Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hypostatic Union, Imputation at the Cross and Forensic Justification ...

The connection between the Hypostatic Union of the Two Natures of Christ and Objective Justification at the Cross is the connection between the Person and Work of Christ. The Person of Christ cannot be separated from His Work. That there is an "additional union" between the Hypostatic Union and Christ's Work cannot be denied.

The question is, what kind of union is this? The fact of the union is established by virtue of Christ assuming the role of a Mediator and Intercessor for the human race. The defining issue is what is the mode of this type of union, i.e. between His Person and Work?

To determine the mode and effect of the union, there must needs be an understanding or at least an appreciation that the Catholic faith compels us to recognise that the concept of the 'Person' has priority and primacy over the concept of "Nature". This is clear from Holy Scripture and the creedal tradition of the Church which speak of Three Distinct Persons forming the Godhead. The "Substance" of God which is identified with the Godhead (i.e. the "unitive principle" of the Trinity) is equivalent to the Nature of God or the characteristics of Divinity such as omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence. And this "Nature" or "Substance", otherwise known as "Essence" is primarily and principally possessed or "embodied" by God the Father Almighty Who is identified as the epistemological and ontological starting-point.

Since the Father is the Sole Ingenerate Source and Cause of the Godhead, this means that the same unitary Substance or Essence of the First Person is possessed by the Other Two Persons wholly and simultaneously in Themselves through immanent generation and procession: The Father has the Substance in its fulness, the Son likewise and the Holy Spirit likewise. The identity of the Essence makes it impossible for the Trinity to exist without One of the Persons included. The absolute uniqueness of the Triune Personhood makes it impossible for the One to be collapsed into the Other without confusing Nature with Person. The implication of this truth is that vis-a-vis God, Person determines Nature, not vice-versa. By the term 'determined', it is emphatically meant that the particularising characteristics of the Person gives concrete expression to the manifestation of the Nature in all its attributes. It is the Person of the Father Who wills to elect a Church in His beloved Son, that is, infallibly and efficaciously cause to happen the immutable and unchangeable salvation of certain individuals through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The 'will' inheres in Divine Nature as an attribute possessing potentiality, but It (i.e. the Divine Nature) does not act or operate from within Itself but that the power (dunamis) is animated, demonstrated or instantiated (energeia), i.e. given a mode of expression by the Triune Persons.

Now, the primacy and priority of Person over Nature as epitomised by the Chalcedonian Definition has implications for how we are to understand the Incarnation and Atonement.

(To be cont. ...)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Letter to the English Churchman on High Churchmen and Puritans

Dear Sir,

The Rev. John J. Harding's review of 'Wesley and Men who Followed' (EC 7631) was balanced and highly commendable. If I may, I would like to contribute a bit to the whole issue of hyper-Calvinism versus genuine Calvinism. It is one of the greatest ironies of historical theology that the specific doctrinal view on the salvific will of God in relation to the non-elect as held by the 'high churchmen' in the Elizabethan Church and the Caroline divines would come to be shared by the successors of the puritan separatists. Both the 'popish' churchmen and puritans shared a common pastoral concern, including the need to combat antinomianism (a perversion of Reformation theology).

In due time however, the dogmatic significance of the decretive (i.e. predestinating or secret) will of God (based on His foreknowledge) - as understood within puritan circles - would be diminished in favour of His preceptive (i.e. revelatory/revealed) will. The latter term was to be redefined - due to Amyraldian influences within 17th century mainstream Calvinism - and hence misused to mean a divine intention or optative will, co-existing alongside the eternal and unchangeable predestinating will in the essence of the Three Hypostases.

Already such a notion of a two-fold will of God is to be found in Richard Hooker who was no father of 'Anglo-Catholicism' and whose ceremonial views were mild by the standards of Caroline divinity. Churchmen like him represented - at the height of the Predestinarian Consensus of the Reformed English Church during the Elizabethan period - the 'fringe' or minority whereas the disciplinarian archbishop, John Whitgift clearly belonged to the mainstream alongside the moderate puritan William Perkins. Toplady in his 'Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England', though prejudiced against the pre-1662 Laudians (influenced by the account of Peter Heylyn the polemicist), nevertheless was correct in his overall historical assessment which identifies one of the distinctive features of the Lambeth Articles (1595) as positing the desire of God to save only the elect.

The spectrum of theological views within the Church of England was to change drastically with the accession of James 1, with sacramental-minded churchmen like John Overall who were more inclined towards the non-Reformed Protestants, i.e. Lutherans (by then heading in a scholastic direction: essentially, post-Luther Lutheranism as embodied by Lutheran Orthodoxy subsided into a single predestinarian theology) gaining prominence (in tandem with the rise of Reformed scholasticism in Continental Europe which consolidated the double predestinarian system commonly associated with John Calvin). The ecumenical endeavours of the Presbyterian-born King James 1 had already eroded the so-called rigid Calvinism of the mainstream within the Church. More concessions in the interest of reconciliation with the Lutherans at the Synod of Dordt, including also accommodating the views of the Bremen churches - on the sufficiency of the atonement - muddied the theological waters of English Calvinism.

The Caroline divines, notwithstanding the liberal appropriation of medieval scholastic and even Tridentine terminology to express their sacramental theology were mostly single predestinarians and upheld justification by faith alone, in stark contrast to John Wesley (the 18th century high churchman) who despite puritan upbringing denied election (never mind reprobation), conceived justification as purely acquittal from guilt (declarative minus imputation) and was known to have denied the perseverance of the saints (contradicting Articles 11, 16 and 17), in common with Roman Catholicism. Such heterodoxy does not fall, historically speaking - within the broad spectrum of classical Protestantism, notwithstanding Wesley's evangelistic reputation and therefore any ecclesiastical relations with Arminian churches must derogate from the traditional Reformed policy as formulated at the holy ecumenical synod of Dordt (1617-1618).

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Letter to the English Churchman on Canon Law, and Sacramental & Liturgical Theology

Dear Sir
Re: Deposited Prayer-Book (1927) and all that ...

I would like to follow up on the front page article of EC 7628, and David Relf's letter (EC 7629) concerning canon law, the Gorham case and the Deposited Prayer-Book respectively.

Firstly, the See of Rome does not recognise the canon law of the Church of England and - alongside with it - the episcopal credentials of its 'apostolic succession' (e.g. Apostolicae Curae, 1897) precisely because of the break of communion between the two. However, the Reformed English Church inherited her pre-Reformation canon law substantially intact with significant modification (i.e. the procedural discipline and material corpus are now grounded in royal authority, and indirectly, Parliament's legislation for their enforcement, e.g. through the Act of Uniformity, 1559).

Secondly, the Gorham decision at the Privy Council demonstrated that the appellant (i.e. Rev. George Cornelius Gorham) agreed with the Bp. of Exeter (i.e. Henry Philpotts) as to the 'ordinary connection' between the grace of the Holy Spirit and the Sacrament of Baptism (cf. Article 25). They also shared a common notion of Regeneration (as instantaneous/an event which excludes a priori experience and eludes subjective description).

Where they differed was to the timing of Regeneration, i.e. whether 'ORIGINAL' prevenient grace was bound to Baptism or not in respect of infants. The answer depended on the role of Baptism and, by extension, the scope of baptismal efficacy which - the old-fashioned High Churchman (albeit POST-1662/Arminian) - Philpotts construed as applying ex opere operato (i.e. invariably) though without the concomitance of 'renovation' (i.e. inner change) or 'conversion' (the mutual inclusiveness of both is held by Roman, Tractarian and Calvinist alike), which means Baptismal Regeneration, according to this theory (also held by the first two traditions) is informed by ecclesiastical election ('monergistic') but 'final salvation' is based on God's foreknowledge of who will persevere to the end('synergistic'). Only Calvinists like Gorham limited Regeneration in Baptism (if it occurs during the administration of the rite) to elect infants only because the order of salvation (ordo salutis) is grounded in sovereign predestination, thus, making the entire 'chain of salvation' (in ordinary LOGICAL, as distinguished from temporal, sequence) inseparable: Election, Regeneration, Calling, Conversion (Definitive Sanctification), Faith (& Repentance), Baptism, Justification, Sanctification/Conversion, Glorification.

Thirdly, the Deposited Prayer-Book (1927) attempted to redress Roman proclivities on ecumenical and devotional issues within a liturgical context. Thus, the aim was to maintain so-called Anglican comprehensiveness whilst supressing illegal practices through pastoral methods within the Prayer-Book tradition. It included prominently the formulation of an alternative Eucharistic (Consecration) Prayer ('a Canon within Canon') drafted by scholars like Walter Howard Frere (Bp. of Truro) who looked to the 'East' (both early and Byzantine), the 1549 'Invocation' and subsequent 'epicleses' (e.g. 1637, 1764) - of the 'greater Anglican tradition' of which the Caroline divines were the best representatives in the terms of the catholic heritage of the Church - for inspiration and resources.

It was conceived as a liturgical measure (backed by ecclesiastical sanction) partly to rein in on popular abuses associated either with 'Transubstantiation' or a locaLISED (not 'local') presence - and the concomitant theory of the propitiatory Sacrifice of the Mass - according to extreme Anglo-Catholic gloss of the Words of Institution (WOI: Narrative component) in 1662 Office.

Perhaps a possible strategy by classical Anglicans (i.e. Prayer-Book evangelicals) in 1927 to counter 'Anglo-Catholic influence was to reclaim the liturgical inheritance of the Caroline divines or PRE-1662 Laudians, i.e. Reformation High-Church Protestants (the majority of which, with the exception Jeremy Taylor, held to single predestination and forensic justification, including the venerable Abps. William Laud and Richard Neile of York) who with the moderate Puritan divines shared a common concern for the inclusion of an explicit Invocation and restoration of manual acts in conjunction with the WOI (the latter of which was to be incorporated at the Savoy Conference, 1661). The liturgical divergence was in the treatment of the WOI, i.e. whether set within the context of a prayer (which the Prayer-Book tradition undeniably places it) or in a mono-didactic role (as in Continental Reformed and Presbyterian traditions).

The notion of an epiclesis alongside the WOI gives full expression to the intent of the Church to commemorate the Lord's Supper in the words and action of the liturgy. God the Father is invoked to send down His Spirit to 'bless (or approve) and sanctify (or set apart) these gifts of bread and wine' in hypostatic union and conjunction with the (written) Word 'so that these may be unto us (by faith) the Body and Blood of Christ'. This is where the sanctification of the species/elements and people is concentrated at the point immediately prior to reception.

Implicit in this invocation is the Eucharist primarily as a divine action in which the human response (i.e. gratitude) is set within the 'use' (presentation/oblation-prayer/invocation sequence and communion/reception) of the sacramental species which includes a 'pleading' - by the COMMON priesthood - of the merits of the 'one oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross', as per Article 31 through locating the post-communion offertory of praise and thanksgiving (sacrificium laudis) after the Invocation/epiclesis. This is distinguished sharply from the mainstream Anglo-Catholic 'co-offering' with Christ of His perpetual heavenly sacrifice.

Whether the placement of the 'epiclesis' is before or after the WOI and Oblation/anamnesis is insignificant if 'Calvinistic' sacramental theology of the Real Presence (both Calvin's and Cranmer's Virtualism) as representing the best of mature Anglican reflection in the Eucharist is again asserted in its rightful place in the Communion Office 'configurated' by the supplemental components of Sursum Corda, Sanctus, Prayer of Humble Access, Lord's Prayer, Gloria in exclesis Deo, etc. Note too that Westminster Puritanism in its 1645 Directory for Public Worship contains a similar invocation (last paragraph of the prayer), albeit outside the perimeters of its Narrative component.

Lastly, however, I am bound my reverence to our Protestant forefathers, including the then Conservative MP, William Joynson-Hicks (later Lord Brentford) and its authentic contemporary embodiment in the Church of England (Continuing) to 'reject' the Deposited Prayer-Book (1927) as an alternative to the BCP (1662).

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Coming Up Next ...

Triadology ...

  • Augustinian Filioquism and Byzantine Monarchianism - A Synthesis in the Ordo Theologiae?
Christology ...
  • Hypostatic Union and Imputation
  • Christ's sinlessness and Original Sin

Soteriology ...

  • The salvific will of God
  • Eucharist, Justification and Sanctification

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Letter to the English Churchman on Justice and Just War

Re: Justifiability & Justification

If I may, I would like to contribute to the debate on the legitimacy of the recent conflict in Iraq but from the pro-war perspective on a wholly non-party political standing as it ought to be conducted. I write in defence of the British Government’s decision to adopt military action against Iraq in the event of the latter’s final refusal to 'fully comply' with its obligations under international law as sponsored by the United Nations Organisation and delegated, on the general issue of world peace & security, to the Security Council as expressed in Resolution 1441 (2002). This resolution unambiguously recognises the threat that 'Iraq’s non-compliance' on the specific issue of 'weapons of mass destruction (WMD)' poses to international security; and recalls the previous resolution (678) authorising Member-States to 'use all necessary means to uphold and implement' Resolution 660.

The inventory of resolutions (which includes 687 of 1991 on terrorism also) stacked up against Iraq serves only to demonstrate the determination of the Security Council to enforce its rulings in view of persistent Iraqi breaches of UN resolutions. As such, Iraq was continually guilty of the formal breach of failure to disclose or account for its stockpile of WMD (negative aspect) and sought to obstruct the mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and objectives of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) at every possible turn (positive aspect). The invasion of Kuwait by Saddam on the 2nd August 1990 was the occasion for the formal exposure – in the court of international consensus - of his crimes against humanity in the use of chemical and biological weapons, and its campaign of terror and genocide.

Therefore, I sincerely and wholeheartedly believe in the legitimacy (in terms of international law) and rightfulness (in terms of the moral dimension) of the cause as assumed by the Prime Minister, and hence that the risk he took was not in vain. Furthermore, I would argue that the war against Iraq and its subsequent reconstruction are two separate issues. Indeed, the response of the Iraqis at the downfall of Saddam provides the verifiable proof of the difference. The implication is that the post-conflict (i.e. reconstruction) phase in Iraq is eroding public confidence in the integrity of the US and UK governments’ claims in pursuing military intervention.

A more important issue than the justifiability of the war on Iraq is the doctrine of justification. The clarity in the sphere of the political cause stands in contrast to the theological confusion promoted by modern-day jesters (satirically speaking) in evangelical Protestantism today. I refer to the likes of schizophrenic two-faced J. I. Packer (Puritan Anglican), Charles Colson (Southern Baptist) and John H. Rodgers (charismatic Anglican), etc. in exploring and engaging in ecumenical relations – in particularly with the Roman Church through joint-statements and cooperation that undermine the 16th century Reformation’s insistence that justification by faith alone is the 'article by which the church stands or falls' (Luther) and the 'hinge upon which religion turns' (Calvin).

On the academic front, miscreants like J. D. G. Dunn, N. T. Wright, etc. are claiming to have recovered the authentic Pauline emphasis on justification by its treatment under ecclesiology (in relation to the visible church), rather than christology (in relation to Christ’s person and work, and His mystical body). The assault aims at the dilution of the Biblical teaching of the imputation of the acquired (i.e. human or 'functional') righteousness of Christ alone in hypostatic union with His divine, i.e. ontological or essential nature in One Person or Ego Who in space and time became the once-for-all Sacrifice on the Cross for the remission of sin (original and actual). The definition of justification as the free and gracious act of God upon the guilty man or sinner by pronouncing him as 'not guilty' on the account of the merits of a Substitute, i.e. it is a forensic declaration/definitive event and not a process which is initiated by the infusion of grace or the exercise of faith is despised as deficient or inadequate.
And then you have Norman Shepherd and 'Auburn Avenue' theology promoting the idea that the definition of 'faith' itself includes obedience, i.e. active perseverance, instead of a mental assent to the truths of the Gospel, an exclusive gift of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon the elect sinner.

The antidote against justification by faith plus X-factor is holding fast to the Reformed Faith as compressed in the Doctrines of Grace and the particularism inherent therein, maintaining always that the doctrine of the (temporal) church is informed by the doctrine of (eternal) election and reprobation. To God alone belongs the glory. Amen.

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Unpublished Letter to the English Churchman on the FoG

Dear Sir,
Re: The Free Offer of the Gospel

The crux of the issue on the FoG rests upon its definition, which is whether or not God sincerely desires (acc. to His 'preceptive', i.e. revealed will) the salvation of all men without exception, especially of those who hear the preaching of the Gospel: the WHAT is to be preached rather than the HOW which is disputed by e.g. the Gospel Standard folks.

The refusal or reluctance to EXTEND (i.e. the 'how') the call or command of repentance and faith to all men indiscriminately for fear of compromising the doctrine of total depravity (vis-a-vis natural ability) is neither Scriptural nor Reformed. Calling upon a non-sensible (i.e. unregenerate) sinner to repent and exercise faith on the Lord Jesus Christ which is his duty does NOT imply ability.

That there is a distinction between the two calls (i.e. external and internal) is not a NECESSARY inference that the former imperative (or even a conditional clause, e.g. Gen 4:7) is indicative of a will of God to save the non-elect just like belief in the 'indelible character' of the baptismal rite does not imply belief in an 'internal sealing' (i.e. mark) on the soul which is the Romish teaching of the ex opere operato efficacy of sacramentally infused grace.

Historically, the majority of Reformed divines (incl. mainstream predestinarian theology in the Church of England, cf. Toplady's *Works*) have consistently denied a 'universal saving will' of God, positing instead, in consonance with the Augustinian tradition, a single (apropos of the decretive) will in God, thus interpreting passages such as 1 Tim. 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 as referring to the catholic Body of Christ viz. all men without DISTINCTION, i.e. from all kinds of background.

The preceptive will of God therefore, refers to the revelation of 'what men ought to do' mediated through e.g. preaching and by extension, the external calling (confer e.g. pg. 45, chapter V, 'A Display of Arminianism', vol. 10, Works of John Owen, and pg. 453-454, section XI, chap. XXV, vol. 2, Historical Theology, W. Cunningham). Consult also Calvin's Treatise on the Eternal Predestination of God on page 118 and his Institutes (sec. 16-17, chap. XXIV, Bk. III); and ppg. 195-197, Bk. I on the impassiblity of God, in answer to Mr. W. F. Spanner (EC 7594).

The principles of traditional Reformed hermeneutics vis-a-vis the Will of God is enshrined in Articles 1 ('without passions'), 17 (note the two-fold distinction between the secret and revealed will) and 20 (Scripture does not contradict itself) of the 39 AoR. See also the WCF. sec 1 and 2, chap. II.

Classical Reformed theology has always been concerned to safeguard the unity, simplicity and immutability of God (viz. the purity and perfection of the essence of God, i.e. His absolute holy Sovereignty) which is (implicitly) ignored by modern mainstream Calvinism, and establish the 'judicial' basis (material and formal) of salvation. This is why historically the proponents of the FoG either held to universal (e.g. Richard Hooker, the Amyraldians etc.) or a double-reference atonement (e.g.the Marrow-men).

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Unpublished Letter to the English Churchman on Divorce and Remarriage

"What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder' ...

Dear Sir,
Re: Divorce and Remarriage in Holy Scripture and Tradition

This letter is not a condemnation of those who differ from the views of Mr. J. F. Burrows on divorce and remarriage but a humble and sincere plea that the Word of God on the issue be considered afresh.

The teaching of the Early (i.e. the first four centuries, incl. Eastern) and Medieval (i.e. pre-Reformation) Western Church are reflected in the consensus patri (viz. Church fathers) whereby marriage was regarded as an unbreakable or indissoluble bond (vinculum) which was broken or dissolved only upon the death of one spouse. The Early Church was virtually unanimous on this issue (with very few exceptions, contrary to the Catholic understanding of the teaching of Christ as handed down by the Apostles).

The Church of England maintained the 'indissolubist' view of marriage which was enshrined in canon 107 (The Constitution and Canons Ecclesiastical, 1603) and in that respect differed from the continental Reformed Churches and the majority of the Protestant Reformers; and legal separation a thoro et mensa (i.e. a 'divorce' NOT amounting to a right to remarry) remained its OFFICIAL position until only recently (i.e. 1970s). In response to Mr. Alan Bartley: Cases of nobility and the wealthy seeking full divorce (which is usually brought about by an Act of Parliament, e.g. the Lord Ross case, 1669) and opinions expressed by the laity do not alter that fact. Also, the apostate Roman Church did not depart from the Catholic view but reaffirmed it at the Council of Trent (1563), canon VII (24th session).

I would urge that the classical evangelical exegesis of Matthew 19 (i.e. the Christic as opposed to the rabbinical exposition) be re-examined. It is clear that DIVORCE (i.e. putting away) is only permitted on grounds of adultery (i.e. sexual sin on the part of the guilty spouse) in response to the Pharisaical (trap) question; and Christ immediately adds - in typical proleptic and terse manner in verse 9 - that REMARRIAGE on the part of the innocent spouse constitutes adultery and not just the person who marries the guilty spouse who has been divorced! The force of logic implicit in the 'exception clause' (of Matt. 19:9) is that the marriage bond is still intact. Cf. Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:2-3, 1 Corinthians 7:39 on the absolute prohibition of REMARRIAGE during the lifetime of the other spouse.

For Christians, marriage is mirrored in the love of Christ (the divine Bridegroom) for the Church, His Bride (Ephesians 5:23-33) which is ultimately grounded in the intra-Trinitarian relations of the Being of God (i.e. the perichoresis or mutual indwelling between Father and Son with the Holy Spirit as the vinculum amoris, i.e. BOND of love as the 'archetypal' Covenant relationship.

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Letter to the English Churchman on Lent (Part 2)

Dear Sir,
Re: Lent and the Regulative Principle of Worship

It is unfair of Mr. Cyril Blackstock to smear the Anglican observance of Lent with the celebration of the Mardi Gras carnival associated with ordinary Roman Catholics. Such abuses at the grass-roots level does not represent the official teaching of the Roman Church albeit tolerated, as with other common errors, by the hierarchy alongside other absurdities (e.g. the case of the Marian apparition appearing on a pancake after recital of the Novena by a rosary practitioner on Shrove Tuesday). However, even the Bishops Conference of Yugoslavia was consistent in its extreme caution about Marian apparitions in Medjugorje and the Vatican has issued a public ban on pilgrimages to some supposed sites and shrines (Notification by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1974).

Nonetheless, for the Protestant to insist for a scriptural imperative for every practice by the Church - divorced from its environment - is unwarranted by the Bible itself and Church history (see Romans 14 on feast days and diet, 1 Corinthians 11 on the essential shape of the Eucharistic Liturgy --- common or individual cups? leavened or unleavened bread?, chap. 14 on the principles of worship --- instrumental accompaniment?, Acts 2 about meeting places for worship and frequency of communion --- church buildings?, chap. 6 with respect to the first ordering of deacons, chap. 12 about allusion to Jewish feast days in the apostolic church etc.). In these instances, there were no specific divine mandate regulating or forbidding non-essential/accidental customs but that they were either grounded on earlier precedents or arose out of the exigency of circumstances.

In fact, such insistence is analogous to the Roman’s & Byzantine’s demand e.g. that their peculiar formulation of the Quam oblationem and Epiklesis respectively is an integral prayer or petition/invocation in the Canon of the Mass or Liturgy that complements the Words of Institution either before its recitation by a benediction upon the species of bread and wine in preparation for the act of consecration ('Western') or the 'moment' thereof (after the Anaphora, i.e. Offering) when they are released back to the Church to be “manifested” as the Antitypes of the Body and Blood of Christ (Eastern). ('Transubstantiation' and elevation are condemned in Article 28).

Lent pre-dates the rise of the papacy and is independent of any pagan connotation. Rather, it is the so-called Orange Orders (both the Established and Independent) that are imbued with pagan rituals and Freemasonry. They are also linked by cross-membership with other esoteric societies that are in continuity with medieval secular orders whose original mission was not propagation of the Gospel but to advance the temporal ambitions of the Roman Church. These associations represent the survival of Gnostic heresies and triumph of occult circles in Christendom.

In contrast, Lenten fasting is rooted in Scripture and the example of Christ. The use of ashes from burned palm branches prominent from the 7th century onwards and adopted into the Medieval Church are legalistic mimicries of Old Testament symbolisms; nowhere to be found or sanctioned in the Prayer book and the authentic Anglican tradition (cf. 'Concerning Ceremonies', after the 'Preface' to the Book of Common Prayer).

The fervency with which classical Anglicans and successors of the Puritan separatists (i.e. pre- & post-1662) disagree on the Regulative Principle of Worship should not mean that one side should attempt to 'impose' their local tradition on the other nor should it detract from the broad liturgical spectrum that historically existed within classical Protestantism, viz. Reformed Orthodoxy and confessional Lutheranism, thus reflecting the catholicity of the Reformation Churches.

And despite internal diversity on some doctrinal issues also, there is a common and unified front over-against Rome and Constantinople (both the Chalcedon Patriarchates and the “non-canonical” Assyrian/Nestorian and Coptic/Monophysite Churches). Not only have these churches erred but grievously so on the issue of justification by faith alone resting upon the twin pillars of the total depravity of man and the absolute sovereignty of God.

May the true Church of Christ in this realm continue to guard the deposit of truth and contend against all errors supported by genuine Protestant societies in the propagation of Reformation principles, promotion of the Reformed Faith and defence of the British Constitution.

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Letter to the English Churchman on Lent (Part 1)

Dear Sir,
Re: Lent

We appreciate the remarks made by Mr. Cyril Blackstock about the origins of the (penitential season of) Lent. However, its history predates the rise of the papacy and is rooted in the observance of Easter/Paschal Sunday by the early Christian communities, i.e. the 'Lencten' (Anglo-Saxon for 'spring'; the Latin equivalent: 'quadragesima' and Greek: 'tessarokoste' means '40') season was originally an expansion of the pre-vigil fasting discipline prior to the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ on Sunday which eventually became the prevalent practice in the Catholic Church in contrast to the 14th Nisan/Jewish Passover/Paschal following the Babylonian lunar calendar of the Asia Minor churches. This is significant for it represents the mature understanding of the early Church concerning the fulfilment of Old Testament prototypes by New Testament antitypes. The 40-day period of fasting or partial abstinence from food became regularised by the time of Nicea (1), 325 A.D which also fixed the 'date' of Easter in the liturgical calendar - representing the triumph of Christian religion over paganism in the Roman Empire - as invariably succeeding the full moon of the vernal equinox of the year.

The imposition of a (system of) penitential-fasting discipline upon the consciences of the faithful – as is the case in the Roman Catholic Church by the Pope (embodying the Magisterium) in e.g. Canon 1251 (Code of Canon Law, 1983) – is not only contrary to Scripture and the primitive Faith but the liturgical tradition of the Church of England (e.g. note the absence of a ritual directive but only the Collects and Scripture readings as ordered according to the Prayer-book). 1 Timothy 4 (note the word, 'command' in verse 3) is to be read in tandem with Romans 14 which deals precisely with the pastoral issues of feast days and diet. Observance of the church calendar stripped of medieval accretions and superstition is an issue of the authority and right by a branch of Christ’s Church to regulate its non-doctrinal customs (ref. Article XXXIV) so long as they are “not repugnant to the Word of God”.

The heresy is observing Lent - a complex of ritual stages - in conjunction with the so-called Sacrament of Penance, and in preparation for Baptism and Confirmation as an integral progress towards our justification before (or a means of obtaining forgiveness from) God through the Church versus the commemoration of (and by extension, participation in) the 'mysteries of salvation' - accomplished once-for-all in the life and ministry of Our Lord 'made present' in these sacred cycles of the church calendar - accompanied by genuine repentance (i.e. 'inward fasting') and prayer in recognition of the free mercy and sovereign grace of God in forgiving sins (see Ash Wednesday Collect). It is the difference between 'grace plus works' and 'grace alone/only' religion. The invocation (i.e. direct impetration) of saints condemned in Article XXII is another perversion whereby prominent saints in Heaven are reduced to departmental deities or secondary mediators. It is these so-called pious practices rampant in modern Anglicanism that represents the reintroduction of paganism in Christendom.

The Church of England (Continuing) - with the exception of the Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church in the American scene – is the only authentic classical Anglican jurisdiction that upholds the Gospel (Ephesians 2:8, 2 Thessalonians 2, 2 Timothy 3, 1 Corinthians 1:21-24, Romans 9 etc.).

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Position Paper of the Church of England (Continuing)

Baptismal Regeneration & the Book of Common Prayer

The popular claim by Anglo-Catholics and non-Anglican Evangelicals that the Book of Common Prayer contains the doctrine of baptismal regeneration in the pejorative sense, i.e. that every single person – especially so in relation to an infant - is born anew by water and the Spirit in the administration of the baptismal rite is a grievous misconception. The Book of Common Prayer is primarily a liturgical and devotional medium/aid. Therefore its language - and by inclusion the Office(s) of Baptism - is not rendered in precise technical mode or doctrinal terminology but cast in pastoral language that hypothetically assumes (from the view-point of the Church) the gracious favour of God towards every baptismal candidate brought to the baptismal font “to be washed by the laver of regeneration”.

This principle of “charitable presumption” is in accord with Scriptural paradigm and apostolic practice. The singular invariable effect of water Baptism (as a sign of profession and mark of difference) is incorporation into the visible Church of Christendom, thus fulfilling its status as an entrance or admission rite into ecclesiastical membership with concomitant privileges.

To determine the theology of the Prayer book on the spiritual effect of Baptism - its mode and operation - one must first consult the 39 Articles of Religion (1571). That is to say, the liturgy of the Church of England must be understood in light of its confessional formulary (“theory precedes practice”). The tone of Article XXVII is reformed evangelical to its core. It was framed with the intention of excluding the Romish heresy of ex opere operato, i.e. grace conceived of as a quasi-substance is infused by the mechanical performance of the rite within a sacramental system that is dependent upon communion with the See of Rome which claims Apostolic Succession; and the Anabaptist error of “bare tokenism”, i.e. the sacraments are mere symbols of the spiritual reality they point to, in effect, reducing Baptism to an exclusively legal rite emptied of its spiritual efficacy.

The historic teaching of the Anglican Church confirmed in the Gorham judgment (1850) reaffirms the conditional character of Baptism whereby “prevenient” grace which regenerates (by imputation of Christ’s merits, cf. Article XI and infusion of the Holy Ghost, cf. Article XVI, where the gift of Grace is identical with the Giver Himself) and initiates Conversion (Sanctification) also bestows the gift of faith on the elect so that the exercise thereby procures the fruits of the sacrament that it intends to convey. Thus, the judgment preserves the ordinary link between worthy reception and sacramental efficacy (cf. Article XXV), a requirement which goes beyond a lack of obstacle (obex) placed by the candidate, thus emphasising the classical Protestant teaching that faith is the “instrumental cause” in the first instance and the indispensable element in subjective appropriation; and material substratum or underlying principle of Baptism - as a phase in the ordo salutis, i.e. order of salvation.

Therefore, the Baptismal Office(s) is to be interpreted in consonance with the doctrines of grace and sacraments contained in the Articles. Thus, the consistent pattern throughout the Office(s) as shown in the commencement of the rite is exhortation and prayer. The baptismal language is evidently crafted in hortatory and precatory form so that the subsequent pronouncement by the officiating priest is in the subjunctive mood; and not indicative or an assumption of fait accompli (i.e. an accomplished fact).

This is further demonstrated by the requirement of sponsorship/suretyship that baptised adults assume on behalf of the candidate in the Infant Baptismal Office which entails, in the immediate context, catechetical recitation by proxy; and a pledge of godly upbringing or the Interrogatories (cf. the preface of the Office). Worthy reception in the narrower sense (i.e. faith alone) is required of the infant also if he is to be born again (from above) which is the beginning of the Christian life.

The association of regenerating grace with election is implicit in the prayer preceding the administration of the water, i.e. the Prayer of Consecration, where worthy reception is explicitly grounded in being a “faithful and elect children” of God. In the broader sense, worthy reception in the way of godliness and continual obedience to God’s Word and resting on the promises of Christ are requisite for the assurance of receiving the benefits of Baptism. These benefits may be seminally resident in the elect infant. Furthermore, the faith of the parents or sponsors (in conjunction with the rest of the ecclesial community alongside prayers and supplications) receives for the infant what he is presumed to be incapable of exercising. Infantile age is no barrier to worthy reception of the salutary effects of Baptism.

As such, appropriation of the efficacy of Baptism rests on the intercessions of the Church (ex opere operantis ecclesiae) on behalf of the individual as much as it is incumbent upon the candidate to exercise faith, especially in the case of an adult. This sphere (i.e. sponsorship) of Covenant theology is an integral feature of the Baptismal Offices; in particular the Baptism of Infants as shown in the Interrogatories (creedal and personal). Thus, the Anglican tradition - in common with the other Reformation Churches - maintain the “Augustinian” doctrine of Original Sin (i.e. individual guilt and innate depravity are inherited from Adam) within the greater theological infrastructure of the “Covenant of Grace”.

It means that the efficacy of baptism (as alluded to in the preceding paragraphs) does not proceed from out of the Church’s “deposit of grace” in the Sacraments (the Roman view) but its locus is in the promise of God’s Word (the Reformed view) to save not only individuals but families also (i.e. believing parents and their seed considered as an organic entity) along the lines of succeeding generations in the Church. Therefore, parents should desire continuity of the covenantal line in the family. Baptism is where the ritual display of the Covenant comes into focus to make tangible the promises of God in His Word and to assure or “confirm His oath” to them of His favourable disposition towards their seed.

From the standpoint of God, He alone knows who the elect are amongst the baptised. In the sight of the Church, all are considered “regenerate” although Reformed theology informs us that the decree election and reprobation cuts right across the covenantal line just as much as in sphere of the world (cf. Calvin’s Institutes, Book 3, chap. XXI, sec. 6 & 7; Romans 9).

Therefore, the two perspectives (i.e., God’s eternal decree and the Church’s temporal oversight) must be kept in tandem in order to make sense of the Baptismal Office(s). And the two do not often coincide – a paradox (an apparent contradiction in time which is only reconcilable on the other side of eternity), not a theological dilemma, but a pastoral constraint necessarily imposed because of human limitation and by the preceptive will of God (i.e., His will of revelation confined to the Bible alone to be our guide). As such, the priest does not presume to know the eternal destiny of the infant (nor it should be said of the church as a whole, e.g., the inward condition of an adult believer) when receiving him into the local congregation.

Given these factors, the Office(s) do not lay out – in systematic fashion or in accordance with Protestant Scholastic theology (which pre-dates the 1662 edition of the Prayer book and the Lambeth Articles, 1595) – the logical order or phases of salvation; instead, there is a catalogue of Regeneration and its concomitant effects conceived of as a total renewal of man – the remission of his sins, the death of the old Adam, the birth of the new man, sanctification etc. – his inner (spiritual and moral) transformation.

Accordingly, the regenerative language employed in the Baptismal Office(s) operates at two distinct levels.

Firstly, the Reformation pedigree of the Protestant Scholastic conception of the order of salvation (which the mainstream Elizabethan Settlement of the Church of England inherited) means that Regeneration is not inseparable from (water) Baptism being the secret work of the Holy Spirit (alluded to in John 3:8) but is inseparable from Conversion (Sanctification) as the consequence. At this level, Regeneration is synonymous with Baptism, i.e. both speak of an inward change.

Secondly, the anomaly arising out of the different definitions given to Regeneration can be avoided if Regeneration is understood to possess two theological meanings, a) denotative and; b) connotative. The latter is a theological aberration of the former. In other words, the original biblical, Patristic and Reformation usage of regeneration to indicate the New Birth has come to acquire in the course of Church history an added meaning, to include conversion or the conscious turning to Christ, as distinguished from the incipient instantaneous implantation of the life of Christ with the latter subsumed under the former.

Thus, Regeneration has come to be concentrated primarily in the one discernable event (or “phenomenal” experience) in one’s life. This notion is essentially synergistic, i.e. the teaching attributed to Jacobus Arminius and Moses Amyraldus - who reacted against the perceived rigidity of 17th century orthodox Protestant theology - that Regeneration is dependant upon the cooperation of the “free will” of man having been operated by the “moral suasion” of the Spirit (an exclusively intellectual illumination); and akin to the Medieval scholastic conception of pre-Regeneration disposition or volition (e.g. Gabriel Biel’s conception of the pactum as summed up in facere quod in se est – God does not deny those who do their best).

“Personal experience” of this kind was introduced into confessional Lutheranism by Pietism, which in turn influenced the “experimental theology” of the 18th century “Great Awakening”. In fact, such a development was also anticipated by the later Puritans (i.e. post-1662) in their theology of assurance which was overlaid with mystical overtones. The stress on evidences of “being born again”, and sudden or “crisis” conversions and sometimes the eruptions of emotional fervour regarded as indicators of the timing of Regeneration parallels the other error of identifying the former solely with Baptism.

Between the errors of “Sacramentalism” and “Revivalism” stands the classical Anglican position (the via media) as expressed in the Prayer book tradition. Regeneration is posited as participation of the individual elect sinner in the death and resurrection of Christ, adoption as a child of God, incorporation into the mystical Church (see Thanksgiving Prayer, post-administration) and reception of the Holy Ghost. This “total renewal” in the definitive sense is instantaneous and non-sensible (this is where the early-Reformation definition of Regeneration and the post-Reformation structure of order of salvation are merged as a logical development of one of the other). A participation of this kind cannot be experienced anymore than Justification, which relates to the legal/forensic aspect and ground of our salvation, contra “Revivalism”. The imputation of the righteousness and merits of Christ (Justification) alongside the infusion of His grace (Regeneration) are exclusively the operation of the Holy Spirit; and may occur at any time according to the sovereignty of God, contra “Sacramentalism”.

Recall that according to Article XXVII, “Baptism is a sign of Regeneration or [N]ew Birth”. Under this theological designation, the language of the Baptismal Office(s) – apart from its hortatory and precatory form – must be interpreted as “metonymic” or “symbolic” consistent with its pastoral tone, i.e. the reality it speaks about only is realised in a specific class of recipients – “they that receive Baptism rightly…”. In line with the rest of the Article (i.e. in the context “sealing” and “confirming”) what can be said to occur in Baptism is the “giving birth” (i.e. parturition or nativity) that takes place in the bosom of Mother Church of the previous spiritual conception especially in the case of an adult believer --- or first indication of organic growth stimulated by the water of Baptism and its subsequent blossoming or fruition into the flower of Christian growth and maturity.

At this stage, the secret operation of the Spirit is “made” to coincide with, i.e. “brought forward in a visual and sensible manner or made present” in Baptism (as a sign of profession and mark of distinction) so that it is only in the sight of the Church and the world that the person is considered then as “regenerate” or pronounced as such. The actual timing of the Spirit’s work of Regeneration is not inquired after nor determined for that would be to delve into the secret counsels of God. Such an approach is not to negate the theological abstract distinctions within the order of salvation but to preserve the objective delineation-marker of the Sacrament of Baptism in establishing the tangible ground of assurance of our standing before God and by extension His Church where we receive continual nourishment in the Word and the Eucharist.

It is the Christian’s engrafting into and connection to the Church that enables him to apprehend more comprehensively the rich benefits and fullness of grace which he has received by gracious Adoption through Regeneration sometime before but now “presented” or “impressed” upon him in Baptism (water, Trinitarian formula, minister, the Church, the rituals, the Office) for all to witness. It is also where inward (spiritual) and outward (sacramental) aspects of Regeneration is concentrated in a moment in time.

On this second level, Regeneration is analogous with Baptism, i.e. the latter is an efficacious sign of the former. A temporary digression is in order: The supernatural signs and wonders such as that existed in the apostolic period have ceased. These phenomena existed for a time alongside the permanent ordinances of the Church as instituted by Our Lord to function as the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies (alluded to Acts 2:16-22 in reference to the prophecy of Joel) that in the “last days”, the economy of salvation will no longer be formally restricted to the nation of Israel but truly encompass a catholic Church (i.e. universal) as witnessed by the “outpouring of the Spirit” (on Pentecost, cf. Acts 1:8 and chap. 2 where different tongues or languages were spoken by the nucleus of the Church as heard by the pious Jews from all over the Roman Empire and beyond).

They signify the departure of the Presence and Glory of God from the apostate Old Testament Church “localised” within the borders of the Promised Land to be given or poured out in its fullness to the “universalised” Body of Christ (cf. the rent of the Temple veil on the ninth hour of Christ’s crucifixion in Matthew 27:51, which previously screened or hid the Holy of Holies - the most sacred “dwelling” space - from the rest of the Tabernacle within the House of God as an Old Testament type and the Ezekiel prophecy of apostasy, judgment and restoration with Hebrews 8-10 and Ephesians 2:11-22 as the New Testament fulfilment or reality) and the formal ushering in of the New Testament era.

The supernatural signs then such as the visual descent of the Holy Spirit in distinct forms on Jewish (such as the “the cloven tongues of fire” in Acts 2:3) and Gentile converts (e.g. Acts 10:44-46 in the case of Cornelius and his household as manifested also in tongue-speaking) reminded the apostles and evangelists of the catholicity of the Body of Christ (cf. Acts 8, and recall the prophetic words of Jesus in John 4:23 in His discourse with the Samaritan woman). That the miniscule Jewish remnant has undergone a metamorphosis and shed its old skin of ethnic identity which was the nation at large to embrace ethnic inclusiveness, thus counting all believers as true children of Abraham not on the basis of lineal descent but faith and election (see Romans 4 and 9 respectively).

For the way is paved for the unity of both communities in the Church by breaking down the barriers of the Old Testament and tearing apart the deep-seated prejudices of the early Jewish believers steeped in their former religious culture (cf. Acts 1:6 and chap. 10 in the case of St. Peter the chief apostle). These signs also distinguish God’s people from others and set a stamp of approval upon them.

With the spread of the Gospel beyond Jerusalem and Judea into Samaria and further, hence pushing the missionary frontiers steadily outwards to the far corners of the world in fulfilment of Acts 1:8, the significance that dawned upon the nascent Church would have gradually become assimilated into the mind and instinct of the Church so that these outward signs supernaturally given to accompany the apostles and evangelists would have ceased their function; and be gradually phased out of the life and witness of the Church.

In the aftermath of the adjustment and normalisation of the ministry of the Church and regularisation of ministerial orders, “coterminous” with the completion of the Bible (albeit pre-dating its collection and compilation as single entity), only Baptism and the Eucharist function as permanent signs and seals of God’s gracious testimony towards His people.

Just as the outward or sacramental sign of the Spirit’s fall (a supernatural phenomenon) upon the believer represent his inward Baptism (i.e. Regeneration) in the Book of Acts, so too does the Sacrament of Baptism now encapsulate the prior Regeneration of the post-apostolic believer by its sign and seal (i.e., the miraculous sign has been replaced by the natural matter, the extraordinary by the ordinary).

This is the Anglican understanding of the terms, “sign” and “seal” within the broad parameters of classical Protestantism and Reformed Orthodoxy.

We therefore reject as strange the Pentecostal teaching of a post-Baptism in the Spirit.

The gift of Regeneration once bestowed - upon infant and adult - germinates into the fruits or virtues of the Spirit (enumerated in the Office of Confirmation) as necessary marks of election (cf. the last of the 4-fold petitions beginning with “Grant…”and the Prayer of Consecration). The indefectibility of grace is implicit in the(se) impetration(s), thus proving the Scriptural “eminence” of the Baptismal Office (e.g. Romans 8:29-30) and its Reformed orthodoxy (cf. Article XVII). The logic is clear --- the baptismal language assures us of the perseverance of the saints based upon the particularity of grace (in this case of regeneration)!

See also the “Flood Prayer” in which the petition is premised upon the complete deliverance of Old Testament figures and the nation of Israel from the Deluge and the Red Sea respectively as signifying the cleansing waters of Baptism. Note also the parallel between Noah’s ark and the Church, which is to say everlasting life is inseparably connected with Regeneration.

The catena patrum (i.e. the list of excerpts) from the Church of England and Continental Divines as compiled e.g. by Dean William Goode in his magisterial book, The Doctrine of the Church of England in relation to the Efficacy of Baptism in the case of Infants more than amply demonstrates the doctrinal consensus of the English branch of the Reformed Churches in the context of Baptism.

And it has been the argument of this tract - in consonance with the doctrine of the Reformed English Church and by extension Anglicanism - that the grace of regeneration is not bound to the Sacrament nor tied to the moment it is administered but is wholly the prerogative of God and “they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church, the promises of the forgiveness of sins, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed, faith is confirmed, grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God”.

As for the unworthy recipients (i.e. non-elect), they do not partake of the inward grace “offered” (read: “presented”, Latin: “offero”) in the Sacrament but only the sign (e.g. Article 25; this is one place where the teaching of the 39 Articles on “reprobation” or non-election is to be found, cf. Article 17, 1st paragraph).

The Church of England condemns the Arminian error of universal grace as Semi-Pelagianism in modern garb (see Toplady’s Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England, the chap. on Elizabeth I, Works). The only safeguard against the Synergistic error whether in the sphere of the Sacraments or within the wider structure of Covenant theology (as is the case in Continental Reformed and Presbyterian churches) is to defend the Protestant Reformation insistence on the particularity of grace grounded in the eternal and unchangeable decree of predestination, and only then can we - who stand in the lineage of the 16th cent. revival of true religion - do justice to the theology that the Reformers and their successors have recovered, developed, defended vigorously; some as martyrs for the Reformed Catholic religion.

May the Lord use this tract in support of the historic Reformed theology of the Church of England as maintained in the Church of England (Continuing).

Baptism is an integral feature in the life and witness of the Church where the grace of God is to be had to the salvation of His elect Church. May God “shortly accomplish the number of [His] elect, and hasten [His] kingdom” (Office of the Burial of the Dead). “Yea, come Lord Jesus, come quickly …”.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Unpublished Letter to the English Churchman (Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ)

Dear Sir,

The ARCIC joint-declaration on the subject of Mary represents a de facto capitulation by pseudo-Anglicans to the dogmatic pronouncements of the Roman See, and not a convergence of apprehension of the Sacred Mysteries as constituted by Divine Revelation and transmitted alongside developed, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through Apostolic Succession: the instrument of demonstrable organic continuity with the faith & practice of the Church of Pentecost.

As an Anglican, I deplore the acceptance of the Marian teachings concerning the Immaculate Conception & Bodily Assumption - as being definitively reflected in Holy Scripture - in bearing witness to the motifs of grace & hope respectively. This is, in effect, an implicit consent to its status as de fide (i.e. an article of faith) rather than merely a "pious opinion" - especially in relation to the latter – in consonant with the consensus fidelium as historically received within the "broader" Anglican tradition.

The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady cannot be legitimately deduced from Scriptural data in the absence of & in contradiction to express statements. Indeed, Roman theologians do not assert its "theological necessity" (notwithstanding the Protoevangelium in Gen 3:15). Creationism (until now not declared as de fide) which posits an immediate infusion of the soul into the body by God defies the doctrine of Original Sin - as explicated by St. Augustine of Hippo and grounded no less in the Pauline corpus as the primary theological source - wherein Adam’s fault or guilt (reatus) and not only the corruption (a.k.a. "stain") of Man’s nature is propagated, i.e. inherited generatively a.k.a. Traducianism (cf. Article IX). That is to say, the ‘person’ or the Idea of the Species (to employ Realist language) is wholly derived by lineal descent. Hence, the absolute silence of the Bible on Mary’s alleged sinless-ness.

A second theological difficulty is that, at the Incarnation, Our Lord assumed an "un-individualised" human nature common to us all (His Personhood deriving from the Father by eternal generation). If the Blessed Virgin was conceived without sin, then the redemption of humanity as a genus-race would have necessarily (though not exhaustively) begun at the Immaculate Conception, thus effectually subordinating Christ’s role as Mediator - on the Cross - to Mary, the indirect instrumental cause of our salvation!

However, sin did not affect Our Blessed Saviour since it is only proper to the person; the body suffering its effects or temporal liability, i.e. in the state of a weakened or mortal nature. This is why Article XV was wisely inserted, in consonant with Scripture!

Having said this, Co-Redemptrix (i.e. Co-Saviour!!!) represents the "summit of heresy," with the Roman Mary exemplifying perfectly the role of the Synergist in cooperating by way of faith and obedience to the will and call of God manifested at the Annunciation in the Angelus. The theological motivation essential to Co-Redemption is none other than bringing the synergism of Rome to its logical climax. Nonetheless, Post-Tridentine Catholicism has never repudiated predestination to glory (cf. Thomism), but like Amyraldianism, Arminianism (except the decrees of God) & (post-Luther) Lutheranism reject reprobation, affirm a universal salvific will of God, teaches Sufficient Redemption in actu primo (otherwise the rest as per above, Hypothetical Universalism, Universal Atonement & Objective Justification respectively), and not least, resistible sufficient (i.e. prevenient) grace.

By contrast, Article XI affirms total depravity, by virtue of which concupiscence (fomes pecatti sometimes known as ad agonem) is sin and in coordination with Articles XII & XIII denies common grace, thus positing the distinction (not separation) between grace and nature. In other words, the Articles are clear about the singularity of grace in common with orthodox Reformed theology. The Lambeth Articles (1595) & Irish Articles (1615) supplement & complement the 39 Articles of Religion; together they embody the substance of Pauline teaching. This faith is held by the Church of England (Continuing), the true inheritors of Mother Church, standing in statu confesionis (i.e. in the state of confessional protest) against the Synergistic error (in all its expressions).

The proposed elevation into dogma of Co-Redemption outside the context of the Ecumenical Church and therefore without broader consultation & appeal also violates the spirit of lex orandi, lex credendi not to mention the implausibility of deducing the dogma from e.g. the Apostles’ Creed. The role of Mary at the Eucharist has yet to be clarified satisfactorily, especially as it is generally recognised she does not share in the Priesthood of Melchizedek. Her so-called Compassion and Co-Offering with Christ at the foot of the Cross is not alluded to in the Liturgy of the Faithful, in particular the Canon of the Mass. One is hard pressed to discern any explicit role attributed to Mary other than her prominent intercession in the accompaniment of the Saints in Heaven.

Personally, I affirm Our Lady as Queen OF Heaven ONLY for her typological representation in redemptive history as the Church, the Bride of Christ. Mary qua believer is – like the rest of the elect women – a queen IN Heaven. Furthermore, like Zwingli, Luther, the English Reformers & even Calvin I prefer not to question the traditional view of Mary’s sexuality (i.e. her perpetual virginity) or speculate about the married life of the Holy Couple. Having said this, my views do not - in its entirety - necessarily represent the Church of England (Continuing).

The Continuing Church hereby professes to be an authentic claimant to Apostolic Succession as it is grounded in our adherence to the Received Text ("Eastern" origin) & substance of the Book of Common Prayer ("Western" origin) …

"Almighty and everlasting Father, Whose righteousness was revealed at the Cross in Christ Jesus, Our Saviour, for the utter deliverance of us poor and miserable sinners from condemnation; Give us, O Lord, the same faith by which we are justified by the word of the Gospel, and even as I behold the Crucifixion and doth steadfastly cling to the symbol of my salvation amidst the ever-present trials & tribulations of this life: We wouldst continue steadfast in the reception & reverence of Thy Word, which self-same Text hast been preserved and passed down by the Catholic faithful, the Church Remnant, whereby by Thy grace we were chosen to belong, to the attainment of our eternal joy. This we beseech Thee, through the mediation of Jesus Christ and in His merits alone, now & forever: Amen."

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Letter to the English Churchman on Theotokos and a Prayer of the Church Militant

Dear Sir,

I agree wholeheartedly that the title, “Mother of God (Theotokos)” ascribed by the holy ecumenical council of Ephesus (431 AD) to Our Blessed Virgin Mary has led to many errors (doctrine) and superstitions (practices). Nonetheless, the designation by itself – being the theological reflection of the Church on the essentials of the Faith - is wholly appropriate in expressing the concrete Unity of the Two Natures of Christ in One Person (i.e. the Hypostatic Union), over against the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople (of the school of Antioch in the tradition of Theodore of Mopsuestia). The “Nestorian” heresy has often been inaccurately described as a Two Person/Sonship Christology. However, both Nestorius and the Nestorians maintained an orthodox understanding of the Incarnation.

The defining issue arose out of the differences over the propriety of interchanging appellations and peculiar properties belonging to one nature with the other (i.e. the communicatio idiomatum). Nonetheless, the occasion for Nestorius’s condemnation was set in the context of ecclesiastical rivalry, instigated in particular by St. Cyril, the great 5th-century defender of Catholic doctrine. The Antiochene school was concerned (see for example, the “Second Epistle of Nestorius to Cyril”) to safeguard the integrity of the Divine Nature and by extension, the Godhead against implications of passibility.

On the Alexandrian side, to deny that sufferings of the Gospel Figure could be referred or transferred to His Divinity weakens the intrinsic oneness - in Identity - of the composite Union and by extension, the impeccability of His Humanity which is absolutely necessary for our redemption. Therefore, Nestorianism amounted to a denial of the complete human experience of Our Lord “for what is not assumed (in the fullest sense) is not saved”, as per the Cappadocian fathers. So, Christ’s Human Nature (including the rational soul or mind) does not subsist apart from the Ego or Self-Consciousness of His Divine Person.

Convinced by that truth, the Orthodox party paid appropriate reverence to the Virgin Mary by addressing her as “Theotokos” (lit. “God-bearer”). This article of faith has always been implicit in the Catholic creeds before Ephesus (431 AD) and the Chalcedonian Definition (451 AD), alongside the lesser status of Mary’s perpetual virginity (“Aeiparthenos”). But, the voice of the broader Ecumenical Church does not condemn, for pastoral reasons, congregations or individuals who refuse to subscribe to this venerable tradition for conscience’s sake, partly because of its association with Mariolatry. The elevation of “Theotokos” as dogma relates only to its Symbolic Representation of the Hypostatic Union and NEVER for its own sake.

Hence, for instance, Luther and his true disciples (i.e. the Gnesio-Lutherans) held to the ubiquity of the God-Man - in relation to His “definitive” presence in the consecrated species – on the basis of “Logos non extra carnem est" (i.e. the Logos is not apart from His flesh). Luther’s phrase that “God died on the Cross” is not Patripassianism precisely because it was not God the Father who was the Subject of the bloody agony and precious death.

Let it be known, that the Church of England (Continuing), alongside the Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church and the Anglican Orthodox Church, in common with the Reformation Churches do utterly denounce the detestable enormities of the Bishop of Rome and confess him as Anti-Christ, and Enemy of the Catholic Faith. We hereby also condemn the false professors of Anglicanism within the Canterbury Communion and the Continuum (for example, the Traditional Anglican Communion – TAC) for their irrefragable movement towards the Man of Sin in fulfilment of the great apostasy of the last days.

“Almighty and ever-living God, Who hast predestined unto glory a Church elected in Christ, we thy unworthy servants, in communion with the Church Triumphant above, continue to beseech Thee for the increase of Thy Holy Spirit in us, that being grounded in the abiding Baptism of Pentecost, assured of the triumphant advance of the Gospel, armed with the Sword of the Spirit, that is, Thy most holy Word and looking for the great and glorious appearing of the Son of Man, our blessed hope: the militant Church here on earth, the pillar and ground of the Truth, would ever contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints for the gathering, defence and preservation of the same Catholic Church in all ages; through the one and only Intercession of Our Lord Jesus. Amen”.

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