Anglican and Reformation Theology Comparison Research Paper
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To combat subjectivity, he called for interpretation to be subject to church authority, which was the voice of reason. Reardon (1981) echoes this interpretation: "Hooker sets out to refute the puritan contention that in religion holy scripture affords the sole and absolute authority and rule" (p. 280). Hooker shows that the narrow principle of sola scriptura "disregards the larger context of the divine law in creation within which even the scriptural revelation must be placed if we are to understand its proper scope and purpose" (Reardon, 1981, p. 280). Not far from the Reformers, they upheld the idea that the directly inspired written word contains supernatural revelation. There is perhaps less emphasis on preaching and proclamation in the Anglicans than in the Reformers.
What is the status of the creeds and traditions? In Anglicanism, the Nicene, the Athanasius, and the Apostle's creeds are stressed as true because they are taken to concur with biblical truth (Article 8). Had they been found to contradict scripture, they would have been questioned rather than proved. Creeds are guides for personal development and exist in harmony with such biblical texts as 1 John 5:1, John 4:21, and John 3:36 regarding trust and belief of a person. Anglicanism incorporates a heavy dose of the teachings of the Church Fathers. Tradition supplements scripture. In essence, Anglicanism realizes that one's approach to scripture is to a greater or lesser extent already influenced by reason and tradition. The biblical text presupposes their utilization. In addition, in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1888), the Apostle's and Nicene creeds are endorsed as sufficient statements of faith. Beckwith (1988) writes, "Its points were 1. The supremacy and sufficiency of the Scriptures; 2. The Apostles' Creed, as the baptismal symbol (no longer so today) in many places, and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith; 3. The two dominical sacraments; 4. The historic episcopate" (p. 22). This position was affirmed in this later statement of Anglican identity and unity.
In his Ninety-five Theses, Luther criticizes the all-embracing claim of the Pope to give plenary remission of sins through indulgences. In thesis two, repentance does not refer to the sacrament of penance as administered by the clergy, but to inner repentance that produces outward mortification (Aland, 2004, p. 55). The entire series of statements can be read as a condemnation of the papal practice of selling indulgences. This practice, Luther believed, was corrupt. For example, thesis fifty-two states: "It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security" (Aland, 2004, p. 59). In other words indulgences cannot remove sin or guilt (thesis seventy-six).
According to McGrath, it is impossible to understand the Reformer's view on salvation without grasping the network of biblical thought related to redemption through Christ (1999, pp. 101-02). This network includes many kinds of biblical images: images of Christ's victory over sin and death that can be shared through faith, images of changed legal status, images of changed personal status, images of liberation, and images of restoration to wholeness. In this context, Reformers such as Luther and Calvin stressed grace and justification by faith, not by works. McGrath (1999) says, "The doctrine of justification by faith alone is an affirmation that God does everything necessary for salvation" (p. 113). This view came out of a deep reflection on Paul's epistle to the Romans and his notion of God's justice. Realizing that God gives grace (Matt. 7:7-8), true repentance became the result, not the precondition, of grace. Righteousness is God's work imputed to the person. This revised Luther's understanding of texts such as Romans 1:17 and 4:7 that speak of God's justice. This view of justification by faith is based in preconceptions of bondage to sin and depravity that Luther took from Romans and John 8:34-44.
Likewise, Anglicanism saw the need for salvation as the need to regenerate from a sinful nature. Sin is a condition (Rom. 7:18, 8:7; Eph. 2:1). The Anglicans, like the Reformers, uphold an Augustinian view by which original sin is passed on naturally and exists as a fundamental characteristic of all humans (Article 9). Opposing Catholicism, it said that baptism cannot eliminate this sinful nature, even after faith. This basic fallen condition means that humans cannot turn to God on their own strength and will (Article
10). In other words, there is no real choice in the matter of grace. Hughes (1965) characterizes the Anglican view this way: "The necessity of faith is not a necessity of human initiative, but a necessity of response to the divine initiative" (p. 54). No one can choose to be good in God's sight. Salvation cannot be won through works, but only through the grace of God. This view is based on Philippians 2:13, and, in Cranmer, a reformed understanding of Romans 3 (Brooks, 2002, p. 248). It is an affirmation of justification by faith alone, and as such a refutation of Roman doctrine of the Mass.
Hooker's Anglican ideas of justification followed a typically Calvinist trajectory. He rejected all notions that humans could earn salvation. Eppley (2002) states, "While nothing a human being could do was meritorious or efficacious toward salvation, Hooker recognized sanctifying righteousness and its fruit, good works, as a necessary accompaniment to justifying righteousness" (p. 254). According to Eppley, participation in the Word of God was the first of Hooker's prerequisites for salvation (2002, p. 256). Salvation must be conceived through what the scriptures teach. Cranmer's Article 6 says, "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation" (Thomas, 1976). Here the Bible, and no other text, teaching, or tradition, is necessary for grasping the message. At the same time, this seems to discount any form of salvation that would come outside the text (as, for example, through the Holy Spirit in reformed theology, or through sacrament and tradition in Catholic theology).
However, unlike the Reformers, the Anglicans placed greater value in the sacraments. Eppley says that "the sacraments were also central in bringing Christians to salvation" (2002, p. 256). In other words, salvation comes through the scriptures, but this is mediated through the sacraments as well. The sacraments were necessary, not because they bestowed grace but because they placed the believer into the assembly. The sacraments dispense grace, sanctification, and salvation.
In terms of justification, Article 11 says, "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works and deservings" (Thomas, 1979). In this way, justification is not linked with sanctification, which is impossible since the sin nature remains. It is clearly based on the substitutionary death of Christ applied to the human believer as found in biblical texts that speak of Christ's purifying blood (Matt. 11:19, 12:37; Luke 7:35; Acts 13:38-39; John 13:10; 1 John 1:7; 1 Thess. 5:24; Rev. 13:8). Article 18 says that a person can be saved only through the name of Christ (Thomas, 1976). It does not come through any affiliation with law or sect. As Article 31 states, "The offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone" (Thomas, 1976).
Luther attacked the sacraments vehemently in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520). George (1988) writes, "Luther attacked the 'mechanical' doctrine of the sacraments, that is, the idea that the sacraments by virtue of their being performed (ex opera operato) conveyed grace to everyone not in a state of mortal sin" (p. 93). In Luther's view, the sacraments were promises of God to which signs have been attached. For example, one could receive salvation without baptism. It was not necessary in the same way as receiving and believing were necessary. In other words, faith was more important than the sacraments, which only expressed belief and were not sufficient for salvation. Luther retained nonetheless a high view of the two major sacraments, eventually tossing aside the other five.
Luther accepted a modified form of transubstantiation. The body and blood are indeed really present in the Eucharist, based on a literal interpretation of Matthew 26:26. Luther's views were received with disbelief by other reformers. Zwingli, for instance, saw the sacraments primarily as a "declaration of allegiance of an individual to a community" (McGrath, 1999, p. 180). It is how one proves one's belonging to the church. He interprets Matthew 26:26 metaphorically, on the basis of his interpretations of other texts (such as John 1 and 15) in which "is" means "signifies." Furthermore, Zwingli elevates the preaching of the Word above the sacraments. McGrath writes (1999), "Where Luther included a new emphasis upon…
Sources Used in Documents:
Aland, K. (Ed.). (2004). Martin Luther's 95 theses. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Avis, P. (2007). The identity of Anglicanism: essentials of Anglican ecclesiology. London and New York: T & T. Clark.
Bayer, Oswald. (2008). Martin Luther's theology: a contemporary interpretation (Trans T.H. Trapp). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Beckwith, R.T. (1988). "Anglicanism." In New dictionary of theology (S. B. Ferguson & D.F. Wright, Eds.), pp. 21-23. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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