Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dearmer - Again!

In the bloging world you sometimes come upon a quote that is so good that you just can't leave it where it was. This is one of them. I became a fan of Deamer's when I was yet a teenager in the very far ago fifties. It was one of those periods when a number of influences seemed to be warring for my intention. I was reading all of the Henry Bradshaw Society volumes the university library possessed and the works of as many Russian Orthodox theologians which I could find. And then I came upon the Parson's Handbook. It had a beauty and a logic that seemed to pull a good deal of the rest together. Anyway, this is a quote from a book of his of which I have never been able to find a copy, but like what it says so much that I think it belongs here. Hopefully those of you who appreciate the classical Anglican prayer book tradition will as well.

“The English Church happens to base herself in a special manner upon history–she appeals to the Scriptures and primitive antiquity for her theology, [* Articles VI., VIII., etc.] to the ancient Fathers for her ritual, [* The Preface Concerning the Service of the Church, Article XXIV., etc.] to Catholic tradition for her ceremonial; [* The Preface Of Ceremonies, Canon 30 (1603), Canon & (1640), etc.] she refers us to the second year of Edward VI for her ornaments, [* The Ornaments Rubric] and to the later middle ages for the arrangement of her chancels. [* "And the chancels shall remain as they have done in times past." (First inserted in 1552.)] [24/25] Her formularies, therefore, cannot be understood without a good deal of historical knowledge. Some people may object to this, and may ask–Why should they be bound by documents that are two or three hundred years old? But the fact remains that they are so bound, whether they like it or not; and that the whole intention of the Reformers, as shown from end to end of the Prayer Book, Articles, and Canons, was to bind them to principles that are nearer two thousand than two hundred years of age. Nor will they be released from this bondage to historic continuity till the same authority that imposed it shall have removed it,–which will not be for a long time to come. The attempts that have been hitherto made at throwing off this light yoke have not been so conspicuously successful in their results as to encourage us to proceed. Therefore I ask Churchmen to renounce those futile experiments of private judgment, and to throw themselves into the task of realising in its entirety that sound Catholic ideal which the defenders of the English Church preserved for us through the most troublous period of her history. “– Dearmer, Loyalty to the Prayer Book


Nicholas said...

Excellent quote. Thank you.

Jenny Brand said...

The problem with this quotation is that it is historically unsustainable except on a selective basis. Furthermore, Dearmer's appeal is made nonsensical by his own development but also by the self-destructive developments in Anglicanism since his time which have succeeded in severing all connections with her Apostolic claims or patristic appeal, however tenuous.

Canon Tallis said...


If you do not know or are not able to realize just how wrong your are, then you need a few more courses in classical logic. Dearmer's later changes of opinion do not make this quotation from him wrong any more than Tertullian's later heresies make the orthodoxy of his earlier writings suspect. That establishment Anglicanism, i.e., the See of Canterbury like the See of Rome have distanced themselves from the faith and practice of the Church of the first five centuries does not of itself bring the doctrine, discipline and worship of the sub-apostolic Church into question.

When what you say is right, it is right, but when you later develop odd opinions from whatever causes, your previous statements remain sound.

Now just what would you defend in a positive manner as orthodox Christianity?