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Nicholas Armitage: “The Godly and Decent Order of the Ancient Fathers”

December 22, 2009

Tonight I came across what has the potential to become an excellent group blog, the River Thames Beach Party.  (I have to admit the name of this blog is intriguing.)  Each of the authors has his own blog, and each has written some very good essays on those blogs.  But I’d like to call attention to one of the first posts on the River Thames Beach Party, by Nicholas Armitage, PhD, which is titled The Godly and Decent Order of the Fathers.  In this post, he talks about “those three little words, Catholic, Reformed and Evangelical.”

There is even new light cast on those three little words, Catholic, Reformed, and Evangelical. “Reformed”, as they use the word, turns out to mean nothing more than re-formed, put right, and above all put back, put back to how it was here in England when our beautiful country was young. This reformation did not happen overnight, nor was it the achievement of one man. Others constantly sought to interfere, and many mistakes were made. But never was the intention anything other than to restore the English Church to the Catholic faith.

And “Catholic” means, as it did for Vincent of Lérins, whatever has been believed by all classes of people (e.g. laity and clergy), at all times (Apostolic to the present), and in all places (East and West). It means the faith and practice that in our different ways we all shared in common across the churches, before the unhappy divisions began.

“Evangelical” simply means, that “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”. It means the irrepressible desire to share with others this catholic faith of the Apostles and the earliest Fathers, reformed to match their consensus once more. After all, why should we even want to be evangelical about anything else but the one, holy, catholic and Apostolic faith?

I completely agree with the good Doctor, and it is my hope that eventually all who seek to serve the Lord within the historic Anglican tradition will come to realize we can be all three of those “little words”: Reformed, Catholic and Evangelical.

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