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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Apostolic Succession Pt. 3 - A Cranmer postscript

As an addendum to Part 1 and Part 2, I would like to add some research from the award winning biography on Thomas Cranmer by the scholar Diarmaid MacColluch.  As already presented, I've seen no direct evidence in the historical record that the English reformers held to a doctrine of divinely instituted Apostolic Succession, as either an essential mark of a true church or necessary for the validity of the Sacraments.

John Jewell echoes other reformers such as Calvin, Vermigli, Bucer, and Bullinger in his Homily (part of the the CoE's formularies) when defining the three necessary marks or notes of a true church:  sound doctrine, the sacraments rightly administered, and the right exercise of ecclesiastical discipline.  Conspicuously missing is any mention of Apostolic Succession.

Similarly in Article XIX. Of the Church from the Thirty-Nine Articles, we find the first two marks:
The Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.

Likewise Hooker writes, “we must not simply without exception urge a lineal descent of power from the Apostles by continued succession of bishops in every effectual ordination.”

But are there clues or bits of insight in the historical record that would give us a window into Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's personal view concerning Apostolic Succession?  Here are some excerpts from the chapter Salvaging the Cause (pp. 276-279) in MacCulloch' biography concerning events of 1541:

... he [Cranmer] was otherwise engaged, mainly in presiding over the contentious work of the doctrinal commission set up by the King at the beginning of April... The doctrinal committee seems to have worked within a framework formed by seventeen set questions on doctrine... - The other notable feature is their [i.e. the surviving documents] collection of marginalia from King Henry in truculently reformist mood, questioning the scriptural origins of confirmation, unction and chrism, challenging the exclusive right of bishops to ordain clergy, and wanting proof for the origins of their office...
Cranmers' most extensive answers were made in relation to the definition of royal power in the Church... which now occupied six of the seventeen questions...

Even King Henry had questions concerning the origins of the office of ordination held by bishops.  MacCulloch continues as he describes Cranmer's peculiar and antiquated One Kingdom view of Christendom and that of royal power as pertains to the appointing of bishops.  Cranmer tackled the following question before the committee:

"Whether the apostles lacking a higher power, as in not having a Christian king among them, made bishops by that necessity, or by authority given them by God?"  In this, he revealed a breathtaking skepticism about any independent character for the church.  His starting point was the basic character of a Christian polity, royal supremacy in its purest form:  God had delivered to 'all Christian princes... the whole cure of souls, as concerning the ministration of things political and civil governance'.  Ministers within this commonwealth were divided between those whose functions were 'civil' and those 'of Gods' word'.  And 'comely ceremonies and solemnities' by which they were admitted (in other words, ordination and consecration in the case of clergy) were 'only for a good order and seemly fashion', without any special conferring of grace by the 'promise of God'.  The basic assumption had an important consequence for Cranmer's view of the course of Church history; it was a journey towards the righting of a wrong, the lack of proper authority in the apostolic Church, which had only been remedied when the first Christian rulers appeared, in the third-century Armenia and the Roman Empire under Constantine the Great.  The apostles of the first century AD had lacked 'remedy then for the correction of vice, or appointing of ministers' and had to make do with 'the consent of christian multitude among themselves'...

MacCulloch summarizes Cranmers' understanding:

Far from holding any doctrine of apostolic succession in 1540, therefore, Cranmer saw the first Christians casting round to create makeshift structures of authority:  'they were constrained of necessity to take such curates and priests as either they knew themselves to be meet thereunto, or else as were commended unto them by other that were so replete with the Spirit of God... that they ought even of very conscience to give credit unto them'.  Sometimes the apostles sent ministers to the people, sometimes the people chose their own.  Hence he had no difficulty in assenting to the idea Christian rulers could start the ministry off anew, creating bishops and priests, if they had no alternative... Cranmer affirmed that 'princes and governors' had as much right as bishops to make a priest, or even, as he had to admit on the analogy of the early Church, 'the people also by their election [i.e. choice].

In the above we may even see some seeds that contribute to the articles concerning ordination of ministers and ceremonies in the Church:

XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.  It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one or utterly alike; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's word. Whosoever through his private judgement willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church which be not repugnant to the word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly that other may fear to do the like, as he that offendeth against common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the conscience of the weak brethren.
    Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies or rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.

XXXVI.   Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.  The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops and ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such consecration and ordering; neither hath it anything that of itself is superstitious or ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrate or ordered according to the rites of that book, since the second year of King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same rites, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated or ordered.

My main contention in these three posts on Apostolic Succession is that if an Anglican wants to hold a divinely instituted Apostolic Succession as necessary for a true church and for valid sacraments, he will not find its warrant in the 16th century English reformers, nor in the writings of early church fathers such as Jerome... let alone the New Testament.  So where is one to go to find direct support?  The only place I know of is either the medieval Roman church period or to the more recent Anglo-Catholic movement of the 19th century with its revisionist take on the English reformation.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Apostolic Succession Pt. 2 - Hooker and Jerome

As presented in Apostolic Succession Pt. 1 , the physical succession of bishops, as contended by Jewell, does not rise to that of a mark or note of a true church.  In addition, any evidence of physical succession from the first century is not proof of its role as a necessary esse of the church.  As it is said, correlation is not proof of causality.  Jewell was not arguing, nor am I, against proper church ordination of ministers. Rather, that a physical line of apostolic succession going back (supposedly) to the Apostles is not a mark of a true church.  This is evident from many of the writings and letters of the English reformers including Hooker.  Those reformers, in fact, recognized the reformed churches of the Continent with their presbyterian polity as true churches.  Inasmuch as one of the marks of a true church was the right administration of the Sacraments, they were thus by extension validating the Baptism and the Lord's Supper of those Continental churches.  Though they argued for the episcopal form of church government as the more scriptural polity, they did not insist on it as a necessary mark of a true church.  But they did insist on the succession of apostolic teaching as opposed to "mere succession of sees."  I am aware of nothing written by the 16th English reformers that would elevate or recognize physical succession from the time of the Apostles as a necessary mark of a true church nor equating such succession with episcopal polity.  And evidently that is why it is not mentioned even as an aside in the 39 Articles of Religion, Jewell's homily for Whit-Sunday, or even Hooker's defense of the episcopacy in his Laws.  And it seems any discovery of  physical succession in the penumbra of those writings would simply be a concession of the historic record of the above.

C. Sydney Carter writes:
Jewel, in treating of the unity of the Visible Church, had stressed the importance of an orderly episcopal ministry, although he declared that “God's grace is promised to one who feareth God and not to sees or successions.”  Keble in his Preface to Hooker's Works states that the Elizabethan bishops and divines were content “to show that the government by Archbishops and Bishops was ancient and allowable: they never ventured to urge its exclusive claim or to connect it with the validity of the Holy Sacraments."   In confirmation of this statement we find that Hooker's patron, Archbishop Whitgift, clearly asserts that “no certain manner or form of electing ministers is prescribed in Scripture and that every Church may do therein as it shall seem most expedient.”  Hooker fully concurred in this opinion, since he declares that the unity of the Church consists in three essentials, the possession of “the one Lord, the one Faith, and the one Baptism.” Although he insisted that “without the work of the Ministry religion by no means can possibly continue,” he asserts clearly that “the complete form of Church polity . . . is not taught in Scripture,” while “much that it hath taught may become unrequisite, sometime because we need not use it, sometime because we cannot.” And in this latter category he placed the Reformed non-episcopal Churches, including the Scottish and French, who, he declares, “have been driven without any fault of their own by the necessity of the present times” to practise a presbyterian form of government... But in spite of his later “higher” view of episcopacy, which was probably occasioned by the increasing insistence of the extreme Puritans on the exclusive necessity of a Presbyterian polity, Hooker was still prepared to admit, as he did in commenting on the case of Theodore Beza's ordination by Calvin, that “there may be sometimes very just and sufficient reason to allow ordination without a bishop.”... Again, in cases where it is not possible to secure a bishop for ordination, Hooker admits that the ordinary institution of God must be waived. And so he adds: “we must not simply without exception urge a lineal descent of power from the Apostles by continued succession of bishops in every effectual ordination.” Professor Sisson is therefore surely correct when he affirms that “there is nothing in Hooker to serve as a foundation for an episcopacy by Apostolic Succession and divine institution...

But some may object and claim that apostolic succession is divinely instituted from the first century. Yet here we have the early church father, Jerome, weighing in:

"When subsequently one presbyter was chosen to preside over the rest, this was done to remedy schism and to prevent each individual from rending the church of Christ by drawing it to himself." (Letter 146:1)

"A presbyter, therefore, is the same as a bishop, and before dissensions were introduced into religion by the instigation of the devil, and it was said among the peoples, ‘I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, and I of Cephas,’ Churches were governed by a common council of presbyters; afterwards, when everyone thought that those whom he had baptised were his own, and not Christ’s, it was decreed in the whole world that one chosen out of the presbyters should be placed over the rest, and to whom all care of the Church should belong, that the seeds of schisms might be plucked up. Whosoever thinks that there is no proof from Scripture, but that this is my opinion, that a presbyter and bishop are the same, and that one is a title of age, the other of office, let him read the words of the apostle to the Philippians, saying, ‘Paul and Timotheus, servants of Christ to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons.’" (Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:562-563)

"Therefore, as we have shown, among the ancients presbyters were the same as bishops; but by degrees, that the plants of dissension might be rooted up, all responsibility was transferred to one person. Therefore, as the presbyters know that it is by the custom of the Church that they are to be subject to him who is placed over them so let the bishops know that they are above presbyters rather by custom than by Divine appointment, and ought to rule the Church in common, following the example of Moses, who, when he alone had power to preside over the people Israel, chose seventy, with the assistance of whom he might judge the people. We see therefore what kind of presbyter or bishop should be ordained." (Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:563)
Lastly and by way of observation, it seems that the more a church body adheres to so-called "divinely instituted apostolic succession", the less one finds in that body the preaching of and adherence to the pure gospel of salvation of sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone - which is the crucial core of sound doctrine as found in Holy Scripture. The church is born of a message about something God alone has done, the gospel of Jesus Christ; that gospel's very origins being in the counsel of God before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:3-6). She is nourished and maintained by that glorious gospel as administered by those called and ordained. And it is that gospel which will be the at the center of sound doctrine, the administration of the Sacraments, and proper ecclesiastical discipline - the marks of a true church.

Update: A related article/worthwhile read by Robin Jordon can be found at: Anglicans Ablaze

Friday, April 1, 2011

Generous Justice: A Response

My wife, Barbara, recently read Tim Keller's latest book. She wrote the following and consented to post it here:

Why am I a wee bit bothered by Tim Keller’s Generous Justice?  I might even say I’m troubled.  I have benefited much from TK, as have so many.  However, when I FEEL my Christian liberty is being stolen away, the hair on my neck stands up, and I get fidgety!  Then I get a little crazy.  I start accusing TK of patronizing the poor and pandering to the powerful.  

I’m just a simple cave (wo)man.  I can understand when someone tells me I have fallen way short of what God commands.  I can understand when someone tells me that, on my behalf, Jesus has met the very demands of which I fall so short.  I can understand when someone says go therefore and live out a thankful, generous, charitable life.

I cannot understand when someone tells me THAT must look like THIS.  Tim Keller is saying just that in Generous Justice.  I love that he wants Christians to be aware of needs.  I love that he wants Christians to be given and that he wants us to consider how we might be more so.  But a red flag goes up when the call to love my neighbor is put out there as looking a particular way - that true Christianity is about healing the community around us, even remedying its systemic injustices.  Really?  How it looks to love one another will have everything to do with our own place.  But please don’t tell the single mom to spend her time fixing a broken community program; she is mending broken hearts.  Why heap guilt on the stay-at-home mom who, though not organizing soup kitchens, is taking a meal to a sick neighbor while trying desperately to be kind to her kids and unselfish towards her hard-working husband?

Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Why?  Because He has fulfilled all those demands of which I fall so short. He did come to bring justice, generously!   He points me in His good direction, puts me on the path, and nourishes me along the way.  That sustenance has everything to do with what HE HAS DONE.  The way is clear.  The fruit I will bear in acceptance of the sweet message of what He has done for me will be love, joy, peace, self-control, patience, gentleness, kindness, longsuffering, goodness, faithfulness.  My family, my neighbors, my community benefit as I seek to put others above myself, to give increasingly of time and resources.  

That my heart is stirred is natural.  God loves the unlovely.  He cares for the downtrodden. To care is written on the heart.  Tim, we all know we could and should do more.  The suffering in and out of the city is before us daily.  We know that we haven’t given all we could.  As Christ’s we pray that we would walk more selflessly everyday.  

Guilt is not the sweet response that Christ’s own have to their Savior.  But it seems here guilt is the motivator for action.  Justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone does not result in a vague persistent sense of guilt but in fruit borne of the Spirit.  
We beggars in the pews are clinging to the bright sufficiency of what Christ has done.  Please don’t over burden us.  His yoke is easy. His burden is light.  Our rested souls seek to serve.  Our thankful hearts have a myriad of ways to do so everyday.  Generous Justice?  For this wayfarer learning to be just generous will do.
-Barbara VB Miller