Friday, August 31, 2012

Canon Middleton's lecture on ecclesiology at the FCA (i.e. GAFCON) Leaders Conference, April 2012

I have always believed that at its best and most authentic, the Anglican "patrimony" holds together the truly catholic and the truly evangelical. This is not always apparent to those who view the history of our church through the lens of "churchmanship squabbles", or whose only experience of Anglicanism is the disintegration taking place in various parts of the world today. So I'm glad to alert readers to a lecture Canon Arthur Middleton delivered at the April 2012 Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (i.e. "GAFCON") Leadership Conference in London: The Anglican Mind in Caroline and Tractarian Thought. 

Canon Middleton's lecture is all about the doctrine of the Church. But it's much more than that. It explores and celebrates both the catholic and evangelical traditions of Anglicanism, and emphasises their mutual enrichment. 

Canon Middleton is Honorary Fellow of St Chad's College Durham, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Patron of the Society of King Charles the Martyr. He is on the Church Union Council Standing Committee and Publications Committee, and the Editorial Board of New Directions. A writer of numerous books and articles, he has completed three lecture tours in Canada and Australia. 

The lecture in question can be downloaded in its entirety as a pdf document HERE

Towards the end, Canon Middleton quotes twice from Anglican Vision, by Emmanuel Amand de Mendieta (1907–1976), a Belgian Benedictine scholar well-known for his work on St Basil of Caesarea, who joined the Church of England in 1962, accepting appointment to a residentiary canonry of Winchester. I share with you these quotes, because, like Canon Middleton, I think that de Mendiata is right about catholic and evangelical traditions: 

". . . both traditions are older than these revivals [i.e. the Evangelical Revival of the 18th century and the Oxford Movement of the 19th]. Their continuity and homogeneous development can be traced from Reformation times: through Nicholas Ridley, bishop of London, to Charles Simeon (1759-1836); through Lancelot Andrewes, bishop of Winchester, to Bishop Charles Gore (1853-1932); through Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding to Richard Meux Benson, the founder of the Society of St John the Evangelist at Cowley (1824-1915). At all periods throughout these centuries, we observe men of great piety and devotion within both traditions: Henry Martyn, the Evangelical missionary (1781-1812) and John Keble, one of the fathers of the Oxford Movement (1792-1866); Charles Simeon, one of the main leaders of the Evangelical Revival and Edward Bouverie Pusey, the outstanding Tractarian leader (1800-82); James Hannington, the Evangelical bishop of East Equatorial Africa (1847-85) and Frank Weston, the Anglo-Catholic bishop of Zanzibar(1871-1924). Yet the differences between each pair of men seem to disappear, when contrasted with the Christ-centred devotion which enlivened them all . . . The remarkable feature of the different types of devotion, shown by various saintly men of the Church of England, is not the tenacity with which each holds to his particular tradition, but their common devotion to Christ. This devotion has always grown, and still grows, out of the love and study of the Scriptures, and out of an affectionate adherence to the piety of the Book of Common Prayer. Neither the Catholic nor the Evangelical type of Anglican holiness can be explained in terms of a practical via media, or of a Church which is committed to some form of Anglo-Saxon compromise."

* * * * *

"The fullness of Anglicanism will be utterly catholic and uncompromisingly evangelical at the same time. Both these emphases are present in the New Testament making it necessary to set such Scriptural truths and realities in their Scriptural complementarity. Michael Ramsey claimed that the Anglican Church does not see the Evangelical and the Catholic views as alternatives, but in the Scriptural sense where both elements are one. This ethos has enabled the Anglican Communion to look not for a synthesis but rather for a symbiosis, a growing together in a living whole of the sundered Christian traditions and with humility seek to promote it. They can do so because in its own ecclesial life the Anglican Communion has found these evangelical and catholic elements to be complementary and necessary to the fullness of a Church's life and mission."


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