Canon John Heidt: What really divdes us

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a recent meeting of the Society of the Holy Cross, the Moderator of the Network of Episcopal Dioceses, Bishop Robert Duncan, re-assured the some forty priests gathered there that Anglo-Catholics would certainly have a recognized and respected place in whatever new Anglican structures should develop within this country. His understanding and defense of our position was clear and thoroughly appreciated. But then one of the priests asked him about the ordination of women, and we discovered the great distance that still divides us.

As the bishop continued to talk the fundamental nature of that division became all too clear. We are not divided simply by the women's issue nor with others by the homosexual issue but by the same fundamental theological issues that have always divided Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals within our own Communion, and Protestants and Catholics throughout the world ever since the Reformation. The issues confronting us are theological rather than biological.

At one point Bishop Duncan claimed that the 1662 Prayer Book established sin and atonement as the fundamental theology of Anglicanism, And it is certainly true that after the British nation had suffered from the Puritan environment of the Commonwealth, regicide, the beheading of an archbishop and vivid reminders of the horror of the Black Death, a new emphasis upon the reality of sin and our need for atonement came to the fore. The theological emphasis of the 1662 Prayer Book came out of the same spiritual stable as the Dance Macabre and the blood-spattered crucifixes of Spain, just as much as our 1979 Prayer Book reflects American self assurance and prosperity. Both developments redressed a previous imbalance but neither in themselves established a new fundamental theology for Anglicanism. For that we must go to the early fathers and the tradition of the undivided church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Theology

Posted August 30, 2007 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Eclipse wrote:

Only God can save us by His suffering on the cross, and even this, though it changes God’s attitude towards us, can never wipe away our sins.

Where in the world does C. Heidt get this idea from ANY of protestantism including B. Duncan?  Interesting to have this take on the fact that any of us, without the grace of Christ, are ‘sinful’.  That’s just Biblical not a personal opinion.

However, I have yet, and I’ve been to LOTS of protestant denominations over the years - including Anglican - to hear that Jesus cannot save us from sin.

August 30, 6:20 pm | [comment link]
2. fatherlee wrote:

I don’t think that’s what Canon Heidt is saying.  He is basically delineating between the traditional protestant/catholic debate over imputed/infused righteousness.

And yes, the tradition protestant view (a la Luther) is that the Christian is both a sinner and righteous.  The Reformed view is that the Christian will always be depraved, even though redeemed.  The Catholic view is that grace actually touches upon our bent natures and actually and really heals us.  The question is not over justification, but over sanctification, which to the Catholic are two sides of the same coin.

August 30, 6:35 pm | [comment link]
3. Inglis wrote:

I don’t see how such a rejection of some concept of simul justus simul peccator does not necessarily involve a rejection of the theological tradition of the Book of Common Prayer and therefore of Anglicanism.  Canon Heidt may be overstating a case (and this is my hope) but there is also an exaggerated and unwelcome polarity here whcih may be another sign that the Via Media (the way of mediation), , Anglicanism is dead.  I attach a letter by Father Robert Crouse from The Anglican Planet.
A Response to Paul Zahl’s Article in the December 2005 Issue
Anglicans on Imputation/Infusion

Thank you for giving us Paul Zahl’s explanation of the difference between Protestant and Catholic doctrines of justification, in terms of the difference between “imputation” and “infusion” (Romeward: not an option, TAP Nov. 2005).  He focuses our attention on a profoundly important issue much neglected in modern Anglican theology. However, as is so often the case in matters of Protestant-Catholic antitheses, Anglicans must find themselves on both sides of this imputation-infusion divide. Classical Anglican divinity (as represented, e.g., by Richard Hooker) would argue for both an imputed righteousness and an infused righteousness. “Thus [says Hooker] we participate in Christ partly by imputation, as when those things which he did and suffered for us are imputed unto us for righteousness; partly by habitual and real infusion, as when grace is inwardly bestowed while we are on earth, and afterwards more fully both our souls and bodies made like unto his in glory.” (Laws V, 56, 11) “God giveth us both the one justice and the other: the one by accepting us for righteous in Christ; the other by working Christian righteousness in us…Thus we receive all at one and the same time…they go together.” (Sermon II, 21) Hooker’s chief quarrel with the Church of Rome in this regard is that Rome fails to distinguish between that perfect righteousness of Christ which is ours by imputation, and that infused righteousness, imperfect in our present life, perfected only in heaven. The Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification (Session VI, 1547) substantiates Hooker’s misgiving.

Robert Crouse, Crousetown, N.S.

August 30, 6:54 pm | [comment link]
4. alfonso wrote:

I’m another one in the “both/and” camp.

I was disturbed by this quote from the article: “the theological emphasis of the 1662 Prayer Book came out of the same spiritual stable as the Dance Macabre and the blood-spattered crucifixes of Spain, just as much as our 1979 Prayer Book reflects American self assurance and prosperity.” That’s an incredibly arrogant, disrepectful, and innacurate view of the “spiritual stable” behind the 1662.

August 30, 7:05 pm | [comment link]
5. alfonso wrote:

And I meant to include, I too share a concern that women’s ordination will not be dealt with properly. I can arguably be in communion with those who are wrestling to get this issue right; but I don’t think it is possible to be associated with a province/church that says, “we’ve prayed, studied, and listened the very best we possibly can, and we will still continue to ordain women.”

August 30, 7:08 pm | [comment link]
6. Br. Michael wrote:

5, then don’t be.

August 30, 7:51 pm | [comment link]
7. MikeS wrote:

Can someone help me understand what is Fr. Heidt saying in this paragraph?

Grace restores the divine image in man. Salvation comes through growth in grace, not through some kind of substitution deal between Jesus and His Father. Because grace saves us from the effects of our sins, we are no longer slaves but friends of God. Though our sins make us unworthy to come into His presence, by divine grace we are made worthy to stand before him.

I agree with the last two sentences and think he makes a good point about +Duncan’s statements about the 79 Prayer Book.  But the first two sentences don’t seem to match Scriptural witness or reality.  The image of God is restored but to imply that it is fully restored in this present world betrays a world view that doesn’t take the pervasive and ongoing effects of the Fall into account.

Also how in the world do we grow in grace for our salvation?  Was the Cross sufficient or not?  If not, Christ’s death seems weak if my trivial efforts can help it.  I thought the point of the Catholic teaching was that we have nothing to bring to the font and altar and thus receive Christ without benefit of our worthiness or the worthiness of the celebrant.

August 30, 8:19 pm | [comment link]
8. Philip Snyder wrote:

MikeS (#7).
I was priviledged to have the Rev. Dr. Heidt as my professor for Systematics, History of Doctrine, and Moral Theology classes.  His words are often hard to understand.  As a student of his, let me try to explain.
Calvinism teaches that man is totally depraved.  That he cannot do any good by himself - in short, the divine image of God is marred beyond recognition.  In Catholic teaching, the image of God is recongizable in man, but it is marred so that the likeness of God is no longer there.  Grace - the free gift of God to live from God’s resources and not our own, restores the divine image.  Salvation is a process of growing in God’s grace and not a one time event that occurs when you say “the sinner’s prayer” or “accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.”  It is a question of being made righteous, not being declared righteous.  To the Catholic mind, justification is a process that Protestants associate with santification.  In short, God makes us righteous through the gift of His grace.  This does not, in any way, lessen the sufficiency or efficacy of the Cross.  Christ’s death and (more importantly) his Resurrection are what allow us to come to God’s throne.  They are the means of the atonement.  Now, how the atonement works is a different matter.  There are a number of theories, but two of the main ones are penal substitution and Christus Victor.  Penal Substitution (put rather simply) states that Jesus paid a penalty that we owed because of our sins.  Christus Victor states that Jesus defeated the powers of evil, sin, and death through submitting to them on the cross and defeating them in the Resurrection.  Both of the above are sever simplifications of the theories.  Both theories have significant scriptural support.
I’m not sure which one is true, but I suspect that the answer is “yes - they both are true.”
I hope this helps.

Phil Snyder

August 30, 9:34 pm | [comment link]
9. Frances Scott wrote:

Ah! We do the best we can, but is the human mind truly capable of explaining divine mystery?  Maybe we should just stop with “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, with your house.”

August 30, 10:12 pm | [comment link]
10. RalphM wrote:

Frances Scott - Amen!
I grow weary of hearing the fine points of theology argued to a dismal drone.  That’s the essence of religion and it often stands in the way of belief.

August 30, 10:38 pm | [comment link]
11. Albany* wrote:

#3 Thank you for sharing Fr. Robert Crouse’s response to Dean Zahl. Fr. Crouse offers perfect clarity on the sound both/and Anglican theology of Hooker.

As for the Anglo-Catholic/Evangelical coalition, there can be worse marriages (each has what the other lacks). Whether they end up in separate bedrooms will depend more on their love than their theology.

August 30, 10:55 pm | [comment link]
12. DonGander wrote:

“(each has what the other lacks). “

Such has been my thought for a long time.

8. Philip Snyder:

In your explanation, are you equating Calvinism with evangelicalism?

I am stunned if you are. I don’t think you want to but you don’t give me room to escape. Or, perhaps, you are merely giving a precis’ on the Rev. Dr. Heidt’s position?

August 30, 11:26 pm | [comment link]
13. MikeS wrote:

Phil Snyder, (#8)

Thank you for the answers.  I think I understand a little better, but Fr. Heidt doesn’t seem to hold to the “both/and” in the way that you have explained.  Or maybe he is being polemic to counter the concerns he heard from +Duncan.

BTW, I have never heard a Protestant associate justification with sanctification.  As a rule they tend to separate the two, sometimes to extremes as Zane Hodges and Charles Ryrie did at Dallas Theological Seminary a few years ago.  Most often they squabble over the ordo saludis and which piece of the puzzle falls where in the order.  Sanctification is seen as a distinct step in the ordo saludis.

When Protestants conflate justification and sanctification they tend to be trashed by their own side as (pick one or more) fuzzy thinkers, N. T. Wright disciples, post-modern, emerging church, heretics.

August 30, 11:49 pm | [comment link]
14. Newbie Anglican wrote:

Hmmm, I don’t know if some of the above descriptions of Calvinist belief are accurate.  My previous church, a large independant Bible church, was about as Calvinistic and Protestant as they come.  Yet it taught, “We are saved.  We are being saved.  We shall be saved.”
In other words, salvation is both a done deal and a process to be completed.  And although I’m more catholic now, I still agree.

August 31, 4:00 am | [comment link]
15. Larry Morse wrote:

But 9 and 10 have both said something important. The splitting of theological hairs on matters for which no definitive answer is possible is a source of constant ridicule - and rightly so. I understand that for many people - and I daresay I am one, unfortunately - the debate is self sufficient and self-sustaining, a good in itself. But to the outside viewer, the debate is pointless because beyond resolution and human knowledge. Well, and not just to the outsider.

I don’t mean the issue is unimportant. Luther’s view of man’s nature -  and predestination - have had all sorts of unpleasant but significant effects on both groups and individuals. And I will leave out the 30 Years War here for a minute. Still, would it not have been better for Christianity if he had kept his mouth shut? To battle the corruption in the RC was a necessary endeavor, but to stigmatize all mankind for what is not in scripture - and this is clearly what Luther did - is unwise and undesirable at every level.
For, Luther’s conclusions resting only on speculation, he set a war going for which no resolution is possible, but which, once begun, can never be ignored nor left unfought. So speculation duels with speculation and blood is drawn. And the ourside (and many inside) watch with a mixture of despair and ridicule. Larry

By the bye, #4, I think as you do, that the characterization is deliberately meant to be offensive and shows a most unpalatable bias.

August 31, 9:23 am | [comment link]
16. Philip Snyder wrote:

Perhaps I misspoke.  I did not equate Calvinism with Evangelicalism.  In fact, I don’t think I mentioned Evagelicalism.  I also meant to say that Protestants tend to think of Justification as an event effected by the death and resurrection and appropriated by the believer by a personal commitment to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.  The think of Sactification is the process of being made into Christ’s likeness.  Catholics speak of Justification as the entire process.  To me, this seems like word splitting and over analysis.  I tend to think both are right.  The Greek word for “Justified” is a passive verb form of “Righteous.”  You might say that we are “righteousified.”  Protestants say that we are declared righteous.  Catholics say we are made righteous.  I say we are both declared righteous and made righteous.

Phil Snyder

August 31, 10:04 am | [comment link]
17. Id rather not say wrote:

A subject on which forests of trees and oceans of ink have been expended, and a few short paragraphs by Canon Heidt, however well expressed, cannot do justice to this subject—and I say that with no disrespect to Canon Heidt, who has indeed put the problem well.  Summaries always carry the risk of overstatement, always bear the burden of possible caricature of another view.

However, when I see cries of regret that we cannot all get along, and claims that our efforts in the catholic/evangelical divide ought to be towards some sort of “synthesis” regarding atonement, justification, grace and sanctification—something expressed by some in several threads on more than one Anglican blog of late—I find myself growing weary, as if people are just not listening.  The quote from Fr. Crouse, who quotes Hooker, is a case in point.

Now, in a brief blog comment like this, I too shall risk caricature.  Broad strokes in a short comment of necessity lack subtlety and nuance.  Morever, the various men cited in this and other recent threads on this question all know much more about this subject than I do, and I have an enormous respect for Bishop Duncan.

But when I see calls for a “synthesis” and that this is the Anglican vocation, I am forced to say:  such a synthesis has in fact already been achieved.  It was a long time ago.  It is called the catholic faith.

When it comes to imputation vs. infusion, it is not the catholic who has a problem with some combination of the two.  On that point, in fact, the broad stream that we might dub “catholic” broadly agrees, differing only in details (albeit important ones)—and the quotation from Hooker shows just where Anglicanism stands.  Thus it has been possible in recnt years for there to be agreed statements on justification and its concomittant sanctification between Roman Catholics and Lutherans, as well as between Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

Rather, it is the evangelical—or perhaps I should say a certain type of Reformed evangelical—who has a great difficulty with any idea of infusion at all, whether combined with imputation or not.  For him, the inclusion of infused grace in the drama of salvation at the very least threatens the primacy of substitutionary atonement and so must be kept at arms length, and at worst betrays it and should be utterly denied.  From this point of view, “synthesising” imputation and infusion is impossible, since the latter imperils what he believes is the essence of the gospel, imperils it in a way that no catholic believes imputation to do.

The same division exists—and for the same reasons—on the question of nature and grace.  Thus catholic has no problem believing that revelation is required for full knowledge of salvation; he just insists that some actual knowledge of God is possible apart from the specific revelation of Christ.  It is the Reformed evangelical who makes a stand against any knowledge of God apart from revelation, just as he makes a stand against grace infused in the sinner.  Barth has to spend pages in his famous commentary on Romans explaining why Paul couldn’t mean what he clearly says in the in the first two chapters.

It would do us all a lot of good if we reflected on the actual nature of the division summarized by Fr. Heidt and stopped chasing after an illusory “synthesis,”  and that we take the opportunity afforded by the present crisis to ask ourselves to just which “stream” of Christianity we want Anglicanism to belong.

August 31, 10:42 am | [comment link]
18. Albany* wrote:

#18 Excellent points all. Yet the discussion at hand is regretably about coaltion-making and not simply theology. Anglicanism has a history of definition in theological/political crisis. The question then and also now is what integrity that process will have and at what cost to the truth.

August 31, 11:14 am | [comment link]
19. AnglicanCasuist wrote:

# 18 - But when I see calls for a “synthesis” and that this is the Anglican vocation, I am forced to say:  such a synthesis has in fact already been achieved. It was a long time ago.  It is called the catholic faith.

I agree.

St. Augustine’s description of his own fallen state, and the subsequent conversion of his will (in the illumination of divine grace) has a completely authentic feel to it. But I am simply not persuaded by Augustine’s description of human psychology before the Fall. I think he had the cart before the horse. Human reason and the passions, inextricably connected to the body, are made in God’s image.

Our freedom and a tendency (especially without the skills that come with the virtues) to be self-centered is an absurd function of the will. St. Thomas, taking from Aristotle’s astute observations of the natural world, concluded that we are made with a natural magnetic attraction to goodness and truth. But he surmised that the human will (acting in freedom from God’s coercion) is capable of defecting. To betray a trust, to be disloyal, to defect - is different from being completely defective. The latter is, I think the Augustinian and later, Calvinist, position.

August 31, 1:04 pm | [comment link]
20. rugbyplayingpriest wrote:

regardless of the protestant/catholic problem…the fact remains that if an emerging church accepts womens ordination- then the cancer is carried accross and NOTHING is achieved!

That may sound alarming and insenstivie…but the link between ordaining active homosexuals and women is strong and pertinent.

Either we act with the backing of scripture, reason and tradition…which omits both actions…or we go it alone and allow ourselves to set rules on what ‘feels’ right. The scope for anything is created.

Orthodoxy demands a male only preisthood because there is no precedent in scripture or tradition of ordaining women to holy orders as apostolic succesors (and please don’t grasp desperately at the vague issue of Junia again). Quite simply…even if WO seems acceptable we cannot proceed for we have no authority to do so.

Gene Robinson’s ordination became possible the moment ECUSA went it alone and without precedent ordained a woman.

August 31, 2:24 pm | [comment link]
21. William Tighe wrote:


Right-on!  And, as I wrote on another thread this morning, “Veritas temporis filia;” and on this matter WO and SS are both shown to be ecclesiastical perversions.

August 31, 3:40 pm | [comment link]
22. Unsubscribe wrote:

IRNS has it exactly right in #18. I find it interesting that, and am trying to see the reason why, those who are particularly insistent on juridical justification so often accuse catholics of confounding or conflating justifiication with sanctification when (from our point of view) nothing could be further from the truth.

I am still struggling to see the motivation for denying that the justified/baptized is infused with grace; or that it can make sense to say that grace (as opposed to a righteous status) can be “imputed”. The bottom line seems to be: does one receive grace in baptism, or does one not?

August 31, 7:59 pm | [comment link]
23. AnglicanCasuist wrote:

I am still struggling to see the motivation for denying that the justified/baptized is infused with grace;

The motivation behind this is to keep our fallen state entirely without righteousness, and therefore unworthy and unable to do anything whatsoever to change our condition, if it were not for God’s covering us with his righteousness (and of course, this imputed righteousness is passively received). But, in this theology, the perfected state before the fall doesn’t make much sense. How would we know enough to want to disobey God? How would we be tempted? What would be wrong with us to do that? I think the catholic position is that God’s grace precedes the fall, making us fully human, and even capable of disobedience. And after the fall, grace continues to work in us urging us back to God.

August 31, 8:50 pm | [comment link]
24. Unsubscribe wrote:

Thank you, #24, that is helpful, and it does join up quite a lot of the dots. It also confirms my suspicion that this comes down to the theology of baptism.

Catholic theology affirms that before the “fall”, human nature was innocent. It is permissible to hold, however, that this innocence still fell short of the fullness of life in Christ (while not comprising anything injurious or contradictory to it). To put it another way, the “perfection” before the fall was a more limited kind of perfection than that to which we are called as adopted brothers of Christ. I hope that in offering this thought, I have suggested a good way of approaching the questions that you quite rightly raise.

Nothing about the catholic position in any way undermines the principle that, both before and after the fall, nothing that we creatures could do of ourselves would avail to bring us closer to our destiny without (a) the atoning work of Our Lord and (b) the acceptance of God’s grace (without which we could do nothing).

August 31, 9:29 pm | [comment link]
25. AnglicanCasuist wrote:

#25 Yes, I think you have said it very well.

August 31, 9:46 pm | [comment link]
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