Friday, July 15, 2011

An Excellent Summary of High Church Principles

Somewhat ironic but one of the best summaries of Protestant High Churchmanship I've seen comes from Andrewes Hall, a seminary affiliated with the Reformed Episcopal Church. The REC was founded by Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church and became a rather low church body but nowadays, it is a safe-haven for Protestant High Churchmen (not without Anglo-Catholic influence though).


Perhaps the best shorthand statement of our doctrinal position as a seminary is the famous formula set forth by Lancelot Andrewes’ in defining the boundaries of faith and practice for the Church of England:

One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.

“One Canon”
We affirm that the Canon of Holy Scripture is central to our Rule of Faith, standing as the ultimate norm of belief and practice. We affirm the Bible to be the infallible and revealed Word of God. Hence we test all things by God’s Word written.

"Two Testaments"
We affirm the 39 canonical books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament to be the limits of biblical inspiration. The received books of the Deuterocanon or “Apocrypha”, while being an important subdivision of the greater biblical corpus, are in no way afforded the same status as the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments. The Church may read them “for example of life and instruction of manners,” yet they are not used or applied to establish binding doctrine (cf. Article VI of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England).

We also affirm Two Sacraments as ordained by Christ Himself – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord – ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him (cf. Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886/1888).

“Three Creeds”
We affirm (1) the Apostles’ Creed, as our Baptismal symbol; (2) the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith; and (3) the creed known in the West as the “Creed of Saint Athanasius”, as affirming the mysteries of the Triune God and the Personal union of two Natures in our Divine Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“Four Councils”
We affirm the dogmatic definitions of the first four ecumenical councils of the undivided Church – (1) Nicaea, A.D. 325, (2) Constantinople, A.D. 381, (3) Ephesus, A.D. 431, and (4) Chalcedon, A.D. 451 – as representing the true mind of the Church Catholic in the face of heresy and controversy, and the consensus of the faithful as led by the Spirit of God into all truth. The later ecumenical councils (i.e., the fifth, sixth, and seventh) are affirmed as orthodox to the degree that they are consistent with, while adding nothing to, the substance of dogma defined by the first four.

“Five Centuries”
We affirm the witness of the Spirit of God during the formative period of the Church, otherwise known as the Patristic era, contained primarily in the writings and testimonies of the great Fathers of the first five centuries (roughly from the Apostles to Gregory the Great). This witness continues to inform our faith and practice, especially in the areas of polity, worship, and evangelical mission.

One further note…
Andrewes Hall finds its identity in the Reformed character of the historic Protestant Church of England and the greater Anglican tradition. Thus we cherish and honor the heritage of the Book of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion contained therein. Nevertheless, we also remain open to fellowship, dialogue and interaction with Christians of all branches of Christ’s Church in the spirit and heritage of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886/1888.


Anonymous said...

I'll let you know more about Andrewes Hall since I'm applying there for this fall. Right now I'm waiting on some letters of recommendation. Some thoughts on Andrewes' Formula: Anglicans have differed over reliable centuries. Of divines, Cosin seems most willing to stretch the mark. Five is generally accepted, though I've read three and seven as well w/anything thereafter being either consonant with scripture and/or the fathers. Anyway, I don't believe Vincent's and Andrewes' formulae are exactly interchangeable. I'm still debating this, but an interesting comment by Fr. Wells at the Continuum blog regarding the Vincentian canon's anti-augustinian bias (something to keep in mind),

"We usually fail to notice the tension between the slogans "Lex orandi, lex credendi" and the slightly more popular Vincentian canon, "ubique, semper, et ab omnibus." Vincent of Lerins seems to have been a semi-Pelagian and invented his slogan (an exercise in circular thinking) in criticism of St. Augustine's doctrine of grace. He reasoned that if he could show some sort of consensus against Augustine, he would refute him.

Prosper of Aquitaine (Vincent's contemporary in the first half of the fifth century) was a staunch Augustinian. He reasoned that if you wish to know what a man or a Church truly believes, just listen to how he prays or how that Church worships. If the Prayer Book is any indication, we are all Augustinians on our knees (no matter how much moral advice we dispense from the pulpit). "We have no power of ourselves to help ourselves ... there is no health in us."

Jordan said...


Are you doing MDiv?

Anonymous said...

According to Dean Mills, it would be MTh. However, the program is easily commutable. I'd rather give 4k to the REC than 60k to Nashotah House or Trinity which would then plow this money back into more pro-WO/TEC grads. That's like fighting myself.

Jordan said...

Ok, I seem to be having a bit more luck today with the commenting. I was going to reply to your comment yesterday but had no luck.

As time passes, it becomes harder to find a "dividing" line. I'm more interested in the general councils, actually. Generally Anglicans only affirmed the first four councils but Anglo-Catholics accept all seven while the GAFCon primates have made it the first four again. I wonder what modern consensus is among Anglican evangelicals?