My mother in law goes to a Anglican Parish where they preserve the old ways. Their newsletter is always worth reading. This is taken from this Sunday’s notice — which you can get online — and it discusses the see of Peter and the church. One of the questions that the Anglicans have, if they want true union with Peter (and many do) is that they have to be definite in their faith. The Catholics have their magisterium: decisions on faith and morals that all faithful will accede to for the sake of unity. This leads to division, for there is a temptation to go beyond faith and morals. Consider that it is right and good to love your county and your neighbours and your family. However, this does not allow one to signal virtue. To do that, you need to invent a new sin, such as racism, and say that loving your county and neighbours and family is boorish, small-minded, and evil. Instead you should tolerate the stranger, who we shall send to you. The current Pope is very good at this. But it allows people to be satisfied with the false virtue of wearing the correct ribbon in the correct season and mouthing the correct words in the current year, It is much harder to be righteous. I have enough problems dealing with wrath, sloth and lust. I need no new sins to think about. But Father Hugh writes clearly and carefully. I have seen enough Anglicans and Catholics, and count such as brothers, to see how this conflict happens, and the pain it causes.
Last Tuesday’s Caversham lecture was one of the best attended we have had with somewhere between 60 and 70 present. An issue that remains with this writer is one raised by the second to last ARCIC document The Gift of Authority that came out in 2005. It stated that for both churches to accept the universal primacy of the Bishop of Rome they would need to situate such a ministry within a church that took seriously conciliarity and synodality.
The Pope would have to work closely with Synods of Bishops and with Councils of the whole church. For the Roman Catholic Church that would mean allowing local Synods of Bishops much more devolved power to rule and guide the church, and allowing lay people a greater say in the decision making processes of the church. For Anglicans this would involve the challenge of making the Instruments of Communion, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ meetings and the Lambeth Conference to be more than consultative and advisory meetings designed to strengthen the bonds of affection.
They would have to become decisive decision making bodies with power to make things happen, that this might involve saying “no” to certain developments and having the authority to correct anomalies and discipline wayward behaviour. Anglicans are deeply reluctant to do this and so they have a weak ecclesiology. The result is that they struggle to deal with internal international conflicts and are hindered in their attempts to advance into organic union with the Catholic Church.
Compare this conflict — which is a false one, for the unity in Christ is found among those who are of Christ and not along the historical and national lines into which the church congregations fall — with the teaching of the Saint that Father Hugh’s Church is named after and the Pope claims as the first bishop of Rome.
1Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. 5For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 8For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For anyone who lacks these things is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. 10Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
Peter tells us how to live. We need to add to our faith goodness, then knowledge, then self control, then endurance, then brotherly affection, then love. It does not come automatically. We need to not concentrate on that which is evil. And that is sufficient. This is our duty: it is not our salvation, for this begins with faith.
Our faith is based on the promises of God, so every word matters. Particularly the ones we do not like, and rebel against, be they covering of heads, or silence in church, or the qualifications for eldership, which most of us do not meet, me included. Without these, the study of scripture will lead one to error.
And in that error, you will invent new sins that come, not from God, but from the spirit of this age. They are false. There are no new sins, but old sins disguised by new lies. And the core of this is the sin that Paul had: You shall not covet. He was jealous for promotion and power before he met Christ, to the point of murdering those who were of the way and the kingdom of God. There is a reason that this gifted scholar and orator was not sent directly into the leadership when he converted, but sent a decade in the desert of Arabia.
If someone preaches false sins, they are preaching a false gospel, and they will kill the spirit of God among you, while claiming the righteousness of all the saints. Do not be them. Do not be like them.