Dominicans: AD Questions – Chapter One

Chapter One

  • Is the concept of a denomination other than the Roman Catholic Church being “Catholic” new or familiar to you?

Twenty years ago, this was a new idea other than, “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.”  As one of the four notes of the Church, I simply understood the word “catholic” to mean universal.  Following my studies, I understood the concept in a much broader sense, not only in the way we practice our faith through ritual, but also our understanding of a more ancient church.

  • What is the argument Anglican Dominicans make in claiming that their Church is an expression of Catholic Christianity?

Anglican Dominicans argue that there was “the existence a primitive or early Catholicism (distinct from Roman Catholicism) that existed for the first one thousand years of Christianity,” (p. 5) which was later folded into the Anglican Church.  John Henry Newman, one of the Tractarians would fully support this argument.  “In his tracts on the Church of England he claimed that it was truly and purely catholic, based on the customs of the Apostolic Church and the teaching of the Fathers, and corrupted neither by Romanism nor by Protestantism.” (The History of the Church in England, p. 341)

  • While drawing upon the Catholic tradition of Christianity, the Anglican Dominicans also draw upon the Protestant tradition. What elements of the Protestant Reformation are particularly important to Anglican Dominicans?

St. Paul says to Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1–4)  Preach the word: “The Protestant Reformation… brought back into the mainstream of Christian life and practice: evangelization, preaching, and the centrality of the Word of God as found in the pages of Holy Scripture…. [which] began to shift the emphasis of priestly office away from the altar and toward the pulpit.” (p. 6, 7)  

The state of preaching today is lacking.  Mark Galli (Christianity Today), recently wrote a series of articles under the title, “The Elusive Presence” (they are brilliant).  In “The Elusive Presence: And Now, the Star of the Show…,” Galli writes, “Preaching is one time in the week when we have the opportunity to hear about something other than ourselves, other than the horizontal. It’s the time to hear about God and the wonder and mysteries of his love, of what he’s done for us in Christ. But more and more, evangelical preaching has become another way we talk about ourselves, and in this case, to learn about the preacher.” (Source)  This is one of the great appeals of the Anglican Dominicans, they understand the significance of sound and learned preaching and teaching that is focused not on self, but on the Word.  The Reformers got this one right.

  • How is Anglican Christianity a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism?

G.K. Chesterton is reported to have said/written, “The Reformer is always right about what’s wrong. However, he’s often wrong about what is right.”  As was noted in Anglican Dominicans, the reformers threw the baby out with the bath water; however, in pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism, the priest had become a poorly educated sacramentalist, with little or no emphasis placed on the Word of God.  It was about the ritual and not the Person behind it all.  As was noted above in answer #3, the reformers brought back the Word, the Tractarians (answer #2) brought back the theology/understanding of the ancient Church, and later the ritual, and from this, the Via Media was born: the “bridge” Church, being both Catholic and Protestant.

  • What period of church history is particularly important for Anglicans in determining acceptable beliefs and practices?

The 19th century and the Oxford Movement, that I attempted to describe in answer #4.  This was a time of accepting some of the corrections of the reformers, without destroying the practices and piety of the Catholic Church, in the process, creating a reformed Anglican expression of the Catholic Church.

  • So far, what do you find interesting or appealing about the Anglican Dominicans?

“Anglican Dominicans recognize this trend (the pastoral office centered almost exclusively on sacramental functions) is still dangerously present in the Christian Church today and believe the foundational mission is vigorous Gospel proclamation.” (p.7)  This is very appealing.  With the decline of mainline denominations, we see so many gimmicks being employed to increase attendance and the Gospel is abandoned as “old fashioned.”  In addition, many preachers sound more like CNN/Fox News commentators than they do proclaimers of the Good News.  However, at the ordination of a priest, the bishop asks, “Will you endeavor so to minister the Word of God and the sacraments of the New Covenant, that the reconciling love of Christ may be known and received.” (BCP p.532)  In this, Dominic demonstrated to us how to fulfill this vow: “Wherever the Master was, he always spoke either to God or about God.”

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