Monday, January 26, 2015

More on Donatism

Following some discussions that I've had with individuals, it's clear that the heresy of Donatism needs a little more definition.

 In 311, the Church sought to consecrate Caecilian as the bishop of Carthage, but one of his consecrators Bishop Felix had been a traditor, one who had complied with the persecuting authorities and had handed his sacred texts over for burning. Felix had been received back into the Church in full orders after doing penance for being a traditor. The Donatists refused to accept the consecration of Caecilian because of the taint of Felix's capitulation. This was defined as a heresy by the Council of Arles and the Donatist Church went into schism and had faded away by the 7th Century.

So,  what is Donatism?

For the charge of Donatism to be leveled against a body, we need:

1) A priest or bishop who was once a heretic and has been received back into the Church.
2) That this priest or bishop has repented of his heresy.
3) That the body refuses to accept sacraments validly confected by said priest or bishop on the grounds of his former heresy.

That is the situation and that is the heresy.

From my former post, it becomes clear that the Continuing Anglican Churches are not Donatist, for:

1) The ordination of women is a symptom of a semi-Montanist Heresy.
2) Supporters of semi-Montanism have not repented.
3) The orders of those bestowed by Montanists are indeed suspect by defect of intention regardless of their recipients.

It is clear that, for the peace of mind of everyone, and for the principle of charity, those coming to Continuing Anglicanism from semi-Montanism should receive conditional ordination and thus remove the doubt coming from their past. If they are coming into Continuing Anglicanism, that doubt would surely be present in the recipients' minds. It has to be remembered that Continuing Anglicans are doing nothing differently from what Anglicans did before democracy started dictating doctrine.

What about those who remain under the CofE's government? The five principles state that the CofE has come to a clear decision, i.e. that it is a semi-Montanist Church. Yet there are those who dissent from this clear decision. Are they therefore members of the CofE? If there are two "integrities" within the CofE, then there is recognition that no repentance is necessary seeing as both integrities are to be allowed to flourish. This does make the first and second conditions to be charged with Donatism null in content. Thus, FiF cannot technically be charged with Donatism either.

Of course, when the CofE repents of its semi-Montanism, then we will be in a much greater position to accept what they do, but it will mean a repentance of their intention that women's ordination is the same as that received by the Catholic Church. If this will happen then there will need to be many conditional ordinations, but it will be for the better.

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