In this section, I attempt to provide a brief sketch of High Church theology. This is a particularly difficult task because the High Church movement was not (nor is it now) a monolithic movement. In addition to actual theological differences in varying camps, the problem of terminology also causes issue in our post-Ritualistic world. I identify several camps within the old High Church school: a) centrists; b) Tory High Church (Nockles’ concept); c) advanced. The first group includes those who embraced a thoroughly Protestant (and Reformed) theology who placed greater emphasis on the visible church and the visible means of grace. Daniel Waterland is a good example of the centrist position. “Tory High Churchmen” were those who placed an emphasis on the Church of England as the Established Church of England and greatly valued the church-state relationship. Advanced churchmen were those who pushed the edge of the Reformed boundaries of the formularies or who went beyond them, this includes men such as John Johnson in the Established Church and Thomas Brett in the Non-Juring sect. Cornwall summarizes High Church diversity,
“High Church and Non-Juror divines did not present a monolithic theological face to the world. Their thought was characterized by different emphases and nuances. William Beveridge remained rooted in the Restoration Church, combining a Calvinist theology with an emphasis on the visible and apostolic church. Francis Atterbury and Henry Sacheverell continued to espouse the beneficial alliance that existed between church and state, whereas Henry Dodwell, George Hickes, and Thomas Brett defended the church’s subsistence as an autonomous society completely separate from the state….Still…[they] believed that there was any road to God except the one that led through the episcopal and apostolic church that had existed in that nation from before the Reformation.”
Within this theological heterogeneity, I maintain that there was substantial, Protestant consensus among old High Churchmen, with the exception of some extreme Non-Jurors. However, it is important to remember that they were outside the boundary of the Established Church and were not subject to the formularies. In seeking to provide a basic definition of just what a High Churchman was, Nockles provides this definition,
“A High Churchman in the Church of England tended to uphold in some form the doctrine of apostolical succession as a manifestation of his strong commitment to the Church’s catholicity and apostolicity as a branch of the universal church catholic, within which he did not include those reformed bodies which had abandoned episcopacy without any plea of necessity. He believed in the supremacy of Holy Scripture and set varying degrees of value on the testimony of authorised standards such as the Creeds, the Prayer Book and the Catechism. He valued t he writings of the early Fathers, but more especially as witnesses and expositors of scriptural truth when a “catholic consent” of them could be established. He upheld in a qualified way the primacy of dogma a nd laid emphasis on the doctrine of sacramental grace, both in the eucharist and in baptism, while normally eschewing the Roman Catholic principle of ex opere operato. He tended to cultivate a practical spirituality based on good works nourished by sacramental grace and exemplified in acts of self-denial and charity rather than on any subjective conversion experience or unruly pretended manifestations of the Holy Spirit. He stressed the divine rather than popular basis of political allegiance and obligation. His political principles might be classed as invariably Tory though by no means always in a narrowly political party sense, and were characterised by a high view of kingship and monarchical authority. He upheld the importance of a religious establishment but insisted also on the duty of the state as a divinely-ordained rather than merely secular entity, to protect and promote the interests of the church.” (Nockles, 25-26).
There has been much historical debate about where to “place” High Churchmen, such as the Laudians, and Anglicans in general, in the “Calvinist” vs. “Arminian” debate. My own reflection is that Anglicanism’s formularies predate both of these theological systems and it is rather difficult to neatly place Anglicanism fully within either. Another problem, in my own view, is the notion that “Calvinism” really reflects the theology of Calvin. It seems that there were several theological shifts within the corpus of Calvinist systematic theology after the death of Calvin, whereby Beza, Calvin’s successor, shifted the emphasis of predestination from soteriology to a matter of theology proper, dealing with God’s sovereignty, rather than as a demonstration of his grace. If I were to classify the Anglican formularies, I would say that they reflect the broad, Augustinian consensus of Reformation theology which broadly accepted a predestinarian scheme for salvation, stemming from the core doctrines of sola gratia and sola fide, but that is rather beyond the scope of this piece.
Within historical discussion, at least from an outside reader, it appears that there are a number of theses about this matter. One of them seems to indicate that a distinctive form of Arminianism developed in the British Isles, aptly styled “English Arminianism,” this system denied the doctrine of double predestination and the individualistic piety, characteristic of the more “godly” churchmen, meaning those who sought to further reform the English Church in the Genevan fashion. For example, Archbishop Peter Robinson of the United Episcopal Church in North America, explains further his take on this matter, following the “English Arminian” thesis,
“Theologians such as Lancelot Andrewes objected not to the idea of Predestination as such, but to the doctrine of double Predestination promoted by some Calvinists… they saw double predestination as inconsistent with a loving and merciful God. They also regarded Predestination as preached by some of the Puritans as being anti-sacramental, and the Caroline Divines seem to have held with the idea that Christians exist in a state where we are both saved and being saved. This notion also explains the strong sacramentalism of the Caroline High Churchmen, and of their modern successor of the Central stripe.”
Hylson-Smith discusses the latter notion that “English Arminianism” reflects an attitude towards individualism, rather than predestination per se. The idea is that the Laudians rejected the individualistic piety and, instead, focused on the communal and visible means of grace, essentially equating English Arminianism with anti-Calvinism. Hylson-Smith opines,
“The term Arminian has commonly been used to describe this body of anti-Calvinistic opinion, but it does not mean that the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius was normally the source of the ideas so labeled… In England, although the Arminians asserted the orthodoxy of free will and universal grace, they also stressed the hierarchical nature of both church and state against the incipient egalitarianism of Calvinism… ‘the English Arminian mode, as it emerged during the 1630’s, was that of communal and ritualized worship rather than an individual response to preaching or Bible reading.’”
There are also theories which deny any sort of “English Arminianism.” Guyer notes that the works of Arminius were not published widely in England during the seventeenth century (the “definitive” edition of Arminius in English was published in the 19th century). Also, according to Guyer, reducing Anglican theology to anti-Calvinism is contrary to historical fact.
A short word will be said on High Church beliefs regarding justification, which is the key dividing line between Romanism and true religion. Most Anglican divines starting with the Reformers themselves up to the Caroline Divines were strictly Protestant and Reformed in their understanding of the nature of justification. In the post-Restoration Church, later Caroline Divines, such as Taylor and others reacted against the Puritan theology of the Interregnum, or the “solafidianism” that they perceived of as denying the role of good works in salvation. As Jeremy Taylor said that faith without works was, “like a stomach poweder faith only works if it purges and purifies.” Ploeger describes the nuances of this new theology,
“they did not consider the first act of God as the input of a righteous qualitas inhaerens in the human being (which would be the Roman Catholic view), but as the external imputation of Christ’s righteousness unto the human being; however, after that they taught a continuation of the process of justification by means of good works which were provided by gratia infusa.Without the latter, the former had no value and could even be lost.”
Along with the strong link between baptism and regeneration and the new-found emphasis on good works in salvation, many later Evangelicals believed that the Church of England had lost its zeal for Reformed orthodoxy, which later sparked the Evangelical Revival. The emphasis on good works was perceived as moralism by Evangelicals and Dissenting Protestants. Yet, despite these differences, there was far more Protestant consensus among different church parties than differences. High Churchmen condemned Roman doctrines of good works and infused righteousness and affirmed, in general, justification by faith, but rejected what they perceived to be an under-emphasis of good works.
Following the theology of baptism presented in the Book of Common Prayer and Articles, High Churchmen linked the regeneration of the soul and forgiveness of sins with the sacrament of baptism. Two essentially questions usually follow this type of assertion, 1) who can be baptized; 2) what happens in baptism? To the first question, High Churchmen, as all Anglicans, agreed that unbaptized adults and the children of baptized adults are welcome to receive the sacrament. Without entering the paedobaptism debate, High Churchmen believed that infants were possible of being disciples because, although they could not make their own profession of faith, they were capable of receiving the “seeds of repentance and faith” which would grow in them and eventually they would claim this faith for their own in confirmation. In answer to the second question, High Churchmen affirmed a strong connection between the sign and thing signified, believing that the forgiveness of sins was attained in baptism, “which led to new birth in righteousness… [t]he waters of baptism symbolized the washing away of sins, freeing the recipient from the power of sin.” Here Charles Wheatly describes the relationship between the rite and the reception of the benefits,
“For as that is the first office done unto us after our natural births, in order to cleanse us from the pollution of the womb… so when we are admitted into the church, we are first baptized, (whereby the Holy Ghost cleanses from all the pollution of our sins, and renew us unto God, and so become, as it were spiritual infants, and enter into a new life and being; which before we had not).”
The relationship between sign and thing signified led to a variety of interpretations, as Toon explains here, giving the Evangelical interpretations,
“"First of all there were those who, following the Augustinian footsteps of Archbishop Ussher, affirmed that all who are regenerated are regenerated in or at baptism.38 Baptism was thus seen as the ‘instrument’ of regeneration, as taught in Article XXVII (‘.... as by an instrument, they that receive baptism are grafted into the Church’)... Regeneration is here understood in terms of the implantation by the Holy Spirit of the principle of new life in the soul. This approach, a modification of that found in the Lutheran formularies, connects regeneration with both divine election and with baptism so that all who are elect according to the foreknowledge of God are regenerated in baptism, being born ‘of water and of the Spirit’
“Secondly, there were those who, influenced by Henry Budd, and including Edward Bickersteth and Hugh McNeile, also closely connected baptism with both regeneration and eternal electíon.39 They claimed that on the analogy of the baptism of adult believers regeneration (again understood as the implantation of eternal life and incorporation into the mystical Body of Christ) occurred prior to baptism in response to the prayer of God’s people (the prayer beginning ‘Almighty, everliving God ... ) in order that baptism could be a full sign of an inward spiritual change and a seal of God’s gracious promises towards the child.
“Thirdly, there were those who understood regeneration as being synonymous with conversion and as being impossible without being accompanied by repentance towards God, saving faith in Jesus Christ and the visible fruit of the Spirit in the life. Biddulph, Wilson and M’Ilvaine, with perhaps the majority of Evangelicals held one or other form of this approach.40 They could not allow that divine life implanted in infancy at baptism could take ten, fifteen or twenty years to manifest itself in a conversion experience. For them regeneration had to be a visible change of character and attitude. The baptism of infants was approached through a simple covenant theology; the promises of salvation were declared and a sign and seal of them given because of the belief in the faithfulness of God to honour his covenant-promise which is ‘to you and to your children’ (Acts 2.39). Thus baptism involved no immediate, inward change but the confirmation of God’s covenant promise that he would, when the child reached an age of discretion, work salvation in the life.
“Fourthly, there were those who made a distinction between ecclesiastical (or sacramental) and spiritual regeneration. Henry Ryder, the first Evangelical bishop, felt obliged to do this and wrote of ecclesiastical regeneration: ‘I would… wish to generally restrict the temr to the baptismal privileges and considering them as comprehending, not only external admission into the visible church – not only a covenanted title to the pardon and peace of the Gospel but even a degree of spiritual aid vouchsafed and ready to offer itself to our acceptance or rejection, at the dawn of reason.’"
High Churchmen would stand in agreement with the first position outlined above as espoused by Archbishop Ussher. Likewise, Archbishop Robinson (UECNA) adds some clarity to misconceptions about the doctrine of baptismal regeneration,
“in the absence of any positive will to the contrary on the part of the minister or of the person being baptised, Baptism confers regeneration; the child or person receiving baptism is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, and is made a child of Christ. If they continue in the profession and practice of the Christian Faith they will be saved. It is the duty of parents and godparents (and by extension of the whole Church) to ensure that the child or person baptized is brought up in the Faith. The one thing we have to be quite clear about though, is that Baptismal Regeneration is not some “hocus-pocus” that works independently of the faith of the Church and the faith of the individual, but part of the economy of salvation left to us by Christ Himself.”
Waterland, representing a centrist-High Church position on matters such as sacramentology and other theological concerns, presents a centrist understanding of the relationship between the sign and the thing signified,
“Regeneration on the part of the grantor, God Almighty, means admission or adoption into sonship, or spiritual citizenship: and on the part of the grantee, viz. man, it means his birth, or entrance into that state of sonship or citizenship. It is God that adopts or regenerates, like as it is God that justifies. Man does not adopt, regenerate, or justify himself, whatever hand he may otherwise have (but still under grace) in preparing or qualifying himself for it. God makes the grant, and it is entirely his act: man receives only, and is acted upon; though sometimes active in qualifying himself, as in the case of adults, and sometimes entirely passive, as in the case of infants. The thing granted and received is a change from the state natural into the state spiritual; a translation from the curse of Adam into the grace of Christ. This change, translation or adoption carries in it many Christian blessings and privileges, but all reducible to two, viz. remission of sins, (absolute or conditional,) and a covenant-claim, for the time being, to eternal happiness. Those blessings may all be forfeited, or finally lost, if a person revolts from God...; and then such person is no longer in a regenerate state, or a state of sonship, with respect to any saving effects: but still God’s original grant of adoption or sonship in Baptism stands in full force, to take place as often as any such revolter shall return, and not otherwise: and if he desires to be as before, he will not want to be regenerated again, but renewed, or reformed. Regeneration complete stands in two things, which are, as it were, its two integral parts; the grant made over to the person, and the reception of that grant. The grant once made continues always the same; but the reception may vary, because it depends upon the condition of the recipient.”
Jones goes on to explain some of the nuances of Waterland’s distinction which help flesh out the intricacies of his system. Waterland distinguishes between “conversion” and “regeneration”. The former being the Evangelical new birth and the latter representing, “the ancient word which the Church had traditionally applied the act of sacramental Baptism itself.”
Like other Protestants, all juring High Churchmen, and most Non-Jurors affirmed two sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These ordinances fulfilled the requirements for being a sacrament according to reformed theology. Confirmation, not being a sacrament, was an ancient and desirable custom, but was not a sacrament. High Churchmen still viewed it as a necessary rite, conferring upon the believer the Holy Ghost and a completion of baptism. It is notable that some Non-Jurors went beyond Protestant orthodoxy and included confirmation as a sacrament, most notably Thomas Deacon, who believed it should be administered to infants, as was the custom in the Eastern Churches. Wheatly explains the common understanding of the effects of confirmation, “baptism conveys the Holy Ghost only as the spirit or principle of life; it is by Confirmation that he becomes to us the Spirit of strength, and enables us to stir and move ourselves.” Confirmation was also strongly linked to the doctrines of apostolic succession and episcopal ministry, for confirmation could only be performed by bishops. Confirmation made one a member of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church and could only be conferred by a catholic bishop. The role of the bishops here served as a “confirmation” of the catholicity of the English Church.
Although confirmation was such an essential rite to the life of the believer, there were many hindrances to actually receiving it, hence the rubric in the Prayer Book, “And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion, until such time as he be confirmed, or be ready and desirous to be confirmed.” In addition to having sometimes huge dioceses, English bishops had duties in Parliament, in the House of Lords, which slowed down their triennial parochial visits. In addition to this, many bishops lacked the enthusiasm to regularly offer confirmation in their dioceses. Although the prayer books from 1549 to 1662 required confirmation for the reception of Communion, most bishops, especially in the Elizabethan and Jacobean Churches, espoused a catechetically-driven membership, whereby communicants were prepared for the reception of the Sacrament by knowledge of the Church’s catechism rather than by receiving the rite of Confirmation. Although confirmation was neglected by Protestant bishops in this period, there were conformist apologies of the rite, most notably, Whitgift, who argued that confirmation was an ancient profession of faith after a period of catechism. Obviously, this picture would change in the Caroline reign, for in the Laudian program, the rubrics of the Prayer Book were taken seriously and strictly enforced, which contrasted with the laxity in rubrical enforcement from the Elizabethan and Jacobean bishops. A few theological changes began to surface during Charles’s reign. First, confirmation was given a sense of necessity by Anglican divines. Ambrose Fisher maintained that Confirmation was necessary for children, “if t hey come to years, both Confirmation and the Lord’s Supper may be necessary even as repentance and the hearing of Sermons may not by you be affirmed to be needless to the purchase of heaven.” Edward Boughen proposes a conditional necessity, “‘as a sign, or Ceremony, by which and prayer God conveys his holy Spirit upon those that heretofore were baptized.’ This gift of the Spirit was made in order ‘that we may receive strength and defence against all temptations to sin.’ The rite itself was ‘not of necessity to salvation, but of necessity for t he obtaining of certain gifts of the Spirit.’” John Cosin went beyond previous Anglican divines in describing Confirmation as a “holy Sacrament” and “a sacred and a solemn action of religion.” He agreed on its conditional necessity in the life of a Christian. “They that die presently after Baptism have all things needful to salvation; they need not fear it; but they that are to live and maintain a spiritual combat against sin and Satan, they have need of God’s further graces, which are communicated unto them by imposition of hands” Laud did not ascribe to confirmation the status of sacrament as did Cosin but he maintained its ancient status as a rite of initiation and benefit to the Christian. Yet, even with this sacramentalist tendency, the real gate to Communion remained catechism, instead of confirmation.
Scholars have interpreted the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as contained in the formularies as dynamic receptionism, although some offer slightly different terms, the idea is the same, which amounts to a, “spiritual reception by faith of Christ's body and blood,” further implicated by this doctrine is that, “there is no change in the bread and wine except in the sacred use to which they are appointed; that the sacrifice in the Eucharist is a "sacramental representation, commemoration and application of "the real sacrifice on the cross; that it is the crucified body of Christ now in heaven which is spiritually partaken, and that the wicked do not eat the body of Christ in the sacrament.” This doctrine was held by a majority of Evangelicals and juring High Churchmen, although some Evangelicals espoused a form of Zwinglian memorialism and some High Churchmen adopted a more realistic virtualism. Griffin offers a fuller description of the totality of High Church eucharistic thought, and really that of most Anglicans in the eighteenth century,
1) Christ is really and truly present in the sacrament, objectively "set before us" and offered wholly and effectually- Jewel emphatically asserted the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament.
2) Transubstantiation is superstitious, heretical and evil, yet Jewel also denied that the elements are "bare signs only and as such inefficacious. Christ is really present in the Sacrament, nevertheless locally absent, for his body resides in Heaven. The bread and wine retain their own nature and substance.
3) The change in the elements of bread and wine consists in the having a "new dignity and pre-eminence which they had not before." They are no longer common bread and wine, but are the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, just as the water of baptism remains in all ways water, but not mere water, for it is the sacrament of our redemption and those washed with it are truly washed with Christ's blood.
4) Christ is truly received in the sacrament by the faithful recipient – As the physical elements of bread and wine are eaten by the physical body and nourish it, the truly present Body of Christ is eaten by "the mouth of faith" and nourishes the soul 'The presence of the Body of Christ in the sacrament is not dependent on the subjective condition of the recipient; it is objectively offered to all communicants, but since it is spiritual, it can only be received spiritually, that is, by faith Jewel asserted that the faithless and wicked, though they may receive the sacrament, do not receive Christ." Thus the benefits of Christ's death cannot be obtained by virtue of a massing priest, because the individual’s faith is the critical factor. Moreover Jewel asserted to Harding that "without faith sacraments be not only unprofitable to us but also hurtful.”
5) According to Jewel, there is a double movement in the sacrament; that of the heavenly Body of Christ being offered to all faithful recipients, but also of our lifting up our hearts beyond the sacrament to heaven itself to take hold of the Glorified Christ. Jewel often made use of a figure from Chrysostom of eagles flocking to the corpse; we are to be eagles ascending on high to feed on the real body of Christ." Christ is in heaven; the sacrament, because it is his body, lifts us there, and its purpose is to cause this flight,"
6) The sacrament is a real eucharistic sacrifice in that the faithful offer the unbloody sacrifice of prayer, praise and thanksgiving; and the sacrifice of Christ once offered is revived and represented to us in the holy mysteries."
He denies as blasphemy the sacrifice of Christ on the altar.
There were three generally recognized theories about the real presence: receptionism, virtualism, and memorialism (or Zwinglianism).
“The three terms which have been most often used to describe the various shades of Anglican interpretation are "memorialism," "receptionism," and "virtualism," the latter generally applied to the Non-Jurors' "higher" understanding of the eucharist. "Receptionism has been further qualified when describing the theology of the Caroline divines to become "dynamic receptionism." By this is meant that although the corporeal, bodily presence of Christ in the elements of the sacrament is denied, there is however something "more" attached to them," more than simply the belief that Christ is present in the hearts of the faithful receivers.”
Hylson-Smith offers his understanding of the two strands of thought regarding the presence of Christ in the Eucharist,
“Two principal schools of thought guided the understanding of the Eucharist for eighteenth century High Churchmen. The first derived from Andrewes, Overall, Heylyn, Thorndike, and Mede… found expression in works such as The Unbloody Sacrifice (1714) by John Johnson of Cranbrook. This tradition stressed the continuity of the Eucharist with the Old Testament sacrifices, and asserted that Christ was offered in every Eucharist, not hypostatically, as supposed by the Tridentine Church of Rome, but representatively and really, ‘in mystery and effect.’ … The second school of thought was derived from Cranmer, Laud, Taylor and Cudworth and was expounded in Waterland’s Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist (1737).”
This position is that of Calvin and Bucer as well of the Caroline Divines and other juring High Churchmen and of Evangelicals. The position of the Non-Jurors and certain High Churchmen was more realistic in its conception of the real presence and was termed virtualism, for it held that the bread and the wine were not changed into the body and blood of Christ in substance but that the power or benefit of Christ is present, as if Christ were present. The presence of Christ was maintained in virtue and in power but not in his natural body. The essential difference between these two positions is that the Non-Juror position places more emphasis on the objectivity of Christ’s presence. “They remained close to Calvin’s position, [yet] moved beyond him by separating the Spirit’s mediation of Christ’s presence from the recipient’s faith by placing it in the words of institution and the prayer of invocation. Faith simply made one worthy to receive the elements.” The relationship of faith to the real presence is addressed by Johnson who describes, “eating orally (manducatio oralis) and eating spiritually, or from the heart (manducatio cordalis)… While recipients of the eucharist ate bread with their mouths, they apprehended the perfect representation of Christ’s natural body in the bread with their minds. Though their outward senses perceived only bread, by faith they received the bread as the body of Christ and ate it rationally” The question remains as to what exactly “worthy reception” is, since it is required to receive the presence of Christ. Beverdige defines it to mean to, “receive the outward signs of bread and wine, without discerning by faith the Lord’s body signified by them, and therefore without shewing any more regard and reverence to what they eat and drink there, than they do to any other meat and drink.” It is to be noted that all High Churchmen and Non-Jurors rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation and its sister, ex opera operato.
They also rejected the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, as per Article 31, yet they held to the idea that the eucharist is a commemorative sacrifice, that meaning that the rite is a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Yet, some Non-Jurors held to a propitiatory sacrifice, that going further than the commemorative sacrifice. Regardless of the persuasion in this matter, all High Churchmen affirmed that in the eucharist, the believer receives the benefits of Christ’s passion, most notably the remission of sins. The difference between centrist and Tory High Churchmen and advanced Churchmen was that the former affirmed a spiritual sacrifice, while the latter affirmed a material sacrifice. In addition, they would have supported the notion that the Lord’s Supper was a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving as well as an oblation of the whole self to God with other Anglican divines and as the BCP expects an oblation of, “ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee” (BCP). Waterland explains the centrist understanding of the Eucharistic sacrifice, “The Eucharist was a commemorative and representative service, which possessed a sacrificial aspect from the remembrance of Christ’s death, and the sacramental Presence was to be understood as the virtue and grace of the Lord’s Body and Blood communicated to the worthy receiver,” Hylson-Smith further clarifies the nuances in old High Church sacrificial theology,
“Three Eucharistic theories… “The most extreme conceived of the Eucharist as a proper and propitiatory sacrifice, in which the bread and wine were themselves offered to God as symbols of Christ’s oblation, begun not on the cross but when the rite was instituted at the Last Supper… A broader band of High Church opinion affirmed that the Eucharist was a commemorative or memorial sacrifice: one by which, in the word of Prebendary George Berkeley, Christians do not ‘barely commemorate their Saviour’s death’, but also ‘powerfully plead in the court of heaven the merits of his vicarious sufferings’… Thirdly, there were many eighteenth century divines who were anxious to uphold the sacrificial character of the Lord’s Supper, but who took special pains to guard against any suggestion that the Holy Communion service possessed any virtue of its own distinct from the one, sufficient sacrifice once offered on Calvary. They regarded the Eucharist as a feast upon that sacrifice: a banquet in which the faithful communicant made a covenant with his God by doing symbolically what Jewish and pagan sacrificers had effected literally, namely consuming a portion of the victim slain.”
The signs of bread and wine were not just signs but effectual symbols that convey to the believer the body and blood of Christ and the benefits won by him in his death on the cross. Baptism washed one from all the sins committed before baptism and the Lord’s Supper renewed the covenant made with God in baptism by washing one from post-baptismal sin. The body and blood of Christ were received as spiritual nourishment and sanctifying grace.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
These words might shock you upon reading them. Surely the Episcopal Church is one of the most "diverse" churches, where people of all colors, races, and ethnicities can find solace and join in "God's mission" to provide a socially comfortable religious experience on Sunday mornings. All of the money we have poured into diveristy "programs" and other such rubbish must have paid off by now, surely, right? I'm afraid not. We are one of the whitest and oldest churches in the United States (and yes, we are the American church, with a very small number of parishes overseas). We arent' even temporally diverse, most of our people are 60 and older. Speaking of our overseas parishes, the Presiding Bishop likes to make a big deal about having them, perhaps you've heard her introduce herself as "the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States and... [list of irrelevant countries]." I say these countries are irrelevant, not because the people there are unimportant nor that the Episcopal Church's presence there is unimportant but that the purpose that the Presiding Bishop wishes to exploit them for is useless. We are a white, American, Church. There is no point to "false advertise" for the Episcopal Church.
Perhaps you don't quite believe me, let's look at the numbers then. The Episcopal Church reports a total number of 2,125,012 members in 2010. Of that number, a total 1,951,907 are resident in Domestic Dioceses, i.e. in the United States. We only have 173,105 members in other parts, that's 8% of our membership. However, when we compare a number that really tells us what the Church is like, i.e. Average Sunday Attendance (ASA), we see that this international presence is even less significant. The Episcopal Church reports a total ASA of 697,880 for 2010. Of that number, 40,049 are from international parishes, or 5.7% of our average churchgoers. Oh, well, that's just overseas, you might say, we're surely a diverse church here in the States! Not quite, I must inform you. Of our membership, 87% is non-Hispanic, white. The largest non-white groups are African-Americans with 5% of our membership and a peculiar group called "multi-racial" with 4.5%.
Now, I'm saying all of this not to say that being multi-racial is a bad thing, far from it, I wish we would preach the Gospel among all races. My point is that the purpose of the Church is not to be a "politcally correct" organization. The culture tells us we have to have a multi-racial membership, and that's a good thing, but we are not called to be a microcosm of current ideological expectations but we are called to preach the Gospel to everyone, regardless of race. You see, by promoting ourselves as the "diverse" Church, we are really trivializing race and it can be quite offensive. Instead of spending millions of dollars to look multi-racial, how about we take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and actually be multi-racial? We can have a House of Bishops of retired hippies who have nothing better to do than "indaba" or we can raise up a generation of Gospel Anglicans and preach the Gospel of grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins and the only hope for mankind, oh wait, I mean humankind. But gender "equality" is another day.
Now a group of old, white bishops using "catchy" African-sounding words like "indaba" and "ubuntu" doesn't make us look diverse; it makes us look stupid.