It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Monday, June 13, 2011

Anglicanism Implodes While Anglican Catholicism Rises

Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams
No, I don't know what he's doing. 
(Telegraph) - Here’s the reality. The Anglican Communion has disintegrated on Rowan Williams’s watch, partly thanks to his habit of saying one thing to fundamentalist Africans and quite another to liberal Americans. His own bench of bishops is hopelessly divided on key moral issues, and Rowan’s hand-wringing isn’t uniting them.

Out of four bishops commissioned to look after traditionalist congregations, three have left the C of E to become Catholic monsignors. Over fifty Anglican ministers are being ordained RC priests this month.
You may or may not sympathise with their decision. But one thing’s for sure. When Pope Benedict is confronted by a major crisis in his Church, he doesn’t take time off to guest edit a secular magazine in the hope of impressing his mates...

read full story first
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Yes, Anglicanism is imploding around the world, not just in England, but the Anglican Communion is in good company. Lutheranism is on it's last leg too, as well as Methodism, Presbyterianism, etc. In fact, the only two Christian denominations that are growing right now are the Catholic Church and Evangelical/Pentecostal communities. Everything else is in decline. So Anglicans shouldn't feel too bad about that. It's nothing specific to their brand of Christianity. That being said however, Anglicanism does present an interesting microcosm of what is happening in the entire Protestant world.

Before I go on, let me say what this is NOT about. This is not about English Christianity or English Christians in general. It certainly has nothing to do with English heritage. So this is not an attack on Anglicanism in particular. What this is about is Protestantism in general, and specifically, it is about the very premise of what Protestantism is built on. It's taken about five-hundred years, but in that time we have witness the complete and total erosion of the Christian faith.

The problem goes right back to the Protestant Reformation itself (AD 1517 - 1648). It really begins with Martin Luther actually, and believe it or not, his Ninety-Five Thesis has little to do with it. It actually begins in 1520 with a declaration made by Martin Luther of Sola Scriptura or "Scripture Alone" which teaches that the Bible is the ONLY inspired word of God, that it is the ONLY source of Christian doctrine, and that the Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself, meaning that anyone may interpret it authoritatively. This is in direct contradiction to the historic teaching of Christianity that the Bible can only be authentically interpreted in the context of Apostolic Tradition and by the successors of the Apostles themselves. This idea of Sola Scriptura was later adopted by the Church of England in the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1646...
VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
So began a "hermeneutic of rupture" with historic Christianity in the Protestant world that began with Martin Luther, spread across all of Europe, and found it's way into the Church of England. Now the Church of England, and the broader Anglican Communion, has undergone many transformations over the centuries, and I don't propose to suggest the Westminster Confession captures the heart and soul of Anglicanism today. I simply mean to say this was one of the seeds that started it all.  By adopting Sola Scriptura, the Anglicans set themselves up for a train wreck in slow motion that would take hundreds of years to see it's final devastation.   If scripture, tradition and reason are all anyone needs, than by one man's reason, Scripture can be reinterpreted anyway one wants based on the tradition one chooses.  So began the formula of Anglicanism's demise.  In the Oxford Movement the Anglicans saw a brief reprieve of hope, in which for a moment, it looked as if things might turn around, but this hope was soon lost in the twentieth century with the Anglican adoption of artificial contraception, followed by liberal attitudes toward abortion, feminism and homosexuality.  The only thing the Oxford Movement provided was a way out for those Anglicans who wanted it -- a way to step off the train wreck before the final crunch -- a way that is seeing it's completion in Pope Benedict's personal ordinariate for Anglicans.

With the rise of the Anglican ordinariate in the UK, English Christians are now faced with a crystal clear choice.  Pope Benedict has effectively adopted the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (or 98% of it anyway) as an authentic Catholic liturgy.  He has created a means for Anglo-Catholics to govern themselves within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  He has given English Christians everything that could possibly be given, and now the ball is squarely in their court.  Aesthetically, the ordinariates are in every way English.  They fully embrace the Anglican Patrimony of the last five-hundred years and beyond. The clergy of these ordinariates are autonomous, in the sense that they cannot be absorbed by the larger Roman Rite.  It is everything the Oxford Fathers could have imagined and then some.  So now, with that being said, what will English Christians choose?  That is a matter for history to decide.  The choice is no longer between English and Roman.  Rome has retreated, shall we say, at least liturgically, but it has done so with dignity, and the English ethos now permanently rules through the ordinariate.  Of course the general Roman Rite will always be available for those who want it, but no more will English Christians have to choose between Rome and their Anglican heritage.  Now, if they want it, they can have both.

The choice is no longer between Rome and Canterbury, but it is now simply a choice between Catholicism and Protestantism.  All the Church of England, and the broader Anglican Communion, has to offer now is a difference in doctrine.  Anglicans can no longer boast of a unique Christian culture, heritage and ethos.  All of this now exists in the ordinariates.  So the real choice is simply between doctrine and nothing more.  Is Scripture subject to one's own private interpretations, or is it part of a broader Christian Tradition that should be interpreted by the successors to the apostles?  Is Christ only spiritually present in the Eucharist, or is he really truly there in a physical sense?  Does moral relativism rule Christianity, or is there really such a thing as absolute right and wrong?  These are the questions that face English Christians now.  This is the choice they must now make.  It is no longer an issue of "being English."  That can be done within the ordinariates.  The question is now one of being Christian.  What would the apostles do?

As for the Church of England, and the broader Anglican Communion, I think we all know what it's future holds.  The Communion is now in the process of being shattered.  The Africans and Asians will go the way of the Evangelicals, breaking communion with Canterbury and England just as they already have with The Episcopal Church in the United States.  These Anglo-Evangelicals will follow the rest of the world's Evangelicals into their own discovery of the inadequacies of Sola Scriptura.  As for what remains of Anglo-Catholicism in England, North America, Australia and New Zealand, it will continue to follow the path of Liberal Modernism to it's ultimate conclusion -- which is total relativism and final apostasy -- creating an anti-church that in every way looks and sounds Catholic but in reality teaches an entirely different gospel.  Like all liberal churches, it will eventually shrink to practically nothing, and then rely on inter-communion with other liberal churches to shore up it's lost numbers.  The irony of the whole thing is this.  Liberal Anglicans make the accusation that Rome will eventually absorb the ordinariates into the Roman Rite, leaving nothing of the Anglican patrimony behind, even though Rome has already made such action impossible though canon law.  While at the same time, the Canterbury communion has itself consigned itself to it's own absorption of relativist syncretism through denominational inter-communion. 

14 comments:

scotju said...

That picture you posted of the Archbishop; the poor man looks like a raving lunatic! But I'd be going starkers too if my "church" was going to hell in a handbasket and the only sound members were going to cross the Tiber! The only thing worst that could happen to him is to hear that the Queen has disfrancised the C of E, annulled the Act of Succession, and joined Rome!

Young Canadian RC Male said...

scotju, as per the topic at hand, well that's what you get for being two-faced ("You cannot serve God and Mammon") and for bowing down to the world. Many people want good ol'time religion without compromise, sadly the oddly eccentric Rowan does not get this message, but Holy B16 does.

However, don't think we Catholics are immune! The institutional Latin Rite Church (mainstream Catholicism) outside of Il Papa in its own sense is still going to hell in a handbasket. Just look at Sir Knight's last article on the ACC (and this can include the CanChurch quoted by John Pacheco and Steve G on So Con or Bust) for example. While TLMs are starting to increase in number and this coming generation of JPII gen priests are more orthodox, the Church as a whole in parishes across the developed nations are still liberal and filled with CINO Catholics. And our priests continue to be part of that. Why just yesterday my pastor used 2/3 of the homily on Pentecost (that is after taking briefly about the feast and not including 1-2 sentences at the end back to the meaning) to get us to empty our pockets for Sharelife (a great Catholic Charity that broke off from United Way,). Worse he even used a quote from Luther, something to do with conversion occurs in 3 steps: our mind, our heart, our pocketbook. Honestly and you wonder why I'm a cynic about our Church and have started to explore the TLM community.

Anonymous said...

Just one note... great article and I am so glad you are reporting on these issues. Thank you. The only thing is that the Anglican church adheres to the Thirty-Nine Articles, not the Westminster Confession, though the two are very similar. Check it out. Thanks brother.

Keiren Grant

The Catholic Knight said...

Actually, many Anglican churches don't even use the thirty-nine articles anymore. The Short Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer is probably the closest thing to a statement of faith in the various Anglican provinces. Even this has evolved though, and varies from country to county.

I cited the Westminster Confession to point out where the Church of England strayed in a historical sense. In other words, where we have the first written instance of Sola Scriptura in the Church of England.

Anonymous said...

Sir Knight,

Sydney Anglicanism sits in a very interesting position here; it is the wealthiest diocese in the developed world (may be one other that matches it) and happens to be perhaps one of the most evangelical Protestant of the lot; not ashamed to call itself Calvinist. What little of its patrimony had remained prior to the ascention of Dr. Peter Jensen to the position of Arch Bishop has been done away with. In 99.9% of congregations, there would be no difference between their service and that of the conservative protestant church down the road e.g. Baptist, Churches of Christ (as opposed to the LDS), Salvation Army, etc. the prayer book has been reduced to a bare shadow of its once beautiful form. Even the 'St's name'; associated with a church has been dropped in favour of suburb name. In our area, part of a burgening ministry is that of volunteers engaging in door to door ministry (a'la Jehova's witnesses). They uphold the 39 articles and ABPJ has been a driving force and influencial figure in the GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) movement this past four years or so.

there are three congregations that would be considered High Church; Christ Church St. Laurence, St. James King Street, and South Hurstville, but all of these have embraced an odd mix of liturgical conservativism paired with very liberal theology (and are seen as a gnat on the elephant's rump by the Sydney Diocese, so to speak). Their theology would not incline them to become part of an Anglican Ordinariate due to their stances on gender and the priesthood plus approach to human sexuality etc.

the offer of B16 to Anglicans to become part of an AO has been all but smirked at briefly at Synod level as irrelevant in the Sydney environ. The only Reason this diocese doesn't become the 'Evangelical Church of Australia' etc is that it holds a significant amount of very nice property and top-draw exclusive Anglican schools (where the 'truth' about Christ - RCC'ism - is taught fearlessly. (first hand reports from the one or two catholics that have gone there and then come to the Catholic University - make for interesting food for thought.

Oh, and they adore the work of the good John Piper et al in the Sydney Diocese; look to the Evangelical USA for their lead; JP is here soon for the 'Oxygen' evangelical conference to huge aclaim from those in the know in the SD (hero worship anybody)? to get a feel for the Sydney Anglican landscape, take a look at www.sydneyanglicans.org



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torculus said...

A good article.

The faux doctrine of sola scriptura is an expression of the pride of Satan, i.e., a substitute magisterium founded on a refusal to submit to God's authority that is legitimately exercised on earth by the Roman Pontiff.

Since our Lord Jesus Christ definitively established His authority on Saint Peter and his successors, and prayed for the unity of His Body, no one who calls himself christian should oppose what Christ Himself gave to the Church for Her life and protection, i.e., the Magisterium, nor should any christian attempt to divide Christ from His Bride, the Church.

Henry Tudor divorced his wife: an analog of his divorce from the Church. He tried to take his children (the English flock) with him, but some wanted to stay with their faithful Mother (Rome) rather than join their adulterous father. And so, the result of that divorce is being played out to its logical conclusion in our day.

Some of the English flock are returning to their faithful Mother. Many others, like most children of divorce, are confused and are simply wandering away - a great loss! A few others flirt with the latest tart (evangelicalism and pentecostalism) and end up in some common-law arrangement that merely mimics the marriage between Christ and His True Bride the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

The bible is not a well written book.

as "Kill People for Working on the Sabbath" Exodus 31:12-15 NLT demonstrates.

The Catholic church at least had learned scholars interpret such texts as above with common sense; when the Protestants came around, those lacking in common sense started to interpret biblical passages literally.

Cardinal Newman said the the bible is not perfect and that it needed the church to properly interpret it. Sola scriptura not only lead to relativism but also to dangerous fundamentalism.

UltraMontane said...

What I don't understand is why is that the liberal denominations decline? Don't alot of people want a version of Christianity that is easier to follow, that does not have such strict rules on sensual pleasures and their consequential acts? Or are you saying that God directly acts in causing their decline? I doubt the latter statement since there are numerous non Christian and evil groups that are prolific irregardless of their orthodoxy. Why do liberal churches collapse? It cannot be because future generations are more conservative.
The only explanation I can visualize is because those now days that seek religion are looking for truth and authenticity, but this seems rare. I mean, look at the nondenominational megachurches and their large congregations.

The Catholic Knight said...

UltraMontane,

I believe the reason why liberal churches shrink and fail is because of a fundamental error in thinking on the part of the liberal leadership. You see liberals believe liberalism is a philosophy or ideology of "enlightenment", or so they think. When in reality liberalism is really nothing more than a lack of philosophy or ideology. It is essentially a form of compromise with somebody else's philosophy and ideology. Liberalism stands for nothing -- other than compromise.

For example, Christianity teaches that homosexuality is a sin, whereas modern hedonism teaches that all sensual pleasure is good, no matter what form it takes, and there is no absolute right or wrong. Liberals within Christianity have no real ideology of their own. Instead they simply compromise their Christianity with modern hedonism to accept the premise that all sensual pleasure is good, provided people are kind to each other, or some other nonsense. The end result being really nothing more than a compromised Christian stand that is neither fully Christian nor fully hedonist. Liberals are not ideologues but fence straddlers and nothing more. They are not defined by what they stand for, nor what they stand against, but rather by what they are willing to compromise with.

In the microcosm of the Anglican Communion, this helps to explain Archbishop Rowan Williams actions. It's not as if he were deliberately trying to deceive people by saying one thing to the Anglo-Evangelicals, and something completely different to the liberal Anglicans. Rather its just that in his liberal mindset, he really truly does beleive it's possible to have it both ways. "It is afterall, all about compromise, don't you know."

The problem of course with fence straddlers is that they really stand for nothing and in the end, the average pewsitter can at least subconsciously see right through that. So if their church really stands for nothing, then in the end, it is nothing more than a social club, and in this world there a plenty of non-religious social clubs to associate with too. So what difference does it make if a man socializes at his church club or bowling ally? What difference does it make if a woman socializes at church, or with her friends at the mall? In the end, the only thing liberalism leads to is compromise on the part of the pewsitters as well. If the leaders compromise, the followers will too. That's why liberal churches shrink - universally - and that's why it can be said that liberalism kills religion.

FrankNorman said...

I found this article by a link from somewhere. Mr Knight, you seem keen to blame "Sola Scriptura" for everything - but how can a good principle be to blame for the actions of people who do not follow it?
Liberal Anglicans who "ordain" women and promote homosexuality are not getting those ideas from the Bible. Point out to them where the Bible clearly condemns such things, and watch them either not care at all, or spew a mass of rationalizations - because to a theological liberal, the Bible is a secondary source of wisdom at best. What really counts for them is being accepted as "progressive" by the secular world.
If they professed belief in some system of "Holy Tradition", (the solution you offer) they would probably treat it the same way as they do the Scriptures. They would pick and choose, "reinterpret", strike moral poses about how "tolerant" they were being - just as they do now.

The Catholic Knight said...

Thank you FrankNorman for your thoughtful comment.

In response here is my explanation. You see, I believe the liberal Anglicans are in actuality following Sola Scriptura to it's most logical conclusion.

The issue here isn't really about Scripture, anymore than it is about Tradition. The issue here is about Authority. Namely this; if the Scriptures are the only final authority on matters of faith, than who has the authority to interpret the Scriptures authoritatively?

In other words, if the Scriptures supposedly "interpret themselves" without the need of an interpreter, than nobody has the authority to say that one interpretation is more valid than another. Thus, what may be a valid interpretation of the Scriptures for you, might not be a valid interpretation for me, thus making Scriptural relativism the rule of the day.

This is the logical conclusion of Sola Scriptura and the final end to Luther's Reformation. The liberal Anglicans may be an aggravating bunch to the rest of Christianity, but we cannot argue with their logic. If there is no authority outside of the Scriptures, than who's to say that one man's interpretation of Scripture is any more authoritative than another. One man interprets the Scriptures literally, another interprets them figuratively. What authority judges between them? One man interprets the Scriptures to say homosexuality is a sin, another interprets them to say idolatry and inhospitality is the real sin. What authority judges between them? One man says abortion is murder, another man says there is no direct Biblical prohibition of it, and everything is just a matter of interpretation. Again, what authority judges between them?

My point is simply this. Sola Scriptura leads to Scriptural Relativism. (Sola Scriptura = Scriptural Relativism) This is the final conclusion of the entire Reformation, and in the end, the liberal Anglicans are being perfectly consistent about this, as frustrating as that may be for the rest of us.

A Baptist says "Bible Alone" (just as the Anglicans once said centuries ago), while the modern Anglicans say Scripture + tradition + reason. Well the latter is an interesting thought, and perfectly consistent with Sola Scriptura's logical conclusion. Of course, traditions must be defined and reason must be worked out, but if there is no authority outside of that, than any man's tradition will do, and any man's reason is just as good as another.

The Catholic (and Biblical) position is different. (Scripture + Tradition + Magisterium = AUTHORITY) The missing ingredient in all of Protestantism is what Martin Luther threw out, and that is the Magisterium of the Church, meaning those bishops who have been properly ordained according to apostolic succession, meeting together in unity with the successor of Peter (the pope). It is their interpretation of Scripture and Tradition that is the only valid interpretation, and therefore the only authoritative one.

This Catholic understanding of Christian authority is an anathema to Protestants, particularly those who still cling to Sola Scriptura, and ultimately this very point that founded Protestantism will be it's demise. The liberal Anglicans are living proof of that. (Sola Scriptura leads to Scriptural Relativism) The conservative Baptists, Pentecostals and Evangelicals need only look to the liberal Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists to see their future. It may take 100 years, but their day is coming too. Sola Scriptura is an illogical and unbiblical teaching that ultimately leads to Scriptural and moral relativism within churches.

FrankNorman said...

I think you misunderstand the nature of "liberal" theology.
Its not that they have some different "interpretation" of Scripture. Its that the Bible is not the final authority for them at all. The World is. Their system is really "Sola Mundo".
I could debate such a person, and pin them down with hard logic that the Bible really does say what it does, AND THEY WOULD NOT CARE. They would simply declare the Scriptures to be "outdated" or somesuch. I have done this before. Nowadays the result is so predictable to me that I seldom bother.

I'm a bit puzzled as to why you think the Bible is so hard to understand. By that logic, wouldn't you need someone else to tell you what the Pope meant by whatever he said? And yet another authority to interpret that for you? And so on...

For any true Christian, the real authority is the Holy Spirit, and He dwells in every believer, not just some small elite. The reason the Bible has authority is because the Holy Spirit inspired it.
If the sects you mention (Baptists, Pentecostals) ever get taken over by pseudo-believers (which is what has really happened to the Anglicans) real Christians will leave those sects, and start new ones. I should point out that there are still conservative Lutherans and Methodists around, as well.


On the other hand, if Roman Catholicism got hijacked by make-it-up-as-we-go-along liberal modernists, what would you do? Would you even be able to tell, since you're conditioned to accept what your leadership says as infallible?

The Catholic Knight said...

FrankNorman, Thanks for your comments. I tend to agree with most of what you said. There are just two things I would like to say in response.

First, you're right about the "true Christians" taking flight in these other Protestant denominations should liberals take them over. However, I would assert that the problem with that is whatever they take flight to will inevitably be a smaller denomination. In time as the pseudo-Christians take over that organization, and true Christians take flight again, the inevitable result is even a smaller denomination. Do you what is happening here? So that's the problem with taking flight. In the end, what you end up with is splintering into oblivion, until each family is a "church" unto itself, and nobody can agree with anybody anymore. This is what the Modernists hope to accomplish, it's a classic "divide and conquer" strategy on a spiritual level. Sooner or later, you have to stop running, and start fighting back. The only problem is, whenever this has been tried in a Protestant church, the "true Christians" end up losing the battle.

Second, in regards to Modernist pseudo-Christians taking over the Catholic Church, that has already happened!!!

It happened primarily in Western Europe, North America, and Oceania (mostly Europe and North America though). We have very high ranking Catholic officials who have fallen to the Modernist agenda, and they have left vast regions of spiritual wreckage in their wake. Thankfully, most of them are retiring now. Even the Vatican was infected with this, and our last pope, John Paul II, was virtually held hostage to their agenda, trusting his own advisers far too much. The current pope, Benedict XVI, is left cleaning up the mess, and he is having to do so in the face of Modernist bishops and priest threatening rebellion if he cleans up too much! So, as you can see, we have been living in a situation very similar to the one you describe....

The Catholic Knight said...

...Now in answer to your question, what is a Catholic to do in such a situation? First and foremost, a proper understanding of papal infallibility is a good place to start. The doctrine of papal infallibility DOES NOT teach that everything the pope says is infallible. What it teaches is that what the pope says "EX CATHEDRA" (or "from the chair of Peter") is infallible. To give you an idea of how rare this authority is actually used, the popes only used it twice during the entire 20th century. Beyond that, the pope just has general authority (which can be fallible) but it is authority nonetheless. This authority is bound only to what is already taught in the catechism and canon law. The pope can change canon law at will, but he cannot change the catechism at will. He can expound on various teachings in the catechism, but he cannot outright change them. If a man were to attain the office of the papacy, and begin attempting to change doctrine at will, in such a way that it violated previous doctrine, he would be declared an anti-pope and another would be elected in his place. It's happened before.

The point I am making here is the Catholic Church has a unique ability to heal itself when it is wounded. It's an ability that does not seem to exist among the various Protestant churches, or at least it hasn't been displayed yet. The last forty years has been a bad time to be a Catholic. During that time, the Church has suffered more heresy, apostasy, schism and scandal than in any time in recent history. Sadly, it's not over yet. That being said however, the Church has been through worse times in ancient history. The Arian heresy nearly destroyed the Catholic Church back in the 4th and 5th centuries. At one time there were even more Arians than Catholics! Likewise, the Protestant Reformation should have destroyed the Church, but it did not. Instead the Church came back bigger and stronger than ever. This latest Modernist heresy for the Church started in about 1970, and will continue through for at least another ten years. When it is over however, the Catholic Church will rebound, bigger and stronger than ever. That seems to be the historical pattern. I have yet to see any evidence of this pattern emerging among the Protestants. Their pattern seems to be "healing" through schism and splintering into smaller groups. It's just an observation.