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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fathers and Tractarians

From: Fathers and Anglicans the Limits of Orthodoxy
by Canon Arthur Middleton pp. 296-7

Father and Tractarians
Rooted in this life, the mystery of Christ present in the history of mankind and the Eucharist is where catholic truth is found and in which the mystery of Creation and Redemption is revealed. Here is their Sitz–im-Leben, the life of grace, where as catholic persons they seek to grow ecclesially as well as theologically and within the full potential of their humanity. Salvation then becomes, not the return journey of the individual soul to its Maker, but the catholic process, the gradual unfolding of a universal transfiguration in which people are saved, not from the world, but with the world through the church. Theirs is an ideal of theology not divorced from prayer and liturgy but is a way of life structured by theological vision.
The growth of the person in grace is something different from simple individualism. It is as we are being freed from our individual restrictions that we begin to taste the liberty of persons, the freedom of the sons of God. This involves a religion which is neither that of heart and mind, of feeling or intellect, but which is characterised by the mad fervour of the great theologians and spiritual writers of East and West alike, who have discovered the secret of ‘putting the mind in the heart’69

Catholicity is like a compass that reveals the true orientation of their lives and it is a patristic catholicity that is their compass, which they must follow if they are to grow into catholic truth. It teaches them to read the Bible differently, in the catholic way, and find that the Bible and Apostolic Tradition cannot be properly understood outside their proper patristic Sitz-im-Leben. This is antipathetic to the modern liberal approach. What they rejected as Liberalism, as Pusey’s letter to Arnold illustrates, was the exclusive application of an approach that excludes church history and ignores the ‘proper’ setting or context of the Bible, the living and apostolic community, the catholic church of the Fathers within which the Bible emerged. Newman70 makes this point, and that this has been the practice of our divines since the Reformation.

They have betaken themselves to the extant documents of the early Church, in order to determine thereby what the system of primitive Christianty was; and so to elicit from Scripture more completely and accurately that revealed truth, which, though revealed there, is not on its surface, but needs to be deduced and developed from it.

69 A. M. Allchin, Christian, Autumn 1976 (All Saints Margaret St, Institute of Christian Studies).
70 J. H. Newman, in Cyril of Jerusalem, The Catechetical Lectures, ( John Henry Parker; Rivington, London, 1839), Preface p. xv and xvi.

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