Friday, April 22, 2005

When Assertions Rule

When there is controversy in the Church over the finer points of doctrine and theology, all sorts of misrepresentations and assertions often find their way of becoming the issues rather than the actual substance having its due address. Sadly, men allow themselves to succumb to the temptation to discredit their opponents by silly name-calling and the likes of children on a playground. But, as a "pontificating blogging-nerd," I find Johnson resounding more truth than is often willing to be admitted.

So much of this is seen in a number of controversies in different areas of the Church's life right now and I find the quote below to be quite applicable to many of these controversies. The quote particularly is applicable to the overly zealous critic who usually will find himself in the very ditch he thought he was digging for his opponent to fall into. The beauty of irony!

I read this quote at another blog, but I do own the volume of Johnson myself and read it in its context of the Eucharistic Offering. He becomes an important figure for how the Caroline Divines used Bishop Lancelot Andrewes' Eucharistic Theology to shape the Church's teaching on the central nature of the Eucharist in worship. I thank William Tighe for bringing this quote to my attention at the Pontificator's blog.

I quote from him as he used it in another post:

The last flower of Caroline Anglican divinity, John Johnson of Cranbrooke (1662-1724), wrote in reply to one Dr. Thomas Wise, who had written a tract entitled “The Christian Eucharist Rightly Stated” in response to Johnson’s massive tome, *The Unbloody Sacrifice, and Altar, Unvailed and Supported* (1714, 1724):

“They, who indulge themselves in the most unchristian and diabolical practice of accusing their brethren of a crime so very black and flagrant, should take special care, so to contrive their calumnies, that they may be at least consistent and hang together; for those slanders, that confute themselves (which is the present case), do at once absolve the party accused, and convict the delator of forgery and nonsense both in one. We know the devil to be the common father of lies, especially such as are malicious; but, in the case now before us, I can see none of the craft and subtlety of the old serpent; the Doctor, in contriving this calumny, was left, I charitably believe, to his own natural invention; I cannot say, the Doctor has the innocence of the dove, nor yet can I allow him the cunning of the serpent; he abounds with gall,but he wants the sting …” (1847 ed., [Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology] Vol. II, p. 331).


Anonymous William Tighe said...

I can't forbear to point out that the accusation that Wise made against Johnson was that he was covertly teaching transubstantiation, or at least something very much like it.

6:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I read that today in Johnson. I think Johnson shows us what influence the early Divines, especially Andrewes had on the Church. My point in quoting this is that so often in debates we see the principle of Johnson's quote being lived out. The same happened and continues to happen in the debate on the efficacy of the Sacraments and particularly baptism as one example.

Thanks for stopping by. I enjoy your articles. I especially found your article on the Abuse of the Fathers interesting. Please do continue to feel free to post here.

7:05 pm  

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