It occurs to me that there may be more to the Anglican notion that Anglicans constitute a via media between Protestants and Papists than we sometimes suppose.
Official Anglicanism, after all, cheerfully, whole heartedly, and gleefully persecuted both Papists and Protestants. As far as the former are concerned, I wrote in 1992: "We [Anglicans] should acknowlege that ... the great historical fact is that, for hundreds of years, the community of which we are the inheritors defined itself in broad, popular, international and cultural terms by opposition to Rome, to priesthood, and to sacramental religion. We helped to torture and kill those who perceived themselves - and were perceived by others - to be maintaining these things. ... for centuries we persecuted other Christians and then, when we finally realised that they had been largely right all the time, we couldn't even be decently apologetic and humble about it".
As far as Methodism is concerned, in the 1930s Dom Gregory Dix wrote about the hunger of the early Methodists for frequent Communion (Wesley rather liked a daily Mass) and commented "When one contrasts this hunger for communion with the torpid rapacity of prelates like Archbishop Manners-Sutton, who combined the See of Canterbury (then worth £40,000 a year) with sixty-three livings with cure of souls as well as other preferment, what can one say but that, great as is the sin of schism, the sin of Amaziah the priest of Bethel may well be greater still?"
In an age in which it appears to be fashionable to apologise for what one's predecessors or ancestors did, I wonder when Official Anglicanism is going to apologise for the via media from the comfort of which it raked with its heavy artillery the poor dissenters on each side of that Way. And let us not forget the Unitarians whom it continued to burn for long after the 1559 breach with Rome.
Will a Lambeth Palace Spokesman give us dates for all these very necessary ritual grovellings?
23 September 2018
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Where on earth did Gregory Dix get the idea that Archbishop Manners-Sutton had 63 LIVINGS? According to the Extraordinary Black Book of 1831 he had the PATRONAGE (not the cure of souls) of 131 plus an archdeaconry and three prebends which is different entirely. In accordance with the custom of the time he used some of them to provide for his relatives and as according to 'the old nobility' of 1909 he was getting £23000 a year (£2 million in today's money) from his position it is not surprising he left over £180,000 (around £12m.) All very reprehensible no doubt but one wonders how this compares with the greed and murderous behaviour of Pope Alexander VI and the Borgias for example. I will avoid making the 'glasshouses and stones' comment and just express thanks that whatever the shortcomings of the Church of England today such practices are well in the past. Robin (Davies)
My late father who was born in Imperial Berlin but joined the British army to fight the Nazis, repeatedly said that God was an Englishman and almost certainly an Anglican. But the “almost” was crucial, for he was received into the Catholic Church on his deathbed.
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