National Catholic Register


A Hermeneutic Is A Hard Thing To Shake

BY Pat Archbold

| Posted 1/12/10 at 8:00 AM


A hermeneutic is a hard thing to shake.

We all have our own hermeneutic, a lens through which we view the world, which can either serve to distort or clarify.  The impression that I have is that William Lind may be wearing bifocals. He sees certain things with clarity while other things are distorted.

Lind writes at The American Conservative about the disintegration of the Anglican Communion and how Pope Benedict’s offer to Anglicans might be the first step in a “counter-reformation.”

With delightfully witty tone, he decries the abandonment of orthodoxy in favor of a wholly new religion of its own invention.

Starting sometime in the 1960s, God’s frozen people melted, generating the mother of all theological mud puddles. From the abandonment of Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer to the introduction of priestesses in the 1970s and the ongoing election of homosexual bishops, the Episcopal Church forsook traditional Christian doctrine in favor of its own invented religion.

He excitedly details the Pope’s offer to Anglicans and acknowledges the Pope’s shrewdness in creating separate ordinariates to shield them from the whims of liberal bishops and the bad taste of the “snakebelly-low post-Vatican II vernacular Roman Mass.”

While Lind is delighted with much of what is in Anglicanorum Coetibus, he worries about one giant fly in the ointment that might doom the entire enterprise to failure, the Catholic Faith.

One problem is likely to be the doctrine of papal infallibility, a 19th-century Roman innovation. The Apostolic Constitution stipulates that Anglicans would have to accept “The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church as the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the ordinariate.” This could mean accepting papal infallibility as expressed in the catechism, and if Rome remains inflexible on that point, Pope Benedict’s initiative seems likely to fail.

Leaving aside his ahistorical assertions, Lind sees papal infallibility as an obstacle to unity.  Apparently lost on Lind is that papal infallibility as exercised by the Pope is the source of unity.  Without the office of the Pope and the necessity of visible communion with it, all of Christianity would be the giant “theological mud puddle” that he rightly derides in his own Communion. The difference then would be that there would be nowhere to turn to achieve the unity and orthodoxy that he desires.

With no wish to sound harsh (I don’t mind being harsh I just don’t want to sound that way), we don’t want any Anglican that is hung up on Papal infallibility.  If you desire the full faith, the faith as taught by the Apostles and protected by the Holy Spirit, come on over.  If you wish to remain a de-facto Protestant, stay put.  We have enough de-facto Protestants in the Catholic Church as it is.