Thursday, April 21, 2011

Apostolic Succession Pt. 4: Addendum to the Postscript...

Some more interesting notes to add to the three earlier installments (here, here, and here) - this from John Booty, in an article posted at the Church Society. He adds further detail to Richard Hooker's thinking regarding Apostolic Succession and church polity:
Thus  the  basic conflict  emerged  between  Travers,  who  believed  that  the  only  right  government for  the Church  of England was that  of the  apostolic Church most  perfectly manifested in Calvin’s Geneva,  and Hooker, who  believed that the Church was under  no  obligation to imitate the church government  either  of  apostolic  times  or  of  the  sixteenth-century  Genevan  Church.  Travers  sought for obedience  to  the  positive  commands  of  Scripture  in  matters  of  polity, while Hooker argued that Scripture  neither  gave  nor was intended to  give a  pattern  for the outward government of the Church, but rather presupposed the operation of natural law and positive human laws in such matters...
... Hooker’s  argument  concerning  the  laws  of  the  universe  was  presented  in  order  to demonstrate the errors of the Puritans. Revelation in Jesus Christ was given for a purpose and that purpose is the salvation of fallen men and women. It was not given in order to provide rules for the construction of ecclesiastical polity Nor was it given in order to lay down rules for the government of civil society. The external government of church and state is rooted in natural  and  positive-human law,  a  fact  presupposed  by  Scripture.  This  does  not  mean that such government is not under the judgment of and must not be responsive to God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. It simply means that Scripture is not dealing with the outward forms of such government.  This  rooting  of  ecclesiastical  and  civil government  in  law  was  basic  to  his argument against the Puritans and led Hooker into the tragic situation in which he ended his life.  And  this  is  so  because  his  point  of  view  collided  with  the  developing  doctrine concerning episcopacy and the gradual emergence of the divine right theory of royal power.

Thus rooting all power of government in law, Hooker was led to conclude that the basis of all power is located mediately in the  people  from whom all  positive law  proceeds. He  did  not teach any strict theory of social contract, but he did locate the source of  royal power in the original assent of the people to such power and believed that all such power was limited by law  and  custom,  located  in  the  common  law  tradition  of  England. When  Bancroft,  one  of Whitgift’s  henchmen,  asserted  the  apostolic  succession  of bishops  and  thus  placed  them outside of human law, or at least tended to do so, he was teaching something antithetical to Hooker’s basic position. We can understand Bancroft’s urge to preach as he did; the Puritans rooted their polity in Scripture and thereby sought for it an absolute authority apart from the state. In a sense it was natural that their enemies should seek to root the established polity of the  Church  of  England  in  a  similar  way.  But  in  so  doing,  they  were  departing  from  the nascent tradition of the English Reformers and were saying something which try as he might (and  there  is  evidence  of  his  spending  some  effort  on  the  matter)  Hooker  could  not  say. Professor Houk, speaking of Book VII, has said:

The theory of apostolical succession viewed the episcopacy as an order derived not from the whole church but descending from the apostles, a class within the Church. Hooker’s theory of the Social Contract and of the sovereignty of the people was so fundamental with him that he would have been slow to accept a newly-advanced theory incompatible with it.

And from The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, we find this additional corroboration concerning the views of the English Reformers on church polity and the necessity of holding to a divinely instituted apostolic succession in order to have a true Church:

IV. The Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States tolerate two classes of opinion,—the Anglo-Catholic or High-church view, and the Low- or Broad-church view. (1) The Anglo-Catholic view of the episcopate is in essential particulars that of the Roman Catholic Church. It does not recognize the superior authority of the pope, as the vicar of Christ and the infallible successor of St. Peter, nor even place ordination among the sacraments. But it regards episcopacy as indispensable to the very being of the Church, holds to the transmission of grace by the imposition of hands, accepts apostolic succession, and denies validity to any ministry not ordained by bishops. Bishops "as being the successors of the apostles are possessed of the same power of jurisdiction" (J. H. Blunt, Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, p. 85, London, 1870). They are, and have been from the time of the apostles, an order distinct from the priesthood and diaconate and higher than both. As late as 1618 the highest authority in the Church of England, James I., recognized the ordination of the Reformed Churches of the Continent when he sent a delegation made up in part of bishops to the Synod of Dort. Archbishop Laud (1633—45) was the most extreme representative of the jure divino right of episcopacy the Church of England has had, and his intolerance brought him to the block. The Low- and Broad-church view regards the episcopate as desirable and necessary for the wellbeing, not to the being, of the Church. The episcopal Episcopius is not the only form of government with Scriptural authority (if, indeed, it or any other be recommended by Scripture); but it is the one best adapted to forward the interests of Christ's kingdom among men. The best Anglican writers on this side agree that the episcopate developed out of the prcsbyterate, and that there are only two orders of the ministry in the New Testament,—presbyters and deacons. Dr. Lightfoot, bishop of Durham, in his scholarly and exhaustive discussion of the subject (commentary on Philippians, pp. 180-267), says, "It is clear, that, at the close of the Apostolic Age, the two lower orders of the threefold ministry were firmly and widely established; but traces of the episcopate, properly so called, are few and indistinct. . . . The episcopate was formed out of the presbyteral order by elevation; and the title, which originally was common to all, came at length to be appropriated to the chief of them." And again he says, "The episcopate was formed out of the presbytery." After he was made bishop he stated that his views on the episcopate had been misunderstood. Dean Stanley (Christian Institutions, p. 210) representing the same view, says, "According to the strict rules of the Church derived from those early times, there arc but two orders,—presbyters and deacons."
This view, which is also held by such men as Arnold, Alford, Jacob, and Hatch, was the view of the divines of the English Reformation. Cranmer, Jewel, Grindal, and afterward Field (" The apostles left none to succeed them," Of the Church, vol. iv., p. vii.), defended episcopacy as the most ancient and general form of government, but always acknowledged the validity of Presbyterian orders. (Cf. G. P. Fisher, in the New Englander, 1874, pp. 121-172.) Bishop Parkhurst looked upon the Church of Zurich as the absolute pattern of a Christian community; and Bishop Ponet would have abandoned even the term "bishop" to the Catholics, Ecclesiastics held positions in the Church of England who had received only Presbyterian ordination. Such were Whittingham, Dean of Durham, Cartwright, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and Travers, provost of Trinity College, Dublin. It is doubtful whether any prelate of the English Church in Elizabeth's reign held the jure divino theory of episcopacy, though Archbishop Bancroft (d. 1605) seems to have been the first Anglican prelate to avow it.

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