Thursday, December 2, 2010

We are Catholic Christians by Bishop Jack Leo Iker

The following article is written by Bishop Iker.  Please enjoy reading it.  Fr. Klein

In the previous article I refuted the allegation of our adversaries that this diocese has “left the Church and joined another denomination.”

On the contrary, we remain members of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is a global fellowship of Christians in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, sharing the same spiritual, sacramental, theological and liturgical heritage. This “fellowship” is described in the constitutions of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, as Anglican. The term is synonymous with Episcopalian and the Diocese of Fort Worth has not ceased being that. We are, by virtue of our place in the Province of the Southern Cone, constituent members of the Anglican Communion.

So much for the claim that we have “joined another denomination.” But on further reflection we see that there is a basic fallacy in assuming that Anglicans are part of a denomination in the first place. We are not. We are members of the Catholic Church, not a denomination.

I invite us all to look beyond the surface level of our Anglican identity, with its temptation to denominationalism, and go back to our heritage as catholic Christians. In those same constitutional provisions that I quoted in the previous article, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and the Diocese of Fort Worth, all declare that we are a fellowship within, or a branch, of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, maintaining and propagating the faith and order of the historic Church throughout the ages.

This means that we are not members of a sectarian, Protestant denomination, but of the Catholic Church. Remember, the Church of England, which came to be known as Anglican, existed before the Reformation and traces its roots back to the Patristic age of the early Christian Church. This same Church, which predated the arrival of Augustine and his missionaries from Rome in the sixth century, is continuous with the Church of England that emerged from the sixteenth century Reformation. Reformed, yes, but not a new denomination; the Church of England still maintained the sacraments, creeds and holy orders of the undivided church of the early centuries, before the Great Schism of West and East in 1054.

Knowing this, Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher famously said, “We have no doctrine of our own. We only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and these creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that rock.” And to that we might add that Anglicanism has no Scriptures of its own, no sacraments of its own, no holy orders of its own – just those of the Catholic Church that we have received. Fisher was right, as Anglicans we have no faith of our own.

Like the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, orthodox Anglicans uphold the historic faith and order of the undivided Church. We are nothing more nor less than Catholic Christians, seeking to be faithful to the teaching of the early Church Fathers and the great Ecumenical Councils of the first centuries of Christian witness. With St. Vincent of Lerins, we affirm that the Catholic faith is that which has been believed “everywhere, always, and by all.” Wherever you find departures from this given faith and received order, you will find sectarianism, heresy and error.

With this in mind, we understand that the divided and fractured nature of Anglicanism today has been caused by heretical innovations and departures from the Church’s historic faith and practice. Two Provinces are specially to blame – the Anglican Church of Canada and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA. It is our Christian duty to speak out and stand against the errors advocated by these Provinces because they lead others into falsehood and away from salvation. All this to say nothing of the fact that deviations from the historic teaching of the Church have led to a serious state of brokenness and impaired Communion throughout Anglicanism.

In the Diocese of Fort Worth we stand against that. Our commitment as an orthodox Anglican diocese is to the faith and order of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We seek to do nothing other than maintain and propagate the faith once delivered to the saints, which is rooted in Holy Scriptures and one with the Apostolic Teaching of the ancient church.

Far from having joined a “different denomination,” we have remained faithful to the witness of the Catholic Church of the ages. With our Lord Jesus Christ, we too pray for an end to our divisions and for a restoration of visible unity of Catholic Christians, both East and West.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth

1 comment:

  1. Bravo, Bishop Iker! So well said and so important! Thank you for remaining faithful to the Catholic witness!
    I invite you to read part of my Catholic witness in the newly published memoir, 'Graffiti On My Soul' by Johanna, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle