Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Roman and Anglican Way contrasted: Liturgy expressing doctrine, but, which doctrine?

Consider this sentence which was in an e-mail communication to me recently:

After Vatican II, Rome managed to revise its liturgies without altering its beliefs, whereas our Anglican folks have used liturgical revision as a subterfuge in order to change our church's beliefs.

Here I believe is truth, not the whole truth, but truth.

Vatican II (1962-65) certainly introduced a new ethos and spirit into the Roman Church, and certainly some of its clergy and laity took this new spirit too far. But Vatican II merely refined and restated Roman Catholic teaching, it did not change it in substance or dumb down the received doctrine. The changes in the Liturgy and the very difficult task of rendering the Latin originals into the vernacular have not always taken the wisest course, especially in the sphere of the English language translations (where work still continues).

So if we look at the Latin originals rather than the sometimes weak, dumbed-down and politically-correct present English renderings we will find it hard to find any major change of doctrine from the previous Tridentine and late Patristic positions. There is no substantial or essential altering of beliefs even if there is an attempt to emphasize aspects of the patristic Tradition which are not prominent in the medieval and Tridentine. If you take the modern Breviary, Missal and Catechism together you meet full-blown Roman Catholicism, even if with a new genial smile towards “separated brethren.”

Regrettably, though the shape of the modern Anglican Eucharist in the “Books of Varied Services” now in use in Anglican Provinces is much the same as that of Rome in the Missal, what has to be said in a general way about the post-1960s adventures of Anglican liturgists is this: that they have used the opportunity of producing new Rites to introduce into them new Doctrine, that they have then cried out, “The Law of Praying is the Law of Believing,” and finally that they have assumed that they have introduced both good new liturgy and good doctrinal change. And, with the help of bishops, priests and laity—all wanting to be relevant and credible in a post-1960s culture of rights and “experience”—they have been relatively successful in propagating their message.

As the Roman Catechism makes abundantly clear, Rome has not changed its doctrine but has sought to make it accessible to people today. As the Outline of Faith in the American 1979 Prayer Book (and note it was written as a summary of the doctrine of this book) makes clear, Episcopalianism in the USA has changed its doctrine (not merely changed the way that doctrine is expressed. [See for more detail, Neither Orthodoxy Nor a Formulary, the 1979 Prayer Book, by Lou Tarsitano & Peter Toon (from www.anglicanmarketplace.com or 1-800-727-1928)] Likewise in Canada those who have followed the doctrine of the BAS of 1985 (itself based on the 1979 USA book) have drunk deeply of new doctrine through its use.

If the Anglican Way has been true to its own traditions--The Common Prayer Tradition and Reformed Catholicism--it would have found a way in the search for so-called contemporary liturgy after the 1960s of (a) faithfully rendering the received Services of the classic BCP into a pleasing form of modern English and (b) producing any new, alternative liturgy in the same doctrine (classic Trinitarian Theism with the Augustinian doctrine of grace and the Reformation doctrine of Justification by faith). It is now very clear to all serious students of the shape and contents of the new Liturgies that not a few of them are the vehicles for the transmission of innovatory doctrines, usually based on one or another form of panentheism/process theology. Further, the embrace of women’s ordination has deeply affected the way in which Anglicans read Scripture, interpret it, do theology and conduct church affairs and all this has also served to erode the biblical and historical content of the Anglican Way.

So we return to where we started:

After Vatican II Rome managed to revise its liturgies without altering its beliefs, whereas our Anglican folks have used liturgical revision as a subterfuge in order to change our church's beliefs.

Subterfuge—a trick or deception used to achieve certain goals—regrettably is a blot on post 1960s Anglican life in the West. No wonder the Anglican Way has an IDENTITY CRISIS (which I have tried to explain in my Anglican Identity from www.anglicanmarketplace.com ). Do we have the guts to put right what is wrong and to claim out real Identity?

drpetertoon@yahoo.com Nov 21 2006

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