"Preachers shall behave themselves modestly and soberly in every department of their life. But especially shall they see to it that they teach nothing in the way of a sermon, which they would have religiously held and believed by the people, save what is agreeable to the teaching of the Old or New Testament, AND what the Catholic fathers and ancient bishops have collected from this selfsame doctrine." - Canon 6, Convocation of 1571, Church of England
It seems that this canon prevents using Article VI in such a way as to allow exegesis that is untethered to the previous exegetical work of the Catholic fathers. In other words, Anglican clergymen are not permitted to be like Presbyterians, Baptists and free-church Evangelicals, where everyone in effect becomes his own pope.
An Anglo-Catholic priest shared this canon with a bunch of "Reformation Anglicans" on a Facebook discussion page, when a number of them were arguing against the doctirne of the perpetual virginity of Mary. You should have heard all the heads exploding, since this was a canon that dated back to the Edwardian and early Elizabethan phases of the English Reformation. I complemented this by asking the question of which Anglican divines, prior to modern times, ever denied this doctrine. Both the priest and I were soon disinvited to this particular Facebook page, for this challenge and for pointing out related pathologies of Realignment Anglicanism in general, and in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) in particular.
Here is Bicknell on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It's long, but it's worth the read:
On Dec. 11, I was incardinated as a deacon into the Orthodox Anglican Church - North America. I am very happy with my new home and to contribute to the missionary vision of the OAC. Pictured here with me are Archbishop Thomas E. Gordon, Presiding Bishop of the Orthodox Anglican Church and Metropolitan of the Orthodox Anglican Communion, and Canon Rusty Marts, Archdeacon of the Orthodox Anglican Church.
It is, one would think, reasonably clear that the English Reformation was somewhat different in character to those in Europe and Scotland. There was a greater respect for Tradition both in basic doctrinal epistemology and in actual practice. And for those who view Elizabethan Church of England as radically different in character and self-understanding to the later period of the Caroline Divines one must ask: If they were so incompatible and discontinuous, how on earth did the “more Catholic” Caroline Divines come to be? From whence did they arise? They come straight after the Elizabethan period, and some were educated by the Church of England during this time. Does it not it make more sense to posit that there were genuine Catholic qualities and Ecclesial “substance” in the post-1559 Church of England (albeit often seemingly overwhelmed by the heat of early controversy and over-reaction against Rome) just waiting to be developed and made more explicit by the Jacobite and Caroline bishops and theologians?
"A fair question and one that in recent weeks 'as been much on my mind." - Graham Chapman, Monty Python's Flying Circus, "Flying Sheep" skit
For those of you who want to read the entire Bible in the course of a year, St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Newport Beach, CA (ACC) makes this available.
Very slick narrative and slide show on the English Reformation, from the late middle ages to the Laudian era.
If you listen to certain neo-Puritan types, the Homilies as formularies are on the same footing, authoritatively speaking, as the Articles and Prayer Book. But no one in his right mind thinks that a preacher's opinion can have the same authority as a confession or creed. No Continental Reformer ever thought that, but somehow our neo-Puritan friends differ from those Continental Reformers whom they hold in highest regard. Here's what Browne said about the Homilies:
All writers on the subject have agreed, that the kind of assent, which we are here called on to give to them, is general, not specific. We are not expected to express full concurrence with every statement, or every exposition of Holy Scripture contained in them, but merely in the general to approve of them, as a body of sound and orthodox discourses, and well adapted for the time for which they were composed. For instance we cannot be required to call the Apocrypha by the name of Holy Scripture, or to quote it as of Divine authority, because we find it so in the Homilies. We cannot be expected to think it a very cogent argument for the duty of fasting, that thereby we may encourage the fisheries and strengthen the seaport towns against foreign invasion. And perhaps we may agree with Dr. Hey, rather than with Bp. Burnet, and hold, that a person may fairly consider the Homilies to be a sound collection of religious instruction, who might yet shirk from calling the Roman Catholics idolaters. The Homilies are, in fact, semi-authoritative documents...
From Akenside Press. More on why neither Rome's nor Orthodoxy's refusal to recognize Anglican orders means anything.
From Restoring the Anglican Mind, Canon Arthur Middleton, pp. 98-101, concerning the Church of England but re-drafted here so as to include the situation of traditional Anglicanism in North America. I highly recommend this book and his Fathers and Anglicans: The Limits of Orthodoxy as resources that best answer the vexing question of Anglican identity. Chapters 1 and 2 of Restoring the Anglican Mind are alone worth the price of the book. This agenda, found at the end of the book, follows from the preceding argument for a "Western Orthodoxy" that does not imply assimilation to Western Rite Orthodoxy, that is, a bishopless concord with a provision currently offered by certain Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions, but which is likely only a temporary one and does not account for the ancient English Catholic "phronema". Classical Anglicanism, while substantially Orthodox, needs neither Orthodox bishops nor a parochial Byzantine Orthodox oversight to be classed as a legitimately Western form of Orthodoxy. We need only our own apostolic succession along with our own perfectly legitimate English Catholic patrimony to qualify. And I will add this: the Western Rite Orthodox Churches, whose status is very questionable in a sea of hostile Eastern sentiment, might want to reconsider joining those of us who belong to the Anglican Continuum.
An Agenda for Us All to Follow
• To pursue the Anglican Way by upholding Canon A5 which states that the doctrine of the Anglican Communion is grounded in the Holy Scripture a divine inheritance and conveying life through its Sacraments--this as against the innovations of the liberals reflected in the pervasive humanism and apostasy in the Church and sometimes supported by politicians and the judges who use Equality Law to discriminate against orthodox Christians and persecute them.
• To assert the authoritative doctrinal character of our Anglican formularies as against the liberalism so often evident in the deliberations of the Synods.
• To recall Anglicans to the revival of neglected truth and 'principles of action which had been in the minds of our predecessors of the seventeenth century.' As the Oxford Fathers urged 'Stir up the gift of God that is in you.'
• To uphold and elucidate the doctrines of the Catholic Faith as Anglicans have received them and to work for the expression of such doctrine by the avoidance of the dumbing down effect of the language of 'political-correctness' in liturgy and biblical translations.
• To resist today's new insidious Erastianism, the interference of the Government in the affairs of the Church, whereby a government can dictate to the Church what its doctrine and morality should be as a result of various types of discriminatory law.
• To work for the unity in truth and holiness of all Christians and as Anglicans to bring our own characteristic contribution as our fathers have taught us, according to the Apostolic Doctrine and Polity of our Church.
• To bring recognition to the reality that the way of salvation is the partaking of the Body and Blood of our sacrificed Redeemer by means of the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and. that the security for the due application of this is the Apostolic Commission. We cannot and do not accept therefore the innovation of women priests and women bishops since sacraments are from God and we cannot tamper with them. The sacraments must never be humanly manipulated on the basis of the politico-sociological arguments of the times and so-called 'human rights'.
• To be on our watch for all opportunities of inculcating a due sense of this inestimable privilege; to provide and circulate information, to familiarize the imaginations of people with the idea; to attempt to revive among Churchmen the practice of daily common prayer and the more frequent participation in the Eucharist.
In the spirit of John Henry Newman, the aim is not the seeking of our own well-being, or originality, or some new invention for the Church. Let our prayer be that God will give us sound judgement, patient thought, discrimination, a comprehensive mind, and abstinence from all private fancies and caprices and personal tastes. Let us seek only the standards of saintliness and service as the measure of our activities.
Let the secret for us lie in those words of Our Lord's High Priestly prayer, 'For their sakes I consecrate myself,' so uniting his humanity with God in the way of holiness that he may capture the reality of that life within the Blessed Trinity and be inspirated by the divine life he lives with Christ in the Holy Spirit. For it is only as we make our home in Him, as he made his home in the Father that we will be able to do anything.
There is the ultimate secret of power; the one sure way of doing good in our generation. We cannot anticipate or analyse the power of a pure and holy life; but there can be no doubt about its reality, and there seems no limit to its range. We can only know in part the laws and forces of the spiritual world; and it may be that every soul that is purified and given up to God and to His work releases or awakens energies of which we have no suspicion - energies viewless as the wind; but we can be sure of the result, and we may have glimpses sometimes of the process.
Surely, there is no power in the world so unerring or so irrepressible as the power of personal holiness. All else at times goes wrong, blunders, loses proportion, falls disastrously short of its aim, grows stiff or one-sided, or out of date - 'whether there be prophesies they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away'; but nothing mars or misleads the influence that issues from a pure and humble and unselfish character.
A man's gifts may lack opportunity, his efforts may be misunderstood and resisted; but the spiritual power of a consecrated will need no opportunity, and can enter where the doors are shut. By no fault of a man's own, his gifts may suggest to some the thoughts of criticism, comparison, competition; his self-consecration can do no harm in this way. Of gifts, some are best for long distances, some for objects close at hand or in direct contact; but personal holiness, determining, refining, characterising everything that a man says or does, will tell alike on those he may not know even by name, and on those who see him in the constant intimacy of his home." (Francis Paget, "The Hallowing of Work", pp. 16ff, cited in The Personal Life of the Clergy, A. W. Robinson (Longmans Green and Co. : London, 1902), pp. 17-18.)
"If it seems to you that the Church as organised has somehow lost sense of proportion, remember that only through the Church has the Gospel ever reached you, and that only through the Church can it reach the ages far ahead. And you will do more service to the cause of Christ by bringing in what reality you can into its life than you can ever render by staying outside and doing what seems possible to you, or you and your few friends, in isolation." ~ William Temple, Christian Faith and Life, 132.
"The pure notion of Tradition can then be defined by saying that it is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church, communicating to each member of the Body of Christ the faculty of hearing, of receiving, of knowing the Truth in the Light that belongs to it, and not according to the natural light of human reason." - Vladimir Lossky, "Tradition and Traditions" in In the Image and Likeness of God (SVS Press 1985).