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Mark Talley on “The Anglican Way and Authority…”

February 25, 2010

Those guys at the River Thames Beach Party, as usual, have hit on target again with a great post by Mark Talley on The Anglican Way and Authority in the Catholic Church.  Mark is commenting on a post by Fr. Robert Hart at the Continuum (perhaps the one I mentioned just previously) and he makes this statement:

The above quotations amply demonstrate the Anglican aversion to that raw biblicism, which typified the more radical Protestants in England and abroad. And, yet, in every case we find that the weight of authority accorded to ancient authors, Catholic fathers and bishops, oral tradition etc., assumes a decidedly subordinate position to the Scriptures themselves. That, at the very least, confirms how pervasive the theology of the formularies actually was in the thought of these great churchmen. There is not one statement which isn’t perfectly amenable, for example, with the principles laid out in Arts. VI, VII, XX and XXXIV of the 39 Articles.

This is a truly biblical catholicism; an irreducible hallmark of our patrimony, which is both expressed in and guarded by the formularies of the Common Prayer Book, Ordinal, Articles of Religion and Canons. Returning to Fr. Hart’s post (Fr. Hart is, of course, a committed partisan of the formularies and of classical Anglican principles), there  seems to be an unhealthy bias in the continuing churches against the formularies, the Articles of Religion in particular. In most cases, that bias will not be expressed in terms of overt hostility; rather, the formularies are accorded a very nebulous position in the constitutions and canons of such churches; rendering them all but toothless, as standards which determine the bounds of doctrine and discipline.

Fr. Hart has made a very good case for what I believe is the true Anglican view of sola scriptura, and I think Mark Talley states pretty much the same viewpoint.  I also think Mark is correct when he indicates that the failure of the Continuing Anglican Churches to rectify a bias (that truly in my opinion does exist) against the Anglican formularies weakens the cause of Prayer Book Anglicanism – in the very Churches where it has the best chance to flourish.  What can be done about this?  While I would not call for the Affirmation of St. Louis to be revised, I do think a Continuing Church would be well-served to affirm a place for the Formularies in their Canons – and use them as a tool to defend the great legacy that is classical Anglicanism.  Else I do fear the mindset of some who have dismissed the Elizabethan Settlement and Articles may prevail and weaken that legacy.

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