Saturday, January 25, 2014

What of Anglo-Catholicism? - A Personal Assessment

By Roger Salter
Special to Virtueonline
January 25, 2103

If the authentic Anglican Way is meant to be Cranmerian and Confessional according to our standards compiled in the Book of Common Prayer 1662 (Liturgy, Ordinal, Articles) what is to be the Evangelical assessment of the continuing Roman Way advocated by the Tractarians and their heirs? There has been much bitterness in the past and mutual scolding.

The Evangelical baulks at Catholic ecclesiology, sacramentalism, and a consequent soteriology that offends in terms of the way in which Christ is grasped and salvation gained. The more the rescue effected by our Lord is examined in its details the more the rift widens. Former Evangelicals were horrified at the features of Puseyism and strongly castigated its convictions. The battle was not only internal and within the Church of England. In the 19th century Scots, Americans, and Continentals also took up their cudgels in great alarm. William Cunningham, Merle D'Aubigne, Abraham Kuyper, and C.P. McIlvaine took a line similar to J.C. Ryle and Hugh McNeile in their response to the High Churchmen who were adversely influencing the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion.

Theologically the differences still prevail and the differences are beyond reconciliation. Evangelicals must contend for the Reformational character of the Anglican constitution. Anglo-Catholics will be vigorous in defending their point of view which is deeply valued by them. From the Reformed position there should be no compromise. The truths we hold dear tower above any other consideration. Christ in the revelation of his free grace towards us is exceedingly dear - and yet so is he to so many Roman and Anglo Catholics. There is a tension of faith and yet often the experience of fellowship.

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