THE ANGLICANS ARE CONFUSED
Elaborate preparations are being made in England for the picturesque coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, next June, who is declared "by the grace of God, Queen of the realm (Great Britain) and all other realms and territories (save India), defender of the faith."
Some objection has been voiced by leading Anglicans against the word "Protestant" in the oath the Queen is obligated to take, to maintain the "Protestant reformed religion by law established." They hold that the Anglican church is "not Protestant." This is "taking the Reformation and not the title," as was said editorially by THE PILOT three issues ago.
We can appreciate the desire of some Anglicans to get away from being designated "Protestant," though for different reasons than those given by Anglicans. George Bernard Shaw said, in his preface to "John Bull's Other Island, and rightly so, that "the Protestant is theoretically an anarchist ..." That is what the Protestant Reformation was, "theoretically," in England as well as in Germany. This was plainly evidenced in its denial of submission to a visible, organic authority in religion; and its substitution of the Bible, and the Bible only, as the rule of Christian faith. That is the Bible privately, instead of authoritatively, interpreted.
The Protestant Reformation is seriously assumed to have been a return to primitive Christianity, from which the Catholic Church is asserted to have departed. This assumption is simply amazing, even when considered from the point of view of the Bible as the sole rule of faith. Surely the Christians of Apostolic times did not, in fact could not have, such a rule of faith as the Anglican Protestant Reformation forcibly imposed upon the people of England, as the Christian Bible was non-existent during Apostolic times.
The first Gospel was not written by St. Matthew until the Year 40 A.D., seven years after the Catholic Church began to function, under the supreme jurisdiction of St. Peter. And St. John did not write the last Gospel that is in the New Testament until about the Year 100 A.D., 67 years after the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles, and the Church of Christ began to function. This was during the reign of the fourth Pope, Clement I. Besides, St. Paul converted hundreds of Romans, Corinthians, Galacians, and Thessalonians before he wrote the Epistles he sent to these congregations. In fact, there was only one of the Twelve Apostles---St. John---who could have possibly seen all of the books that are in the New Testament, as the other Eleven had gone to their eternal reward before it [the last book] was written by St. John.
We are safeguarded by our Church from such a false concept, being taught that the Bible is a rule of faith, but that it is secondary to the Church, the maker of the Christian Bible, the writings of which she assembled, and declared to have been inspired by Almighty God. This took place in the Council of Carthage, during the Year 397 A.D.
The Anglican church is Protestant, not only because it came into existence as a protest against the Catholic Church; and set up a false standard of Christian judgment; but also because it repudiated basic Christian doctrines. This Dr. Edwin Morris, Anglican Bishop of Monmouth, denied recently, saying, "The church of England purged itself at the Reformation of a number of doctrinal errors, and reorganized its way of worship in accordance with the primitive pattern and common sense. It always assumes its continuity and identity with the Catholic Church of this land from the beginnings."
Only an Anglican mentality could conjure up such a statement, in the face of historical facts to the contrary. The English Christians of pre-Protestant Reformation days were a unit in belief in transubstantiation; the Mass; seven Sacraments; auricular Confession; the intercession of the Saints; and in submission to the Pope (instead of the King, Queen, and Parliament) in matters of faith and morals. These are Catholic Church doctrinal truths, not "errors," that the Anglican Church repudiated, that are part of the "worship in accordance with the primitive pattern."
"God is one, His Church is one, and the faith is one," said St. Cyprian, the Archbishop of Carthage, during the beginning of the third century. Such is the Catholic Church; and such was she in England during the centuries before the reign of Edward VI and Elizabeth I, when the Anglican church came into existence. To claim "Continuity and identity" of the Anglican church with the Catholic Church is simply absurd.
Catholics in England, as well as in all other countries, believed, and continue to believe, that Christ is not divided. They believe that His Church speaks with "one mind and one mouth" (Eph. 5:4), hence they would not tolerate the boastful Anglican claim of "comprehensiveness," evidences in having within its communion, a "high church, low church, and broad church," in which contradictory doctrines are taught. This alone warrants the Anglican church being called "Protestant" in the objectionable sense of the term, which the coronation oath implies.
The claim that the Anglican church is Catholic; the assumption that its "continuity and identity with the Catholic Church of this land (England) from the beginnings," is like the well without water, such as St. Peter tells of in his second Epistle. Of course, Bishop Morris does not speak for the Anglican church as a whole, neither does any other person therein. Some boast that they are Protestants, hence are in favor of the oath that the Archbishop of Canterbury will ask Queen Elizabeth to take at her coronation.
Dean Inge, of St. Paul's Anglican church, saw the erroneousness of Anglicans, whose church seceded from the Catholic Church during the 16th century, calling their church Catholic. He said, in "Catholic And Roman," that "A Western European who rejects the authority of the Pope can no more be a Catholic, in the institutional sense of the word, than President Wilson can be an Englishman. It is surely for the Great Church and not for seceders from its rule to decide who are rebels, and the decision has been given against us."
Dean Inge, whose deanship lingers with him from his long leadership in St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, London, though 88 years young, has not ceased excoriating the attempts to "de-Protestantize" and Catholicize his Protestant Episcopal church. Hence he could not let the recent Anglican Conference, with its subsidiary conferences of "priests," "moderns," etc., go by without an expression of his views. In addressing the Conference of Modern Churchmen (Oxford, July 28), he said: "We must have churches, but a political or institutional church is a secular corporation in which the half-educated cater to the half-converted." Also that "the baseless dream of corporate reunion with the unreformed churches is perhaps the worst enemy of church reform. It forecloses all debate on some urgent problems such as birth control, ordination of women, and marriage." Such union, he fears, will lead to "totalitarianism" such as he envisages in the Catholic Church, wherein contraception, divorce, and female ordination, being universally fixed and unchangeable, "forecloses all debate" regarding their modernization. Having the Catholic Church in mind, as do most Protestant leaders when they "get after" their own churches, Inge said: "We know how formidable totalitarianism still is. Catholicism does 'deliver the goods' (though he does not like the goods). It makes votaries happy ... A continental thinker said: 'There are three indestructibles---the Roman Church, the German Army and the Standard Oil trust.' The Roman Church is by far the strongest of the three and deserves to be, for there is much good in it," which is a lot for the Dean to say.
Such talk on the part of His Deanship is not new. It but echoes what he said during a visit to our country years ago, when, rather than have a unified "de-Protestantized" P. E. church, he preferred then, as he does now, that Anglicans sing, to the tune of Onward Christian Soldiers:
"We are divided, all one body we,
Only many sided, Marvelous P. E."
On that occasion he took to task the "movement to de-Protestantize the Church of England; to obliterate every thing done since the Reformation
... The program (of the Anglo-Catholics) is not to join the Roman Church, as only a few hundred a year transfer to the Roman Church in England, but to make the church what Roman Catholics would call, and what amounts to, a schismatical Catholic Church."
This protest of Dean Inge is not to be dismissed by calling him the "Gloomy Inge." He sees clearly that the thing sincere Anglo-Catholics would do, if they were logical, is to get out of their Protestant Church, and move along the road followed by other Anglicans from the days of John Henry Newman to those of G. K. Chesterton. In other words, to move away from their hyphenated fifty percent imitation of Catholicism in a Protestant church, to the Church that is one hundred percent Catholic in principle, policy and practice.