In his famous Tractate entitled A Learned Discourse of Justification, Works, and how the Foundation of Faith is Overthrown, the most distinguished Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker, deals with both the nature and status of the Church of Rome and its doctrine of Justification. He provides solid reasons for the secession from the Papacy and papal rule by the English Church and he demonstrates that the doctrine of Justification, set forth by the Council of Trent, is erroneous and not according with the clear teaching of Holy Scripture.
The reasons he gives why the Christian, seeking to be biblically based and obedient to Christ the Lord and Savior, must leave the Church of Rome are as applicable today as they were in 1586—especially since the present Papacy has during 2007 clearly affirmed that the doctrine and dogma of the Church of Rome remain what they were at and after the Council of Trent.
I commend the reading of this Tractate to all serious minded Anglicans. (See below for details of its availability.)
In the light of what Hooker and many after him wrote concerning the nature of the Reformed Catholicism of the Anglican Way, and its rejection of the particular errors of Rome (connected with the Mass, Salvation by works, the Veneration of Images, the Cult of the BVM etc.) and in the light of the very clear teaching of the fundamental Formularies of the Anglican Way, with their rejection of the excesses of Romanist teaching, it is most strange that a whole group of Bishops from the Continuing Anglican Movement (having seceded from the Global Anglican Communion) should feel so confident about the orthodoxy and biblical basis of Roman Catholicism that they seek full communion with Rome—on Rome’s terms and according to Rome’s doctrine and dogma. See below for their official statement.
“The College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) met in Plenary Session in Portsmouth, England, in the first week of October 2007. The Bishops and Vicars-General unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union. The letter was signed solemnly by all the College and entrusted to the Primate and two bishops chosen by the College to be presented to the Holy See. The letter was cordially received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Primate of the TAC has agreed that no member of the College will give interviews until the Holy See has considered the letter and responded.
+ John Hepworth, Archbishop.”
In reading this one wonders why, if these men are so sure that the Roman Way is totally superior to the Anglican Way, they are not already in the Roman Way—imitating the great John Henry Newman and many others, including some bishops (e.g., Bishop Pope) in the very recent past.
By hanging around on the periphery of the Anglican Way constantly talking of heading off, they make it difficult for those—and they are the majority—in the Continuing Churches who still desire to be faithful Anglicans in 2007.
If these Bishops believe that there is no integrity to the Anglican Way and that its only future is in the Roman Way then by all spiritual, rational and decent principles they ought surely to cross the Tiber now and find on the other side rest for their souls—and we wish them well in their voyage. But let them leave Anglicans to be Anglicans according to the principles of Biblical, Reformed Catholicism!
(For the Tractate, rendered into a simpler English than the original and under the title, Salvation and the Church of Rome, go to www.anglicanmarketplace.com or send $7.50 to The Prayer Book Society, 100 E Avon Rd, Parkside, PA 19015 for a copy. There is a two for one offer to those who order through the mail.)
The Revd Dr Peter Toon
President of the Prayer Book Society 2007