Who is Addison Hart? And why should we care?
Addison Hart was an Anglican who joined the Catholic Church. Now, he is leaving the Church and sliding back into the Anglican communion. I hear they have some job vacancies right now.
Hart delivered a bit of a manifesto on his blog The Continuum
I wouldn’t be posting about this fellow, except for the fact that I got some pithy emails about him.
Given the backdrop of the recent conversion of the former Anglican bishops to the Roman Church, and given Hart’s theological errors in his “Dear John” letter posted on his blog in a comment under the main entry, I figured I should add some observations.
My emphases and comments.
Great encouragement to your congregation and readers, brother. First, as your brother, I send greetings to your wife and children, and wishes for a happy new year.
Second, as an Anglican priest who, with high ideals but considerably lower savvy, “poped” back in 1997, all I can say to those who may be thinking likewise is this: Unless you know in your heart you can believe in such super-added dogmas as papal supremacy and infallibility (very late inventions), [There is no dogma of papal supremacy. The writer could be referring to the Pope’s universal jurisdiction, which is a matter of canon law, not dogma. As to papal infallibility, did Hart not hear of this dogma before he “poped” back in 1997? What exactly has happened between 1997-2011 whereby this dogma has caused him problems?] that Jesus did not need to possess “faith” during his earthly years (to which I respond, was he or was he not fully human?), [Where, exactly, did Hart learn that Roman Catholics are required to believe that Jesus lacked faith?] and that the bread and wine physically change into his body and blood during the Eucharist without any palpable evidence of it; [I’ll get rid of the BOLD, or this will be impossible…. In fact, Roman Catholics do not believe that the bread and wine physically change during the Eucharist. The change, referred to as Transubstantiation, is sacramental and metaphysical, not physical. The “substance” of Christ’s body is a reality apart from its “accidents” or specific physical manifestations. It is this substance which is present under the accidents of bread and wine. If “physical” is understood in the sense of “accidents” (or that which is empirically verifiable), then in Roman Catholic dogma, physically speaking, the bread and wine remain bread and wine. Did this guy study at all before he “poped”?] unless you can believe in Mary’s “Immaculate Conception” (an unnecessary and unverifiable belief, if ever there was one), [Roman Catholics recognize a hierarchy of truths, according to which, for example, belief in the Resurrection of Christ is more important and more central to the Faith than belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Is he bothered that dogmas “unverifiable”? Catholics respond, that’s why dogmas require faith. As to belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary being “unnecessary”, as Hart holds, I reply with the following argument. We can accept that someone may be saved while not really sustaining a strong belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception. St Augustine of Hippo, for example, did not believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception as it is formulated in later Catholic dogma. However, it is another matter entirely to accept that someone who denies, and even strongly objects to Mary’s Immaculate Conception, can really believe in the Incarnation. Think of what such a position would logically entail. It would mean accepting the strong likelihood that Mary had sinned. How could the eternal Word of God be born of a sinner, of someone who, at some point in her life, had rejected God? Admittedly, Mary’s sinlessness is a different matter from her Immaculate Conception. However, because Roman Catholics also accept as dogma the existence of original sin, it is difficult for Catholics to explain how Mary could be sinless if she had been tainted by original sin. St Augustine, who believed that Mary had contracted original sin, nevertheless believed that Christ cleansed her of that sin prior to his conception in her womb. But Augustine does not explain when that cleansing by Christ took place. So even Augustine, who admits that Mary was conceived in original sin, had to find a miraculous way for her to be cleansed of that sin prior to Christ’s conception in her womb. Later Roman Catholic dogma represents a development of Augustine’s reasoning to a logical conclusion. If Hart truly believes that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is “unnecessary”, he might want to think harder about Mary, Christ and the problem of original sin.] her bodily assumption, [The corruption of one’s body is a direct result of death, both of which are, in Roman Catholic doctrine, consequences of original sin. In other words, had they not sinned, Adam and Eve would not have died. But, one might object, Christ died, and yet he had no sin. Yes, but he died not because he had to die as a result of sin, but because he wanted to die in order to save us. Could Mary have been spared a death that even her Son, the eternal Word of God, suffered? Who knows? Perhaps God wanted to spare her death. God can do whatever He wants. Roman Catholic dogma does not claim that Mary didn’t die. Eastern Orthodox Christians speak of Mary’s Dormition (falling asleep), by which they indicate a belief that she died. In addition to believing that Mary was conceived without original sin, Roman Catholics, along with all orthodox Christians, believe that Mary is the Mother of God. Is it really strange to believe that God would not allow the body of His Son’s mother to rot in a tomb?] and so on, then I would urge you to stay put. [“And so on“? What are the other Roman Catholic beliefs that so offend your sensibilities, Addision? “And so on”? Why on earth did you “pope” in the first place if belief in Mary’s Immaculate conception, in her glorious bodily assumption into heaven, “AND SO ON”, so deeply offended you? Did you not know in 1997 that Roman Catholics believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception, in her glorious bodily assumption into heaven, AND SO ON? When did you discover these strange, “unnecessary and unverifiable beliefs” that Catholics hold?] You already have everything you need, and, what Rome would add to you, you not only do not need, but should positively avoid weighing yourselves down with. Anglicanism is doctrinally sound and blessed with great forms of worship. Rome is neither. [Anglicanism is doctrinally sound? To which Anglicanism are your referring? To the Anglicanism that believes in the Incarnation and Resurrection, or to the Anglicanism that regards these teachings as myths? According to Anglican doctrine, does the Bible approve of homosexual behavior, or does it not? Does Anglican doctine believe that abortion is morally wrong, or does it not? And who exactly decides what Anglican doctrine is? Is is up to the individual conscience of each Anglican to decide, or does doctrine depend on the Church? If the latter, to which Province of the Anglican Communion does it pertain to decide what Anglican doctrine is? To the Americans? To the Ugandans? Does the Apostolic Tradition matter to contemporary Anglican doctrine, or does it not? Why did you leave whichever Anglicanism you believed in in the first place?] As for Rome’s claims to a vastly superior moral authority — well, I would venture to say that after such revelations as clerical sexual abuse on an international scale and their bank’s money-laundering, the lie has been put to that. [Tisk, tisk. Because Anglicans in Canada, the United States, Australia, and Great Britain never had a massive problem with clerical sexual abuse and its coverup by bishops! I think you know better than that. If not, check the internet. Christians believe that all men and women are sinners. In case you missed that bit in your theological training, that means that the Church possesses from God a teaching authority which derives from fidelity to Scripture and Tradition, but that the human beings who administer the Church’s worldly affairs are frail and oftentimes betray that teaching, sometimes tragically so. The fact that Jesus called Judas and Peter to be apostles did not mean that the authority of the college of apostles as teachers was weakened by Judas’s betrayal of Jesus or by Peter’s denial.]
No, don’t make my mistake. I wouldn’t make it again myself, and, as it is, I’m making my way out the Roman door. [GUH-BYE! You so obviously didn’t belong to the Roman Catholic Church in the first place. Given your views about the papacy, the Eucharist, and Mary, you probably should have “patriarched” into Eastern Orthodoxy, but instead you “poped” into Roman Catholicism. We are not better off without you, but we are better off without your Protestant beliefs.]
Just a word to the wise.
[Because you’re so wise!]
Remember… if you dissent from Catholic teaching, there is still a church for you out there.
Heresy can lead to schism. Worse, it can also lead to apostasy.
Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.