Where Is the Church Christ Founded?
A Statement of Faith
WHY CAN’T CHRISTIANS AGREE?
It is within the context of a growing indifference to, and rejection of, all religion that we are called to proclaim the true Catholic Faith. Many who do think about religion, especially in the crises of life, are deterred by conflicting Christian teachings as taught by the denominations and sects. ‘They all have the same Bible, so why can’t they agree?’ the enquirer asks.
PROTESTANT FAILURE AND ROMAN CATHOLIC DISUNITY
Feminism and liberal theology threaten to shatter the unity of the Roman Church. Protestantism has demonstrably failed. The 16th century Reformation, which sought to recover the authority of the Scriptures, has spouted a multitude of denominations and sects, many of which now deny the authenticity of the Scriptures when they do not support their liberal views, whilst others exhibit a narrow-minded sectarianism.
WHAT A MESS
A highly vocal feminist movement has wreaked havoc in the Church of England, changing it beyond all recognition, and moving it further and further away from authentic Christianity. Society is confused as never before and has lost any sense of moral direction. Non-Christians mock openly at what Christianity has become. Those who genuinely search for a meaning to life look elsewhere for the answers – increasingly to the teachings of non-Christian religions.
WHERE IS THE CHURCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT?
Where is the Church Christ founded to bring His certain Truth and New Life to all men? Where is that Church against which, as Christ promised, the gates of Hell would never prevail? (Matt 16:18) Where is that original Church, the Church of which we learn in the Acts of the Apostles?
WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?
Jesus Christ asked His Apostles: “whom say ye that I am?” (Matt 16:15). If, like Peter, we confess that He is the Son of the Living God, and, like Thomas, adore Him as “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28) then His Church is with us still; for He promised that the Holy Spirit would always sustain and lead His Church into all truth (Jn 16:13). The Word of the Living God can never be broken. He always keeps His promises.
THE CHURCH CHRIST FOUNDED
Claimants to an historic title have to prove continuity of family, and to furnish evidence of their ancestry. Similarly, no Christian denomination can substantiate a claim to be the Church Christ founded without proven continuity of Faith and Apostolic Ministry derived in unbroken succession from the Apostles. There must be a sense of living continuity from the time of the Apostles to the present in order to be the original Church, the Church of which we read in the pages of the New Testament. Only one Church meets those criteria. That sole, true Church founded by Christ is the Holy Catholic Church – and indeed known by that very title from the beginning of Christianity. In 107 AD St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote: “Where Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” This Church, according to His clear Word of promise (Matt 16:18) will never be destroyed, either by erroneous belief or sin. This Church is with us still, and for all time. This Church of the living God, Catholic and Apostolic, can confidently proclaim in every age, in the words of Orthodox Patriarchs: “We preserve the doctrine of the Lord uncorrupted, and firmly adhere to the Faith He delivered to us, and keep it free from error and diminution, as a royal treasure and a monument of great price, neither adding anything nor taking anything from it.”
A TIME OF DISRUPTION
The two great parts of the Catholic Church, namely, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Roman Catholic Church, split apart in 1054 AD. When we speak of the ‘Undivided Catholic Church’ we refer to the thousand-year period before the split when these Churches were united together. Now especially, both Rome and Orthodoxy are actively seeking to heal their division. It is recognized that only by a return to the Faith and Practice of the Undivided Catholic Church is visible reunion achievable. The Faith of the Undivided Catholic Church is the wholeness and fullness of the Catholic Faith. The separation of the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Roman Churches with their distinctive gifts has been a cause of grievous mutual impoverishment and lack of balance – and in the Roman Church particularly doctrinal distortion.
WHAT WAS DONE ABOUT THE FAILURE OF ANGLICANISM
The Churches of the Anglican Communion always laid claim to Catholic Faith and maintained the Apostolic Succession of bishops, priests and deacons derived from the Apostles. Faced with official Anglican apostasy from Catholic Faith and abandonment of valid Apostolic Succession, faithful Anglicans met at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1977 to take action. The Churches of the Anglican Communion never officially held the whole Faith of the Undivided Catholic Church, although some Anglicans did so on a purely individual basis. A comprehensive ‘broad church’ approach to doctrine, a ‘believe as you like’ mentality, born of the 16th century ‘Elizabethan Settlement’ in England, had inevitably led to ever-widening and deepening doctrinal divisions. That doctrinal comprehensiveness was the root cause of today’s official Anglican apostasy. The action taken at St. Louis resulted in a document know as the Affirmation of St. Louis. The Anglican inheritance of Faith can only be maintained by a return to the fullness of the Faith of the Undivided Catholic Church. The Affirmation of St. Louis is the first Anglican formulary ever to profess adherence to the whole Faith and Practice of that sole Church of Christ and demand acceptance of that Faith as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils. It spelled out the end of doctrinal comprehensiveness.
THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH ANGLICAN RITE IS ABOUT RESTORATION
By her firm adherence to the Affirmation of St. Louis, and by her Constitution and Canons, the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite, as a truly Western Church, has restored the Faith of the Undivided Catholic Church. The Holy Catholic Church Anglican Rite is therefore a manifestation, a showing forth, of that one true Church of Christ in this our day. It is not a matter of living in the past; it is the ever-living and unchangeable past living in the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite. Restoration of the Faith of the Undivided Catholic Church means that the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite has entered fully into the mainstream of authentic Christianity; an area shared with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Thus, the Holy Catholic Church Anglican Rite is rightly described as the fulfillment of our (Anglican) heritage of Faith.
EUCHARIST MAKES CHURCH – NOT CHURCH MAKES EUCHARIST
How does the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite define the Church? The Roman Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion believe that the church is an institution possessing the Eucharist. The Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite, like the Eastern Orthodox Church and like the Undivided Catholic Church, defines the Church as an institution created by Christ’s sacramental presence in the Eucharist. This was well expressed by St. Ignatius of Antioch who in 107 AD wrote “Let there be a valid Eucharist over which the bishop presides, or one to whom he commits it; where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as wheresoever Christ Jesus is (in the Holy Eucharist) there is the Catholic Church.” Therefore, the Catholic Church (and the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite as a part thereof) is a Eucharistic community brought into being by Christ in the Eucharist, which is presided over by a bishop of Apostolic Succession and who professes the Apostolic Faith. (This teaching of the Undivided Catholic Church contrasts sharply with the Roman claim that Papal recognition and acceptance is necessary in order to be truly Catholic.)
HOW CHRIST’S TRUTH IS TRANSMITTED
The certain truth of God revealed by Christ alone can set us free from the bondage of our fallen human condition. Christ intended that His teaching be passed on and transmitted down the ages in and through His Church. Hence, St. Paul’s instruction to Timothy: “And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). This passing on, handing over, of the truths revealed by Christ to “faithful men who shall be able to teach others also” is known as the ‘Tradition’. Thus the teaching of Christ would be made known to all succeeding generations through the Tradition.
THERE MUST BE FULL ACCEPTANCE – ONE CANNOT PICK AND CHOOSE
Full acceptance of the Tradition therefore, is vital. St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to stand fast “and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or by our epistle” (2 Thess 2:15). He also commands them, in the Name of Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the Tradition received from the Church; “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” (2 Thess 3:6).
HOLY TRADITION CANNOT BE IN ERROR
St. Paul could exhort Christians in such definite terms because Tradition is completely reliable. According to Christ’s promise, the Holy Spirit would always keep His Church in the Truth; from which it follows that if the passing on, the handing over, of His Teaching were to go astray, His Promise would have failed. To those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord, that is an impossible thought! The Tradition is described as Holy Tradition as it is the work of the Holy Spirit for ever abides in the Holy Catholic Church.
WHAT IS THE NEW TESTAMENT?
Holy Tradition, then, speaks of the handing over of correct belief and worship from age to age. Without Holy Tradition, we would have no New Testament. What is the New Testament? It is Holy Tradition committed to writing, and that after the Church had existed for many years.
HOW WE KNOW TRUTH FROM ERROR
We distinguish truth from erroneous interpretations of the Bible by recourse to Holy Tradition. “What does the Tradition teach?” the Church asked when confronted by novel interpretations of Scripture. It is the same today. To divorce Scripture from the Holy Tradition is akin to taking a plant from its native soil and replanting it in sand! Scripture cannot be separated from the Holy Tradition of the Church. Only Holy Tradition can interpret the Scriptures, for Holy Tradition wrote the Scriptures. This is why we believe Holy Scripture to be the written Word of God.
PROTESTANT MISUSE OF THE SCRIPTURES
Protestantism in all its many and diverse forms, has divorced, taken away the bible from the Holy Tradition, and has interpreted its sacred words without regard for Holy Tradition. Consequently, there are as many interpretations as there are men. The New Testament itself explicitly forbids such private interpretation of the Scriptures. (See 2 Peter 1:20.)
LIBERAL AGNOSTICISM AND ROMAN ERROR
Nowadays, so-called liberal Christians have gone even further away from Holy Tradition, and have rejected the veracity of the Scriptures wherever they fail to support their particular views. The Papal error is that claims made for a monarchical Papacy do not accord with Holy Tradition.
WHY ECUMENICAL COUNCILS?
Seven great Councils of the Undivided Catholic Church were held to deal with particular challenges to the Church’s Teaching about Jesus Christ. Those Councils, known as Ecumenical Councils because they were representative of the whole Church, answered those challenges by appealing to Holy Tradition. Faithful to the Holy Tradition, the authoritative teaching set forth by these Councils was received by the whole Church in full awareness that God the Holy Spirit had spoken through them, in accordance with Christ’s promise that the Holy Spirit would always keep His Church in right belief, faithful to the Holy Tradition.
ABOUT OUR WORSHIP
Lex orandi, lex credendi (‘As we worship, so we believe’). The Holy Catholic Church Anglican Rite’s form of worship follows Anglican Prayer Book style, augmented by traditional Catholic liturgy. A Consecration Prayer at the Eucharist, widely used in the Undivided Catholic Church and known as the Gregorian Canon, is fully authorized for use in the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite. Our worship expresses our faith.
CATHOLIC UNITY NOW ACHIEVED
The Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite has attained true Catholic unity – unity in the Faith – a goal which the inherent doctrinal divisiveness of the Churches of the Anglican Communion would always have prevented them from doing.
CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH ARE ONE AND THE SAME
Among the chaos of sectarianism, liberalism, and the evils of a secular, materialistic society, it is in His One Catholic Church, which can never be divided, that Christ is to be found. Christ’s Church is His Mystical Body, as Scripture clearly teaches, and therefore Christ and His Church are One and the Same. Jesus Christ must never be preached as seemingly separate from His Holy Catholic Church.
A FIRM LINE BETWEEN YESTERDAY AND TODAY
Building upon our heritage, we begin no ‘new church’. Nevertheless, our official profession of the Faith and Practice of the Undivided Catholic Church marks a clear line of demarcation between ourselves and the failed Anglicanism of yesterday; it equally distinguishes us from the so-called ‘Continuing Churches’; all of which seek to replicate the Anglicanism they have known – minus women clergy. That is their fundamental weakness, and already they manifest instability, with split after split. We must at all times refute with vigor any suggestion that we are part of the ‘Continuum’, as they all so describe themselves.