Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fr. David Handy's "5 Reasons" to leave The Episcopal Church, revisited

From November, 2007, The Reverend Dr. David Handy, PhD, offers this argument in favor of Anglican reformation and realignment. I was a newbie blogger, and had real problems with formatting this when he first submitted it. It is a long piece, but well worth reading and now 'tis a bit more readable. His five arguments are

1. Present Anglican polity has severe design flaws.

2. Our doctrinal boundaries are too vague.

3. Current "Instruments of Communion" are not up to current challenges.

4. Liturgical chaos prevents unity.

5. Doctrine trumps polity and Scripture trumps tradition, not vice versa.

Read his developed thoughts here.


Alice C. Linsley said...

I wonder if Dr. Handy has thought more about this since he wrote this:

"Whatever the presenting issue may be, the underlying issue is whether Scripture will become dominant once again, or whether the West will continue to stress church tradition or human experience instead. Put another way, will biblical doctrine finally trump eccesiastical polity or vice versa?"

There are problems posed by this: "Doctrine trumps polity and Scripture trumps tradition, not vice versa."

I suggest that Scripture and Holy Tradition are always unified in their witness to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Narrowing one's idea of tradition to "church tradition" may be part of the problem.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Some readers here might be interested in this:

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the only reason for leaving TEC is if God gives you the git-go. That is if you are intent on doing the will of God.

And if He does He will make it very clear.

TLF+ said...

anonymous - good point. It has to be on God's terms, including God's timing.

Alice, thank you for the insights into Holy Tradition... certainly Scripture and tradition are no enemies, given the way TEC has despised both.

David Handy+ said...


I didn't take offense at your question. And the answer is, of course I've thought about these matters more since I first wrote that essay 21 months ago. But while I've thought more, I'm not usre I've thought any better since then.

But the whole subject of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition is avery complex one, that I've developed much more extensively on other threads at Stand Firm. Suffice to say here that I've explicitly rejected the classic Protestant notion of "sola scriptura," while continuing to affirm the primacy and supremacy of Holy Scripture over Holy Tradition. Or better, the supreme and ultimate authority of the bible WITNIN the Tradition of the Church.

I'm well aware, Alice, as I'm sure you are too, that while the classic Latin or western (RC) formula is "Scriptura ET Traditio," the eastern Christian view could perhaps be summed up better as (translated into Latin) "Scriptura IN Traditio." But you're absolutely right that both Roman Catholics and the Eastern Christian world would refuse to pit Scripture against Tradition, at least in the way that Protestants do.

Alas, I'm still Protestant/evangleical enough to think that this amounts to giving too many church traditions a blank check and an undeserved free pass. And I'm very intentionally and deliberately speaking of traditions with a small "t" here, as opposed to the classic, central, apostolic Tradition itself, with a capital T. And I think that vital distinction makes all the difference.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thank you for the clarfication. I suspected that you had more to say on this subject and I appreciate your distinctions between Scripture and Tradition and Scripture in Tradition.

There is another approach, one which I find by viewing this subject through the lens of anthropology: Scripture as Tradition received from Abraham's people. As Jesus said (John 8:56): "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." As someone who tends to take our Lord's words literally, I'm convinced that this is true.

Abraham himself received a tradition concerning the expectation of a Son of God. That expectation goes back to Genesis 3:15.

I present the anthropological research in these essays: