(Haligweorc) TEC Liturgical Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My crystal ball is telling me that Holy Women, Holy Men and the furor around it is emblematic of the liturgical issues that we will be dealing with in the next few decades. We are at the point where we must come to terms with the fact that we have inherited a prayer book with a greater catholic appearance but without catholic substance behind it. To put a finer point on it, we have a catholic-looking calendar of “saints” yet no shared theology of sainthood or sanctity. While a general consensus reigned that the appearance was sufficient, the lack of a coherent shared theology was not an issue. When we press upon it too hard—as occurred and is occurring in the transition from Lesser Feasts & Fasts into Holy Women, Holy Men into whatever will come next—we reap the fruits of a sort of potemkin ecumenism that collapses without common shared theology behind it.

Is there a catholic theology of sanctity in the Episcopal Church? Yes, in some places. Is there an inherently Episcopal theology of sanctity that proceeds naturally from the ’79 BCP that is in line with a classic Christian understanding? Without question! But is it known? No. Is there any common Episcopal understanding of sanctity? The arguments around the church especially as embodied in the discussions within the SCLM lead me to answer, no—I don’t think so.

The struggle of this current generation will be to wrestle with a liturgy that portrays a catholic appearance but lack a catholic substance behind it. It’s not that the substance can’t be there—it’s that it’s not.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental Theology

4 Comments
Posted August 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

As someone who fled the Episcopal Church, I would say, “No.” There is absolutely nothing coherent in anything the Episcopal church teaches in terms of theology. I could be Calvinist one Sunday, Arminian the next, Liberal Protestant, Anglo-catholic or theist. There is nothing that is consistent.

August 6, 7:51 pm | [comment link]
2. Ad Orientem wrote:

+1 to Archer’s comment. It is fascinating to note that on the calendar of “provisional” saints used by TEO they studiously ignore the one and only saint ever formally canonized by the Church of England, Charles the Martyr.

August 6, 8:29 pm | [comment link]
3. TomRightmyer wrote:

The Episcopal Church lacks not only a “common Episcopal understanding of sanctity” but lacks a common Episcopal understanding of the Christian life. For some the Christian life is seeking to advance the goals of the liberal wing of the Democratic party. For others the Christian life is living by the 7 cardinal virtues including prudence and temperance as these are embodied in the Republican party platform. Some have a goal of being sure their particular interests are represented in the church calendar.  I don’t know which group pushed the mention of John Mason Neale and Catherine Winkworth August 7. Neale was an eminent liturgist and hymn writer. His 14 year inhibition by his bishop should inspire all of us who find ourselves in conflict with church leadership. Catherine Winkworth is credited with bringing the German chorale to English hymnody and for the joke about the British conquest of the Sind in western India, “peccavi” Latin for “I have sinned.” The joke is falsely attributed to General Napier.  She might well be adopted as the patron of punsters.

Looking at my Ashby Kalendar I see August 17 commemorating the Yale Converts of 1722 whose conviction that apostolic succession is necessary for valid ministry has led many since to think that bishops are of the _esse_ of the church.  As one seminary professor once said, “bishops are necessary, and so is good plumbing.”

August 7, 8:37 am | [comment link]
4. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

I fundamentally agree with #1 & 2, but I’d go further myself.  It’s not just TEC that’s woefully inconsistent, folks.  Anglicanism itself is notoriously (and sometimes gloriously) inconsistent theologically.  It always has been, and probably always will be.  As a self-styled “3-D” Anglican (evangelical, catholic, and charismatic, but NOT broad church/latitudinarian), I can actually celebrate some of the inconsistency when it involves the paradoxical holding together of complementary truths (such as God being Three and yet One, etc.).  What I deplore, and can’t stand, is outright self-contradiction and fundamental incoherence.

For centuries now, Anglicanism has basically been at least three religions trying to co-exist under one institutional roof (what I jokingly refer to as “the Low and Lazy, the High and Crazy, and the Broad and Hazy”).  But since the rise of Deism and Enlightenment rationalism, followed by Modernism/Liberalism, the situation has become intolerable.

The demise of TEC in our time illustrates all too clearly that the famous Lex Orandi is NOT sufficient by itself.  For all too many clergy and laity can mouth the words of the liturgy but understand them in ways that grossly contradict what the words and acts imply, thus emptying an essentially orthodox liturgy (in the case of the 1979 BCP) of its historic content and then refilling the vacuum thus created with all sorts of nonsense and heretical rubbish.

The bottom line seems clear to me.  Anglicanism simply can’t endure any longer without a living and reputable magisterium.

David Handy+

August 7, 9:03 am | [comment link]
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