Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Catholic Evangelicalism

Long time readers of this blog will be familiar with my conviction that the truly Catholic and the truly Evangelical elements of the Faith belong together (undergirded with a strong sense of the immediacy of the work of the Holy Spirit). Indeed, their interaction accounts for a good deal of so-called Anglican "patrimony" (as Canon Roger Greenacre reminded the 1978 Loughborough Catholic Renewal Conference). 

With a title like that you might expect the book to be hard going. But it is actually exciting. Voll, a German scholar, shows how so many of those who are now considered heroes of the 19th century Catholic Revival in the Church of England not only had “evangelical” emphases on things like conversion and personal faith in Jesus, but they unashamedly incorporated features of evangelical life into their parishes - things like non-liturgical mission services, extempore prayer meetings and creative outreach activities. This was true of quite a number of the so-called extreme "ritualst" clergy! It is a fascinating book, and in my youth it helped me to see how a lot of things fit together that small minds would regard as opposed to one another. 

I am indebted to the Accidental Anglo-Catholic Blog for these two passages from the book. (By the way, if anyone has a copy of the book that is surplus to their requirements, please let me know!) 

From Father George Body: 

“What is Church life? It is the personal walking of the individual sinner with the personal individual Saviour. There must be this apprehension of Him as the personal Saviour before Catholicism can be anything but legalism, instead of being the banqueting house where the children live in the Father’s House and feast at the Father’s Board. Nothing to my mind is more grievous than to come across people who are trying to frame their lives by Catholic rules, without having any personal communion with the Lord of Catholicism.” (pp. 75-76) 

On Father Stanton: 

“Two things were of the utmost importance to him: ‘(1) The Adorable Mystery of the Sacrifice of The Altar. (2) Confession to a Priest. They are much dearer to me than all the incense, vestments, music in the world; they are my hope of Salvation, for one is to me Jesus Christ, and the other pardon in His Precious Blood.’ Stanton knew himself to be very close to Evangelicalism. ‘Nothing must ever take away our rest in the old Evangelical love and our trust in Jesus.’ In a letter of March 18th, 1867, he writes: ‘I go to Shepperton this week to preach for a dear old Evangelical Calvinist. I am sure we shall get on, as he loves Jesus.’” (p. 92)


Alice C. Linsley said...

"Catholic and the truly Evangelical elements of the Faith belong together."

I agree and thank you for stating it. It seems to me that the essence of Christianity is both, well balanced and integrated. We see this in the writings of the Church Fathers. Some of the balance and integration was lost with the rise of Puritanism.

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