejected Roman authority at least a third of that time, maybe half. In the Magna Carta you'll see the Papal authority greatly rebuked and diminished. You will also find medieval Anglican prelates offering stout resistance to Papalism and for many seasons of the Church successfully repulsing their claims. I started this thread a while ago about the famous medieval bishop Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253):

    "The resistance of medieval English bishop to the Papacy in Rome"
    https://forums.anglican.net/threads...al-english-bishop-to-the-papacy-in-rome.3983/
     
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  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    But what does it mean for something to be a "fuller" Catholic ceremonial? Do you mean the Roman Latin Mass? Surely you'll be aware that the Roman canon doesn't have the epiclesis. Not that I will say the epiclesis is necessary either. What I'm saying is, the idea of a "fullest" Catholic ceremonial from some time in the past is mostly a fiction.

    There was a mosaic of St. Ambrose or St. Augustine that was uncovered a few years ago, and he looked nothing like the Orthodox Icons; he didn't have any vestments and looked like a secular Roman citizen. Not that I would deny that the vestments are essential in today's secular age either. What I'm saying is, it is given to the Church in each age to institute the Catholic ceremonial that will most successfully build up the Kingdom of God. There was never a "fullest" ceremonial.


    So what you're saying is, the medieval church was the "fullness" of divine worship?


    I agree to that. But since Anglo-Catholicism is a neologism from the 19th century, and influenced by all kinds of Rome-leaning inspirations, I would recommend that all those who are Anglo-Catholics returned to the traditional Anglican high churchmanship instead.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
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  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    For some time I have felt that the distinction is glossed over and this can lead to some misunderstandings.
    1. Catholic
      1. A member of a Church which affirms the Nicene Creed
      2. A member of the Church in Communion with the Bishop of Rome
    2. Protestant
      1. A member of one of the Reformation Churches
      2. Someone who is not a Catholic
    3. High Church
      1. Someone with a view of Theology that gives significance to the Church
      2. Someone who liturgical expression embraces ritual bells and smells, vestments ...
    4. Low Church
      1. Someone whose view of theology has limited value for the Church
      2. Someone whose liturgical expression will be basic, 2 or fewer candles, surplice or just a suit.
    At the end of the day people are all over the shop of this, and in many ways all these tags have become less than useful.

    For me the Anglican Church is a Catholic Church (embracing the Creeds, the Three Fold Ministry, the Historic Episcopate and the Canon of Scripture) and it is a Church which somehow through it's diverse history has made room for all who would turn to Christ, truly and earnestly repent of their sins, and seek to lead a new life.

    Many Churches are Catholic without being in Communion with Rome, including The Anglican Churches, The Orthodox Churches, The Oriental Orthodox Churches, The Mah Thoma Church, The Old Catholics, The Independent Catholics, ...
     
  5. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I feel it also worth mentioning that there is a difference between describing a church community as being Protestant/Low Church/Anglocatholic/High Church etc. and labelling an individual person's churchmanship and worship style preferences by those terms.

    In my own case it bothers me very little how many candles are on the altar or none, whether I or others wear vestments or not, whether someone would travel to listen to the Pope or prefer to read the sermons of John Wesley, whether bells and incense punctuate worship or everyone sits around meditating on the teachings of Christ in silence. These things are all optional trivialities as far as my faith in Christ's atonement and assurance of salvation are concerned. To be overly concerned, ney pedantically occupied with such issues, let alone being driven to schism over them, is a foolish distraction from true and faithful discipleship in Jesus Christ.

    It would make as much sense to be burning people at the stake for preferring a red rather than a blue carpet or just a tiled floor, in the sanctuary.
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  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing your view. I'll do the same.

    To me, the catholic (with a small "c", meaning "universal") church is the body of Christ on earth, the entirety of those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ their Redeemer; this crosses all denominational boundaries. It is not about the denominations, it is about the people. Millions of Protestants are members of the catholic church. So are many Orthodox, many RCs, many Anglicans, and so on.

    To me, speaking of the Catholic (capital "C") church means specifically the Roman Catholic Church and whatever minor offshoots of it that might be in communion with it. It does not include Anglicans, Orthodox, etc.

    As for high and low church practices, I see these as matters of preference. Certain practices are comforting to certain people. Those who enjoy pomp and ceremony the most probably tend to gravitate toward high church. I don't envision these practices mattering much to our Lord, who looks at the inward man first and foremost.

    In O.T. times, God carefully specified the way in which His 'house' was to be built and adorned; the tent or temple were to be the place where He dwelt among men, and God showed His holiness and perfection by requiring that His place be set up a certain way. Today, we the believers are the temples of the Holy Spirit and He adorns us with His righteousness and fruits of the Spirit to make us fit for His habitation. Dimensional and adornment requirements for the buildings we erect to meet in are nowhere specified by God; He never said, "I want this many candles," or, "wear this style of vestments when officiating." Such details are more for the satisfaction of the users than for God, who says that He desires mercy and not sacrifice.
     
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  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    In case anyone wanted me to support this, I found the mosaics again, so might as well post them here:

    Here is the painting of St. Augustine of Hippo, from the Lateran in Rome, 6th century AD:
    augustine.jpg

    And here is the mosaic of St. Ambrose of Milan from the 4th century AD, can be seen today at the Chapel San Vittore i. Ciel d'Oro, Milan San' Ambrogio - 4th century
    https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/...-04-04-397-doctor-of-the-news-photo/541461895

    gettyimages-541461895.jpg
     
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  8. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    I disagree with that statement to the extent that I would not consider, e.g., Mormons or JWs to be Christian. Adherence to the Nicene creed (with our without the filioque) would make someone part of the "catholic" church, in my view. A denial of the eternal Trinity or the literal physical resurrection of our Lord Jesus removes one from the body of the church catholic.
     
  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    With the possible exception of belief in the Resurrection, which St Paul seems in scripture to believe to be essential to the Christian faith, how many of Paul's readers before his death, could have and therefore would have, adhered to the Nicene Creed or St Athenasius's Creed? Don't you think it better to judge whether the members of a church are true disciples of Christ, by the criteria suggested by Christ himself?

    John 13:35. It IS HIS church, after all is said and done.
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  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I understand and share your feelings about the LDS and JW organizations. Yet we cannot rule out the possibility that some person belonging to one of those groups might be a truly born-again Christian, even though they lack the understanding necessary to come out of the group. Those religions clearly teach a wrong message about the means of salvation, and so does the Roman church for that matter, but being a member of any such church does not rule out the possibility of a miracle of grace through genuine faith having been wrought in a person's spirit.

    These people may not have an accurate understanding of the Trinity, it is true. Undoubtedly the thief on the cross next to Jesus knew almost nothing about it. Fortunately, none of us must pass an exam to prove that we are 100% (or even 50%) orthodox in order to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; if it were required of each one to have perfect theology prior to entering God's heavenly kingdom, I doubt anyone would make it. Yet I'm sure there will be people who cried out to Jesus in their final moments and who entered those gates, having heard little more in their lives than that Jesus saves all who ask Him.
     
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  11. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    We believe in the one, holy, apostolic faith (i.e., as passed down to us by the apostles). We believe the Apostles were divinely guided and present the true and inerrant Word of God Himself. Therefore we can take Scripture -- all Scripture -- as God's own Holy Word. The Gospels, the epistles, the Revelation -- all come from God, and form the basis of the Church catholic.

    Which is to say...Jesus was the author of Paul's epistles, as was the Holy Spirit. Thus God Himself. It is error to suggest that Paul's epistles somehow carry less weight than the Gospels in terms of Christian teaching.
     
  12. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    Christianity is not a "choose your own adventure" game. It does not present an infinite number of avenues by which one may progress. Jesus Christ himself makes this point in Matthew 7:13-14, and in John 14:6. Paul expounds further in Galatians 1:6-12. If one does not consider Christ to be a member of the Holy Trinity, or believes that Jesus is lesser being (a creature), then one is not a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word -- certainly not regarding salvation.

    To think otherwise is to fall into the error of Universalism, which is contrary to the plain meaning of Scripture.
     
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  13. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    I might also add: we do not live in that short period between the death (and resurrection!) of Christ and Paul's epistles, and therefore do not have the excuse of ignorance (if excuse it is). We have all 66 books of Holy Scripture to guide us now, and anyone anywhere (with some exceptions like North Korea and other totalitarian states) can readily find a copy. We cannot plead ignorance.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021 at 5:11 PM
  14. Invictus

    Invictus Member

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    The thing is, the LDS employ the traditional baptismal formula. There is the possibility that the sacrament is effective for them. The LDS may very well embrace orthodox trinitarianism within our lifetimes.
     
  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    To think otherwise is actually more Biblical than you realize!
    Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


    Notice that Jesus never said, 'whoever believes and understands the nature of the Trinity.' Whoever believes in Him, whoever believes that Jesus died and rose from the dead to redeem the person from his sins, "is not condemned."

    Rom 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
    Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
    Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.


    It doesn't say, 'confess Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and understand the Trinity.'

    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.


    Or should we change this Scripture to read, 'For by grace are ye saved through faith and sound doctrinal knowledge'?

    The fact of the matter is, the position being suggested might be a form of Gnosticism: that we are saved by special knowledge in the area of theology.
     
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  16. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    If Jesus was not God, then he had no power to save and so we are all still dead in our sin. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, then our faith is useless and we are not saved.

    Jesus was understood at the time to be part of the Godhead; and that he acted in concert with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, both while he was on earth and after he ascended. In theology as in music, theory follows practice. You are assuming that sometime in the 300's AD, Christians all at once slapped themselves on the forehead and said, "Oh, the Trinity! How could we have missed it!" That's just silly -- all the Nicene creed did was systematize an idea that was already in practice (and from the beginnings of the Christian faith).

    Paul repeatedly refers to the Trinity in his epistle to the Romans (cf. Chapter 5:5-6, Chapter 8:11). We also see a clear reference to the Trinity in Ephesians 4:1-6.

    The Trinity is eternal, and is expressed repeatedly in the New Testament by Paul and other Apostles. It is clear that the basic theology of a triune Godhead existed from the very first; it was not a later "enhancement".

    We do not profess the Nicene Creed as an extension of Scriptural truth so much as a condensation of it.
     
  17. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    There seems to have been some considerable failure to understand what I had actually written here.

    Try as I might I cannot see any mention whatever of "Paul's epistles somehow carrying less weight than the Gospels in terms of Christian teaching." I recall mentioning only the Nicene Creed, 19th June year 325, and St Athenasius's Creed, which was probably not written and not mentioned before perhaps the late fifth or early sixth century AD, at least 100 years after Athanasius death, so he probably also never wrote it.

    Anyone might assume from the response my post received, that I had somehow suggested that scripture is not "God's own Holy Word" and that "The Gospels, the epistles, the Revelation -- don't come from God, and form the basis of the Church catholic", and therefore the catholic faith of Christ.

    It almost seems like I am being accused of implying that the Apostolic Church was full of excusably ignorant believers and that Mormons JWs etc are excusably ignorant also. I don't believe though that I have implied anything like that here.

    I was merely suggesting that Jesus Christ himself, within the pages of scripture, seemed to base his assessment of valid Christianity on the quality of our love for one another and our adherence to his teaching, rather than on doctrinal niceties and esoteric philosophical beliefs concerning his deity, the physical or supernatural nature of his being or his rank within the triune nature of God, nearly all of which only became subjects of debate centuries after the Age of The Apostles and the production and collection of the scriptures, faded into the dim mists of time.
    .
     
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  18. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    The Bible says what it says. Your disagreement is with Jesus, and with Paul. I've cited what they had to say on the subject of what is required to be saved.

    I will say we all agree, however, that if Jesus is not raised from the dead our faith is in vain, and therefore if someone believes that Jesus did not rise from the dead, that person has no basis for believing he's been redeemed. Romans 10 tells us that much: ...and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead...
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021 at 9:14 PM
  19. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

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    You give the game away when you say "our adherence to his teaching, rather than on doctrinal niceties". Jesus' teaching is doctrinal. He quotes at length from Scripture to buttress every teaching. What some consider "doctrinal niceties" others consider Divine commandments, to be obeyed upon pain of eternal damnation. God does not suggest or cajole. He commands; we obey.

    When Paul or Peter or John write, they do so under divine inspiration of God (hence Jesus himself). All Scripture is breathed out by God; it does not contradict itself. Doctrine is not some minor thing, subordinate to our own feelings on any given topic. When Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, a major component of that command is to prevent our neighbor from falling away from the faith (either through sin or simple wrong-headedness). We would expect the same correction from our bretheren -- this is in fact the main role of our pastors: to teach us sound doctrine and good habits of discipleship.

    God is Love, yes. But he is also Wrath. And Justice. And Holiness. And Judgement.

    People who lean too hard on God's love tend to ignore the Wrath and Judgement aspects. Our God is loving and kind, yes. But he is also a wrathful God who once destroyed the entire population of the earth with a great flood, save a faithful remnant led by Noah. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire because they had become unredeemable. God took the life of every firstborn male child in Egypt, save those of the devout who daubed the blood of a lamb on the lintel of their dwelling; we call this the Passover. God lays his holy wrath on Israel more than once.

    God is love. But that's not all he is. We must let God's attributes lie level with each other if we are to gain understanding.
     
  20. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I think it an important point to make at this juncture that Rexlion posed his original survey for the pupose of discovering what types of churches (or gatherings of disciples of Christ, i.e. ecclesia or assemblies), we each would be inclined to temporarily worship with or attend while on vacation.

    That is by no means the same thing as personally being a member of a church community which we believe, and have experienced to be, in line with our own understanding of wholsome doctrine and good Christian practice.

    We seem to have wandered from the metaphorical narrow path and wicket gate of the thread title into the slough of dispond or dat-pond or perhaps even the metaphorical depths of Lake Gennesaret. :laugh:

    We seem to have somehow gone from fellowshipping with some strangers who claim to love Jesus - while on a holliday somewhere - to "Wrath. And Justice. And Holiness. And Judgement".

    That might appeal to some as being the kind of conversation that church people and 'believers' should all be frequently engaged in, but would conversation on such matters be what you would be looking for in a Christian fellowship, on a Sunday, when on holliday? :thumbsdown:
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    Last edited: May 7, 2021 at 9:10 PM
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