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I Received an E-Mail from an Old Friend. . .

who, at his request, will remain nameless, as will his church and the hierarch of whom he speaks.  The lion's share of it is as follows:

Chris, I've been following with interest your own blog on all things Anglican, and I have to say my own journey has taken, not a detour, but a little bit of a re-calibrating.

I am an Anglo-Catholic.  But even with all the resistance to the 39 Articles I read from the Ritualists (I will explain later what *I* mean by that), I feel at heart like a traitor to the English Reformation if I simply ignore it.   The early Oxford movement indeed morphed into something later on that kept very little of the original spirit of Anglicanism.  Some are okay with that; I'm not.  I have an irrepressible Augustinianism (I owe to Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and Hooker) that I cannot simply discard.  It formed me.  I am an unashamed predestinarian, no matter how uncomfortable Newman, Lewis, or Laud would be by that fact.  I am not a 5-pointer (never did become convinced the later mutations of Reformed theology are necessary to preserve the fullness of biblical Augustinianism), but I do subscribe to the Articles here because they are true.  I am a Reformed Catholic, without question.  I think the Oxford Movement was right in recovering certain practices without having to throw into Rome.  Papalism was still a non-starter for the original Oxford Movement guys, and the later anglo-papalists seem to undo most everything from the English Reformation up to the 19th century.  Even the high church Arminians were unambiguously anti-Romanist.  But I don't have to convince you.
Saying all that to say this: I am a high church Anglican.  I reject the "charismatic" movement without flinching, but for me to ignore those Anglicans in our tradition who are committed to the Articles as if they weren't authentic is disingenuous.
When I was a Lutheran, I learned a high theology of the sacraments co-exist quite nicely with justification by faith alone.  I affirm sola fide.  I affirm predestination and the inability of man to cooperate with prevenient grace.  I affirm the primacy and authority (and dare I say it? *COMPLETELY* inspired nature) of Holy Scripture.  The dirty secret among us Anglo-Catholics is the deep biblical ignorance.  There's no revival of Scripture learning on a broad scale.  This is why we are doomed, and for no other reason.  We actually undermine Tradition because we will not attend to Sacred Scripture as our Protestant forebears fought so diligently to instill.  
I used to be annoyed, somewhat ashamed, of my Protestant roots.  Now I see, by God's grace, they are essential to my growth.  The sacraments, rituals, and liturgies must serve the Gospel, for that at the end of the day is why we do what we do.
I will make some Protestants angry that I insist in the inviolable nature of the Seven Ecumenical councils, and that the episcopacy is the divinely ordered polity of Christ's body on earth, the efficacy and necessity of the sacraments, but these must be set in the Biblical light.  I do honestly question the utility and necessity of all the "merit" language in our Missal.  The Eastern Orthodox don't seem to need it, and frankly sends confusing signals to an already illiterate laity among us.
Just wanted to reach out to you in confidentiality that I appreciate your blog, I don't always agree, but you have valid concerns. . . . When I told (my bishop) I am thoroughly Augustinian in my soteriology, he simply minimized its importance in the high church tradition.  For my money, Augustinianism makes the best sense of Church and Sacrament and the whole of Biblical data.  I even preached from James 1.17 from an Anglican pulpit the full force of the doctrines of Grace, and got the feeling only one or two actually understood what I was saying (because it was so new, not because I was unclear).
That said, brother Christopher. I am an Anglican.  The Eeeeenglishness (as you hilariously put it) is part of my blood, but only because I see what God did there in the 16th century, and I fell in love with that body of divinity when I was young man.  I feel most whole when I can uphold the Articles unashamedly.  I am an Anglican Catholic -- Catholic in the *most* Anglican sense, and Anglican in the *most* Catholic sense.  Still insufferably high church and still unapologetically more catholic than most Roman Catholics.  But still.... Protestant, thankfully, in its best and most historic sense.   

To which I replied:

Good to hear from you!

As it turns out, I'm doing a bit of recalibrating myself as I'm taking a second look at the English Reformation's Lutheran legacy, and how that may have contributed not only to the structure of the Articles (and the content of some of them, even after the Edwardian revisions), but also to monarchical resistance to further Calvinization of the formularies (e.g., Elizabeth's smackdown of the Lambeth Articles), the end result being that our formularies remain solidly Augustinian but only mildly-to-moderately Reformed.  I've had some experiences with some Truly Reformed Anglicans on a certain Facebook page, and these experiences have created in me a desire to hold that kind of Anglicanism at more of an arm's length from me, despite my own leanings toward Reformed theology in some areas.  As I review this stuff, it seems the Lutherans made more sense, for example, on the use of images in the church.

I'm happy to read what you wrote about the Reformation and your commitment to Augustine's doctrines of grace.  If you haven't read it yet, see George Tavard's Justification: An Ecumenical Study.  Now, granted, Tavard was a somewhat liberal Roman Catholic scholar, but this little book of his is a pretty compelling argument about how Luther's doctrine of justification was simply the expected fruition of Augustine's doctrines of grace -- which are at the end of the day nothing more than Paul's and the other apostles' doctrines of grace.  Tavard shows how all this developed in the historical context of the struggle between Augustinianism and resurgent Pelagianism in the West.   (Our old Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Bradwardine was a player in this struggle, shortly before the Reformation.)  All this is to say that it is VITAL to be an Augustinian.  Even J.B. Mozley got that, though he still recoiled from some of the implications of the doctrine of predestination.  In his book, A Treatise on the Augustinian Doctrine of Predestination, he argues that if we have to err, we MUST err in the direction of Augustine and not Pelagius.  C.B. Moss and other high churchers argue similarly.  I'm afraid His Grace . . . is representative of Anglo-Catholics who err in the direction of Pelagius.

I also agree with what you had to say about the complementary nature of sola fide and the sacraments.  There again is an area where classical Anglicanism follows Lutheran theology more closely than Reformed theology.  And I also agree with your assessment about Scriptural ignorance among Anglo-Catholics, though it could be argued that such ignorance is confined to that circle.  I've seen examples among even the Evangelicals, which is why the cry of the Reformation - Ad Fontes!! -- is applicable everywhere.

I have met one other Anglo-Catholic who is an Augustinian and therefore believes in the biblical doctrine of predestination.  St. Bernard, a thoroughgoing predestinarian, is one of his heroes.  I have to believe that there are more such Anglo-Catholics out there if there are two.  May their tribe increase.

All this goes to show the fundamental accuracy of Nockles' analysis.  "Anglo-Catholicism" isn't uniform in belief and practice, and some who call themselves Anglo-Catholics are amenable to the truths recovered by the Protestant Reformation.

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Reader Comments (5)

Very interesting. Are there any bishops who are Augustinian, and who actively teach it?

October 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoger du Barry

Cappelane, if you have the name of an Augustinian bishop would you please share it? I would be interested in contacting such a man.

October 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoger du Barry

I've not queried any bishop personally, so I really can't answer your question. However, I suspect Peter Robinson (UECNA) leans or is Augustinian, I would guess that some of the bishops in the REC and FCE are Augustinian, and Julian Dobbs (CANA) is Reformed (and hence Augustinian). There may be others in ACNA.

October 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

It is very hard to post here because of the security settings.

October 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoger du Barry

Sorry, Rev. du Barry. I think I've rectified the problem.

October 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

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