Ask me anything: Episcopalian Edition


I don’t know mate. Like I said I’m not that religious, but you could ask someone higher up.


There are splits in every church. How do you think Eastern ortho became a thing? I think people in episcopoalianism are way to moderate to care much about church politics


Thanks man. Had no support!


I went to Sunday school, but my family isn’t too religious so I was never taught about that.


This is why I left the Episcopal Church for the ACNA. They’re institutionally completely antinomian and proud of it. Christian morality cannot be reduced to the Golden Rule and the Harm Principle, no matter how appealing such an undemanding Christianity might be.


Big if true.

The Episcopal Church and the Catholic Church differ on a variety of fundamental questions, ranging from justification to the nature of the sacraments. Tons of difference, regardless of how similar the liturgies may be.


But the majority of Episcopalians are Relativists, correct? Unless they are specifically Old school Anglican.


I am curious about the Anglican “patrimony”, the set of traditions and practices specific to Anglicans and Episcopalians. Whatever they are (I am ashamed of my ignorance) they seem to have a strong hold, influencing people wildly different on other beliefs. I am familiar with “ethnic Catholicism”, people still attached to Poland for instance but livi ng elsewhere. But I don’t understand this heritage.


Catholic theology is consistent with this . . .


Gollum didn’t show up until the 20th century, and I’m not sure why Catholics would consider a fetus to be Smeagol. I’m confused.


Back in the day, religion and politics were intertwined. It shows up clearly in Henry’s Great Matter, and is even more pertinent in that the CoE was organized as an Erastian/state Church. And an Erastian Church, like the CoE, can function under laws (acts of Parliament) that are legally binding (in this case, on the clergy of the CoE).

The Articles (like the preceding documents that had appeared in the Henrician period) are religion as statecraft, specifically, how Elizabeth I choose to govern her fractious and explosive Church, in the historical context of the late 1500s. They reflect the mind of the CoE on the pressing and disruptive issues of the Reformation, and are written broadly, with a balanced appeal to both the older doctrines of the Church, and the more reformed ones. They are, indeed, the visible face of the Via Media, the Elizabethan Compromise. The intent of the XXXIX, as E. J. Bicknell says, in a very useful chapter in his A THEOLOGICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRTY NINE ARTICLES OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND (chap. 1) “They express the mind of the Church of England on the questions under dispute during the Reformation. They do not claim to be a final and complete system of theology” (though obviously, they could be treated as such, if one wanted to).

Their relevance to Anglicans today depends on the attitude of the Anglicans in question. Generally, one may affirm, deny, or partially do either, depending on personal interpretation, or possibly on the strictures of whatever parish/jurisdiction/province one belongs to. In fact, since many of them are “mere Christianity”, almost any Trinitarian Christian will find many things to agree with, without indulging in Tract 90 forms of exegesis and gymnastics. But, except with respect to the clergy of the CoE, (who were required not so much to affirm the Articles as not “dis-affirm” them), as an item, the Articles cannot be said to have any general application, to Anglicans generally, without reference to some governing authority. The governing authority for the CoE lay in the 1571 Parliamentary Act of Subscription. And while all Anglicans still were within the COE, that was the authority. Which was limited, as noted, both in scope and in application.

Anglicanism now being fractured far beyond the CoE, authorities vary and attitudes do likewise. TEC’s militant latitudinarianism has moved them into the historical section of the 1979 book, following the even more dismissive suggestion of the 1968 Lambeth Conference. And that means jurisdictions may practice anything from generally ignoring to formally confessing them.

As to XXV, remember the basic Anglican position (if you chose the correct Anglican) that the seven are divided into the Dominical 2 and the remaining 5. Two established by our Lord. Makes seven, in all.


This is the argument that is usually used, but I don’t think the text of XXV supports it. It gives a definition of “sacrament,” then states that the remaining five don’t meet that definition. Even if there’s perhaps some wiggle room within it to say that there are two Dominical sacraments and five non-Dominical sacraments, I don’t think that’s what’s meant by the text at all. I think to get that reading of it, you have to take Newman’s view – that what matters is that you can make the article mean the orthodox position, not that the article was written to mean the orthodox position. Fortunately, as you say, the laity are not bound by the Articles.

And maybe this is just ACNA being more Reformed, but the ACNA priests I know all say there are exactly two sacraments.


Depends on how you interpret that portion of the Article (assuming you have that sort of hobby). “Commonly called”, as found throughout the BCP, is, of course, Anglican-speak for “another name for which is”. To maintain that the distinction is those ordained by our Lord, no matter how they further tease it out, is sufficent. Two/five.

Or, in other words, who cares how Liz wanted to keep the minions quiet, back in the day. If I wanted to look in that direction for something to function as “Articles” today, I’d look to the Ten.

Yes, ACNA is likely to say that. Unless you are speaking to Bishop Iker, maybe. Depends on which Anglican you ask.


Doesn’t the article say “for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God” rather than simply “no physical sign”? In other words, in the distinction the article is making, no physical sign ordained within Scripture?


It does say that, yes. But for that to apply to some of them, we have to reject that the Epistles are the Word of God, because they at the very least explicitly mention anointing with oil for unction.


The Article distinguishes between sacraments “ordained of Christ” / “ordained of God” and others. My reading is that this is the distinction it is making that gives particular force to Christ’s actions in the Gospels. But your view has, of course, merit.


Sure, though I’ll note that your quote I was responding to said “ordained within Scripture,” not “ordained within the Gospels.”

I don’t really have a problem with the Dominical/non-Dominical distinction, though I think that we should not just look at the four canonical Gospels to ascertain what is truly Dominical, since we know that the Gospels are a very incomplete record of Jesus’ life and teachings. I’ll be reading the Didache fairly soon as I begin to dive more into studying the practices of the early Church, but right now I can’t really speak to it.


So it did, so it did. Fair enough.


What did I say about choosing the correct Anglican to ask?


Would the Continuum priests say two sacraments, or seven?
If they say seven, would they make a distinction between dominical and (lesser) non dominical?

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