Arthur Middleton on the sidelining of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
In 1832, Thomas Sikes, the Rector of Guilsborough, a student of non-juror theology and the theology of the Caroline divines, was in Hackney Vicarage talking to William Copeland, a young priest who had studied classical Anglican theology through the influence of his first vicar.
Sikes said, ‘Wherever I go, all about the country, I see amongst the clergy a number of very amiable and estimable men, many of them much in earnest and wishing to do good. But I have observed…the uniform suppression of one great truth. There is no account given anywhere, so far as I can see, of the One Holy Catholic Church… The doctrine is of the last importance and some day, not far distant, it will judicially have its reprisals.. .it will seem, when it is brought forward, to swallow up the rest. We now hear not a breath about the Church, by and by those who live to see it will hear of nothing else… The effects of it I even dread to contemplate, especially if it comes suddenly: and woe
betide those.. .who shall in the course of Providence have to bring it forward… They will be endlessly misunderstood and misinterpreted. There will be one great outcry of Popery from one end of the country to the other.’
Also he said that it would be ‘thrust upon minds unprepared and upon an uncatechized Church. Some will take it up as a beautiful theory unrealized; others will be frightened and scandalized and reject it, and all will want a guidance which one hardly knows where they shall find… How the doctrine may be first thrown forward we know not, but the powers of the world may any day turn their backs upon us, and this probably will lead to those effects I have described.’ This is exactly what happened; the powers of the world turned their backs upon the Church; but its champions were being prepared.
The Church of England is in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Oxford fathers suffered to reestablish the significance of this for the
Church of England. Today we hear much about the American Church, the African Church, the Anglican Church in Canada, the Anglican Communion, the Church of England. But in the chaos and confusion within Anglicanism, the doctrine of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is of the last importance.
When the Orthodox and Roman Churches were consulted on the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, their advice was dismissed as irrelevant. Cardinal Rasper’s advice to the House of Bishops was ignored. What the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has to say about these innovations is not taken seriously by those responsible for such decisions. They have ceased to be matters of doctrine and, like sexuality, have become matters of human rights as understood by secular humanism. The next issue in waiting is euthanasia.
Perhaps the fundamental problem is the Church of England’s descent into Arianism. Pardon me for thinking that the Anglican Communion is no longer serious about the unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. If the current innovations are not rejected, we will cease to be part of it and this article in our Creed will become meaningless.