Friday, August 11, 2006

One of the many letters I have had to write...

Good Sir,

Thanks for your questions and suggestions.

I have done the research in the archives of the Anglican Communion Office in London on the Constitutions of the Provinces. I have carefully studied the Formularies and Canons and Forms of Clergy subscription in the C of E (which has been imitated in most provinces) and I have read much in the writings of Anglican divines.

I have not yet found anywhere a commitment to the Seventh Council as such as in order for its doctrinal decrees to be received as authoritative and binding.

It is NOT for me to prove that the C of E or the Anglican world does not embrace it, it is for you, and those few who maintain that the Anglican Way embraces it, to show where in any documents that are legally binding as doctrine that it is required.

You presume that it is an Ecumenical Council and thus the C of E etc must hold it unless proved otherwise. But on what do you base this presumption but an anglo-catholic feeling or ideal - not any solid Anglican ground.

IT is a wrong premise -- read the Thirty Nine Articles on General Councils. The Anglican Way receives a Council because its doctrinal decree is proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture and that is the only reason.

The true way is not to accept any Council unless its content is proved bymost certain warrants of Holy Scripture and that is why the first four on the Trinity & Person of Christ are widely embraced by divines and in canon law statements in the Anglican Communion. That is why the BD degree for Oxford and Cambridge for centuries required study of the Church & its doctrine to 451 as absolutely required

Truly to embrace the 7th as binding on Christians is to embrace a Church that has the power to base doctrine and practice on unwritten traditions and this means, to be honest, going to Rome or to Orthodoxy. It is romantic and idealistic to want it without what it assumes, presumes and requires, which is much more than representational art.

For Anglicans the 7th's doctrines can only be received private judgement for they cannot be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture and they have never anywhere been made part of the received and required doctrine of the C of E or other Churches. Reformed Catholicism does not know them as part of its heritage - although of course the medieval Ecclesia Anglican embraced the seventh council as also all the Roman Councils after it up to the 15th century

Let Anglicans Venerate icons and pray to the saints but please let them not think that any other Anglican is obligated to follow this exercise of private judgment and devotion.

I oppose the mandating of the 7th for all (as in the 1977 St Louis Affirmation) not the private devotion of individual persons or the local choice of a local congregation as yours, for example.

90 per cent of the Anglican Christians in the world, and actually where the church is growing, would not recognize this conversation as meaningful! Where are the icons and images in churches of the Anglican Way - few and far between. This is proof that the seventh's decree is not binding and not even known about in virtually all of the Anglican Way.

In Orthodoxy the Feast of Orthodoxy is all about the restoration of the icons after the inconoclasm controversy! Here Orthodoxy and Icons are tied inseparably - as in the Council of Trent later. And notice the devotion in the typical Orthodox Church and see that anything like it is extremely rare in the Anglican Way.

I love representational art and was responsible for all kinds of it being restored in English churches but I never treated it other than edifying and helpful and beautiful for the house of God - and this is where most Anglicans based on their tradition are. If I change I shall leave the Anglican Way!

Two of my former students are Bishops at the Patriarchate in Constantinople and write to me fondly!

Press on.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)

1 comment:

CB in Ca said...

The statement of Bishop Andrewes ought to be taken as the historic Anglican position re the Seventh Ecumenical Council: One revelation, Two testaments, Three Creeds, Four Councils, and Five centuries. As I see it, it the Seventh Ecumenical is binding, then the Homily on idolatry is errant. Charles L. baker