Donlon Vs. Cranmer

Canon Kevin Donlon suggests that perhaps the Anglican Communion should adopt the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalum as a normative basis of canon law. Donlon writes:

An example from a Byzantine source could be found in the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalum. In this codex from the Oriental Rite here applied to Anglicanism, common law designates laws and lawful customs that would be common to all Anglican churches. This is opposed to a particular law, which designates laws, lawful customs, statutes and norms not common to the whole communion or to all provinces.

Among other travesties, the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalum adheres to a seven sacraments view, a view which was explicitly rejected by the Anglican Reformers. Donlon has said, “the question of the number of sacraments was not an issue, it was resolved long ago by the church.” But in this, he reflects clearly his Roman Catholic background, and betrays a total lack of appreciation for the historic Anglican position, as codified in the Articles of Religion:

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

It is impossible for the Articles to be any more clear than they are at this point. Donlon may think that this only applied to the 16th century, but he is wrong. This is not a time-bound statement, but a universal one. And let me look at another issue near to my heart, from the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalum, namely, icons. The Codex says:

Art. IV. Veneration of the Saints, of Sacred Images and Relics

Canon 884 – To foster the sanctification of the people of God the Church recommends to the special and filial veneration of the Christian faithful the Holy Mary ever Virgin, the Mother of God, whom Christ established as the Mother of the human race; it also promotes true and authentic devotion to the other saints by whose example the Christian faithful are edified and through whose intercession they are sustained.

Canon 885 – Veneration through public cult is permitted only to those servants of God who are listed among the saints or the blessed by the authority of the Church.

Canon 886 – The practice of displaying sacred icons or images in churches for the veneration of the Christian faithful is to remain in force in the manner and order established by the particular law of each Church sui iuris.

Canon 887 – §1. Sacred icons or precious images, that is, those which are outstanding due to antiquity or art, which are exposed in churches for the veneration of the Christian faithful, cannot be transferred to another church or alienated without the written consent given by the hierarch who exercises authority over that same church, with due regard for cann. 1034-1041.

This is again completely antithetical to the norms of Anglicanism. For example, in the year 1549, injunctions were issued by Edward VI, by virtue of 31 Hen. VIII. c. 8, confirmed by 34 and 35 Hen. VIII. c. 23, the Proclamation Statutes. In these injunctions we find:

3 Item. That such images as they know in any of their cures to be or have been so abused with pilgrimage or offerings of anything made thereunto, or shall be hereafter censed unto, they (and none other private persons) shall, for the avoiding of that most detestable offense of idolatry, forthwith take down, or cause to be taken down, and destroy the same; and shall suffer from henceforth no torches, nor candles, tapers, or images of wax to be set afore any image or picture, but only two lights upon the high altar, before the sacrament, which for the signification that Christ is the very true light of the world, they shall suffer to remain still, admonishing their parishioners that images serve for no other purpose but to be a remembrance, whereby men may be admonished of the holy lives and conversation of them that the said images do represent; which images if they do abuse for any other intent, they commit idolatry in the same, to the great danger of their souls.”

The Twenty-second of our Articles of Religion says:

The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

So, if GAFCON was to agree with Donlon that a greater adherence to canon law is needed, why would we not rather start with Cranmer’s Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum? Why on earth would we start with a Byzantine Catholic legal code that is like a dagger pointed at the heart of a Reformed Catholic Church?

5 thoughts on “Donlon Vs. Cranmer”

  1. The text of Kenneth Donlon’s article “The Challenges of Covenant and Canons for the Future of a Ius Commune Anglicanae” appears to have been removed from the Global South Anglican web site. Did you make a copy of the article. If so, can you send it to me? I checked Donlon’s other articles. Their texts have not been removed.

  2. I would tend to agree with you Joel, and disagree with Kevin+ most of the time. Out of curiosity, though, do you think there is a way of incorporating art into our worship spaces without adoration? Is there perhaps a place for icons and sacred art that does not lead to a violation of the Law? Was that a necessary market correction in the 16th Century? Is there a way of being faithful to our 22nd article while at the same time giving space for the Caroline Divines way of thinking? Just curious about your response.

  3. Yes, that is the historic position of the Anglican Church – pictures are fine, just don’t bow to them or pray to them. Dr. Donne says:

    “God, we see, was the first that made images, and he was the first that forbade them. He made them for imitation; He forbade in danger of adoration. For – qualis dementiae est id colere, quod melius est – what a drowsiness, what a laziness, what a cowardliness of the soul is it, to worship that which does but represent a better thing than itself. Worship belongs to the best. Know thou thy distance and thy period, how far to go and where to stop. Dishonor not God by an image in worshipping it, and yet benefit thyself in following it. There is no more danger out of a picture than out of a history, if thou intend no more in either than example.”

    Archbishop Wake wrote:

    “Were the benefits of images never so great, yet you know this is neither that which we dispute with you, nor for which they are set up in your churches. Your Trent Synod expressly defines that due veneration is to be paid to them. Your catechism says that they are to be had not only for instruction but for worship. And this is the point in controversy betwixt us. We retain pictures, and sometimes even images too in our churches for ornament, and (if there be such uses to be made of them) for all the other benefits you have now been mentioning. Only we deny that any service is to be paid to them; or any solemn prayers to be made at their consecration, for any divine virtues, or indeed for any virtues at all, to proceed from them.”

    I doubt that Donlon has any appreciation for this heritage.

  4. The Protestant Dictionary (1904) contains a helpful article on church and clergy ornaments. “ORNAMENTS and ORNAMENTS RUBRIC.” I posted the entire article on the Heritage Anglican Network:

    Canon Frederick Meyrick examines the views of the Caroline High Churchmen on church and clergy ornaments in Old Anglicanism and Modern Ritualism (1901): The nineteenth century Ritualists and their successors, the modern Anglo-Catholics, claim the Caroline High Churchmen as their antecedents. But the evidence does not support their claim. Meyrick’s work is helpful in sorting out the Caroline High Churchmen’s actual views from the views later writers have attributed to them but in actuality reflect their own views.

  5. Thanks Robin. The Phillpotts v. Boyd case is the one that I have gleaned a lot from in the book “The Principal Ecclesiastical Judgments delivered in the Court of Arches 1867 to 1875.”

    I believe any ACNA / AMiA / CANA priest should be required to read Cranmer, Ridley, Herbert, Donne, Hooker and things like the book I mention prior to or after ordination. Instead, we get guys who read smatterings of Newbigin and Wright and think they are Anglicans and can do just about whatever they want. The term, like many others, is becoming meaningless in that it can apply to any mish-mash of practices under the sun.

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