Folks from the conservative wing have been issuing confessional statements for a while now; and it comes as no surprise to me that when these confessions are examined in detail, they sometimes veer from real catholic orthodoxy onto the soft-shoulder of sectariansim while protesting that they are still very much on the road.
The recent Common Cause draft statement is a case in point. Others have noted the odd fondness for the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its predecessors. But I was more struck by this clause of the Common Cause confession:
We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.The latter half of this is very far and away out of the Anglican mainstream, and represents almost lapidary Calvinism.
Hooker addressed this argument, that the Scripture is a limit upon human life rather than the source of its life, in many passages of his work. Perhaps the most eloquent is this simple statement:
It is no more disgrace for Scripture to have left a number of things free to be ordered at the discretion of the Church, than for nature to have left it unto the wit of man to devise his own attire. (III.iv.1)or at greater length, and with greater relevance to the present situation:
Two opinions therefore there are concerning sufficiency of Holy Scripture, each extremely opposite unto the other, and both repugnant unto truth. The schools of Rome teach Scripture to be so unsufficient, as if, except traditions were added, it did not contain all revealed and supernatural truth, which absolutely is necessary for the children of men in this life to know that they may in the next be saved. Others justly condemning this opinion grow likewise unto a dangerous extremity, as if Scripture did not only contain all things in that kind necessary, but all things simply, and in such sort that to do any thing according to any other law were not only unnecessary but even opposite unto salvation, unlawful and sinful. Whatsoever is spoken of God or things appertaining to God otherwise than as the truth is, though it seem an honour, it is an injury. And as incredible praises given unto men do often abate and impair the credit of their deserved commendation, so we must likewise take great heed, lest in attributing unto Scripture more than it can have, the incredibility of that do cause even those things which indeed it hath most abundantly to be less reverently esteemed. (II.viii)I do wonder if the Common Causers really mean what they say in its literal and plain sense? Shall they begin to shun buttons and chromium, even as they embrace shunning those whose manner of life offends them? Shall we soon see a squad of Black Bumper Bishops, or even more observant Buggy Bishops? I think not. Rather, we will see the usual uneven application of Scripture that is convenient for some to the detriment of others: the font of all sectarianism cloaked as the catholic faith.
— Tobias S Haller BSG