ANGLICANS AND TRADITION AND THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN, H.R. McAdoo,
Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1997, 138 + ix pp, pbk, ISBN l-85311- 172-4,
ALL ANGLICANS owe a debt of gratitude to the former Archbishop of
Dublin and Co-Chairman of ARCIC I. His books are an irreplaceable
introduction to the Divines of the Seventeenth Century; as much as
anyone, Henry McAdoo has retrieved and interpreted the classical Anglican
tradition. If there is much in this book with which those who do not
accept the priesting of women will disagree, we should still welcome
the fact that once again Dr McAdoo has issued an elegant and readable
invitation to re-examine the Divines. There is no school of Anglican
opinion which can afford to neglect them.
In chapters 1-6, he traces the treatment of Tradition from Jewel and
Hooker to Waterland and Wake; in chapters 7-9, he retraces the same
ground more briefly to examine their use of Scripture. These two parts
demonstrate, convincingly, that the Divines reverenced both Scripture
and Tradition but did so critically (or, as they would have said,
reasonably); without being ‘fundamentalist’ about either, they rejoiced
in a Church which based itself, in Andrewes’ words, on ‘one canon,
two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries,
and the series of the Fathers in that period’ - a Church in which
(Andrewes again) ‘we do not innovate’.
Excellent as these chapters are, there is a nagging sense that the
Divines are being assembled for an assault upon a man of straw. That
assault is against an uncritical reading both of Scripture and of
Tradition, preparing the way for an assault on those who argue the
impossibility of the ordination of women, for reasons of the irreversibility
of ecclesial precedent. Well, an argument against the ordination of
women based unthinkingly on an equation of Tradition with Precedent
deserves to be knocked down, but does it need Richard Hooker and Lancelot
Andrewes to do it? The difficulty - for both sides of the argument
- comes in evaluating the seriousness of the issue: is it among the
essentials of the Faith which the Divines agreed that the Church could
not touch, or among the non-essentials which the Divines agreed that
any Church could use or do away with as it chose; or, annoyingly,
somewhere in the middle? And it is here that the appeal to the Divines
becomes more difficult. The ordination of women was not a serious
issue for the Divines, so we have no thorough treatment of the question;
if it was raised at all, as it was by Hooker, it was only to dismiss
it. So Dr McAdoo’s aim is to show that the Divines had a doctrine
of development that indicates to Anglicans today who claim to follow
in their footsteps that the ordination of women is consonant with
classical Anglican ecclesiology. His argument here coincides with
that of the Bishop of Ely in his 1990 essay, ‘Richard Hooker and the
Ordination of Women’. Bishop Sykes demonstrates that Hooker did have
a doctrine of innovation - that follows from the critical understanding
of Tradition in which Hooker was followed by all the Divines - and
Sykes argues that given the changed perception of the place of women
in society today, Hooker would at least have considered the arguments
for their ordination favourably. That is as may be; but Hooker’s notion
of innovation in the Church must be examined more closely. Hooker
says (Eccl.Pol. VII. v. 8):
The whole body of the Church hath power to alter, with general consent
and upon necessary occasion even the positive laws of the apostles,
if there be no command to the contrary, and it manifestly appears
to her, that change of times have clearly taken away the very reasons
of God’s first institution...
McAdoo, following Sykes, quotes this passage twice (pp 33, 35 - in
each case giving an incorrect reference). Neither, however, completes
Hooker’s sentence, which taken in the context of the whole passage
raises a question which is not discussed: Hooker, as he makes clear
in the rest of the sentence, is speaking ‘of what laws the universal
Church might change’: the whole passage is concerned with the universal
practice of the Church, against which the practice of one or another
particular church might not be set (see E.P. VII. v. 6, 7). This
is the issue which Dr McAdoo does not discuss: we may agree with Hooker
and the Divines (and I do) that the Church, under Scripture and in
the Spirit, may alter much in its hitherto unbroken practice; and
I think that the practice of an all-male priesthood falls into that
category; - but what of Hooker’s telling phrase, ‘the whole Church’?
For many Anglicans opposed to the ordination of women, this is the
real sticking-point, and here Dr McAdoo does not enlighten us. The
long remaining chapter of his book is devoted mainly to summarizing
the arguments of a number of biblical critics and church historians,
that there were (in effect) women priests in the New Testament and
that there is evidence of women priests in the Church throughout the
first millennium. This evidence needs to be examined in relation to
the scholars who present it, rather than in the summary form presented
In the main, Dr McAdoo does not address the question of the level
of decision-making in the Church, appropriate to different levels
of issue. What can a local Church do on its own; what must await the
consent of the Church universal? Irretrievably altered ecumenical
circumstances (and the Commission which Dr McAdoo chaired helped to
make the change) mean that Anglicans today cannot address the question
of ecclesial authority in just the same way as the Divines would have
done, yet there is still much to learn from them that sheds light
upon our present condition. On the very last page (quoting Paul Avis)
McAdoo says, ‘it is insisted that the Anglican Church cannot act -
for example in ordaining women - until Rome and the Orthodox have
given approval ... to thine own self be true!’ But a single comment,
in the book’s last paragraph, does not begin to indicate the Anglican
Divines’ complex understanding of the Church universal and local;
advice from Polonius, in words which are a classic celebration of
Renaissance individualism, hardly does justice to the ecumenical quest;
and those for whom this is the real sticking-point in the question
of the ordination of women will not feel that this book has unstuck
Peter Atkinson is Chancellor and Canon Residentiary of Chichester
Cathedral, and a former Principal of Chichester Theological College.
THE VICTORIAN WORLD PICTURE: Perceptions and introspections in an
age of Change, David Newsome, John Murray, London 1997, x + 310 pp,
hbk, ISBN 0-7195-5630-9, £25
‘HOW CAN I profess to paint a man who will not sit for his portrait?’
exclaimed Newman when asked to characterise the subtle and quintessentially
reserved John Keble. The same difficulties, multiplied a thousand-fold,
face anyone who seeks to characterise an age, and in this case an
age almost equivalent to a century. Anyone who does so must be widely
read, deeply informed, and sensitive to the nuances and idiosyncracies
of people and places, moving between the vivid illustration and anecdote
and the broader canvas of interpretation and generalisation.
David Newsome, the author of fine studies of the Wilberforces and
Manning (The Parting of Friends), of A.C.Benson (On the Edge of Paradise),
of Newman and Manning (The Convert Cardinals), and the Victorian educational
ideal (Godliness and Good Learning), in this new exploration holds
up a series of mirrors to the Victorians. By means of these mirrors
(summed up in Thackeray’s aphorism, ‘the world is a looking-glass,
and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face’). Newsome
seeks to look inwards, outwards, before and after, beyond, and ahead.
In so doing he explores what was an age of empire and industry, of
unprecendented expansion and change, and of religious and moral sensibility
which yet was all too well aware of the withdrawing tide of faith,
summarised so memorably in one of the century’s most telling poems,
Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach. This thoroughly enjoyable, informative
and, above all, readable book reminds us time and again of how wide
a perspective we need to have if we are to understand an age or a
movement, whether it be in the nineteenth-century or even our own.
Sixteen carefully chosen plates evoke significant images: among them
Victorian industrialization (the Black Country near Wolverhampton
in 1865), the crowds at the 1848 Chartist Demonstration on Kennington
Common and flocking to the Great Exhibition of 1851, Victoria and
Albert in Anglo-Saxon costume, a Gladstone family picnic, and a fine
Beardsley of John Bull: Decadent.
As we would expect from a master of nineteenth-century ecclesiastical
history we are given a fine appreciation of Victorian faith and doubt.
Hippolyte Tame could write of Victorian England that:
Even grown men here believe in God, the Trinity, and Hell, although
without fervour. Protestant dogma is very well suited to the serious,
poetic, and moral instinct of the people. They do not have to make
an effort to maintain their faith in it. An Englishman would be very
upset if he could not believe in an after-life..... In every great
crisis of his life his thoughts become solemn and tend towards
Englishmen could be suspicious of enthusiasm, but convinced by phrenology.
Sunday schools could flourish, at least until other Sunday diversions
drew children away, and left a residuum of religious knowledge. The
churches were challenged by social squalour, and sanitation, and drink.
The Salvation Army as well as the ritualists brought colour to the
slums, and it could well be that the ‘Father says’ of Anglo-Catholicism
mirrors William Booth’s conviction that ‘Despotism is essential to
most enterprises.’ Manning, who believed that the definition of Papal
Infallibility at Vatican I would ‘more than anything else promote
conversions and the return of the country to the faith’, was also
not afraid to adapt the tactics and methods of the Salvation Army
(Newsome recalls how Chesterton once saw Manning alighting from a
carriage in Kensington High Street, looking like a ‘ghost clad in
Class (what defined a gentleman?) and Empire (Bishop Welldon was not
alone in believing the British Empire “divinely ordained’), fear of
the mob (“The poor in a loomp is bad” said Tennyson), the train (Monckton
Milnes being made giddy speeding in his first railway journey at 36
miles an hour), and the train again in John Martin’s Last Judgement
picture tumbling into the abyss along with the Pope (its carriages
are in fact labelled, Paris, Kansas and Rome) - all of these are part
of the detailed and varied tapestry which makes up this evocation
of what the Victorians liked to call the Zeitgeist, the elusive, many-faceted
(and indeed changing) spirit of the age.
It is good to have this splendid study of the last century from a
true master before ‘time’s ever-rolling stream’ bears us into a new
century, and ‘the last century’ becomes our own.
Geoffrey Rowell is Bishop of Basingstoke
RAISING UP A FAITHFUL PEOPLE: High Church Priests and Parochial Education,
1850-1910, Peter Davie, Gracewing 1997, 130pp, pbk, ISBN 0-85244-366-8,
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION is essential for the passing on of Christian faith,
and so the church school had a central place in the pastoral strategy
of the Catholic revival in the Church of England in the nineteenth
century. Victorian village schools bear eloquent testimony to this.
In this survey Peter Davie surveys both the pastoral theory of the
priests who wished to instruct children in a sacramental and doctrinal
Christianity and their endeavour to put it into practice. From 1850
to 1870 most High Churchmen attempted to swim against the tide, resisting
the secularization of education, aiming to restore the Church of England’s
monopoly as the nation’s instructor in morals and religion. Following
the 1870 Education Act the battlers for a distinctive church education
had to recognise they were working in a more plural society, in which
it was simply not possible for the church to dominate in the old way.
This led to a more positive appreciation of secular knowledge and
a concern that parish clergy should learn contemporary teaching skills
and not simply rely on rote learning.
In the early period Edward Munro, parish priest of Harrow Weald, published
an influential guide to pastoral theology, Parochial Work (1850),
which John Keble eulogised as the nineteenth-century equivalent of
George Herbert’s Country Parson. Munro was concerned that his parishioners
seemed to profess little more than a vague deism, had no understanding
of sacramental faith, regarded baptism as a naming ceremony and the
eucharist as the preserve of the specially pious or mortally ill.
The teaching of the Catechism to the young was the way to inculcate
In Wantage W.J.Butler made education, both in schools and through
confirmation and communicant classes, a central plank of his remarkable
ministry, as we can see in detail from his parish diaries. Later in
the century some Anglo-Catholics adapted the catechetical method of
St Sulpice in Paris - Arthur Chandler, the Rector of Poplar at the
end of the century had some 400 children in a Sunday afternoon catechism
class. But the Sulpician method was essentially didactic - the passing
on and learning of a body of knowledge. By the Edwardian period a
pastoral theologian, such as C.F.Rogers of King’s College, London,
was insisting that pastoral theology had to become an empirical discipline
and learn from educational theory. In Rogers’ estimation far too many
children were still being made to learn the catechism by heart, shout
answers in unison, and sing doggerel hymns, and the clergy failed
to understand the use of questioning, used abstract terms in talking
to small children, and failed to encourage children to express themselves
in writing and pictures.
Davie provides a succinct survey of the endeavours of pastoral theologians
and educationalists to provide a Christian education both in church
schools and through Sunday Schools and confirmation classes. The concerns
for enabling children to learn the catholic faith and to grow in it
are still with us, and there are still things to be learnt from the
vision of some of these earlier pastoral theologians, as well as things
to be learnt from earlier failures and mistakes.
Geoffrey Rowell is Bishop of Basingstoke
A WALSINGHAM PRAYER BOOK, Elizabeth Ruth Obbard, Canterbury Press,
Norwich, 1997, 118 pp, pbk, ISBN 1-85311-170-8, £5.99
THE ROSARY, A Way into Prayer, Anne Vail, Canterbury Press, Norwich,
1997, 90 pp, pbk, ISBN 1-85311-160-0, £5.99
ETERNITY NOW, Mother Thekla, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1997, 112
pp, pbk, ISBN 1-85311-161-9, £5.99
LET US PRAY TO THE LORD, ed. Georges Lemopoulos, World Council of
Churches, Geneva, 1996, 97 pp, pbk, ISBN 2-8254-1188-4.
LITTLE WALSINGHAM truly celebrates the Incarnation. The most repulsive
bric-a-brac is found there, but so are some of the more sublime expressions,
personal and corporate, of Christian spirituality. The same contrasts
can be made between humanity in its least attractive forms, often
all too evident in Walsingham (not least waving bibles in the Common
Place at the ‘National’), and as it is raised up and expressed in
the obedience of the holy mother and in the self-giving of her son.
As the late Fr Michael Watts used to say, Walsingham is in some ways
the most irritating of places but it’s the place to send someone who
wants to find out what the Catholic Faith is all about.
A Walsingham Prayer Book, sub-titled ‘a meditative companion and guide’,
duly takes us on a tour round Walsingham. There are prayers before
we set out, visits to the Roman Catholic Shrine and to the Anglican
Shrine Church, to St Mary’s and to the Abbey. In each section there
are appropriate devotions. There is a Rosary section and a Stations
of the Cross; there is Vespers of Our Lady of Walsingham and material
for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There are prayers before and
after Holy Communion, and there are miscellaneous prayers and even
a few hymns.
It is an excellent collection, full of traditional resonance - Alphonsus,
Aquinas, Bonaventure - but in simple modern language. It is ecumenically
sensitive and easy to use. I shall take it to Walsingham with me when
I go - I wish it were in hardback - and I shall use it at home. Sr
Elizabeth Ruth Obbard ODC is the novice mistress at the Walsingham
Carmel and her readers will be as grateful as any novice for her gentle
Anne Vail’s text for The Rosary is supplemented by David Jones’ wood
engravings, first found in the Child’s Rosary Book of 1924.
A colleague of Eric Gill, Jones was led by his experiences of the
First World War to convert to Roman Catholicism: his figures here,
and elsewhere his poetry too, show the depth of his compassion and
observation, not least in his portrayal of animals and conscripts.
For those who are strangers to the rosary devotion, this is a good
place to begin. Anne Vail explains the circlet of beads, the history
of ‘Our Lady’s Psalter’, and the point of it all.
There are good suggestions, not necessarily original, but well-put:
for instance, that the words of the Hail Mary be troped by such phrases
as ‘blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus - who is dying on the cross
before you’ (p28). Also she gives us permission to reduce the Hail
Mary to the biblical salutation, the Hail Mary as Bede or Aelred would
have known it. Each of the mysteries has a wood engraving and a short
meditative explanation, including usually a relevant piece of scripture.
I am sorry Anne Vail has missed out scripture texts for the Assumption
and the Coronation of Our Lady: it is surely a mistake to suggest
by default that these profound portrayals of what it is for faithful
Christians to be risen with Christ and to obtain the crown of everlasting
glory are less than scriptural.
Eternity Now is part of the ‘Rhythm of Life’ series. It is a most
attractive introduction to Orthodox Spirituality, via feasts of the
Mother of God and Feasts of Our Lord. There is, perhaps inevitably,
a foreword by the admirable John Tavener, and an introduction to Orthodox
Essentials and Glossary of Orthodox Terms. There are Prayers of the
Heart - the Ephraim Prayer, for daily use in Great Lent, and the Jesus
Prayer - and suggestions for further reading. Mother Thekla is Abbess
of the Orthodox Monastery of the Assumption in Whitby. As she points
out in her explanation of the feast of the Assumption, ‘the Assumption
is not the name for this beloved and solemn feast’. There was some
worry, as she says, about what the English, for instance the rural
postman, would have made of ‘The Monastery of the Falling Asleep of
the Mother of God’ in Whitby and so they called it the Monastery of
the Assumption. I must say, I would have let the English and the rural
postman make of it what they liked, but there we are.
A larger collection of prayers from the Eastern Orthodox tradition
is available in Let us Pray to the Lord, which includes some riches
from the Oriental Orthodox tradition too. Georges Lemopoulos, the
editor, represents the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the World Council
of Churches’ Office of Church and Ecumenical Relations. The text is
almost entirely prayers and hymns and includes some music, Greek,
Rumanian, Russian and Syrian.
For some tastes Orthodox prayers are too florid (the Akathistos hymn
for Matins of the fifth Sunday of Lent, for instance, calls upon the
Mother of God with a fervour that would unnerve St Bernard of Clairvaux)
but the East is undoubtedly better than the West at finding images
which are simple to comprehend and intensely biblical. This, an extract
from the 1994 Via Crucis of Patriarch Bartholomew, is a telling modern
The tower of Siloam still falls,
armies still set fire to cities.
It is not that you would punish us,
it is because we have become as dry wood.
Whilst Western secular culture spreads like wild fire through the
dry wood of the East, we could do well, amidst the aridness of much
modern Western spirituality, to draw again from the cool, deep wells
of the East.
As review editor for New Directions, I am often asked why we review
so many big, difficult books and neglect the small, simple ones. One
answer, in so far as there is any substance in this observation, is
that Anglo-Catholic clergy have always led the way in keeping well-stocked
study shelves and we want to help them do that. Another answer is
that whenever small, simple books of high quality are sent to us to
review, we do our best to commend them. Such are this present batch,
mostly from the Canterbury Press, who are to be congratulated on the
flair and imagination they are presently showing.
One small question. I am myself quite easy about the informal and
popular usages ‘Catholic’ (meaning Roman Catholic) and ‘Anglican’.
It is strange, however, that Canterbury Press, proprietors of Hymns
Ancient and Modern, should be content with these usages. Whatever
happened to the idea that the Church of England is the Catholic Church
in this country? Whilst some of us are having our doubts, I should
expect the Canterbury Press at least to hang on to that usage for
Andrew Burnham is Vice-Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford.
STRAIGHT AND NARROW? Thomas E Schmidt, IVP, Leicester, 1995, 240 pp,
pbk, ISBN 0-85111-157-2, £8.99
THOMAS SCHMIDT is the first to admit that his choice of publisher
affects not only what he says but whom he addresses - in the case
of Inter-Varsity Press “the moderately to well educated, morally conservative
Christian community” (p 15). By implication, he continues, “I am not
writing to persuade the gay and lesbian community or its supporters,
but rather to deepen the understanding and sensitivity of those who
question or disapprove of homosexual practice”.
Nevertheless, it would be a great pity if potential readers were put
off by IVP’s (outdated) reputation for being theologically lightweight.
Admittedly, Schmidt aims at the popular market, but his is no mere
rehashing of the conservative case. Instead, he has done the essential
homework of engaging with a wide range of literature including views
opposed to his own. His bibliography runs to eighteen pages and includes
key advocates of what Schmidt calls the ‘revisionist’ view on homosexuality,
such as J Boswell, W Countryman and (most recently and cogently) P
Pronc. The breadth of reading is reflected by there being an additional
thirty-eight pages of notes (but sadly no topical index!).
Although he establishes the weaknesses of the revisionist approach
to key biblical texts, Schmidt’s argument against homosexuality is
based on a wider understanding of sexuality in its overall theological
context. Central to this understanding is marriage, which entails
the three elements of procreation, sexual complementarity, and responsibility
to the human community - none of which, Schmidt argues, can be sustained
by homosexual activity. In particular, the attempt by apologists to
redefine sexual relationships in terms of homosexual orientation undermines
and ultimately attacks heterosexual marriage and the family based
on it. This attack, however, is rarely acknowledged openly since it
embarrasses the revisionist cause. Thus Schmidt refers to a pro-homosexual
work where an author is cited as saying “the family unit...must be
eliminated”. The comment added by those quoting this author, however,
is that such rhetoric should be toned down in order to pursue a “mainstreaming”
strategy (p 186).
Schmidt also devotes a chapter to the physical effects of homosexual
practice - a subject often avoided in church debates. For this section,
and the material on the prevalence of homosexuality, he refers to
an astonishing 61 books and articles from secular medicine and psychology.
Several myths are laid to rest, for example about the prevalence of
homosexuality, and the point is established beyond doubt that the
nature and frequency of activities such as anal intercourse, rimming
and fisting exact a terrible cost amongst the homosexual community.
Yet in the whole of this work, Schmidt remains sensitive to the fact
that he is talking about people, not statistics. He is also alert
to the failures of Christians in public debates which “regularly pit
gay men or lesbians with warm stories of victory over self-doubt and
persecution against coldly rational ministers who quote verses about
sexual sin and eternal judgment” (p 13). Such debate, he observes,
“is less a search for truth than a spectator sport” where, “since
the reigning value of modern culture is not truth but tolerance, anyone
who takes a stand disapproving of another’s behavior is bound to lose”.
Christians who cannot yet deal with the issues calmly and compassionately
should keep their mouths shut, and they should certainly stay away
from the front lines of ministry and public policy debate - not to
mention television talk shows. [...] They must be convinced that the
way of Jesus is the way of the Wounded Healer, not the Holy Terror.
Schmidt’s work deserves to be read widely, not least by those who
disagree with his thesis. However, it is perhaps most important for
all of us to share his attitude, not just his ideas.
John Richardson is Anglican Chaplain to the University of East London.