The genius of the Anglican Catholic Church is the much same as many other extra-Lambeth Anglicans. As I've said (too) many times, the doctrine of the ACC is founded upon the Faith of the Undivided Church, i.e the Church before the Great Schism. The normative for the liturgy is the Book of Common Prayer which we take to be the 1549 (though the American Church hold to their 1928 prayer book). By and large this is fine. Much of the text is taken from the Pre-Reformation Roman Breviary, the Gelasian Sacramentary and from the Sarum Missal. Everything is kept according to the principles of the Rule of St Benedict and the need for the people to be steeped in the Office and Holy Scripture as much as is possible. This in itself is fine, yet there are inconsistencies.
Problem 1: The Filioque
There are a couple of problems with the Nicene Creed as it appears in the BCP. On the minor, the word Holy is missed out when we say that we believe One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I believe that was a printer's error, yet it does change the Creed is we omit it. The Church in its Catholicity is indeed Holy. She is predestined for Holiness even if her individual members may compromise their own. Already I've said something that will infuriate Augustinian Anglicans. I may need to justify myself later on.
This is largely the minor issue because most Anglicans reinsert the missing "Holy" naturally, but how many will miss out the Filioque?
I have blogged on the Filioque before, saying that I was happy both to say it and not say it. Lately, though, I have become somewhat uncomfortable with the "default" setting, i.e. the Creed with the Filioque. My dear friend, Ed Pacht will tell me that the problem is not the answer, but the question. God is unknowable and therefore we must expect inconsistencies with the way we express the Divine Nature. To an extent, I agree with him, yet given that the Creed was given for clarification and a starting point with which to engage with the Divine, the words of the Creed should lead us into the Divine Mystery. It is from the Creed that we know that the classical heresies are indeed heresy. The words of the Creed literally matter an iota. This does mean that the question of the Filioque does have importance and therefore that I cannot just let the question go - perhaps this is again a symptom of my malaise at regarding things philosophically. I'm sure that Ed would urge me to step back and abandon myself to the Divine Unknowability. Perhaps one day I will! Perhaps I am high-minded and have proud looks. Alternatively, perhaps this will give me the avenue in which I can surrender myself to the Transcendent. I know that he, like me, would prefer the Creed without the Western alteration.
I find myself wanting to change the default setting and to learn the habit of not saying the Filioque. This is not because I seek to become Eastern Orthodox, but rather to be true to the doctrine that the ACC has set for itself. Seeing that the Filioque did not make it into one of the great Councils means that I can only ever hold it as a matter of pious opinion. The Nicene Creed as printed in the Council must be the default setting, and I should not be able to force a pious opinion into the Liturgy of the Mass.
Yet, as an Anglican, I must have some engagement with the Prayerbook. As I have said, for the ACC, the engagement must be liturgically. Our Missals and Daily Offices conform to the Book of Common Prayer. For us in the U.K. the normative must be 1549 - the 1928 prayerbook is not part of English Anglo-Catholicism, but it is part of the American Anglo-Catholicism. The Filioque is there in the liturgy. Given that we have a firm belief in lex orandi lex credendi, it seems imperative for the ACC to be conclusive about the Filioque as soon as it can be. We need a Holy Synod for this to happen, and I hope this happens soon. I might be comfortable not saying the Filioque, but I have no wish to scandalise the laity I serve by its omission.
Problem 2: Augustinianism in Anglicanism
Part of my problem with reconciling Post-Reformation Anglicanism with the Primitive Church is that of St Augustine of Hippo. The trouble is that his is a loud voice in Western Christianity, yet is so quiet so as to be silent in the East, This is due to the fact that St Augustine writes in Latin, and the East speaks Greek. It isn't until much later that his work finds its way into the Eastern Church. This leaves us with a problem in that both East and West lie at the heart of the Primitive Church - they bave been compared with the two lungs of the Body of Christ. The Western lung is heavily influenced by Augustinianism, the East not so much. If they are both properly Catholic, then Augustianism cannot give rise to doctrine but to pious opinion.
Even in his day, the theology of St Augustine was questioned. Indeed the Commonitorium of St Vincent of Lerins containing the definition of Catholicism was written to curb Augustinian excesses. What is interesting is that the Vincentian Canon satisfies the Vincentian Canon, and St Augustine does not in a technical sense. The main problem with St Augustine is that he relies to heavily on Platonic philosophy. We really do have to be careful with philosophy because it is not necessarily theology. We all come to God bearing a philosophy and God laughs at us for our high-mindedness, confounds our thinking and loves us anyway. St Thomas Aquinas relies heavily on Aristotle who opposes Plato. We can only reason about God up to a point. An Augustinian notion of salvation in terms of predestination of individuals is speculative and not held definitively by the Primitive Church. An Anglican Catholic must therefore ensure that if they wish to take up a particular philosophical position, they do so as a pious opinion and as a theologoumena.
This leads to...
Problem 3: the Thirty-Nine articles
It seems to me that Anglican Catholicism must disengage from the Calvinisim that has entered Anglicanism at the Reformation so as to do justice to the idea of Augustinianism as pious opinion. When it comes to the Anglican Formularies of the Thirty-Nine Articles, if the Anglican Catholic wishes to hod to these, then he or she must subordinate them to the Primitive Church. In particular, we can see this in Article XXXV: On the Homilies. The Homilies "contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these times". The third part of the Homily Against Peril of Idolatry does contain a clear broadside against the teaching of the Seventh Oecumenical Council:
First, it is alleadged by them that maintaine images, that all lawes, prohibitions, and curses, noted by vs out of the holy Scripture, and sentences of the Doctours also by vs alleadged, against images and the worshipping of them, appertaine to the idols of the Gentiles or Pagans, asthe idoll of Iupiter, Mars, Mercury , etc. and not to our images of GOD, of Christ , and his Saints. But it shall be declared both by GODS word, and the sentences of the ancient Doctours, and iudgement of the Primitiue Church, that all images, aswell ours, as the idoles of the Gentiles, be forbidden and vnlawfull, namely in Churches and Temples.As I've said before, it is good for all of us to make sure that we tread carefully when it comes to ikonography, yet this "wholesome" homily does not affirm the doctrine of the Seventh Council. One cannot then ascribe to this Council without rejecting the idea that God's word regards all images in Churches and Temples as being unlawful. Whilst pains have been taken to show that the Articles can be given a fully Catholic reading, those pains also include torturous twisting of language. It seems that there is much in the Articles that does not allow for a reading in the Primitive Church. An Anglican Catholic is not bound by the Articles and for a very good reason. Yet if we do reject the Articles, then we do put a wedge between us and the Classical Anglicans.
It seems more honest to say that Anglican Catholicism is simply not the same as Classical Anglicanism. In so doing, we perhaps find ourselves closest to some form of Western Rite Orthodoxy. If Classical Anglicans accuse us of not being Anglican, then we can say, "you're right. We're not Anglicans, we're Anglican Catholics and that's different."
I write all this remembering that the identity that I make for myself is something that I will have to renounce along with everything else in order for me to decrease so that God can increase. The law of lex orandi lex credendi is vital and to my mind a necessary path for people to follow in order to find God. While we do have to embrace unknowing, we do have to start somewhere. Our starting point should lead us into a faith that is nor arbitrary but rather clear and unconfused about the nature of salvation. We remember St Paul saying that "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." This might be the response to speaking in tongues but theologoumena may as well be speaking in tongues. They can confuse and get in the way. I see the basics of Anglican Catholicism, shared by many other Catholic jurisdictions, as being an antidote to that confusion. With proper prayer and study rooted in the adoration of the Unknowable Divine, we can put an end to confusion and stand together gazing into the transcendent beauty of God.