The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, January 28, 2022

The Ordinary and the Extraordinary

The distinction between the “ordinary” and the “extraordinary” is a recurring one in theology.   In moral theology this distinction is essential to the discussion of certain ethical dilemmas.   How far are we obligated to go in preserving the lives of those who are suffering and dying?  The orthodox answer is that we are obligated to make use of every ordinary means of preserving their lives available but are not under such an obligation when it comes to extraordinary means, such as those made available by modern medical technology.   Since giving people food and water is an ordinary means of preserving their lives, the practice of starving or dehydrating someone for the purpose of ending his suffering – and life – quicker is forbidden, but we are under no obligation to prolong his life and suffering, and possibly make the suffering worse, with questionable modern drugs, for the latter are extraordinary means.


Another example of this distinction, one that requires little in the way of explanation, is the distinction between God’s ordinary and extraordinary operations in the natural world.   The former are the processes that God put in place in the world when He created it and which, observed and put into formulaic statement by men, are what we know as the laws of science.   The latter are miracles.


It is also common for us to speak of the “ordinary means of grace”.   This expression contains the implied assumption that there are also “extraordinary means of grace” although these are rarely talked about.   A definition and a couple of other distinctions are necessary to understand this one.   Grace is God’s favour, freely bestowed by God as Sovereign Lord upon His creatures.   We distinguish between common grace and saving grace.   Common grace is God’s favour as freely bestowed upon all of His creatures alike.   It is what Jesus spoke of when He said that His Father sends the rain on the just and unjust alike (Matt. 5:45).   Saving grace is both a) the favour God showed to rebellious, sinful, human creatures by giving us His Son to be our Saviour and b) the favour to which sinners are restored by our Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who purchased that favour for us by His Suffering and Death on the Cross, in which favour our sins are taken away and forgiven, God credits us with righteousness, we are reconciled to God, adopted as His children, and rescued from the state of spiritual death and given everlasting life.    While we could speak of “means of grace” with regards to common grace as well as saving grace, we generally do not do so because every good gift from God in this life would qualify as such and so it is too broad of a concept to say much that is meaningful about it.   The means of grace, therefore, are the means of saving rather than common grace.    A second distinction needs to be made.   When we speak of the “means of grace” we can be referring either to a) the means by which we each receive the freely given grace of God, that is the means by which we each appropriate it to ourselves, or b) the means through which God works to bring His freely given saving favour, obtained for us by Christ, to us that we may so appropriate it.     The latter and not the former are what we refer to as the “ordinary means of grace”.   With regards to the former, the means by which we each appropriate the saving grace of God to ourselves, there is only one such means, and that is faith in Jesus Christ, believing the Gospel about Jesus, trusting Jesus as the Saviour proclaimed in the Gospel.  (1)  There is no distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means with regards to this because it is the only such means. (2)    The “ordinary means of grace”, therefore are the second kind of means of saving grace, the means whereby God brings His saving grace to us that we may appropriate it to ourselves by faith.   The Church, the spiritual covenant society established by Jesus Christ through His Apostles, should be identified as the first such means.   God did not establish Christianity as a solitary way of life to be lived out by individuals on their own but as a communal way of life to be lived out in the community of faith He provided for that purpose.   Therefore, He created the Church and tasked it with the job of bringing His saving grace to everyone in the world.   The Church’s performance of this task is called “preaching the Gospel”, although proclaiming might be a better word than “preaching” because “preaching” now has the connotation of “giving a sermon” and the concept of “preaching the Gospel” is not limited to that.   Indeed, every Ministry of the Church, through which the grace of God is brought to us is a form of “preaching the Gospel”.   This includes the Ministry of the Word – this includes both preaching in the colloquial sense of the term and teaching – and the Ministry of Sacrament – the administration of baptism, the ritual cleansing through which one becomes a member of the Church, and the Eucharist, the ceremonial representation of the death of Jesus Christ through which the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, as broken and shed on the Cross, become the spiritual food that regularly sustains the life of the faithful.   All of these, and the Church’s ministry of formally proclaiming God’s forgiveness upon confession of sin, are the forms of preaching the Gospel that are called the “ordinary means of grace”.   They are called this to indicate that the ordinary way that God has appointed for people to receive His saving grace through faith and to be sustained in that faith and grace is through His Church and her Ministries.   The “extraordinary means of grace” would include any means God uses outside of these channels to bring people to faith in His grace through Jesus Christ.   For obvious reasons they cannot be enumerated in the same way as the ordinary means.   The distinction is very important, however, because it is essential for understanding how the “necessity” of the Church and her Ministries does not conflict with the New Testament emphasis on saving grace being freely given and received by faith.   The “necessity” is the general necessity attached to God’s appointed normal way of doing things, not the absolute necessity that would turn baptism, Communion, Church attendance, etc. into so many marks to be checked off rather than avenues of divine blessing and render the grace of God far less gracious and free.


The final example of the “ordinary” v “extraordinary” distinction that we shall look it pertains to the authority and power given by Jesus Christ to His Apostles.   This authority and power was of both types.    The ordinary authority and power that Jesus Christ bestowed upon His Apostles was the authority and power necessary for them to carry out their evangelistic commission from Him and to govern the Church, the spiritual society that He founded to be His Body and Spouse and the manifestation of His Kingdom in this world and over which He placed the Apostles as governors.   This ordinary authority and power, the Apostles passed on to the others whom they admitted to their College of Ecclesiastical Governors and remains with these, who have been called by the title bishop (overseer) since the first century, in the Church to this day.   The extraordinary authority and power that Jesus Christ bestowed upon His Apostles was a) the power to preach the Gospel by divine inspiration so that the message proclaimed and heard was the very Word of God (the sermons recorded in the Acts of the Apostles), b) in the case of select Apostles – from the original Twelve SS Matthew, Mark, John, Peter, Jude and James, if James the Just, Brother of the Lord was the same person as James the Lesser, directly commissioned by Christ to evangelize the Gentiles in the book of Acts in the case of St. Paul, or brought into the Apostolic ministry by the Twelve and St. Paul in cases of SS Mark, Luke, and James the Just if he was not the same person as James the Lesser – to write the very Word of God (the canon of the New Testament), and c) to perform the kind of miracles that served as proof that the Gospel they preached and the New Testament writings were the infallible Word of God.   This authority and power was not passed on to their successors.     It is vital to recognize this distinction.   The ordinary authority and power bestowed upon the Apostles was the authority and power inseparably attached to their office and commission, and therefore passed on along to others with that office and commission.   Extraordinary authority and power of the type described is never passed on from one person or another, but is directly given from God to individuals and while God can bestow extraordinary power and authority upon individuals of His Sovereign choosing any time He wishes, the purpose for which this specific extraordinary power and authority was bestowed was fulfilled with the completion of the New Testament canon and so will not be bestowed again.  


The failure to grasp this is the source of all sorts of confusion with regards to the nature of the authority vested in the Church and that vested in the Scriptures as the written Word of God.     For example, there is the confusion of those who claim that the authority of the Scriptures is derived from the authority given to the Church, by which they inevitably mean their particular Church, although it would not be true even if the Church meant were the actual Catholic Church, that is to say, every Church everywhere in organic continuity with the original Church in Jerusalem, under the governance of those in Apostolic succession, and confessing the ancient Creeds.   Some of these have even gone so far as to claim that their Church has the power to turn books that are not inherently inspired by God into authoritative Scripture. (3)   Obviously, however, the Scriptures being what the Church has always claimed them to be, that is the inspired (4) written Word of God - and the Church says that this is what they are because this is what they are, not the other way around - their infallible authority is derived from this fact and not from the authority of the Church.


The extraordinary authority and power given to the Apostles, therefore, can be seen in the end for which it was the means – the giving to the Church, an infallible Rule of Faith for the Gospel Covenant, in the New Testament Scriptures.      In these same infallible New Testament Scriptures we find the record of Jesus Christ’s commissioning His Apostles, placing them in authority over the Church, and bestowing upon them the ordinary authority and power they would pass on to those who would join them and follow them in the government of the Church.


Jesus Christ’s original commissioning of His Twelve Apostles is recorded by St. Matthew in the tenth chapter of his Gospel, by St. Mark in the fourth chapter of his Gospel, and St. Luke in the sixth chapter of his Gospel.   These were already Jesus’ disciples – St. John records how SS Peter, Andrew, Philip and Nathaniel had first come to know Jesus and become His private disciples shortly after His baptism, the other Evangelists record the more public calling of SS Peter, Andrew, John, James the Greater, and Matthew to follow Jesus after His public preaching ministry began with the arrest of John the Baptist.   By the time of the commission, the twelve were all among a much larger body of His disciples from which they were selected.  (5)  St. Luke records that He set them apart from His other disciples and gave them the title Apostle (6:13), SS Matthew and Mark record that He sent them throughout the Holy Land preaching the Gospel to the Israelites and that He gave them power to cast out demons and heal sicknesses.   The commission to preach was obviously an appointment that came with ordinary authority.   It is less obvious whether the power to cast out demons and heal sicknesses was ordinary or extraordinary.      The Gospel of Mark records that they healed the sick by anointing them with oil (Mk. 6:13).   The anointing of the sick is part of the ministry that the Apostles passed on to their successors and also to the order of presbyters that they established under their government in the Church (James 5:14).   Exorcism is also a ministry that has been passed down to subsequent bishops and the presbyters under them.   Therefore, it would appear that this initial power given with the first Apostolic commission, miraculous though it was, was also a case of ordinary power.   However, just as the commission would be greatly expanded before Jesus ascended back to heaven, so the Apostles’ power to cast out devils and heal would be expanded at Pentecost to the point where the Apostles, like their Master, even raised the dead (Acts 9, 20).


The expansion of the Apostles’ commission, after the Resurrection and before the Ascension, is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels and the book of Acts.   The original commission was limited to the Israelites - “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5-6).   The expanded Commission – traditionally called the Great Commission – included the entire world – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.” (Matt. 28:19-20 – see also Mark 16:15 and Acts 1:8).   The commission could not be expanded any further than that, of course.  


In between the original commissioning of the Apostles and the final Great Commission, Christ had given them other powers and authority.   After St. Peter’s confession of faith that He, Jesus, was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, Jesus announced that He would build His Church “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” and told St. Peter that He would give him (“unto thee” – singular) the “keys of the kingdom of heaven”.  He later told the other Apostles that they would have this same power (18:18) and following the Resurrection He breathed on them, saying to them “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” and bestowed upon them (“ye” – plural) the power of the keys (Jn. 20:22-23).   This might seem like extraordinary power, especially if it is read in the extremely hyper-literal – and wrong - way of involving the arbitrary power to save and to damn others, but it is actually the ordinary authority to admit into the fellowship of the Church, exclude from such fellowship, and re-admit those formerly excluded, the authority essential to the governing of a society such as the Church.   As such, it has always been understood to have been passed on to those who were later admitted into the governance of the Church with the original Apostles – to all of them, not just the successor of St. Peter in one of the Churches he had presided over. (6)


On the evening of His betrayal, while keeping the Passover Seder with His Apostles, the Lord Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist.   Each of the Synoptic Gospels records the event – St. John, who does not, provides an earlier extended discourse from Jesus in which its significance is explained at length.   He took the bread – the unleavened bread or matzot which was, of course, the only kind permitted at the “feast of unleavened bread” – and “gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.”  (Lk. 22:19)   After the supper, He took the cup and did the same saying “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Lk. 22:20).   By doing this, Jesus established His Apostles as a new order of priests over His Church.   This does not conflict with the universal priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:4-5) any more than the establishment of the Levitical priesthood under the Aaronic high priesthood conflicted with Israel’s being a nation of priests (Ex. 19:6).   That this is clearly to be understood from the account of the institution of the Eucharist is evident from the nature of the Sacrament.   It takes bread and wine, the two kinds of sacrificial offerings from the Old Covenant that did not involve death and blood, and makes them the representatives of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Whose death on the Cross was the final bloody Sacrifice, to which all the others had pointed, and the Only One which could effectively take sins away and propitiate the justice of God, and therefore the means whereby this Sacrifice could become a meal feeding the faithful of the New Covenant.   This takes the place under the New Covenant of the entire sacrificial system of the Old Covenant.   For this reason it is something that must be performed by someone with a priestly office and commission, as only such could offer sacrifices, and therefore the institution of the Eucharist is the bestowing of just such an office and commission on the Apostles.     Note that the New Testament, does not use the word ῐ̔ερεύς to describe the ministers of the Church, although, as just explained, it clearly tells of Christ bestowing such an office upon these ministers.   The Greek word that was used in the New Testament, however, as the title of the second order of ministry in the Church under the Apostles - πρεσβύτερος (presbyter – literally “elder”) would became the basis for the words, such as the English “priest”, that render the meaning of ῐ̔ερεύς in many languages, even when it is a priesthood other than the Christian that is being discussed.   The explanation for both of these things is probably that the New Testament was, with the exception of the Johannine writings, written while the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing and the Levitical priesthood was still performing their duties under the Old Testament.   The New Testament writers likely wished to avoid the potential confusion of referring to the two ministries with the same word.   At any rate, since St. Paul says that the Eucharist is to be celebrated until the Second Coming – “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26) – the priestly office and the authority attached to it, was the ordinary type that the Apostles passed down to their successors – and, in this case, as is evident from what was observed above about the etymology of priest, to the second order of ministry, the presbyters, that served under them.


The exact time at which the extraordinary powers, as opposed to the ordinary powers, were bestowed upon the Apostles is not explicitly spelled out in the New Testament, although it can be reasonably concluded that this occurred on the first Whitsunday (Christian Pentecost) when the Holy Ghost descended upon them in the upper room, they preached the Gospel to the assembled multitude and each heard in his own tongue, and St. Peter preached the sermon recorded in Acts 2 that brought about the conversion and baptism of about three thousand.   In the book of Acts, we find the Apostles exercising their ordinary authority of government to establish the two orders of ministry beneath their own.  The reasons for the establishing of the order of deacons are spelled out in detail in the sixth chapter of Acts, leading to the account of the first Christian martyrdom, that of one of the deacons St. Stephen.   The reasons for the establishment of the order of presbyters are not similarly spelled out, but SS Paul and Barnabas are described as ordaining them in the Churches they planted in the fourteenth chapter of Acts, and they are described as being part of the Jerusalem Council along with the Apostles in the fifteenth chapter.  By this point in time the Apostles had already begun expanding their own College.   Apart from St. Matthias’ having been chosen to take Judas Iscariot’s place, and St. Paul’s dramatic conversion and calling following the martyrdom of St. Stephen, St. Barnabas had been made an Apostle by the fourteenth chapter, probably around the time he was sent by the Church of Jerusalem to Antioch in the eleventh chapter.    In the Pastoral Epistles we find St. Paul’s instructions to Timothy and Titus, who had been admitted to the College (as evident from their having the power of ordination) and set over the Churches of Ephesus and Crete respectively.   This appears to have been during a time of terminological tradition.   SS Timothy and Titus are not described by the term Apostle as St. Barnabas had been in Acts, but the term bishop has not yet been appropriated for the members of the College and is still used interchangeably with presbyters for the lower order.   Their having specific jurisdiction over Ephesus and Crete is further evidence that the assigning of episcopal oversight to specific Churches was not something introduced after the era of the Apostles – earlier evidence, for this, of course, can be seen in the fact that St. James the Just had been made bishop of Jerusalem – as the position would later be called – before the Jerusalem Council, over which he presided as bishop of the Church hosting the Council.


Thus we see, how the ordinary authority and power which Jesus gave to His Apostles when setting them in government over His Church, survives in the Episcopal College to this day, whereas the extraordinary authority and power bestowed upon them at Pentecost, having served its purpose was not passed on, except in the form of the infallible Rule of Faith, the New Testament Scriptures, that it was given to produce.

 (1)   Often the New Testament links repentance to faith/believing in identifying the response the Gospel calls for, but the role of repentance in that response is different from the role of faith.   It is not repentance’s role to appropriate the grace of God, or to assist faith in so appropriating it, but to bring the sinner into the condition, one of brokenness and humility, in which the Holy Spirit, working through the Gospel, forms faith in the sinner’s heart.

(2)    Works of righteousness, justice and mercy play no role in appropriating the grace of God or in preparing the sinner’s heart to receive the grace of God by faith – and the mistake of thinking that they do is spiritually deadly because if someone thinks his own works play a role in obtaining God’s favour this will prevent him from placing his faith in Jesus Christ and His works rather than in his own.    The New Testament, especially the Pauline and Johannine writings, is quite clear on this.   Works are not the basis of grace, nor the means of receiving it, but are the fruit of grace in the Christian life.   Without intending to discount entirely the insights of E. P. Sanders, N. T. Wright, and the other “New Perspective on Paul” scholars, the works contrasted with faith in St. Paul’s writings cannot be merely the external, ceremonial, aspects of the Law that established Israel’s national distinctiveness from the Gentiles.   Certainly this is emphasized in some of St. Paul’s epistles – Ephesians, especially – but it would make absolute nonsense out of Romans 4:4-5 and Titus 3:5 to read the “works” and “works of righteousness” in them as ceremonial works.   Nor does it make sense to explain away the Pauline doctrine by saying that he was talking about “works of the law” not “works of love” as the entire difference between the two is eliminated if the latter are said to be conditions of salvation.   The difference is that “works of the law” are done in order to obtain God’s favour, whereas “works of love” are done out of the love for God that can only arise in a heart that has received God’s favour, purchased for him by Christ, freely through faith, in response to God’s own love (1 John 4:19, cf. verse 10).   The very concept of “works of love” or “faith working by love” is eliminated if “works of love” are made into conditions whereby we obtain God’s favour or remain in God’s favour.   The old debate about whether sola fide is a heresy or “the article upon which the Church stands or falls” can be truthfully answered either way depending upon the question to which it is offered as the answer.   If the question is something along the lines of “what does the Christian life consist of?” or “what duties and obligations are placed upon God’s people under the New Covenant”, then to answer with “faith alone” would indeed be rank heresy.   If the question is “how may I receive the saving grace of God which Jesus Christ has purchased for me on the Cross” then “faith alone” is the right answer and indeed the very fundamental article that the famous paraphrase of Dr. Luther makes it out to be.   Note there is no conflict between Jacobean and Pauline doctrine on this.   While many of the same terms – “justification”, “faith”, “works” – and illustrations – Abraham – can be found in Romans 4 and James 2, with two seemingly opposite conclusions, a word that is prominent in Romans 4 and therefore noticeable by its absence in James 2, is “grace”.   The justification that St. James the Just was talking about is not justification in the sight of God by His grace.   St. Paul, who wrote after St. James, and is therefore St. James’ interpreter rather than the other way around, explains this in the second verse of his fourth chapter.

(3)  Albert Pighius, in his Hierarchiae Ecclesiasticae Assertio (1545), Book III, chapter 3, made this absurd claim, for example.

(4)   Inspiration with regards to the Scriptures does not mean the same thing as inspiration with regards to great works of art, music, and literature.   When people speak of the latter as being inspired, they are – often unconsciously – evoking the concept of the Muses from Greco-Roman mythology.   Inspiration in this sense, never meant that Homer’s Iliad, for example, was the “word of Calliope”.   Inspiration with regards to the Holy Bible, is what St. Paul asserts in II Timothy 3:16 with the words πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος (“all scripture is given by inspiration of God”).   The word θεόπνευστος means “breathed out by God”.  Oddly, it is translated by a word that if broken down by the meaning of its component parts would be in a way the opposite of this – “breathed in” as opposed to “breathed out”.   The more exact equivalent exspired, however, is not in common usage and would, due to its being a homophone of expired, be more problematic than inspired.   The point to be grasped is that inspiration with regards to the Scripture, means more than just the bringing out of the inner talent of the writer, it means that the words written are the words of God and not just of the human writer.

(5)  St. Luke in the tenth chapter of his Gospel also records Christ’s appointing seventy other disciples whom He sent out in pairs with a similar commission at a later date – there is no record of their commission and powers ever being expanded.   If the list of them attributed to St. Hippolytus of Rome is at all accurate then other figures who feature prominently alongside the Twelve in the Acts were among them.  St. Matthias, whom the Eleven chose by lot to take the place of Judas Iscariot, and the other candidate in the lot toss St. Joseph Barsabas (Justus), have always been considered to have been among the Seventy, a reasonable conclusion from Acts 1:21-23. The Eastern Church counts all of the Seventy as Apostles, others have suggested that they were the prophets referred to by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:28 (“God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets…”)

(6)   Before going to Rome and leading the Church there, St. Peter had been the first bishop of the Church of Antioch.   If the keys were unique to St. Peter there is no logical reason why his successor at Antioch would not have as much claim to them – if not a better claim, seeing as St. Peter was at Antioch first – than his successor at Rome.   Note that the bishop of Antioch like the bishop of Rome was one of the three bishops (the other was the bishop of Alexandria) that the Council of Nicaea recognized in its sixth canon as having broad jurisdiction (larger than that of a metropolitan bishop), and one of the five (the three plus the bishop of Jerusalem and the bishop of Constantinople) who were the Patriarchs of the Pentarchy.   For most of the first millennium, to the extent that the Patriarch of Rome was regarded as having a place of priority over these others, it was a case of primum inter pares, the primacy arising out of Rome’s political status as the Imperial Capital, not out of the bishop’s status as the (second of two) successors of St. Peter.   On top of all of this, it is quite obvious that the Mother Church of all true Churches was not the Church of Rome, but the Church of Jerusalem whose first bishop was St. James the Just.   The exaggerated claims of the papacy are historical bunk, and it is quite clear from Matthew 18 and John 20, that the keys were given to all the Apostles, not just St. Peter, and thus are held collectively by all true bishops of all true Churches today.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Sacrament Requires Both Kinds

 On the twelfth of March, 2020, the Anglican Church of Canada released a document entitled “Primate’s update regarding COVID-19”.   This was a response to the World Health Organization’s, in obedience to their Communist overlords, having declared the bat flu to be a pandemic.   It began by outlining the practices that our Anglican bishops had begun to put in place in the interest of being “actively engaged in the protection of themselves and those around them”.  


I am not going to go through the whole list.  I thought at the time that this was all a lot of hooey and everything that has subsequently occurred has confirmed me in that opinion.   One of the practices, however, stood out more than all of the others because of its intense theological ramifications.  There are, of course, theological ramifications to this entire attitude of allowing politicians and power-mad medical bureaucrats to dictate how the Church worships, allowing the sanctity of the Church to be invaded by the same intrusive health measures that have made everyday mundane living so miserable and thus interfering with the Church’s being a holy sanctuary from the evils of the temporal world, and essentially telling the Church to walk by fear rather than faith, the opposite of the Apostolic injunction.   There was one practice, however, that had much more specific theological ramifications than all of this.   This was:


communion in one kind only;.


This practice explicitly disobeys the Thirtieth of the Articles of Religion.   That article is entitled “Of both kinds” and reads:


The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.


Even more astounding than the fact that our Church was so brazenly doing what its Reformed Confession forbids was the theological justification we were given for this.   We were told that Concomitance was the official teaching of our Church.  Concomitance is the idea that although the bread is specifically said to be the Body of Christ and the wine is specifically said to be the Blood of Christ, both Body and Blood are received in each element because they cannot be separated, any more than the two natures of Christ can be separated in His One Person.   This was the argument the Church of Rome used to justify her breaking from the universal practice of the Catholic Church of the first Christian millennium, the only one of the Churches to emerge from the Primitive Communion of Churches to do so, by withholding the Cup from the laity.   It was a nice way of smearing anyone who objected to this papal innovation with the implication that their Chalcedonian orthodoxy was questionable. 


Concomitance was revived in certain Anglican circles in recent decades for reasons that had nothing to do with the practice of withholding either of the elements.   This was to accommodate people who for personal reasons could not take either the bread or the wine.   Someone struggling with bondage to drink, for example, might for this reason abstain from the Cup.   There were also those who could only receive the Cup because gluten intolerance prevented them from taking the bread.    Many priests found in the old Roman doctrine of Concomitance an answer to the pastoral dilemma of how to counsel people in such situations.   However, as with other recent instances of our Anglican leaders sacrificing our Reformed and Catholic heritage in the name of pastoral issues this has born rotten fruit and now we find this doctrine being used to justify the very practice to which the Reformers rightly objected.


Fateor etiam sub altera tantum specie totum atque integrum Christum verumque Sacramentum sumi” is not an article of any of the Creeds received by the Anglican Church from the Primitive Catholic Church (Apostles, Nicene-Constantinopolitan, Athanasian) nor is it one of the Articles of Religion, the Reformed Confession adopted by the Church of England in the Elizabethan Settlement.   These words, which translate into English as “I also confess that under either species alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true Sacrament” are found in the Creed of Pope Pius IV, produced by the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and issued by bull of said pontiff in 1656.    This is a document in which the Church of Rome added its late innovations to the essential tenets of faith contained in the ancient Creeds and declared them to be on par with the same, a very serious break from Primitive orthodoxy.   In both practice and doctrine, therefore, at the beginning of the bat flu panic our present Anglican leadership betrayed our own tradition, one which conforms both to Scripture and the Catholic tradition of the first millennium, and adopted a practice the Roman Church had introduced no earlier than the thirteenth century and made uniform throughout their Communion as late as 1415 AD, and a doctrine which the Roman Church, doubling down on its errors in response to the Reformation in the sixteenth century, declared to be a tenet of the faith essential to salvation, on part with the articles of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.


The Thirtieth Article makes it quite clear what the official position of the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion is with regards to the Roman practice of withholding the Cup.  Let us now listen to what the greatest apologists and doctors of our Church have said in the past in defence of this position.


In 1562, the penultimate year of the Council of Trent, the Right Reverend John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, published his Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae in Latin.   From Scripture and the Patristic writings, he defended the sixteenth century reforms of the Church of England as restoring the Church to the state of its original, Primitive Catholicism.   Two years later, the popular standard English translation by Lady Ann Bacon was published.   The translator, the daughter of Edward VI’s tutor and the mother of Sir Francis Bacon, was, like her sisters (the poets Lady Elizabeth Russell and Lady Catherine Killegrew, and the translator Lady Mildred Cecil Burghley who was the wife of Elizabeth I’s chief advisor and spymaster William Cecil) was an accomplished scholar.   The following is from her translation of Part II of Jewel’s Apologia:


Moreover, when the people cometh to the Holy Communion, the Sacrament ought to be given them in both kinds: for so both Christ hath commanded, and the Apostles in every place have ordained, and all the ancient fathers and Catholic bishops have followed the same.   And whoso doth contrary to this, he (as Gelasius saith) committeth sacrilege.   And therefore we say, that our adversaries at this day, who having violently thrust out, and quite forbidden the Holy Communion, do, without the word of God, without the authority of any ancient council, without any Catholic father, without any example of the primitive Church, yea, and without reason also, defend and maintain their private masses, and the mangling of the Sacraments, and do this not only against the plain express commandment and bidding of Christ, but also against all antiquity, do wickedly therein, and are very Church robbers.


Next, let us turn to the Most Reverend and Right Honourable William Laud, who was the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of the Royal Martyr, Charles I, and who was himself martyred for the Primitive faith and practice of the Church of England by the fanatics who had taken over Parliament a few years before the same villains murdered the king.   Before he became the Anglican Primate, however, during the reign of Charles’ father James I, shortly after his consecration as Bishop of St. David’s, Laud was asked by the king to debate with John Percy, the Jesuit chaplain employed by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.   The transcribed debates were published with the collection of Laud's contributions eventually being given the title A Relation of the Conference Between William Laud, Late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Mr. Fisher, the Jesuit, “Fisher” being a pseudonym for Percy. 


We find the following from Laud in this work as part of an argument against the inerrancy of Church councils:


And that a council may err (besides all other instances which are not few) appears by that error of the council of Constance.   And one instance is enough to overthrow a general, be it a council.   Christ instituted the sacrament of his body and blood in both kinds.  To break Christ’s institution is a damnable error, and so confessed by Stapleton.  The council is bold, and defines, peremptorily, that “to communicate in both kinds is not necessary, with a non obstante to the institution of Christ.”   Consider now with me, is this an error or not?  Bellarmine and Stapleton, and you too, say it is not; because to receive under both kinds is not by divine right.  No!   No sure; for it was not Christ’s precept, but his example.   Why, but I had thought that Christ’s institution of a sacrament had been more than his example only, and as binding for the necessaries of a sacrament, the matter and form, as a precept; therefore speak out, and deny it to be Christ’s institution, or else grant with Stapleton, “it is a damnable error to go against it.”   If you can prove that Christ’s institution is not as binding to us as a precept, (which you shall never be able,) take the precept with it, Drink ye all of this; which though you shift as you can, yet you can never make it other than it is, a binding precept.


A few pages later Laud raises the issue again, this time addressing the doctrine of Concomitance:


Secondly, I will instance in the institution of the sacrament in both kinds.  That Christ instituted it so, is confessed by both churches; that the ancient churches received it so, is agreed by both churches: therefore, according to the former rule, (and here in truth too,) it is safest for a man to receive this sacrament in both kinds.   And yet here this ground of A. C. must not stand for good; no, not at Rome; but to receive in one kind is enough for the laity.   And the poor Bohemians must have a dispensation, that it may be lawful for them to receive the sacrament as Christ commanded them.  And this must not be granted to them neither, unless they will acknowledge (most opposite to truth) that they are not bound by divine law to receive it in both kinds.   And here their building with untampered mortar appears most manifestly: for they have no show to maintain this but the fiction of Thomas of Aquin, “That he which receives the body of Christ receives also his blood per concomitantiam, by concomitancy, because the blood always goes with the body:” of which term, Thomas was the first author I can yet find.   First then, if this be true, I hope Christ knew it; and then why did he so unusefully institute it in both kinds?  Next, if this be true, concomitancy accompanies the priest as well as the people; and then, why may he not receive it in one kind also?   Thirdly, this is apparently not true: for the eucharist is a sacrament sanguinis effusi, of blood shed and poured out; and blood poured out, and so severed from the body, goes not along with the body per concomitantiam.


Laud’s protégé Jeremy Taylor, who would become Bishop of Down and Connor after the Restoration, made this same argument against Concomitance in his Ductor Dubitantium, originally published in 1660.   This lengthy treatise, published in English translation under the title “The Rule of Conscience”, was written in several books.  Book II, chapter 3, includes a lengthy debunking of the practice of “Half Communion” as commentary on Rule IX “The Institution of a Rite or Sacrament by our Blessed Saviour is a direct Law, and passes a proper obligation in its whole integrity”.   Taylor’s entire treatment of the matter is worth reading as it is very thorough.   I will only quote the following pertaining to Concomitance:


The dream of the Church of Rome, that he that receives the body receives also the blood, because, by concomitance, the blood is received in the body, is neither true nor pertinent to this question.  Not true, because, the eucharist being the sacrament of the Lord’s death, that is, of his body broken and his blood poured forth, the taking of the sacrament of the body does not by concomitance include the blood; because the body is here sacramentally represented as slain and separate from blood; and that is so notorious that some superstitious persons, A. D. 490, refused the Chalice, because (said they) the body of Christ represented in the holy Sacrament exsangue est, it is without blood, but now the Romanists refuse the Chalice because the body is not without blood: they were both amiss; for it is true the body is represented Sacramentally as killed, and therefore without blood, which had run out at the wounds; and therefore concomitance is an idle and an impertinent dream: but although the body is without blood in his death; yet because the effusion of the blood is also Sacramentally to be represented, therefore they should not omit the Chalice.


Dr. Henry Hammond, who ministered to the Royal Martyr as chaplain and who helped keep the orthodox faith alive during the period of the Puritan Tyranny, dying on the very day Parliament voted for the Restoration, had this to say in his A Practical Catechism:


Christ’s pleasure was, that all that were present should partake of both elements in the Sacrament, the wine as well as bread; as may appear by the plain words, “Drink ye all of this,” and “they all drank of it.”   And if it should be objected, that the ‘all’ were disciples, and so, that no others have that full privilege to drink of the cup, the answer is clear, first, that by this argument the bread might as well be taken away from all but disciples too, and so the laity would have no right to any part of this Sacrament.   Secondly, that the practice and writings of the ancient Church, which is the best way to explicate any such difficulty in Scripture, is a clear testimony and proof, that both the bread and the wine belong to all the people, in the name of His disciples at that time.



George Bull, ordained a priest by Robert Skinner the ejected Bishop of Oxford during the Cromwellian tyranny before Charles II was restored to his throne, following the Restoration was made rector of the two small parishes of St. Peter’s and St. Mary’s in Suddington which he served jointly for almost thirty years.   After this he was preferred to the rectory of Avening in Gloucestershire, in the cathedral of which he was already a prebendary.  A few years before his deprivation in the non-juring controversy, William Sancroft, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, appointed Bull to the archdeaconry of Llandaff.   He was consecrated Bishop of St. David’s when he was 70 years old in 1705 and died five years later.   In the course of his ministry, the story of which was told in a very readable biography by his friend the lay writer Robert Nelson which came out three years after his death, he wrote a number of polemical theological works that established his theological reputation abroad.   One of these, his Defensio Fidei Nicaenae, published in 1685, was a demonstration, contra the claims of certain continental theologians, that the ante-Nicene Fathers held to the Trinitarian theology expressed in the Nicene Creed.   This work, and its sequel Judicium Ecclesiae Catholicae which rebutted Simon Episcopius’ claims that the deity of Christ was not regarded as absolutely essential to the faith by the Nicene Council, won him the praise of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Meaux in France.   Through Robert Nelson, a friend of both who acted as intermediary, Bossuet expressed his high views of Bull’s work and questioned why Bull was not a member of the Roman Communion.   Bull, in answer to the question, wrote Corruptions of the Church of Rome which was published in his life.   After his death, and after the publication of Robert Nelson’s biography, a document by Bull that Nelson had alluded to but believed to be lost surfaced, under the title “A Letter to the Countess of Newbrugh” which answered a tract written by a Roman apologist under the title “The Catholic Scripturalist” which purported to prove the Roman position from the Scriptures.   The manuscript was brought to Bull’s son, Robert Bull, who arranged for it to be published together with Corruptions of the Church of Rome under the title A Vindication of the Church of England.


In both documents joined in this one work, Bull addressed the matter of Half-Communion.   To the Countess of Newbrugh he wrote:


One of the points he undertakes to prove out of Scripture is the Half-communion, or receiving the Sacrament only in one kind, viz. the bread, practiced and (not only so, but) enjoined in the Church of Rome.  I know your ladyship to be well-versed in the Holy Scriptures, and therefore humbly beseech you only to recollect what you have read therein concerning this matter; as, That our Saviour instituted and commanded the Sacrament to be received in both kinds; and that every institution and command of Christ, especially in so important a matter as is the great Sacrament and most mysterious rite of Christianity, ought with all possible care and exactness of religion to be observed, that St. Paul, in pursuance of our Saviour’s institution, enjoins, that every Christian, after due examination, should not only “eat of the bread,” but also “drink of the cup” in the Sacrament, that it appears the Apostolic Church did accordingly receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then I shall leave it to thy ladyship’s conscience, to judge of the intolerable impudence of those hectors in divinity, who dare undertake the proof of such things out of Scripture, as may be discerned by all to be manifestly repugnant thereunto.   Indeed, that the Romanists have no ground in Scripture, or primitive antiquity, to rob the laity of one half of the Communion, is plainly confessed by that very Council which first established this sacrilege; I mean the Council of Constance.   For the Fathers of that Council (if it be lawful to give that title to a sorry convention of men so wholly regardless of the command of Christ, and the practice of the Apostolic Church, yea, of the whole Church of God, for many ages after) in express terms acknowledge, that Christ instituted the Sacrament to be received in both kinds, yea, that it was so administered and received in the primitive Church; yet with a non obstante, notwithstanding all this, they boldly and blasphemously decree against communion in both kinds, as a thing dangerous and scandalous; and the decree denounceth excommunication to the priest that shall dare to administer the Sacrament as Christ appointed it.   I wrong them not.  All this is plainly delivered in the thirteenth session of that Council.  And think you not, madam, that those were rare Scripturists?   What Christian is there, that bears any due honour to Christ or respect or reverence to His commands, whose soul does not rise up against such an antichristian decree? 


Later in the same treatise he addressed Concomitance:


For when they tell us, that the people receive a perfect sacrament only in one kind, because both the body and blood of Christ are truly and perfectly contained under each species of the Sacrament, they egregiously prevaricate in a matter of great concernment to the souls of men.   For, 1.  If this be true, then our Saviour did superfluously institute the Sacrament to be received in both kinds: for if there be a perfect sacrament in one kind only, to what purpose did Christ institute the other?  2.  It is most false that the body and blood of Christ are sacramentally in each element: for it is the bread only that doth sacramentally signify and exhibit the body of Christ, and the wine only that doth sacramentally signify and exhibit the blood of Christ. 3.  That which doth not perfectly represent and set forth the death and passion of our Lord, is no perfect sacrament, (for this is the very end of this divine institution, “to shew forth the Lord’s death”;) but communion only in one kind, doth not perfectly represent the death and passion of our Lord Jesus: therefore communion only in one kind is no perfect sacrament.   The effusion and shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross, (which is so considerable a part of His passion, as that it is everywhere emphatically insisted on in the Scriptures of the New Testament, and Christ Himself, in the very institution of the Sacrament, urgeth it, when consecrating the cup He saith, “This cup is the new testament in My blood, which was shed for many;” I say, this effusion of Christ’s blood, is in the communion only of the bread so far from being perfectly, that it is not at all represented, but totally obscured.  And therefore, 4. Some of the more ancient and learned writers among the Papists themselves have plainly confessed, that communion in one kind is but an imperfect sacrament.


To the Bishop of Meaux he declares the Roman practice to be:


manifestly against our Saviour’s first institution of the Sacrament, against Apostolic practice, and the usage of the universal Church of Christ for a thousand years, as is confessed by divers learned men of the Roman Communion.


He expresses indignation against the “Trent Creed” (the aforementioned Creed of Pope Pius IV” for declaring Concomitance, which he calls the “insolent (and as I may justly term it) antichristian decree of the Roman Church in this point”, to be an essential of the faith to be denied on penalty of eternal damnation and astonishment that the Trent Fathers, against the express hopes of many in the Roman Communion that the reforms of the Council would restore Communion in both kinds to the laity:


turned a deaf ear to their loud cries and supplications, only bidding them believe for the future, (what they could not believe,) that half the Sacrament was every whit as good as the whole.


To these could be added countless other similar quotations from almost every published orthodox Anglican divine from the Elizabethan Settlement through to the Oxford Movement but I think I have made my point.   Should anyone object that I have cited only from the kind of Anglican theologians who stress the Catholicity of the Church of England – her continuity with, and in the Reformation recovery of some aspects of, the doctrines and practices of the Primitive Church of the early centuries – I will simply point out that no disagreement on this particular point could possibly be logically expected from the kind of Anglican theologians who stress the Reformed character of the Anglican Church and understand this character primarily in terms of conformity to continental Protestant, usually Calvinist, theology.   John Calvin’s views of withholding the Cup from the laity and the doctrine of Concomitance were identical to those of Laud and Bull.  You can find them expounded upon at length in the seventeenth chapter of the fourth book of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, see especially paragraph 47.   The Twenty-Second Article of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession insists, like our Thirtieth Article, and at much greater length, that Communion is to be given to the laity in both kinds.   Needless to say, the corresponding Article in the Apology for the Augsburg Confession says the same thing.   Article VI of the Smacald Articles takes the same position and dismissed the doctrine of Concomitance as sophistry.   It would be bizarre, therefore, if the Anglican theologians who stressed the evangelical character of our Church would, contrary to the Lutherans and Reformed, disagree with Jewell, Laud, Hammond, Taylor and Bull and accept the doctrine of Concomitance, and, of course, they did no such thing.   William Henry Griffith-Thomas, an evangelical Anglican theologian who from 1910 to 1919 was Principal of Wycliffe College in Toronto, in his commentary on the Thirty-Nine Articles entitled The Principles of Theology, clearly identified Concomitance with the Roman doctrine and practice and declares the Anglican position to reject it.   This book came out in 1930.


Therefore, when our leadership today tells us that Concomitance is our official doctrine, to justify doing what Article XXX clearly forbids, they are going against the clear historical and traditional consensus of Anglicanism in both its High and Low forms.   This sort of thing has become far too common in recent decades, as more and more of our ecclesiastical leaders no longer feel themselves bound to keep their doctrine and practice in any meaningful way within the limits of the Historical Formularies (Restoration Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal, Thirty-Nine Articles, Books of Homilies).   In this particular instance it was done to justify their support for draconian health policies enacted by our governments, provincial and Dominion, which by their actions have been demonstrating a similar disregard for the limits imposed upon them by constitutional law and protected rights and freedoms.   Ironically, had they decided that they now believed in Transubstantiation and so come around to the position of Constance and Trent, this would have been a much less contemptible reason for their abandonment of traditional Anglicanism on this point.     



Saturday, January 1, 2022

Still Standing - a Reactionary Tory in 2022

After the second of two anni horribiles in a row, the Kalends of January is upon us once again.   In the civil calendar this is New Year's Day and in the sacred Kalendar it is the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ.    When I began to write I borrowed a custom from one of my favourite writers, the late Charley Reese, a curmudgeonly, common-sense conservative, op-ed writer from the Orlando Sentinel with a thrice-weekly syndicated column.   At the beginning or end of each year he would write a column in which he talked about himself, his  positions, the causes he supported, and the organizations to which he belonged.   He encouraged other writers to do the same because he felt they owed it to their readers to regularly disclose these things so their readers would know where the opinions they were reading were coming from.   Reese's column would come out in late December or early January on a day his column was scheduled to appear.   Since I self-publish my essays on a blog and can keep my own schedule I have always timed mine to come out on New Year's Day.

I am 45 years old.  I have lived in the city of Winnipeg for almost a quarter of a century.  I have lived in the province of Manitoba, of which Winnipeg is the capital, in the Dominion of Canada all my life.   I grew up on a farm in southwestern Manitoba near the village of Oak River and the town of Rivers, and studied theology for five years at what is now Providence University College (at the time it was called Providence College and Theological Seminary) in Otterburne, about a half-hour south of Winnipeg.

There are two words that I regularly use to describe my general point of view in all of its aspects - political, theological, philosophical, cultural, etc.   These are reactionary and Tory.  The former has long been a term of abuse by progressives or leftists and I learned the habit of self-applying it from the late historian John Lukacs.   When I do so, I use it more in the sense in which he used it, and in which Michael Warren Davis uses it in his just published The Reactionary Mind: Why "Conservative" Isn't Enough, than in the sense that in which Curtis Yarvin aka Mencius Moldbug, et al, use it, although by making this distinction I do not mean to disparage the latter who have written much that is worthy in criticism of the Modern and what has followed it.     In this sense it means someone who looks back to the social, civil, and religious order of Christendom, the civilization that preceded Modern Western Civilization, and rather than finding there darkness from which he thanks Modernity for rescuing us, finds goodness and light and a solid place to cast his anchor so as to keep from being tossed adrift on the stormy seas of Modernity and Postmodernity.   A reactionary then is very different from a conservative.   The latter is usually someone who values Western Civilization only for the achievements of Modernity, distinguishing himself from progressives merely by the fact that the strain of Modernity he prefers, is the older, somewhat saner, form of liberalism, rather than that of the increasingly looney left.

From what I have just said about being a reactionary, it should already be clear that when I describe myself as a Tory I don't mean a small-c conservative, although I usually agree with small-c conservatives in their disputes with progressives, much less a big-C Conservative.     I mean it in the sense of Dr. Johnson's famous definition as "one who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolic hierarchy of the church of England, opposed to a whig" and of T. S. Eliot's description of himself, which reads like an update of Dr. Johnson's definition, and goes " an Anglo-Catholic in religion, a classicist in literature and a royalist in politics."

When it comes to the political aspect of being a Tory, the "royalist in politics", I have been one all my life.   Although a subtle distinction can be made between a royalist and a monarchist - the former denotes loyalty to royal blood, the latter denotes loyalty to and belief in the institution and office of the monarch - I will use the word royalist to encompass both meanings.   I have always been glad that my country is a parliamentary monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state and the head of the family of nations, the Commonwealth, to which we belong, rather than a republic.   Like Anthony Burgess, one of my favourite novelists who had similar views, "I hate all republics", although I might make the long defunct Confederate States of America the exception that proves the rule, if only because the kind of people who would be most offended by my doing so are also the sort of people who irritate me the most.  As I learned the history of my country, I was very pleased - I don't like to use the word proud because Pride is the worst of all sins and vices - to know that Canada's history diverged from that of our republican neighbour because we chose the way of the older virtues of Loyalty to the Crown and Honour, over that of rebellion and sedition in the name of new-fangled abstract ideals.   I very much despise the way Modern man prefers abstract ideals over time -proven concrete institutions.    I am very much the opposite of that in my thinking, which is why I will defend parliament, the time-honoured institution that legislates under the reign of the Crown, but not democracy, the abstract ideal, and insist that this distinction is crucial.   It always infuriates me when certain small-c conservatives speak gushingly about democracy and disparagingly about the Crown.   The Honourable Eugene Forsey was raised Conservative, but became a socialist, was one of the founders of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (predecessor to today's New Democratic Party), worked as research-director for the Canadian Labour Congress, and was appointed to the Senate as a Liberal by Pierre Eliot Trudeau.   There were a great many issues on which his position was the polar opposite of mine.   Nevertheless, he was a great defender of Canada's constitution, about which he knew more than any other Canadian in history except the Fathers of Confederation, and of the monarchy and always called himself a "Sir John A. Macdonald Conservative".   I gladly acknowledge him to have been a brother Tory.  I would not extend the same courtesy to such small-c conservatives as Anthony Furey, Lorne Gunter, J. J. McCullough and Spencer Fernando who have expressed their preference for the republican form of government, even though on a wide battery of other issues I would agree with them.   I would recommend that they all read John Farthing's Freedom Wears a Crown.  The most totalitarian governments in history have been republics, the freest have been headed by monarchs.  The more I have read and reflected on political science over the years, the more confirmed I have become in a royalism that was at first instinctual.   A country needs a hereditary, unelected, head of state who is above partisan politics, and so can truly fulfil the role of the office of head of state, which is to represent the country as a whole, including not just all the various factions of those living in the present, but those who have gone before and who are yet to come as well.  Only a king or queen can do this.

I had what for Canadians of my generation was a fairly typical mainstream Protestant upbringing.   My mother attended the United Church in Oak River, my grandmother on my father's side subscribed to the Anglican Journal and the newspaper of the Brandon diocese, we were read Bible stories and said the Lord's Prayer in school, and celebrated the two main Christian holidays.   From the New Testament the Gideons gave me when I was twelve and Christian books I borrowed from the library, I gained a fuller understanding of Who Jesus Christ was, and why He died on the Cross and rose again.   When I was 15 I placed my faith in Him as my Saviour.   I was baptized in a Baptist church about a year and a half later and a couple of decades after that was confirmed as an adult in the Anglican Church.  Several years ago, Michael Coren, a writer who had been a prominent social and religious conservative, left the Church of Rome and joined the Anglican Church in which he was later ordained.   Nowadays, whenever he appears in print, he can be depended upon to consistently take the wrong position on whatever hot button topic he has been invited to address.   For Coren the move from Romanism to Anglicanism was a move from conservatism to liberalism, a move that I had suspected that he would one day take ever since I had seen him take the republican side in a in-print debate about the monarchy in the National Post years earlier.   My decision to join the Anglican Church was very different from this.   For me, it was the outcome of a deepening of my theological conservatism from a mere Protestant fundamentalism to a High Anglican orthodoxy.

There was an instinctual element to my theological conservatism as there was to my political royalism.   Even before my conversion theological liberalism had repulsed me.  By theological liberalism I don't mean the making of theological arguments for politically liberal positions.  I mean the approach to Christianity of those churchgoers who either pick and choose from the Creed what they want to believe and discard what they don't (keeping heaven and getting rid of hell is an obvious example of this) or profess a "belief" in the articles of the Creed that looks more like unbelief in disguise (think of the sort of person who says he believes in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ but means by it something that did not require Jesus' body to return to life and leave the tomb).    This sort of thing disgusted me before I was  a believer, and the disgust intensified when I became a believer.   Over the years I have come to recognize in what I call hyper-Protestantism something that is akin to theological liberalism in attitude and spirit and arguably its immediate ancestor.   Hyper-Protestantism goes beyond Protestantism's rejection of what can be clearly demonstrated from Scripture to be the errors of the Church of Rome and rejects everything it associates with the Church of Rome which is not absolutely required by Scripture even if it is genuinely Catholic, that is to say, held by all the ancient Churches that go back to the unbroken Communion of Churches of the early centuries, from those early centuries to this day.   I have come to be as repulsed by this attitude as by liberalism and as a consequence my theological conservatism has deepened and matured.

I hold to the fundamental truths of the Reformation as much now as ever.   The first of these is that the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, is the inspired written Word of God, and as such its authority is infallible.   The Church, whether it be the actual Catholic Church - all Churches that were once part of the unbroken Communion - or a particular Church, such as the Roman, that falsely claims to be the entire Catholic Church, is not infallible.   The Bible, therefore, is the infallible standard of truth, to which the Church is held accountable.   Hyper-Protestantism, however, takes this way too far.   Rather than merely saying the Church is not infallible, it assumes the Church - not just the Roman Church but the actual Catholic Church - to be wrong about everything, unless it is clearly, in the most literal way possible, proven by Scripture, and takes the position that it is better for the individual believer to ignore the Church and rely directly upon the Holy Spirit for understanding the truth of the Bible.   This, however, in effect, treats the private interpretation of the individual believer as infallible, which is a far worse error than that of Rome.   The promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit would guide to all truth, was not made to the individual believer but to the collective society of believers the Church, in the persons of the Apostles whom He had set as governors over the Church.   This did not make the Church infallible, but it means that personal interpretation must be subject to the teaching of the actual Catholic Church, just as the latter must be subject to the corrective authority of the infallible Word of God.

The second fundamental truth of the Reformation is that salvation in its spiritual sense of the restoration of the sinner to God's favour, including such things as eternal life and bliss, pardon for sins, and righteousness in God's eyes, is something that is utterly beyond the reach of our own efforts - we cannot achieve it for ourselves, earn it, or exchange anything for it - and so it has been freely given to us in the gift of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who in His Incarnation, life, suffering, and death did everything necessary to accomplish that salvation and in His Resurrection and Ascension demonstrated it to be complete.   We merely receive our salvation as the gift it is in the only way a gift of this nature can be received - by faith, which is believing and trusting, believing the Gospel message that proclaims to us that God has given us a Saviour Who has taken away our sins, trusting Him to have accomplished for us what the Gospel says He has accomplished, which are, of course, the same thing stated two different ways.   Our own works - our efforts to please God by what we think, say, and do - as important, essential and necessary, as they are, contribute nothing to our salvation, but rather flow out of our salvation as the effect of its liberating and transforming aspects and our way of thanking God for it.    Our works cannot please God in any way, even the sense in which He graciously accepts the imperfect works of believers, if they are done with the intent of contributing to our salvation.   The Reformers stressed this truth which is so central to the Johannine and Pauline writings of the New Testament against the the teachings of the Church of Rome which, by the sixteenth century, had fallen so far from the grace of God, that not only did its teachings make salvation resemble a carrot dangled in front of a horse from a stick, but its Patriarch even stooped to the sacrilege and blasphemy of trying to sell salvation as a fund-raiser.   Hyper-Protestantism, however, in the name of this fundamental truth, rejects what the Scriptures and Catholic - not just Roman - doctrine clearly teach about the ordinary means God has appointed through which He works to bring the freely give grace (favour) Christ obtained for us on the Cross to us and to create in us the faith by which we receive it.   In the New Testament, Jesus Christ establishes a religious society called the Church, which people became members of through the initiatory ritual of baptism, appointing His Apostles as governors over the Church and committing to them the ministry of the Gospel, which included both teaching and preaching and the administration of baptism and the Lord's Supper, the Gospel Sacraments.    The Church, her Apostolic government, and her Gospel ministries of Word and Sacrament are the appointed ordinary means through which God works to bring the grace of Christ to us, and to create in us the faith by which we receive it.   Hyper-Protestants reject this in the name of the Reformation truth of the freeness of God's saving grace, but place themselves in a quandary with regards to the New Testament verses that taken literally, as hyper-Protestants usually claim they prefer Scripture to be taken, tell us that baptism unites us with Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3-4, Col. 2:12) and that the food that sustains our spiritual life is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (John 6:53-58) which, of course, is offered us as food only in the Eucharist.   Since they see baptism and the Lord's Supper as works, things we do in obedience to God in order to please Him, rather than Sacraments, things through which God works to bless us, they see works salvation in the literal meaning of these passages, and must twist them to fit their theology.   Ironically, hyper-Protestants are themselves susceptible to the charge of works salvation.  If they are Arminians, they make faith itself into a work by making it into an act of our will by which we meet God's condition for salvation.   If they are Calvinists, they teach that God gave Christ to save only a limited few elect, and that we can only know we are of this elect by seeing the evidence of it in our holy lives, thus essentially telling us to place our faith in our works instead of Christ.   By contrast, the Catholic doctrine based on the literal meaning of the above passages is entirely consistent with the freeness of God's saving grace if Sacraments are understand, as they have been since the Church Fathers - see St. Augustine especially - as a visible, tangible, way of preaching the Gospel, and if it is understood that God works through extraordinary as well as ordinary means.

In both of the above examples of hyper-Protestantism twisting fundamental Reformation truths to attack genuinely Catholic doctrine as well as Roman error it is obvious that hyper-Protestantism is fundamentally rebellion against the legitimate authority God has placed in His Church and not just the exaggerated claims of Rome.    In rejecting the Patriarch of Rome's claim to supreme authority over the entire Catholic Church, the Reformers were actually taking the Catholic position for early attempts by said Patriarch to assert such supremacy were clearly rebuffed in the Ecumenical Councils.   Hyper-Protestants, however, reject the entire Episcopal College's claim to authority over the Catholic Church.   That claim, however, is founded in the Bible.   Jesus Christ gave the government of His Church to the Apostles, which governing authority could only be passed on to others from those who had it before, which is precisely what we see the Apostles doing in the New Testament when they admitted others such as Timothy and Titus to their government over the lower Orders they, on their Christ-given authority had created, the Presbyters and Deacons.   Dr. Luther taught the New Testament truth of the universal priesthood of all believers.   Hyper-Protestants conclude from it that if all Christians are priests, then Christ could not have established a more specific priesthood and set it over His Church.   This logic, however, would condemn the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament, because national Israel was also described as a nation of priests (Ex. 19:6).   The accounts of the Last Supper, especially those of St. John and St. Luke taken together, make it quite clear that Christ established His Apostles as the new priesthood of His Church.   Compare the ritual footwashing described by St John at the beginning of his account (13:3-18) with the ritual washing when the Aaronic priesthood was established (Ex 40:12, 30-31).   Then note the institution of the Eucharist, the bread and wine of which clearly allude to the grain and drink offerings of the Levitical system, and which are proclaimed to be the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the One effective sacrifice to which the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed.   If it were not already obvious that when the Lord told the Apostles to perform this rite  He was telling them to do something only priests could do, note that the word St. Luke uses for "this do" in instituting the Sacrament while generally meaning "make this" or "do this" has a ceremonial meaning of "offer this".  The hyper-Protestant position smacks of the rebellious attitude of Dathan, Korah and Abiram.

The more I studied this the more I came to see how hyper-Protestantism led to theological liberalism, because the rejection of the legitimate albeit not-infallible authority Christ had placed in those He set over His Church and not just the false supremacy claimed by the Roman Patriarch was a step towards rejecting the infallible authority God had placed in His written Word.   Latitudinarianism paved the way for deism and rationalism, and Puritanism became the ancestor of both political liberalism (the Whigs began as the successors to the Puritan party in Parliament) and leftism (the French Revolution, the template of all subsequent Communist totalitarian revolutions, was itself inspired by the Puritan rebellion against the godly King Charles I).   This led me to place a much higher value on the ancient Creeds, the teachings of the Fathers, and the Councils of the early Church than I had before, and my theological conservatism matured into High Anglican orthodoxy.

The last two years have put a strain on these theological convictions, as the leaders, not only of the Anglican Communion, but the other Communions with an Apostolic ministry, have with few exceptions, submitted to the tyranny of the new false religion of Antichrist that has made an idol out of physical health to which it has demanded that spiritual health and wellbeing as well as psychological health and the health of society, economy, and community all be sacrificed.   Abusing the Keys Christ gave to the Apostles - not just St. Peter - they have locked people away from the Gospel Ministry of Word and Sacrament, not because of unrepentant open sin, but because a respiratory disease that resembles the flu far more than it does cholera, the Black Death, or any of the other far worse historical plagues that nobody ever behaved this stupidly over has been going around.   When they opened the Churches again, they imposed all sorts of "safety protocols" such as capacity limitations, social distancing, wearing masks, and in some cases, mercifully much fewer, vaccine passports , all of which are completely contrary to the example set by Him Who healed the sick that were brought to Him, including the infectious lepers, rebuked His disciples for sending the little children away, and promised that whoever comes to Him He would in no wise cast out.  Some of these, especially the masks and vaccine passports, are chillingly reminiscent of St. John's prophecy of the Mark of the Beast.   Christ promised, however, that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church, and I pray that He will rescue her from this apostasy soon.

It is difficult to be a classicist in culture today in a practical rather than a merely theoretical sense because of the aforementioned false religion of Antichrist.   The medical Beast has locked me out of museums, the Centennial Concert Hall where I used to attend the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Manitoba Opera, or anywhere else where edifying culture might be found, except libraries, because I refuse to be bullied into taking his vaccine.   Even if I were fully persuaded that the vaccine was 100% safe and effective I would not take it because the bullying manner in which it is being imposed on people is behaviour that ought not to be either rewarded or even tolerated by the civilized.   When I look at what the Winnipeg Art Gallery currently has on exhibition according to its website, and the current season of the Manitoba Opera, the loss becomes somewhat more bearable.   Having to miss Beethoven's Fifth a little over a month ago and Haydn's final symphony later this month is rather stinging however.   On the popular culture front I am also shut out of the movie theatres.   That is perhaps something to be thankful for.  Movies and television shows have been noticeably declining in quality for decades and this has recently accelerated.   Look at everything that is now being released through the online streaming platforms.  Or better yet don't.   It is all trying to preach the message of "wokeness", i.e., the racial superiority of people of colour, the sexual superiority of women, the normality of homosexuality and transgender identity and abnormality of heterosexuality and cisgender identity, the impending doom from climate change unless we all stop burning fossil fuels and start eating vegan, and other nonsense of the sort.   On the plus side, plenty of  classic older films, Shakespeare plays , and the like are readily available to stream as well, although the habit of spending all of one's time watching a screen is not one that ought to be cultivated.

Happy New Year

God Save the Queen!