Faith of our fathers

Arthur Middleton on defence of the common faith

 

In wake of the heterodoxy hijacking the Anglican Communion, bishops in the southern hemisphere have been constantly censored for crossing diocesan and provincial boundaries to minister to orthodox Anglicans. Their actions to maintain the unity of the faith have been condemned in some quarters as a flagrant abuse of their episcopal office, and without precedence.

Yet in the primitive Church every church would give each other their mutual assistance, to oppose all errors and beat down heresy when it first appeared. Hence, they regarded the whole world as one common diocese and the episcopate as something universal, so that every bishop had his share in it.

This meant that in things not applicable to the faith, bishops were not to cross diocesan boundaries to meddle in other men’s dioceses, but when the faith or welfare of the Church was at stake, the rule of being one episcopate meant that every other bishopric was as much their diocese as their own. No human laws or canons could prevent them from performing such actions of the episcopal office in any part of the world, if they thought it necessary for the preservation of the faith and the Church.

The practice of meeting in Councils and Synods, provincial, national and general was for the sharing of their common mind and advice for the whole Church. These actions to preserve the orthodoxy of the faith and the unity of the Church, which in other matters would have been considered a real breach of unity, was accepted as the only certain way to preserve the unity of that faith and order. Athanasius and Chrysostom did this.

So where a bishop was pursuing a policy of heresy by ordaining heretical men to establish heresy in his diocese and persecuting the orthodox, any orthodox bishop was not only authorized but obliged to take the opportunity to ordain orthodox men ‘to oppose the malignant designs of the enemy, and stop the growth of heresy, which might otherwise take deep root, and spread and overrun the Church.’

Today in the Canadian diocese of New Westminster there are priests under threat of deprivation from their parishes because they are orthodox, and will not submit to the modified theology and morality of their bishop. Orthodox priests in Connecticut are threatened with expulsion from their parishes if they will not conform to their church’s liberal agenda. Many others have been mercilessly persecuted.

While in this country it is claimed that there is no discrimination against those opposed to women priests, the hidden agenda of the appointments system ensures that such priests will not be preferred to high office commensurate with their gifts, to the diminishment of the church.

John Jewel, the great Elizabethan Bishop of Salisbury, claimed that for Anglicans, Scripture and the primitive Church are the criteria by means of which the authenticity of a church and the truth of its teaching are assessed. This means that in form and doctrine Anglicanism is agreeable with the Scriptures, with the most ancient general Councils, with the practice of the primitive Church, and with the judgements of all the old and learned Fathers.

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