Unity and Sanctity:
The Monk presents his argument well and tackles the dichotomy presented by those who value the word itself over the meaning of the word, as much a problem for the Church of Rome as for the followers of Islam. The four accepted tenets of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church are unity, sanctity, catholitcity and apostolicity; the “marks of the Church”.
There was however a specific “Catholic Apostolic Church” in the nineteenth century. Following the prayer movement in the early, Georgian part of the century, founded in England by James Haldane Stewart,a scion of the Clan Appin, but born in Boston, Mass. USA. The organisation appointed first six, but then twelve “Apostles” to preach the mysteries of God as representatives of the Holy Spirit. In this, they followed the thoughts of the time, not always the best way to preserve truth, but still carried on today by the “modernisers”. The thought or spirit of the time of which I speak is that of separating the spiritual from the operational aspects of faith, belief and social order. This led to the resurgence of a Druidic movement, totally divorced from the ancient Celts, but based upon their belief system; what was important was their faithful adherence to the two tier representation of their oral histories, the druid as the one who could commune with Toutatis and the Bard who would communicate with the people. The rise of the various schools of Freemasonry in the nineteenth century, with schism and re-unification through its various degrees and orders revered the “Grand Architect of the Universe”, but the common mason was the worker who executed the plans devised by the Architect, divine or material. Even the blacksmiths got onto this bandwagon by determining that neither the mason nor the humble shepherd could carry out his calling without the tools provided by the smith and claimed a superior position for those tradesmen. Not only Jason Ogg had secret knowledge as a blacksmith... the ability to shoe any beast brought to his forge was bought at the price of having to shoe any beast brought. (Lords and Ladies; Pratchett.)
This church, as many others, had an exclusively male and hierarchical system of preachers; Apostle or Elder, Prophet, Evangelist, and Pastor or Teacher. The original twelve Elders represented the Twelve Tribes, through which they represented their geographical congregations, the ordained ministry was quite traditional with Bishop, Priest and Deacon as the officiating representatives and a laity of under-deacons to carry out the menial tasks. The Eucharist was practiced with no concept of transubstantiation or consubstantiation but holding to a spiritual representation of the presence of Christ.
The last Elder died in 1901 and as the new century began, a return to the established church meant the end of the church althoug it is reported that the last “Angel” died in 1960 in Siegen, Germany; the last Priest in 1971 in London, England and the last Deacon in 1972 in Melbourne, Australia. (Flegg. G.C (1992): Gathered Under Apostles; A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church; Oxford.)
My personal feelings are that today's churches could learn much from the spiritual principles that drove this particular church; I did not reply on the blog to yesterday's post, however, the spiritualism for me, went out of the Church of England liturgy when the Alternative Service book replaced the Book of Common Prayer in 1968, certainly in the Diocese of Chester and of Stockport. I recall never feeling the spiritual inner peace I recall from the church of my youth until I worked my way into some of the higher degrees of Freemasonry, it is no religion, but it is a movement requiring a spiritual belief and its rituals are performed specifically to create that environment. Perhaps the Romans should return to the Tridentine Mass, the CoE to the Book of Common Prayer and all Christians to the spiritual religion founded by the great fisher of men rather than the money-making pseudo charity businesses that most major churches have now become.