Anglicanism – A few questions

Dear community,

I just got back from work at my Anglican parish, and it was Confirmation classes today. The topic was the three big Creeds of the Church: Nicene, Apostles’ and Athanasian. We only got through the Nicene one, while briefly touching on the other two. In the process of talking through the Creed, some questions came up on my part, and comments from others involved the Catholic Church. I will list the latter first, requesting answers on those that you can address.

  1. My priest said he had actually considered becoming a Catholic priest but did eventually not become one because he couldn’t accept two things: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Infallibility of the Pope. He said that the Assumption was nowhere in Scripture and he therefore couldn’t teach it, as he would have been required to. I got back to him right after the session and asked him about who he thought the one “to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” was and who his Mother was, referring to Revelation 12. His reply was he would have to read it, but stays away from Revelation as it is so complicated.

  2. The Anglican Church bases its teaching on “Scripture, Tradition and reason”, he said. One point of illustration was the ordination of women. “It doesn’t say in the Bible there were women priests, but neither does it that there were none. It was just not possible in that culture.” But reason, he says, tells us today that women could be priests.

  3. For some reason we came across Purgatory (probably because I asked something about judgement and said ‘You either go to hell, or heaven eventually’). My priest says that the Catholic Church is actually backing off the doctrine? I find it hard to believe, do you know anything about that? He said that they had theological classes together with Catholic seminarians and that this topic was pushed aside. He unfortunately launched into a misrepresentation of Purgatory and Indulgences (not intentionally) in the classic Protestant manner. Third place, next to hell and heaven for eternity; buy your way out and offering Masses for money.

Now for my personal questions:

  1. In the Nicene Creed it says: “We believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” When the group headed for the conclusion that ‘catholic’ really means ‘universal’ (as it does) and that automatically includes all denominations, I got up and said: ‘The problem is, that the term ‘Catholic Church’ was in use from about 100 AD and certainly widely known by the time of Nicaea. It referred specifically to that one Church with all her doctrines’ (I implied communion with the Bishop of Rome). My priest’s answer was: ‘Well, see it’s a lower case “c” in “catholic” not upper case. Who says it includes the doctrines?’

I couldn’t respond really well, first because we didn’t have much time, and second because I just didn’t know how to. How can I make the point that the Church referred to in the Creed is the Catholic Church and not all denominations?

It’s the first time I really took sides so clearly in discussions. Many know that I am Catholic in my beliefs (yet not nominally or sacramentally), including Catholics who attend the Anglican service. I have asked my priest a few questions that are ‘typical Catholic topics’, and he thinks it’s really good to ask those questions and look for answers. It’s not that he is closed-minded, but that the replies I get aren’t the ones I expect.

  1. Are there any passages of Scripture that hint at the Infallibility of the Pope?

If you can, could you help me with this? God bless you all.

HI CutlerB,

Catholic hs treated both the Assumption and infabillity at length. See

catholic.com/tracts/immaculate-conception-and-assumption

and

[size=3]http://www.catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility[/size]

Verbum

Thanks, Verbum! I had completely forgotten to check the site. :smiley:

By the way: I have just sent an email to my priest with some quotes from the Fathers and the council of Nicaea. I really don’t want to offend anybody, but this is really going to the heart of our faith. I hope he doesn’t take it badly. :frowning:

He won’t if you are sincerly questioning and not just ranting… It might be worth your while to have a one to one with him since you not getting time to discuss your points with you.

It seems mixed that you are working Anglican confirmation classes but wanting to discuss Roman Catholic outlook at them and describe it as heart of your faith. The two are subtly and obviously different at the same time. So it might be wise especially for the other class members that you did have your questions with him in private so you don’t confuse the other class members too much if you are going to keep refering to Roman Catholic way of doing things each time. Its not wrong, neither is Anglican wrong. But it be helpful for you and the others if you intend on keeping going to the Anglican Class not to confuse it for others who are wanting not to be even more confused. I can understand you for doing so and please don’t take it personally and I hope no one takes it personally on your behalf but if you truelly don’t want to offend to anyone then by all means keep asking the questions but to the priest alone and allow the others their journey too and not confuse them with what is the heart of your faith be different to what is at the heart for their faith at this stage in their journey.

peace be with you
xxx

Purgatory hasn’t gone anywhere (although it seems to have a branch in Colorado :)). It is the whole reason why we pray and say Masses for the dead.

It is preached about less, naturally, because people want to hear about “after death” less, or not at all.

ICXC NIKA

I am not ranting. We get on really well together, and he is a great person.

I know it’s a curious combination. It’s actually part of discerning what I want to do after school. And at the same time I think it is a good opportunity to share what I have found about Catholicism with people.

You are right about that I shouldn’t confuse the people. I don’t want to, but I will offer other points of view and defend the Church when things go really the wrong direction. I am not participating in the class directly, as I have already been confirmed. I’m just there as part of my job. It’s not like I am sitting there: “Anglicans are wrong! Get out of here!” Far from it. I just like to throw in some questions that might provoke thoughts and develop. Our parish has a wonderful spiritual life and I don’t want to sabotage that. It’s about taking it to another level, for me, you know?

Peace be with you also! :slight_smile:

That’s basically what I said. The point I always make is: The Church will not renounce anything she has ever officially taught. That’s why Purgatory can’t leave the scene.

And there is no reason for Purgatory to be removed.

The truth is that some die in a state of grace, but still are attached to sin or have tendencies to sin. These need to be removed–the soul purified or “purged”–so that the person can be truly happy in Heaven. Those in Purgatory are actually in Heaven–but in a sort of anteroom where this purification is taking place.

A parishioner offered this analogy: suppose you are heading to a wedding when the car gets stuck in mud, and you have to push it out. You get out, but your nice clothes are all muddy. Do you (1) head to the wedding as you are, or (2) go back home to change so that you and the rest of the guests and those getting married can enjoy your presence? You were (and are still) invited, so you have a right to go–but it makes more sense to show up clean and pure and ready to celebrate. Purgatory prepares us to enjoy heaven as it deserves to be enjoyed.

Hmmm. What would your priest suppose that St. Augustine meant by the word “Catholic” when he wrote,

And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic,’ when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house" (St. Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani Called “The Foundation” 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

There is no question that the word “Catholic,” when used by Church Fathers of antiquity, included adherence to a specific set of doctrinal beliefs. Heretics were not allowed to be called “Catholic” (even though they wanted to) because of (and ONLY because of) a difference in beliefs.

Furthermore, it is disingenuous to argue theological points based on capitalization. There were no rules or conventions regarding the use of upper/lowercase characters (in any language or character set) until the Eighteenth Century. Modern editors impose modern conventions upon older writings, such as Shakespeare (and the Nicene Creed). You cannot interpret these modern conventions as an indication of the intent of the original authors (and you certainly cannot base doctrine on it!!!)

I couldn’t respond really well, first because we didn’t have much time, and second because I just didn’t know how to. How can I make the point that the Church referred to in the Creed is the Catholic Church and not all denominations?

When we say that the Church is “universal,” we mean that it is for everyone (unlike the Jewish Church, which was only for hereditary Jews - only someone born a Jew could be fully Jewish). We don’t mean that everyone is Catholic (only that everyone can be Catholic).

That is fair enough, surely: would you want anyone to be teaching as true something which they did not believe?

  1. The Anglican Church bases its teaching on “Scripture, Tradition and reason”, he said. One point of illustration was the ordination of women. “It doesn’t say in the Bible there were women priests, but neither does it that there were none. It was just not possible in that culture.” But reason, he says, tells us today that women could be priests.

I have to say that I think Anglicans generally base their beliefs upon Reason, Scripture, and Tradition.

Interestingly, reason tells some of us that women can be priests, whereas others are still firmly convinced to the contrary. Reason is a tricky thing.

For some reason we came across Purgatory (probably because I asked something about judgement and said ‘You either go to hell, or heaven eventually’).

I really like Purgatory as a doctrine, because it makes more sense, I think, than the immediate juxtaposition of eternal salvation and eternal damnation.

(I implied communion with the Bishop of Rome). My priest’s answer was: ‘Well, see it’s a lower case “c” in “catholic” not upper case. Who says it includes the doctrines?’

Well, if you look at that council, you can see the anathematization in part 2 of the Confession: formalising doctrine was actually the point of that exercise. Far from meaning to include “all denominations”, it was meant to exclude the Arians.

However, representing “catholic” in the Nicene Creed as meaning “Church of Rome” is not quite right, either. The “Catholic Church” at the time was the “Church Universal”, the ecumenical church, or, to go back to the doctrinal part, “the Church Orthodox”: it meant all Christians everywhere who were in agreement with doctrine as handed down from the time of the apostles. Rome was held up at the time as the example par excellence of such orthodoxy, but the Greek churches did not hold communion with Rome to be necessary for orthodoxy. As you can see from the documents of the rest of the councils (available via the same site), their benchmark for orthodoxy was the continuation of the historic faith.

Are there any passages of Scripture that hint at the Infallibility of the Pope?

A devout Catholic can use passages like Mt 16:18-19 to justify it, but they are not convincing to anyone who has not already adopted that idea, which is why the rest of us, Orthodox and Protestant, have not adopted it.

Thanks David! I think I am getting somewhere. My priest asked me about it today (and I can still get back to him on the topic today as it is Bible Study) and said he’d like to show me an article from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church on the word “Catholic”. I will quote it here.

CATHOLIC

A word derived from the Greek (katholikos), and meaning ‘general’ or ‘universal’. It is first met with Christian literature in St. Ignatius of Antioch (…) In Christian terminology it has come to have various uses: (1) Of the universal Church as distinct form local Christian communities. It is applied thus to the faith of the whole Church, i.e. the doctrine believed ‘everywhere, always, and by all’ (see Vincentian Canon) (2) In the sense of ‘orthodox’ as disctinct from ‘heretical’, or (later) from schismatical’.

After that it lists three further uses, which I shall summarise now:

(3) Of the undivided Church before the final schism of East and West in 1054. West calls itself ‘catholic’, East calls itself ‘orthodox’.
(4) Since the Reformation Roman Catholics use it of themselves exclusively. Anglicans and Old Catholics use it to include themselves, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, holding that the together represent the undivided Church of earlier ages.
(5) Post-Reformation usage of those who claim to be in a continuous tradition of faith and practice, as opposed to Protestants, who find their ultimate standard in the Bible as interpreted by Reformation standards.

I have collected a series of quotes from the Fathers from Scripture Catholic and Catholic Answers from before 325 and up to about 450 AD to show the usage and understanding. I have noted on the copy of the dictionary that the later use is irrelevant as only the understanding around the time of the Creed’s writing counts.

However, I am afraid this “We form the Catholic Church if we agree on the essentials, that is Jesus Christ is God and we can only be saved by Him” thing will come.

You’re probably right. But by what authority does an Anglican priest define the “essentials?”

Oddly enough, though, there is truth in this statement. We are “saved” through Christian Baptism, and Anglicans certainly have valid Baptism, so all Baptized Anglicans are certainly “saved” at some point in their lives (and thus covert members of the Catholic Church). They are grafted onto the Body of Christ by Baptism.

If an Anglican stays free of mortal sin, he remains grafted. This leads to a discussion of how easy (or difficult) it is for a person of good will to actually commit mortal sin. Some maintain that it is rather easy, and others that it is rather difficult (I used to believe it was easy, but have come to question that belief).

Unfortunately, nobody knows. But it is not really that important to Catholics, because we have recourse to Sacramental Confession (just in case it’s easy to fall into mortal sin). Various Anglican denominations have different ideas about Confession, but as far as Catholics are concerned, Anglican Orders are not valid, so Anglican Confession is not effective. So lets hope, for the sake of Anglicans (and most other protestants, and frankly, for many Catholics) that it’s difficult for a person of good will to fall into mortal sin.

Read the references used in the catechism.

Purgatory

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2N.HTM

THE CHURCH IS ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P29.HTM

CHRIST’S FAITHFUL - HIERARCHY, LAITY, CONSECRATED LIFE

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2A.HTM

The Apostolic Constitution defining the Dogma of the Assumption explains itself.

vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-xii_apc_19501101_munificentissimus-deus_en.html

Where do you get Purgatory? It’s nowhere in Scripture or in the Early Church. And how do you explain how it is in opposition to how we know God by the Scriptures?

The concept of cleansing is in Scripture…purgtory was the word used to describe this cleansing process…so you may find the word purgatory itself.

“[T]hat allegory of the Lord which is extremely clear and simple in its meaning, and ought to be from the first understood in its plain and natural sense…Then, again, should you be disposed to apply the term ‘adversary’ to the devil, you are advised by the (Lord’s) injunction, while you are in the way with him, 'to make even with him such a compact as may be deemed compatible with the requirements of your true faith. Now the compact you have made respecting him is to renounce him, and his pomp, and his angels. Such is your agreement in this matter. Now the friendly understanding you will have to carry out must arise from your observance of the compact: you must never think of getting back any of the things which you have abjured, and have restored to him, lest he should summon you as a fraudulent man, and a transgressor of your agreement, before God the Judge (for in this light do we read of him, in another passage, as ‘the accuser of the brethren,’ or saints, where reference is made to the actual practice of legal prosecution); and lest this Judge deliver you over to the angel who is to execute the sentence, and he commit you to the prison of hell, out of which there will be no dismissal until the smallest even of your delinquencies be paid off in the period before the resurrection. What can be a more fitting sense than this? What a truer interpretation?” Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, 35 (A.D. 210).

And how do you explain how it is in opposition to how we know God by the Scriptures

For catholics, there is no opposition to Scripture…and actually makes sense.

Rev. 21:27 - nothing unclean shall enter heaven.

If you were to die today…are you clean enough of sin to enter heaven?

Anyway…here is an exhaustive article on purgatory…tracing its Jewish and OT roots to the NT:

catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0091.html

That is not the question here.

It was mentioned here and to get a better understanding of how it fits here, I was just curious as to where it came from, that’s all.

I provided a link for you to look at…look at or go back to post 15.

Sorry Cutler…I should have asked PJ to start a thread on it. I will not responsd further pending a new thread on it.

Might I recommend you check out catholic.com and search for Purgatory there? There’s some good information including early Church Fathers.

Well respectfully, that’s the problem. It doesn’t come from the ECFs, it comes from the middle ages and that’s a real problem for the whole history of the Church, but I’ll stop there with it for now.

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