ANGLICANS AND TRADITION AND THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN, H.R. McAdoo, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1997, 138 + ix pp, pbk, ISBN l-85311- 172-4, £11.99
ALL ANGLICANS owe a debt of gratitude to the former Archbishop of Dublin and Co-Chairman of ARCIC I. His books are an irreplaceable introduction to the Divines of the Seventeenth Century; as much as anyone, Henry McAdoo has retrieved and interpreted the classical Anglican tradition. If there is much in this book with which those who do not accept the priesting of women will disagree, we should still welcome the fact that once again Dr McAdoo has issued an elegant and readable invitation to re-examine the Divines. There is no school of Anglican opinion which can afford to neglect them.
In chapters 1-6, he traces the treatment of Tradition from Jewel and Hooker to Waterland and Wake; in chapters 7-9, he retraces the same ground more briefly to examine their use of Scripture. These two parts demonstrate, convincingly, that the Divines reverenced both Scripture and Tradition but did so critically (or, as they would have said, reasonably); without being ‘fundamentalist’ about either, they rejoiced in a Church which based itself, in Andrewes’ words, on ‘one canon, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of the Fathers in that period’ - a Church in which (Andrewes again) ‘we do not innovate’.
Excellent as these chapters are, there is a nagging sense that the Divines are being assembled for an assault upon a man of straw. That assault is against an uncritical reading both of Scripture and of Tradition, preparing the way for an assault on those who argue the impossibility of the ordination of women, for reasons of the irreversibility of ecclesial precedent. Well, an argument against the ordination of women based unthinkingly on an equation of Tradition with Precedent deserves to be knocked down, but does it need Richard Hooker and Lancelot Andrewes to do it? The difficulty - for both sides of the argument - comes in evaluating the seriousness of the issue: is it among the essentials of the Faith which the Divines agreed that the Church could not touch, or among the non-essentials which the Divines agreed that any Church could use or do away with as it chose; or, annoyingly, somewhere in the middle? And it is here that the appeal to the Divines becomes more difficult. The ordination of women was not a serious issue for the Divines, so we have no thorough treatment of the question; if it was raised at all, as it was by Hooker, it was only to dismiss it. So Dr McAdoo’s aim is to show that the Divines had a doctrine of development that indicates to Anglicans today who claim to follow in their footsteps that the ordination of women is consonant with classical Anglican ecclesiology. His argument here coincides with that of the Bishop of Ely in his 1990 essay, ‘Richard Hooker and the Ordination of Women’. Bishop Sykes demonstrates that Hooker did have a doctrine of innovation - that follows from the critical understanding of Tradition in which Hooker was followed by all the Divines - and Sykes argues that given the changed perception of the place of women in society today, Hooker would at least have considered the arguments for their ordination favourably. That is as may be; but Hooker’s notion of innovation in the Church must be examined more closely. Hooker says (Eccl.Pol. VII. v. 8):
The whole body of the Church hath power to alter, with general consent and upon necessary occasion even the positive laws of the apostles, if there be no command to the contrary, and it manifestly appears to her, that change of times have clearly taken away the very reasons of God’s first institution...
McAdoo, following Sykes, quotes this passage twice (pp 33, 35 - in each case giving an incorrect reference). Neither, however, completes Hooker’s sentence, which taken in the context of the whole passage raises a question which is not discussed: Hooker, as he makes clear in the rest of the sentence, is speaking ‘of what laws the universal Church might change’: the whole passage is concerned with the universal practice of the Church, against which the practice of one or another particular church might not be set (see E.P. VII. v. 6, 7). This is the issue which Dr McAdoo does not discuss: we may agree with Hooker and the Divines (and I do) that the Church, under Scripture and in the Spirit, may alter much in its hitherto unbroken practice; and I think that the practice of an all-male priesthood falls into that category; - but what of Hooker’s telling phrase, ‘the whole Church’?
For many Anglicans opposed to the ordination of women, this is the real sticking-point, and here Dr McAdoo does not enlighten us. The long remaining chapter of his book is devoted mainly to summarizing the arguments of a number of biblical critics and church historians, that there were (in effect) women priests in the New Testament and that there is evidence of women priests in the Church throughout the first millennium. This evidence needs to be examined in relation to the scholars who present it, rather than in the summary form presented here.
In the main, Dr McAdoo does not address the question of the level of decision-making in the Church, appropriate to different levels of issue. What can a local Church do on its own; what must await the consent of the Church universal? Irretrievably altered ecumenical circumstances (and the Commission which Dr McAdoo chaired helped to make the change) mean that Anglicans today cannot address the question of ecclesial authority in just the same way as the Divines would have done, yet there is still much to learn from them that sheds light upon our present condition. On the very last page (quoting Paul Avis) McAdoo says, ‘it is insisted that the Anglican Church cannot act - for example in ordaining women - until Rome and the Orthodox have given approval ... to thine own self be true!’ But a single comment, in the book’s last paragraph, does not begin to indicate the Anglican Divines’ complex understanding of the Church universal and local; advice from Polonius, in words which are a classic celebration of Renaissance individualism, hardly does justice to the ecumenical quest; and those for whom this is the real sticking-point in the question of the ordination of women will not feel that this book has unstuck them.
Peter Atkinson is Chancellor and Canon Residentiary of Chichester Cathedral, and a former Principal of Chichester Theological College.
THE VICTORIAN WORLD PICTURE: Perceptions and introspections in an age of Change, David Newsome, John Murray, London 1997, x + 310 pp, hbk, ISBN 0-7195-5630-9, £25
‘HOW CAN I profess to paint a man who will not sit for his portrait?’ exclaimed Newman when asked to characterise the subtle and quintessentially reserved John Keble. The same difficulties, multiplied a thousand-fold, face anyone who seeks to characterise an age, and in this case an age almost equivalent to a century. Anyone who does so must be widely read, deeply informed, and sensitive to the nuances and idiosyncracies of people and places, moving between the vivid illustration and anecdote and the broader canvas of interpretation and generalisation.
David Newsome, the author of fine studies of the Wilberforces and Manning (The Parting of Friends), of A.C.Benson (On the Edge of Paradise), of Newman and Manning (The Convert Cardinals), and the Victorian educational ideal (Godliness and Good Learning), in this new exploration holds up a series of mirrors to the Victorians. By means of these mirrors (summed up in Thackeray’s aphorism, ‘the world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face’). Newsome seeks to look inwards, outwards, before and after, beyond, and ahead. In so doing he explores what was an age of empire and industry, of unprecendented expansion and change, and of religious and moral sensibility which yet was all too well aware of the withdrawing tide of faith, summarised so memorably in one of the century’s most telling poems, Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach. This thoroughly enjoyable, informative and, above all, readable book reminds us time and again of how wide a perspective we need to have if we are to understand an age or a movement, whether it be in the nineteenth-century or even our own.
Sixteen carefully chosen plates evoke significant images: among them Victorian industrialization (the Black Country near Wolverhampton in 1865), the crowds at the 1848 Chartist Demonstration on Kennington Common and flocking to the Great Exhibition of 1851, Victoria and Albert in Anglo-Saxon costume, a Gladstone family picnic, and a fine Beardsley of John Bull: Decadent.
As we would expect from a master of nineteenth-century ecclesiastical history we are given a fine appreciation of Victorian faith and doubt. Hippolyte Tame could write of Victorian England that:
Even grown men here believe in God, the Trinity, and Hell, although without fervour. Protestant dogma is very well suited to the serious, poetic, and moral instinct of the people. They do not have to make an effort to maintain their faith in it. An Englishman would be very upset if he could not believe in an after-life..... In every great crisis of his life his thoughts become solemn and tend towards
Englishmen could be suspicious of enthusiasm, but convinced by phrenology. Sunday schools could flourish, at least until other Sunday diversions drew children away, and left a residuum of religious knowledge. The churches were challenged by social squalour, and sanitation, and drink. The Salvation Army as well as the ritualists brought colour to the slums, and it could well be that the ‘Father says’ of Anglo-Catholicism mirrors William Booth’s conviction that ‘Despotism is essential to most enterprises.’ Manning, who believed that the definition of Papal Infallibility at Vatican I would ‘more than anything else promote conversions and the return of the country to the faith’, was also not afraid to adapt the tactics and methods of the Salvation Army (Newsome recalls how Chesterton once saw Manning alighting from a carriage in Kensington High Street, looking like a ‘ghost clad in flames’).
Class (what defined a gentleman?) and Empire (Bishop Welldon was not alone in believing the British Empire “divinely ordained’), fear of the mob (“The poor in a loomp is bad” said Tennyson), the train (Monckton Milnes being made giddy speeding in his first railway journey at 36 miles an hour), and the train again in John Martin’s Last Judgement picture tumbling into the abyss along with the Pope (its carriages are in fact labelled, Paris, Kansas and Rome) - all of these are part of the detailed and varied tapestry which makes up this evocation of what the Victorians liked to call the Zeitgeist, the elusive, many-faceted (and indeed changing) spirit of the age.
It is good to have this splendid study of the last century from a true master before ‘time’s ever-rolling stream’ bears us into a new century, and ‘the last century’ becomes our own.
Geoffrey Rowell is Bishop of Basingstoke
RAISING UP A FAITHFUL PEOPLE: High Church Priests and Parochial Education, 1850-1910, Peter Davie, Gracewing 1997, 130pp, pbk, ISBN 0-85244-366-8, £9.99.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION is essential for the passing on of Christian faith, and so the church school had a central place in the pastoral strategy of the Catholic revival in the Church of England in the nineteenth century. Victorian village schools bear eloquent testimony to this. In this survey Peter Davie surveys both the pastoral theory of the priests who wished to instruct children in a sacramental and doctrinal Christianity and their endeavour to put it into practice. From 1850 to 1870 most High Churchmen attempted to swim against the tide, resisting the secularization of education, aiming to restore the Church of England’s monopoly as the nation’s instructor in morals and religion. Following the 1870 Education Act the battlers for a distinctive church education had to recognise they were working in a more plural society, in which it was simply not possible for the church to dominate in the old way. This led to a more positive appreciation of secular knowledge and a concern that parish clergy should learn contemporary teaching skills and not simply rely on rote learning.
In the early period Edward Munro, parish priest of Harrow Weald, published an influential guide to pastoral theology, Parochial Work (1850), which John Keble eulogised as the nineteenth-century equivalent of George Herbert’s Country Parson. Munro was concerned that his parishioners seemed to profess little more than a vague deism, had no understanding of sacramental faith, regarded baptism as a naming ceremony and the eucharist as the preserve of the specially pious or mortally ill. The teaching of the Catechism to the young was the way to inculcate Catholic truth.
In Wantage W.J.Butler made education, both in schools and through confirmation and communicant classes, a central plank of his remarkable ministry, as we can see in detail from his parish diaries. Later in the century some Anglo-Catholics adapted the catechetical method of St Sulpice in Paris - Arthur Chandler, the Rector of Poplar at the end of the century had some 400 children in a Sunday afternoon catechism class. But the Sulpician method was essentially didactic - the passing on and learning of a body of knowledge. By the Edwardian period a pastoral theologian, such as C.F.Rogers of King’s College, London, was insisting that pastoral theology had to become an empirical discipline and learn from educational theory. In Rogers’ estimation far too many children were still being made to learn the catechism by heart, shout answers in unison, and sing doggerel hymns, and the clergy failed to understand the use of questioning, used abstract terms in talking to small children, and failed to encourage children to express themselves in writing and pictures.
Davie provides a succinct survey of the endeavours of pastoral theologians and educationalists to provide a Christian education both in church schools and through Sunday Schools and confirmation classes. The concerns for enabling children to learn the catholic faith and to grow in it are still with us, and there are still things to be learnt from the vision of some of these earlier pastoral theologians, as well as things to be learnt from earlier failures and mistakes.
Geoffrey Rowell is Bishop of Basingstoke
A WALSINGHAM PRAYER BOOK, Elizabeth Ruth Obbard, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1997, 118 pp, pbk, ISBN 1-85311-170-8, £5.99
THE ROSARY, A Way into Prayer, Anne Vail, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1997, 90 pp, pbk, ISBN 1-85311-160-0, £5.99
ETERNITY NOW, Mother Thekla, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1997, 112 pp, pbk, ISBN 1-85311-161-9, £5.99
LET US PRAY TO THE LORD, ed. Georges Lemopoulos, World Council of Churches, Geneva, 1996, 97 pp, pbk, ISBN 2-8254-1188-4.
LITTLE WALSINGHAM truly celebrates the Incarnation. The most repulsive bric-a-brac is found there, but so are some of the more sublime expressions, personal and corporate, of Christian spirituality. The same contrasts can be made between humanity in its least attractive forms, often all too evident in Walsingham (not least waving bibles in the Common Place at the ‘National’), and as it is raised up and expressed in the obedience of the holy mother and in the self-giving of her son. As the late Fr Michael Watts used to say, Walsingham is in some ways the most irritating of places but it’s the place to send someone who wants to find out what the Catholic Faith is all about.
A Walsingham Prayer Book, sub-titled ‘a meditative companion and guide’, duly takes us on a tour round Walsingham. There are prayers before we set out, visits to the Roman Catholic Shrine and to the Anglican Shrine Church, to St Mary’s and to the Abbey. In each section there are appropriate devotions. There is a Rosary section and a Stations of the Cross; there is Vespers of Our Lady of Walsingham and material for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There are prayers before and after Holy Communion, and there are miscellaneous prayers and even a few hymns.
It is an excellent collection, full of traditional resonance - Alphonsus, Aquinas, Bonaventure - but in simple modern language. It is ecumenically sensitive and easy to use. I shall take it to Walsingham with me when I go - I wish it were in hardback - and I shall use it at home. Sr Elizabeth Ruth Obbard ODC is the novice mistress at the Walsingham Carmel and her readers will be as grateful as any novice for her gentle guidance.
Anne Vail’s text for The Rosary is supplemented by David Jones’ wood engravings, first found in the Child’s Rosary Book of 1924.
A colleague of Eric Gill, Jones was led by his experiences of the First World War to convert to Roman Catholicism: his figures here, and elsewhere his poetry too, show the depth of his compassion and observation, not least in his portrayal of animals and conscripts.
For those who are strangers to the rosary devotion, this is a good place to begin. Anne Vail explains the circlet of beads, the history of ‘Our Lady’s Psalter’, and the point of it all.
There are good suggestions, not necessarily original, but well-put: for instance, that the words of the Hail Mary be troped by such phrases as ‘blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus - who is dying on the cross before you’ (p28). Also she gives us permission to reduce the Hail Mary to the biblical salutation, the Hail Mary as Bede or Aelred would have known it. Each of the mysteries has a wood engraving and a short meditative explanation, including usually a relevant piece of scripture. I am sorry Anne Vail has missed out scripture texts for the Assumption and the Coronation of Our Lady: it is surely a mistake to suggest by default that these profound portrayals of what it is for faithful Christians to be risen with Christ and to obtain the crown of everlasting glory are less than scriptural.
Eternity Now is part of the ‘Rhythm of Life’ series. It is a most attractive introduction to Orthodox Spirituality, via feasts of the Mother of God and Feasts of Our Lord. There is, perhaps inevitably, a foreword by the admirable John Tavener, and an introduction to Orthodox Essentials and Glossary of Orthodox Terms. There are Prayers of the Heart - the Ephraim Prayer, for daily use in Great Lent, and the Jesus Prayer - and suggestions for further reading. Mother Thekla is Abbess of the Orthodox Monastery of the Assumption in Whitby. As she points out in her explanation of the feast of the Assumption, ‘the Assumption is not the name for this beloved and solemn feast’. There was some worry, as she says, about what the English, for instance the rural postman, would have made of ‘The Monastery of the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God’ in Whitby and so they called it the Monastery of the Assumption. I must say, I would have let the English and the rural postman make of it what they liked, but there we are.
A larger collection of prayers from the Eastern Orthodox tradition is available in Let us Pray to the Lord, which includes some riches from the Oriental Orthodox tradition too. Georges Lemopoulos, the editor, represents the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the World Council of Churches’ Office of Church and Ecumenical Relations. The text is almost entirely prayers and hymns and includes some music, Greek, Rumanian, Russian and Syrian.
For some tastes Orthodox prayers are too florid (the Akathistos hymn for Matins of the fifth Sunday of Lent, for instance, calls upon the Mother of God with a fervour that would unnerve St Bernard of Clairvaux) but the East is undoubtedly better than the West at finding images which are simple to comprehend and intensely biblical. This, an extract from the 1994 Via Crucis of Patriarch Bartholomew, is a telling modern example:
The tower of Siloam still falls, armies still set fire to cities. It is not that you would punish us, it is because we have become as dry wood.
Whilst Western secular culture spreads like wild fire through the dry wood of the East, we could do well, amidst the aridness of much modern Western spirituality, to draw again from the cool, deep wells of the East.
As review editor for New Directions, I am often asked why we review so many big, difficult books and neglect the small, simple ones. One answer, in so far as there is any substance in this observation, is that Anglo-Catholic clergy have always led the way in keeping well-stocked study shelves and we want to help them do that. Another answer is that whenever small, simple books of high quality are sent to us to review, we do our best to commend them. Such are this present batch, mostly from the Canterbury Press, who are to be congratulated on the flair and imagination they are presently showing.
One small question. I am myself quite easy about the informal and popular usages ‘Catholic’ (meaning Roman Catholic) and ‘Anglican’. It is strange, however, that Canterbury Press, proprietors of Hymns Ancient and Modern, should be content with these usages. Whatever happened to the idea that the Church of England is the Catholic Church in this country? Whilst some of us are having our doubts, I should expect the Canterbury Press at least to hang on to that usage for us.
Andrew Burnham is Vice-Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford.
STRAIGHT AND NARROW? Thomas E Schmidt, IVP, Leicester, 1995, 240 pp, pbk, ISBN 0-85111-157-2, £8.99
THOMAS SCHMIDT is the first to admit that his choice of publisher affects not only what he says but whom he addresses - in the case of Inter-Varsity Press “the moderately to well educated, morally conservative Christian community” (p 15). By implication, he continues, “I am not writing to persuade the gay and lesbian community or its supporters, but rather to deepen the understanding and sensitivity of those who question or disapprove of homosexual practice”.
Nevertheless, it would be a great pity if potential readers were put off by IVP’s (outdated) reputation for being theologically lightweight. Admittedly, Schmidt aims at the popular market, but his is no mere rehashing of the conservative case. Instead, he has done the essential homework of engaging with a wide range of literature including views opposed to his own. His bibliography runs to eighteen pages and includes key advocates of what Schmidt calls the ‘revisionist’ view on homosexuality, such as J Boswell, W Countryman and (most recently and cogently) P Pronc. The breadth of reading is reflected by there being an additional thirty-eight pages of notes (but sadly no topical index!).
Although he establishes the weaknesses of the revisionist approach to key biblical texts, Schmidt’s argument against homosexuality is based on a wider understanding of sexuality in its overall theological context. Central to this understanding is marriage, which entails the three elements of procreation, sexual complementarity, and responsibility to the human community - none of which, Schmidt argues, can be sustained by homosexual activity. In particular, the attempt by apologists to redefine sexual relationships in terms of homosexual orientation undermines and ultimately attacks heterosexual marriage and the family based on it. This attack, however, is rarely acknowledged openly since it embarrasses the revisionist cause. Thus Schmidt refers to a pro-homosexual work where an author is cited as saying “the family unit...must be eliminated”. The comment added by those quoting this author, however, is that such rhetoric should be toned down in order to pursue a “mainstreaming” strategy (p 186).
Schmidt also devotes a chapter to the physical effects of homosexual practice - a subject often avoided in church debates. For this section, and the material on the prevalence of homosexuality, he refers to an astonishing 61 books and articles from secular medicine and psychology. Several myths are laid to rest, for example about the prevalence of homosexuality, and the point is established beyond doubt that the nature and frequency of activities such as anal intercourse, rimming and fisting exact a terrible cost amongst the homosexual community.
Yet in the whole of this work, Schmidt remains sensitive to the fact that he is talking about people, not statistics. He is also alert to the failures of Christians in public debates which “regularly pit gay men or lesbians with warm stories of victory over self-doubt and persecution against coldly rational ministers who quote verses about sexual sin and eternal judgment” (p 13). Such debate, he observes, “is less a search for truth than a spectator sport” where, “since the reigning value of modern culture is not truth but tolerance, anyone who takes a stand disapproving of another’s behavior is bound to lose”. Consequently,
Christians who cannot yet deal with the issues calmly and compassionately should keep their mouths shut, and they should certainly stay away from the front lines of ministry and public policy debate - not to mention television talk shows. [...] They must be convinced that the way of Jesus is the way of the Wounded Healer, not the Holy Terror. (p 173).
Schmidt’s work deserves to be read widely, not least by those who disagree with his thesis. However, it is perhaps most important for all of us to share his attitude, not just his ideas.
John Richardson is Anglican Chaplain to the University of East London.
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