" There Was a Reformation, You Remember"

Update: GAFCON responds Nov 10, 2009 (HT: David Alenskis)

Indeed there was. Eric Landry at the WHI Blog has nice post addressing the recent decision by the Vatican (specifically the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith) to provide a way for Anglicans to enter the Roman communion and retain some elements of their Anglican identity.
As Eric notes, some are hailing this as a great step toward church unity. The Anglican Bishop who said, “There was a Reformation, you remember” has a great point. As far as I can tell from the press release on the Vatican website there’s no news here. Anyone who is willing to recognize the Petrine office and authority of the Roman see and agree to the doctrine of the Roman communion (as articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) has been eligible to be received into communion with Rome for centuries. With those two steps, whatever anyone says, he has jettisoned the Anglican Articles, the Anglican catechism, and the Book of Common Prayer. It’s hard to see what “Anglican traditions” are left to be kept.

The biggest concession I can see here is that Rome seems to be willing to ordain as Roman priests Anglican clergy who are married. The release says:

It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony”.

The actual text of the “Apostolic Constitution” has not yet been released.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Dr. Clark:

    This move by Joe Ratzinger to Rowan Willims gives powerful witness re: the widespread presence of Anglo-Romewardizers in our time. 500 C o E clerks will meet this weekend in response to Joe’s overture.

    In 1842, Tractarianism was condemned by *every* Anglican Bishop on the episcopal bench in England. The language was very strong. I’ve closely read the condemnations written by these Bishops. Samuel Wilberforce, Oxford’s Bishop, was extremely strong and suspended Pusey for two years from ministry.

    But 1900, the Romanizers were tolerated. Then, throw liberalism into the mix. It was over by the 60’s.

    Joe Ratzinger’s recent move blinded Williams. It was a slap-down, notwithstanding the media fudgings and euphemisms.

    In Eric Landry’s post at WHI, (Bp.) Marty Minns states , “There was an Reformation, you know.”

    However, I can’t be in the least bit rosy or congratulatory about Minns’ comment, at all.

    Where was Minn’s “principled” stand on that point, namely, the Reformation? As the ACNA formed up? The short answer is that “principled” Reformation men do not exist.

    The ACNA is full of Tractarians.

    This is exactly what happens when Reformation Confessions are abandoned, diminished by a thousand nicks and concessions over time.

    I went to Westminster (east) and got Norm Shepherd for two years of systematics and disorders ( M.A.R.) Betrayal. I went for a full three years (had to do liturgics) to Reformed Episocpal Seminary and got an M.Div. Betrayals.

    Put not your trust in princes, said to include, but not limited to, Mr. Minns.

  2. Well, with so-called ‘Evangelical Roman Catholics’ like Francis Beckwith (who by the way is quick to call anyone who dares to apply a theological limus test to his conversion a ‘rabid anti-Catholic’ i.e. most recently that was thrown at Frank Turk of all people) this kind of thing is now very mainstream.

    • GLW Johnson:

      The same chaos of using the “term,” that is, “evangelical,” gets hustled among many AC blogs as well without the slightest concern for the Reformation.

  3. A very apt illustration of this can be seen in the upcoming National Conference on Apologetics that is being held at Southern Evangelical seminary in Charolette, NC ( this is the school founded by Norman Geisler). Beckwith is celebrating this glorious event where both ‘Protestants’ and Roman Catholic speakers are gathered ,as an example of ‘Mere Christianity’ finally come into its own. James White ( over at his Alpha and Omega blog), however, wonders outloud how can there be any legit apologetics without the Gospel clearly defined.

  4. The biggest concession I can see here is that Rome seems to be willing to ordain as Roman priests Anglican clergy who are married.

    Didn’t they do that already? We had a load of clergy swim the Tiber when women priests came in, and I had thought they got to carry their orders over.

      • Yes, much ado about nothing, I think. Fuzzy memory, but I recall some discussion on the old Ligonier Forum of married clergy crossing the Tiber. Some were arguing back then that it was a sign of Rome being conciliatory. Eh. Not impressed….

        • In the past, those swimming the Tiber were Ana-ordinands, to wit, they were “reordained.”

          Yes, Rome did accept “married clergy” in the past, but not Bishops. I suspect married AC Bishops will raise that as their Rubicon, the surrender of their purple shirts and mitres….which by the way was Tractarian.

          U.S. Episcopalians knew no such thing as mitres and colours pre-1901.

  5. For many years now Rome has accepted as priests married clergy from a variety of sources. It has always be low-key and low-scale, and on a case by case basis. What’s new here is the large-scale, broad and public attempt to raid the anglican/episcopal ranks to shore up their ranks. It’s the vatican job-fair. Instead of stealing sheep, they first need to steal shepherds for what flocks they already have.

    Picture most NFL teams suddenly reduced (by the H1n! virus) to squads of 25 players. The NFL would suddenly find a way to make it very easy for university seniors and CanFL players to jump to the NFL.

  6. Dr Clark and readers

    If I may add my tuppence worth as a Roman Catholic who converted to Anglicanism many years ago —

    – Yes, married Anglican priests have been allowed to convert to Roman Catholicism and serve in the priesthood — since the 1990s, I believe

    – This provision detailed here from the Vatican explains how the process will work for personal ordinariates:

    – The Pope’s invitation this time is for whole congregations to join. Forward in Faith (FiF) in the UK and other English-speaking countries has been appealing to Rome for a congregation-wide option to convert since 1992. This is similar to the Anglican Use setup for a small number of parishes in the US which left the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church in 1980 at the invitation of John Paul II.

    – Although Roman Catholics understandably find this recent development good news all the way around, I find it somewhat incredible that several hundred people would just convert as entire congregations. But, who knows what will happen? FiF clergy have asked their congregations to pray for discernment and not make any decision until Feb. 2010.

    There are Anglo-CATHOLICS and there are ANGLO-Catholics — with nuances of belief in each group. There are certainly committed Anglicans who enjoy the Anglo-Catholic liturgy but yet believe the 39 Articles and go to services which use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. They would not choose to leave the Anglican Communion. Then, there are Anglicans who long to become Roman Catholic, about whom I can only wonder why they didn’t convert as individuals when they first discerned their theological preference. Why would they need a special invitation? Commenters on other blogs have also raised this question, which has met with strong disapproval from either the blogger or other commenters. Yet, it is a valid question.

    The other issue is — how many of these people will be able to accept all, yes ALL, of the Roman Catholic doctrine. There is a lot there to agree to, one of the reasons why I left.

    I have a load of references on this topic, so if anyone is interested, they can leave a message here or on my blog.

    Thank you for your time. I know this isn’t quite the topic for in-depth analysis on a true Reformed blog!

  7. Where’s your blog, Churchmouse?

    I didn’t see it, although I see your pseudonym appear at some other spots. Why not your name?

    I try to stay current with the discussions.

    You right, it’s not really appropriate here, for a lengthy discussion on Anglicanism.

    It’s out of place, that is, for a Protestant, Reformed, Confessional, and Calvinistic forum….terms that the Elizabethan Bishops would have accepted, but terms that get no play among the moderns.

    • Hello, Mr Veitch

      Just click on my name above or below:


      I think you have an excellent blog, by the way — most informative.

      When you live in the UK you have to be a bit underground with your ID depending on what field you work in. Using your real name can mean not only social death but can also keep you out of employment. Being a Christian here is not the done thing. Sorry, but that’s the unvarnished truth for many laypeople in Britain.

      Re the topic being out of place, I only wanted to add clarification to the original post and the earlier comments. My own posts on the subject are here:



      • It’s not usually a big deal for lay people who are secular professionals in America. In fact, a Christian profession of faith seems to only to aid and augment. A good example is the new provost of Cornell, Dr. Fuchs:


        who also holds an M.Div from TEDS and shortly before becoming Provost openly joined the American Scientific Affiliation ( http://www.asa3.org/ ).

        Still, there was fascinating incident involving a Stanford University professor, Richard H. Bube (another ASA member and father of the OPC’s General Secretary for Foreign Missions Mark T. Bube) that strongly suggests that UK-like contra-Christian zeal could take root here too.


        • Yes, I can affirm that I was the only practising Christian in my last two places of employment (at least in the departments where I worked). In my penulitmate one, a fellow employee sought me out for a Christian conversation (a nominal C of E person, not sure if it led further).

          • You can lose your job for being a Christian in England?

            Perhaps we can take this up elsewhere, since this is outside the parameters and points of Dr. Clark’s post on Jim Packer.

            To stay on track and closer to Dr. Clark’s direction via the post, what’s your take on Jim Packer? Also, on Mr. (Bp) Martin Minns’ comment to the press about Rome’s offer of an ordinariate?

            The blogs are quite alive, to wit, making connections between John Henry Newman, his movement, and Rome.

      • Churchmouse:

        Thanks for the lead. Have subscribed and will follow your blog, insofar as able. Have wanted to do more book reviews and reviews from blogsite, but inundated with reading here across the frontlines of the battlelines…which is why Dr. Clark’s blog is so necessary, informative and sane.

        I especially appreciate the “data checks” and “data downloads” on the English situation, something little reported on here.

        I’ll catch up with your post on the ABC and the Pope’s offer (or invasion, poaching, or fishing in England and elsewhere) vis a vis http://www.churchmousec.wordpress.com. This is serious, to wit, that you must remain underground.

        As to (Bp) Mr. Martin Minns comment, “There was a Reformation, you know…” If this spirit was deeper, more energetic, Confessional, and homogeneous to the new ACNA here, I’d be more serious about them. But, as such, it’s alphabet-soup with very light advocacy of the theology of the English Reformers, notwithstanding Mr. Minns.

        What I’m learning about the C o E sitution is that liberalism is extremely deep and wide, north, south, east and west. Also, that evangelical-oriented clerics line up with AC’s, a political but not theological alliance, to fend themselves from the baron-bishops.

        Regards and thanks for the clarification.

        • Hello, Mr Veitch — Happy to continue this on my blog. Thank you for subscribing.

          Yes, one can lose one’s job for being a Christian (I haven’t done a post on this yet, as the subject is a bit too close to home, but there are cases of discrimination every week). You have to watch what you say quite closely. If someone lodges a complaint, you could get a written warning or the sack. Hasn’t happened to me, thankfully. If you’re a business owner, you can be sued for proclaiming Christianity over other faiths. There are cases covering all sorts of incidents, one recently involved a B&B owner over a discussion with a couple of another world religion.

          In the C of E, liberalism is all over the place. We have the emergent church under the banner Fresh Expressions and fresh expressions. This isn’t a joke — the smaller case ‘f’ ‘e’ is an initiative of the upper case ‘F’ ‘E’. Someone’s had some intense experiences (!) somewhere in the past to have come up with that one!

          Sermons are largely socio-political: e.g. who to vote against, generally leftist, ‘love thy scrounger’ — no preaching of the Gospel. I try to go to the 1662 BCP services, whenever possible. I see that my parish has recently reinstated Morning Prayer on the last Sunday of the month, which is good news. Has to be the first time in 15+ years.

          Sorry, I have no visibility of Dr Packer and only started reading about him in the past couple of weeks, thanks to bloggers like you. I do agree that a ‘deeper, more energetic, Confessional’ spirit would have kept us out of this situation, as would have a stronger Archbishop of Canterbury. Most C of E people born in the past 40 years don’t know what they believe. And, yes, it is true that there is Religious Education in schools (state requirement), but as it doesn’t often come with an exam at end of term, it’s a case of just showing up and nothing more. This country is in reality nominally Christian but pagan, deep down.

          Okay, sorry — happy to continue elsewhere. BTW, I did blog earlier in the year on the need for Calvinism in the UK, esp. where younger people are concerned. You chaps would have been just the ticket — a little detour on the way home from Calvin 500 in July would have been great. God bless!

      • Churchmouse:

        Yes, have been following your blog.

        Amazing to hear of an old 1662 service. We’ll never see it in the U.S. The TRACTO’s control the new ACNA.

        “There was a Reformation you know” by Marty Minns was the only American response to the overtures of “that man of sin,” that “man of perdition.”

        As to Calvin, his influence on the English Reformation is largely oppugned by the ill-trained American clerics. As a former Marine, I offer you what we would (and do) say to this: “We have a leadership problem.”

        BTW, I do pray for QE2 and the Duke of Edinburgh daily, to wit, that they might be (if not already) converted, justified and further sanctified. If such were the case, old Rowan Williams would be floated “east down the Thames and out to the North Sea.” The Queen needs a clear recovery of the English Reformation.

        I’m thinking of writing her a letter, for the sake of my own conscience before His Majesty and with the consciousness of the Final Judgment to come. I understand I’d get a form letter back. May God raise up an Esther to speak in her court. While she wouldn’t have Parliamentary force, she could raise quite a good ruckus over there.

        As for Dr. Clark’s original post of increasing vintage, of note, Bp. Marty Minns’ comment is getting no further traction.

        There must be a recovery of Confessional, Protestant, Reformational (and that includes a vibrant, virile, Calvinistic theology) thinking along with the old BCP. And, may I add, tossing the hymnbook and singing the Psalms as well.


        • Phil — It’s always worth writing to Her Majesty the Queen. I saw a documentary of her a few years ago going through her post. It is amazing how many letters she reads every day. I couldn’t say whether you’d get a form letter back — you might, but, if you feel strongly about it, do write in. If it’s an exceptional letter, her equerry might answer a few of your questions or specifically acknowledge some of the content. (One page — top salient points, written in military style.)

          I doubt that HM is a 5-pointer, but any emphasis you could place on the need to restore the 1662 BCP, preaching the Gospel (instead of social justice issues) and getting a true leader as ABC would be a fine thing, indeed. Personally, I’d soft-pedal Calvin in an Anglican discussion and focus on the great English theologians instead. Just my tuppence worth. Too much Calvin and she might think you’d be better off as a Presbyterian. She might also think that you’ve forgotten the equal influence the Augsburg Confessions had on the Anglican Church.

          Agreed that the newish hymnbook with all the ‘meaty’ hymns removed in an attempt to be more ‘inclusive’ is a travesty. But all the denoms are doing that. I went to a Reformed service in France in June and checked out their hymnal (in French). The forward read in part, ‘And it took us 12 years to put this new edition together’. My immediate reaction was, ‘That was a message not to mess with old hymns.’

          I think they should restore the plaques of the 10 Commandments in Anglican churches. Only a few still have them. I also think clergy should be reciting that part of the Sunday Communion service in full, not the truncated version, which sounds pretty wishy-washy and was never really meant to be used as such. We never have ‘time’ for the 10 Commandments but have all the time in the world for fripperies during the service.

          I don’t know enough about +Minns to offer an informed comment. Haven’t read any in-depth commentary about this comment of his on other boards, either.

          From what I have read as an outsider, the Tractarians would say that the evangelicals are hijacking ACNA. Either way, there is a problem.

          Yes, there is definitely a leadership issue in the US and England, but there’s been one for many years, at least since I was received in the mid-1980s. And I know of plenty of orthodox Episcopalians / Anglicans who were (and still are) upset by the replacement of the 1928 Prayer Book with the 1979 one. At my former church in the US, the word from the clergy was, ‘We have to move with the times. We’re nearing the end of the 20th century.’ Not a valid rationale.

          I don’t understand why we need new prayer books every 15-20 years. That’s my main pet peeve. In the C of E, there was a 1984 edition, which I didn’t like. Now we have Common Prayer, which came out several years ago. That’s marginally better, but still begs the question as to why.

          Thanks for your comment on my blog, where I’ll head now.

          All best wishes

        • Phil,

          I too am a former Marine (US Marine) and I also see the problems among American Presbyterians. Many call for Reformation or a return to Reformation principles, but when asked how far they are willing to go, it sounds that they are only willing to go as far as what the Princetonian Presbyterians and/or Southern Presbyterians held to (late 19th cent).

          The Calvinists need to return to the Calvinist’s view of the Regualtive Principle of Worship, i.e. What God has not commanded is prohibited. As such, out go all man-made hymns and musical instruments in public worship and in come A Capella Exclusive Psalmody. Out goes Xmas, Easter and other Popish feast days, the false notions of the “Continental view of Sabbath keeping” which is such a wicked excuse to violate the Sabbath and in comes a thorough keeping of the Sabbath. Out goes the American Confession of Faith with the misleading title of Westminster, and in comes the entire original unamended Westminster Standards. That would also mean the steadfast view of the Establishment Principle as maintained by the early Reformers not as redefined by Reconstructionists (see http://www.westminsterconfession.org/a-godly-society/toleration-and-the-establishment-of-religion.php for the proper view).

          Presbyterianism would be viewed as Jus Divinum, out goes Prelacy and Independancy.
          etc. etc.

          But very few are willing to return to the Calvinist Presbyterian Reformation at its height. Most are too American in their pluralism and toleration to do so. Makes me wonder just how serious Sola Scriptura is held to by such Calvinists. No wonder then why many Reformed churches have become so broad and all embracing. Where are thge leaders that are like Phineas or King Josiah that do not care what the people want but are zealous for the glory of God? Forget what the people want in worship…WHAT DOES GOD COMMAND? If people leave, it is because they rather serve their bellies.

    • Rome is still the rapacious, albeit friendlier, supremacist in need of the same Reformation begun 490 years ago. Rome is antichrist. Rowan simply “does not matter.” Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem fell to the Muslim hordes. Canterbury has fallen to the pagan liberals and odious spirits of serpentine kingdom. I mean that quite literally.

      • I’ll respond to this point first, if I may, then your comment above. Two things: one, the FiF churches did ask Rome for help, and, two, the Queen is so upset at the state of the C of E that, according to the Telegraph, she has ‘grown increasingly sympathethic’ to the Catholic Church ‘over the years’ (http://churchmousec.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/the-archbishop-of-canterbury-must-go-now/ ).

        So, we’re looking at ++Williams, ++Carey and, dare I say it, possibly ++Runcie in the latter years of his tenure.

      • AMEN brother! Glad to hear that some in the Reformed church still hold that the Papacy is Antichrist, the Man of Sin! Foolish are those Christians that think they can play patty cake with Rome, without noticing the stinger creeping up behind them!

        We need, in agreement to the Directory for Public Worship composed by the Westminster Assembly, pray for the destruction of Papal Antichrist!

        Go to Latin America and you will see that Papist still murder Christians…they are not friendlier out there!

        • Edgar:

          You’ve got the sense of it about that “man of sin.” Americans are cowards and don’t get it about antichrist. A leadership failure.

          While I’m a Reformed Anglican, I do–as you suggest–pray every day at 10 AM and 4 PM the following: “Good Lord, spare us the detestable and gross enormities of Rome….” There are six to seven others on the “enemies” list. Further, those “enemies” pass through the mind while singing the Psalms, e.g. Psalm 109, et.al.


  8. Scott Clark wrote:

    “The biggest concession I can see here is that Rome seems to be willing to ordain as Roman priests Anglican clergy who are married. The release says:

    “It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony”.”

    As others have pointed out, there is nothing terribly new here in this “biggest concession.” John Paul II allowed married male Episcpalian priests to transition to the RC church in America and to be reordained as RC priests as of 1980, and I believe this provision was extended to some other RC jursidictions in the early 1990s. The Sitz im Leben for the 1980 pastoral letter was the controversies in the ECUSA over the ordination of women to the priesthood and the approval of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Of course, there have always been quite a few married priests in the Eastern Rite section of the RC church.

    As was pointed out above, it is also interesting to note how much RC policy in the post-Vatican II context has been driven by the shortage of priests.

    Bill Evans

      • churchmouse:

        I agree. The “grand reallignment” long predicted by church historians seems to be taking place, and generally along the lines of division between “cultural liberals” and “cultural conservatives” identified by Wuthnow and others.

        Bill Evans

          • Interesting observation! Here are two comments that may or may not amount to much. First, this larger “reallignment” seems to be driven primarily by sociological and ideological factors (especially involving sexuality and gender matters). But note that a concern for social/ideological conservatism can work for or against the concern for theological orthodoxy. For example, I’m aware of at least one instance where a desire to appeal to the culturally conservative Confessing Church wing of the PCUSA has led to Barthian influences being imported into a theologically conservative denomination.

            Second, complicating this larger pattern is the contemporary revolt against American-style evangelicalism. There are lots of examples of this, including the Emergent Church/Emergent Village movements, but in more conservative Reformed circles, this reaction seems to take the form of either a confessionalist impulse (I think we can all figure out who these are) or a liturgical/sacramentalist impulse (e.g., FV). Both groups are seeking a more robust ecclesiology, albeit in different ways.

            Bill Evans

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