Richard Hooker on church orders, and lay presidency

Discussion in 'Sacraments, Sacred Rites, and Holy Orders' started by Stalwart, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Our discussion of the Diocese of Sydney touched upon the subject of lay presidency. I said that in Anglicanism a lay presidency is heretical because the clergy is consecrated unto God and has a metaphysical indelible character that makes it different from the laity, resting my views on the theologian Richard Hooker.

    The replies to this were:
    Having gone through the doctor's treatise with careful eye I've collated his views on the nature of the holy orders, showing to us why Anglicans never ever practiced it, until Sydney in recent years decided to depart from the Church.


    Richard Hooker on the Church Orders:

    Ecclesiastical Polity, book V:

    "To whom Christ hath imparted power both over that mystical body which is the society of souls, and over that natural which is himself for the knitting of both in one; (a work which antiquity doth call the making of Christ’s body; ) the same power is in such not amiss both termed a kind of mark or character and acknowledged to be indelible."​

    "Ministerial power is a mark of separation, because it severeth them that have it from other men, and maketh them a special order consecrated unto the service of the Most High in things wherewith others may not meddle. Their difference therefore from other men is in that they are a distinct order. So Tertullian calleth them. And St. Paul himself dividing the body of the Church of Christ into two moieties nameth the one part ἰδιώτας, which is as much as to say the Order of the Laity, the opposite part whereunto we in like sort term the Order of God’s Clergy, and the spiritual power which he hath given them the power of their Order, so far forth as the same consisteth in the bare execution of holy things called properly the affairs of God.​

    "They which have once received this power may not think to put it off and on like a cloak as the weather serveth, to take it, reject and resume it as oft as themselves list, of which profane and impious contempt these later times have yielded as of all other kinds of iniquity and apostasy strange examples; but let them know which put their hands unto this plough, that once consecrated unto God they are made his peculiar inheritance for ever." [emphases mine]​
    BOOK V. Ch. lxxvii. 2-3.

    "That therefore wherein a minister differeth from other Christian men is not as some have childishly imagined the “sound preaching of the word of God,” but as they are lawfully and truly governors to whom authority of regiment is given in the commonwealth according to the order which polity hath set, so canonical ordination in the Church of Christ is that which maketh a lawful minister as touching the validity of any act which appertaineth to that vocation. The cause why St. Paul willed Timothy not to be over hasty in ordaining ministers was (as we very well may conjecture) because imposition of hands doth consecrate and make them ministers whether they have gifts and qualities fit for the laudable discharge of their duties or no."​
    BOOK V. Ch. lxxxi. 12.

    "they which have once received ordination cannot again return into the world"​
    BOOK V. Ch. lxxx. 10.



    Richard Hooker on lay presidency:

    "Seeing that Sacraments therefore consist altogether in relation to some such gift or grace supernatural as only God can bestow, how should any but the Church administer those ceremonies as Sacraments which are not thought to be Sacraments by any but by the Church?"​
    BOOK V. Ch. L., 2.

    On the tinge of atheism that underlies the contempt for Church Orders:
    "As long as men are persuaded of any order that it is only of man, they presume of their own understanding, and they think to devise another not only as good, but better than that which they have received."​
    BOOK III. Ch. xi. 19.

    The question is why well-meaning people today don't know of these quotes? Why do churchmen like Jensen and J.I. Packer quote Puritans as their heroes? The reason is that they are trying to fit the square peg of our Church into the round niche of Calvinism. But they they have never fit. Hooker was never interested, involved, or cared a whit about the theology of Beza and contemporary Calvinist culture. His books are on totally different subjects, his style grammar and arrangement are altogether alien from it, and his topics, formulations and emphases are completely at variance with contemporary Calvinist theology. He practiced only Anglican theology, and cared only about the Anglican church, while devoting his life to refuting Presbyterianism and Calvinism. It is incumbent upon us to honor him and to follow his example.
     
  2. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    I honor and follow the apostolic writings, otherwise known as the divine;y inspired scriptures, not some man. For me, and supposedly for Anglicans, scripture is the final authority.
     
  3. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    That's a fine appeal, Celtic1, but is it fair to dismiss the wise counsel of an honest man who put a lot of thought and prayer into discerning the scriptures? Hooker was just that sort of person, and did just that sort of thing, with his Ecclesiastical Polity. To dismiss it out-of-hand is like dismissing Athanasius, Chrysostom or any other good theologian. Don't be "solo" scriptura, but allow others to teach us out of "sola" scriptura. :)

    Anyway, where in Holy Scripture do you discern lay presidency & the needlessness of Orders? I say "needlessness" because if anyone can preside at the Holy Communion, there's really no need for clerics at all. Preaching is not ministerial; baptism is not ministerial; ordination would not be ministerial; the Holy Communion would not be ministerial. You yourself, as a professed bishop in your church, would become redundant along with the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and every Elder & Pastor.
     
  4. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Stalwart, you have moments of genius. Splendid.!
     
  5. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    For Anglicans, Scripture interpreted by the Apostlic college and early fathers through the intervention of the Holy Ghost, i.e. the Seven Councils, are the final authority!
     
  6. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    English cousin, that simply cannot be the case. The Councils & Fathers themselves made sure to indicate that the Creeds they drew up were only summaries of the Word of God: the Scriptures in brief. Athanasius & Hilary say so much when they indicate that all of the Nicene Creed can be found in the Holy Bible. Hilary says that he knew of the terms "homoousious" and "homoiousios" long before they were debated at Nicaea, because he had read the Scriptures.

    To make the Councils of men the final authority is damnable - they are good guides, but they are not the inspiration of the Holy Ghost! Anyway, there aren't seven ecumenical councils, but four. :) Since we cannot even agree on the number of the Synods of man, let us adhere to the plain Word for this matter. Where Hooker proves his ideas with the Scripture, they are to be accepted.
     
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  7. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Ah, but it was the Council, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that assembled the collection of manuscripts that we call "The word of God"!:think:

    Jeff
     
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  8. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Cyril of Jerusalem & Athanasius already had the scripture canon set out long before any of the councils that defined the Scriptures - but let's not get into that area of easy sophistry. We're trying to stay on topic: lay presidency, not the origin of Scripture.
     
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  9. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Dear Canadian Cousin,

    Further to Jeff's missive,the Bishop's were not supposed to deliver their own off the cuff solutions, but to give the catholic opinion of that time on the various subjects. We have had enough of solo flights, the business of the Seven Councils was to work out and to put in to print , as it were, the received wisdom of the One Holy Catholic Church of the first 315 years of its existence.

    Now, Tertullian, and Vincent of Lerins, along with English bishops of both the Early and later (Bramhall,) English Reformation
    along with Newman, the Apostate, all claimed that truth was found in the teachings of the early Church!

    "As long as men are persuaded of any order that it is only of man, they presume of their own understanding, and they think to devise another not only as good, but better than that which they have received."​
    BOOK III. Ch. xi. 19.

    Every interpretation of Hooker that comes from an orthodox stable, gives the explanation of the above quote in a catholic manner!
     
  10. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Yes and no. There was an early assemblance of manuscripts which differed in number and content from what we hold today, but it was the first council coupled with the resources of Constantine empire which distributed the assembled product. Even if you deny the council's input, it was God working through the "Church" to assemble the canon and not an individual,.
     
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  11. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    highchurchman, I do not deny the authority or wisdom of the Fathers & Councils. :)

    Regardless, the councils did not assemble our rule & tenet of faith. If Melito, Origen, Cyril, Athanasius, etc., could produce their own authoritative lists and promulgate them without even one Council being referenced, we must conclude that the canon existed in the Church before even one Council met. At any rate, the Fathers themselves have said that the Scripture is our first & last infallible authority for all matters. Councils & theologians may err - and thanks be to God, or else we would have cause to boast in pride! After all, why do we kneel on Sunday when the last canon of Nicaea I says that all should stand to pray on the Lord's Day?

    Now please, let's stop derailing poor Stalwart's topic, and actually discuss the concept of ORDERS. If you will cite some pompous council of men for authority, at least put some Scripture behind it. That was the only standard which the Councils themselves put forward for absolute doctrine.
     
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  12. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    Hooker was also a Calvinist, Stalwart.
     
  13. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    That does not seem to have been the case, Hackney?

    http://willgwitt.org/anglicanism/hooker-was-a-calvinist-right/

    No Calvinist would tell us that clerical orders are indelible, at any rate. A quote from the link:

     
  14. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    I'm not familiar with that blog but I'm growing more wary of "Reformed Catholic" it shows a lack of scholarly insight, in my opinion, and tends to mark neo-Anglicanism.
     
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  15. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    With all due respect, Hooker was as much a Calvinist as you were sure that indelible orders were "far removed from Anglicanism proper".
     
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  16. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    First answer in red above.

    The priesthood of all believers necessitates that the laity may minister the sacraments. Further, no scripture restricts the administration/consecration to clergy.

    As I said in my thread on the Diocese of Sydney: "My Communion allows for "lay presidency", but that does not eliminate bishops, priests, and deacons, all of which we have and all of which exercise a sacramental function. We simply recognize that the laity has the same rights as the ordained, and based on our view of the priesthood of all believers, we do not restrict administration/consecration of the sacraments to the clergy since we don't hold that these need to be mediated to and for us by a special clergy class". So, the logic in your last paragraph above does not hold.

    So, we do not eliminate ordained ministry or the functions of same; we simply do not restrict those functions to ordained clergy. That way we do not set up a clergy caste system in which the ordained are artificially separated from the laity and elevated over them, making the laity second-class Christians with unequal rights and privileges, needing clerical mediators of the sacraments.

    Further, if laity have the right to baptize and preach, why not presiding at communion?
     
  17. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    That's not what the Articles say. Article VIII; Article XX; Article XXI, which is omitted in the American BCP 1979, still denies the authority of the Councils unless their findings are in agreement with scripture, and says that Councils "forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God, they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God". The Councils are declared subservient to scripture.

    So, no, for Anglicans, the scriptures are the final authority. Are you quite sure you're Anglican?
     
  18. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Celtic1, putting the right to baptize & preach aside for a moment, I really want to explore this with you:

    You equate having a class of clergy to Clericalism - but why? Ministers do not lord it over the laity simply by the fact that they are uniquely ordained. There are no castes, nor inequality. This sounds like 1960s' anti-institutionalism talking, not theology.

    If the laity have the same rights, privileges, and abilities as the clergy: Why Clergy? If a layman can bless, sanctify, consecrate, administer, and function in all the areas that a minister can: Why ministers? What's the actual reason, given their redundancy?
     
  19. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    Not true. That is the opposite extreme of those who believe the canon was dropped down out of heaven before the end of the first century, and in the wording of the KJV!

    The canon was written and thus completed before the end of the first century, but its recognition and determination was a process of general consensus. No book which was widely doubted was eventual included, but a couple which had considerable approval were rejected, such as the Shepherd of Hermas.

    People really should study things, in this case the formation of the canon, before making unfounded statements.
     
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  20. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    Seems as if those who beat their chests and proclaim their fidelity to Anglicanism the loudest and throw out the word heresy and schism the most are actually the least Anglican here. There is no doubt that scripture is the finally authority in Anglicanism, not Catholic tradition or Councils.
     
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