The King’s Allegiance

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Powder Traitors

When Anglican standards were traded for indiscriminate ecumenicalism (a long process), the Reformation suffered a tremendous blow. On one side, it allowed Anabaptist and Presbyterian ideas to seep into Anglicana’s Evangelical wing. On the other, Anglo-Papism eventually replaced the historic High Church party. The twentieth century victory of Anglo-Papism prepared the way for today’s Personal Ordinariates, which threatens chewing off some Anglo-Catholics from the conservative rump. Retaining ideas behind Supremacy might counter   future invasions like the Ordinariate. 

Yet, our problem remains the same, “What is Anglicanism”? Earlier blog entries (here and here) dealt with the King’s relation to His body (his subjects and estates within), but this post shall explore the King’s relation (as England’s chief Warden) to other national churches. Supremacy treated the Pope as a provincial bishop (bishop of rome) while it restored ancient prerogative of the Prince. In the face of Roman absorption, let’s recall the 1553 Supremacy Oath:

“From Henceforth I shall utterly renounce, refuse, relinquish, and forsake the Bishop of Rome, and his authority, power, and jurisdiction. And I shall never consent nor agree, that the Bishop of Rome shall practice, exercise, or have any manner of authority, jurisdiction, or power within this realm, or any other the King has dominion, but shall resist  the same at all times, to the uttermost of my power”

Content of Jurisdiction:
Beginning in 1533, Supremacy Oaths kept the jurisdiction of Rome at bay, with few exceptions, banning Rome’s bishops and cardinals from England’s shores. A Roman bishop was not restored until Catholic Emancipation in 1829. Supremacy revitalized England’s ancient custom, whereupon the 1533 Parliament saw no contradiction, “we do not intend to decline or vary from the congregation of Christ’s Church in any things concerning the very articles of the Catholic faith of Christendom, or in any other things declared by Holy Scripture necessary for salvation.”  According to the Rev. Patterson,

“Henry was returning in essentials to the custom that had been observed in England during the twelfth century. The form of concurrent appointment to a bishopric by papal bull was an innovation of the later middle ages. But when the king forbade the Archbishop to receive the pall from Rome, he was returning to a custom more ancient than that of the English church; for though the pall was in origin merely complimentary, all Archbishops since St. Augustine had received it as a symbol of their metropolitan authority.” (p. 224, History of England)

Over the course of six parliaments, joined by the Bishops, supremacy was articulated in stages. The first parliament was summoned 3 Nov.1529 and the last prorogued 4 Feb. 1534. This period is known as the “Reformation Parliament”. It declared the King’s Title as well as his Jurisdiction within the English Church. In 1531, after Papal absentees were deprived of rents, the Convocation declared King Henry “Supreme Head”, with proposed qualification, “as far as the law of Christ allows”. In 1534 Parliament finally resolved upon the phrase, “Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England”. This became Henry’s official Dignity in 1535– the malicious slandering of which, either by “ writing or word”, was treasonous (preamunire).

Henry’s jurisdiction supplanted the Papacy, and within it were many ‘vague and undefined’ administrative powers which the Pope had either usurped or otherwise claimed. Jurisdiction was formerly affirmed by Parliament by four important Acts, and these forming the cornerstone of the King’s ecclesial Headship:

  1. Appellate Restraint: The final court of appeal transferred from Rome to the Archbishop of Canterbury under the Crown, aka. The Court of Arches. All appeals– in cases of marriage, wills, tithes, etc– do not go outside the realm.
  2. Annates: Forbid the Pope’s importable tithe (i.e, Peter’s pence). Instead, the annates (1/10 of church incomes) are annexed to the King’s Majesty.
  3. Succession: Clarifying Henry’s divorce from Catherine (of Spain) and remarriage to Anne Boylen and the line of succession thereof.  Any who deny the legitimacy of the divorce, deny the Word of God (Lev. 18) and King’s rightful and lawful heir.
  4. Submission: Henry affirmed right to elect and approve bishops, call convocations, confirm and write canon, visit clergy and otherwise enforce ecclesial discipline. This Act rendered Papal bulls null and void (i.e., no dispensations from Rome), and Romish Palls were henceforth pointless, all clergy swearing lealty to the Crown’s authority, power, and jurisdiction.

In 1534, 16 lay and 16 clerical divines were convoked to revise church canon, abrogating those innovations that conflicted with King’s headship and Law of God. What did not transgress was assumed to carry over. Jurisdiction thus amounted to mostly external matters– Supremacy in court affairs, nomination and election of clergy, convoking the church, and matters enforcing discipline.

A Confessional Statement?
In time, the King’s jurisdiction deepened in scope. By reason of pramaire, all Englishmen were bound to recognize, not deprive, the King of his Title. The Oath of Supremacy initially required only deacons, priests, and Bishops to give public vow. But after the Pope excommunicated Elizabeth, recognizing only the spouse of Mary I– i.e., Spain’s Phillip II– as rightful ruler of England, the Supremacy Oath was generalized to denounce all foreign powers, both secular and ecclesial, leaving the Papacy as one of several enemies. As further threats emerged against England’s “most perfect and reformed” Church, the Oath expanded, denouncing not only Catholic assassins (Jesuits & powder traitors) but also Presbyterian rebels (Presbyterians & Solemn Leaguers). Preventing Jesuit intrigue was a key reason for such Oaths, as a 1779 Protestant Association’s pamphlet explained,

 “If the doctrines held by Papists were confined to matters of opinion in religion, and did not include political tenets of the most dangerous tendency, they might expect the same connivance which has generally been extended to other erroneous sects; they might bow down to their images, swallow the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation, and amuse themselves with dreams of purgatory, without interruption; their ignorance and superstition would rather excite compassion than expose them to the consequences of any penal statutes.

“But when Papists thunder excommunication against all who differ from them in opinion, and their religious profession itself breathes the very spirit of persecution and cruelty against those whom they anathematize as heretics,13 — who, if princes, are to be deposed and murdered; if subjects, to be massacred: when they avow such principles as these, what security can be given to any state for their peaceable behaviour? — and what claim can they have to toleration under any Protestant government?

While not all Englishmen were forced to give the Oath (only those holding office, military rank, and in 1563 men in the House of Commons), Supremacy Acts were periodically read in church as required by canon law to follow the sermon at least four times a year. A condescend version of the Oath was also part of the Articles of Religion, and these likewise were read twice a year from the pulpit. As a further witness to the King’s system, the Articles were published as part of the Bishop’s Book, the only lawful vernacular translation of the bible for parish churches, and this was required for public display. Furthermore, all printed (BCP and Authorized Bible) materials, especially ecclesial documents, carried the Monarch’s seal, ending with an epigram, “God Save the King”.  The Bishop’s Book, displayed in every parish, said:

“Moreover, touching the bishop of Rome, I do acknowledge and confess, that by the scriptures and word of God he hath no more authority than other bishops have in their provinces and diocese; and therefore the power, which he now challengeth, that is, to be the supreme head of the universal church of Christ, and to be above all emperors, kings, and princes, is an usurped power, contrary to the scriptures and word of God, and contrary to the example of the primitive church, and therefore is for the most just causes taken away and abolished in this realm”

By 1606, the Supremacy Oath was also known as the Act of Allegiance. All churchmen, even those secular, e.g., wardens, schoolmasters, deans, military, etc, (as said above– elected and appointed officials) required the King’s Supremacy. In this respect, the Church of England was indeed a confessional church, partly because Christians made no attempt to separate the political from the religious during the seventeenth-century. Thus, Oaths regarding rightful and ancient jurisdictions in spiritual and temporal estates marked the beginning of what later would be known as ‘Test Acts’. Test Acts would also be a vestige from the colonial period of America.

By the end of James II third-year reign, Supremacy had expanded to incorporate other ‘Protestant’ doctrine, not only denying the dogma of Papacy but also Transubstantiation. Implicit in this are associated doctrines of passive resistance (Jewel’s homily on obedience) and divine right.  The Oath was becoming a distinctly ‘Protestant’ confession. Perhaps  the expansion of the Allegiance foreshadowed Sir Edward Coke’s 1621 petition against marriage to the Spanish (roman catholic) infantata, wanting marriage and succession to remain specifically Protestant, consummating in the Orange Institution and  Settlement Act in 1689 and 1700. The 1691 Oath read:

“I, A.B. do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to their Majesties King William and Queen Mary, So help me God.

(Oath of Abhorrence)                                                                                                                                 I, A.B., do swear, that I do from my heart abhor, detest , and abjure as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, that princes excommunicated or deprived by the pope or any authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other person  whatsoever, and I do declare, that no foreign prince, prelate, state, or potentate, hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm.

(Declaration Against Transubstantiation)                                                                                        I, A.B., do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever, and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other saint, and the sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous.”

The King’s Oath (1691) was thus one of many interlocking statements in Anglicana regarding the Eucharist. It, along with the Black Rubric(s) (1552 v. 1662 versions), the Catechism, Cranmer’s Communion, and the Articles, together give an accurate picture of Anglican sacramentalism . The Declaration against Transubstantiation, of course, is a stark rejection, like the 39 Articles, of the Council of Trent, and other dogmas that later followed from the Papacy (including Rome’s exaggerated Mariology), “as they are now used in the Church of Rome”.

Erosion of Jurisdiction:

The irony regarding Supremacy was the Crown’s inherent conservatism. Elizabeth preserved continuity with Henry’s worship policy– rescuing rails, candles, organs, surplices, copes, choirs, and crucifixes—especially in the Royal Chapels and Cathedrals. The authority given to visitations and injunctions not only help save Catholic past but could provide sources for counter-reformation. Charles I’s wife, the Roman Catholic Queen Henrietta, promoted and protected recusancy.

The Caroline period is often portrayed as Catholic revival, but as with a good part of the later Oxford movement, it was mostly a return to pre-Calvinist ceremonial injunctions/canons. High Churchmen pursued a two-fold strategy– persecution and comprehension– against English Roman Catholics, which Puritans called ‘soft’. But, Pope Urban II, knowing full-well Romanists would be ultimately absorbed, forbade English Roman Catholics both a titular hierarchy and permission to swear Allegiance to the Crown. Roman Catholics, alongside Puritan agitators, remained a danger to Anglicana’s settlement. In the late 1630’s the Crown’s jurisdiction had suffered by the national covenant in Scotland and Romish intrigues in Northwest England plus revolt in Ireland.

Laud passed the 1640 Constitutions and Canons through Synod which suppressed both Romanists and Presbyterians. And while Rome subverted due obedience, heretics in England could not own or inherit property, serve in the military, or hold office by reason of existing outside the Sovereign’s ‘household’. Of course, any toleration of such Christian autonomy-plurality would have deprecated the King’s Jurisdiction as conceived at the outbreak of England’s Reformation. The Oath against Papacy precedes that of Supremacy, highlighting specific problems of Rome’s violence against Kings and abetting feigned oaths.:

“I, AB, Do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testify, and declare in my Conscience before God and the World, That our Sovereign Lord King Charles is lawful and rightful King of this Realm, and of all other his Majesties Dominions and Countries: And that the Pope, neither of himself, nor by any Authority of the Church or See of Rome, or by any other means with any other, hath any Power or Authority to depose the King, or to dispose any of his Majesties Kingdoms or Dominions, or to authorize any Foreign Prince to invade or annex him or his Countries, or to discharge any of his Subjects of their Allegiance and Obedience to his Majesty, or to give license or leave up any of them to bear Arms, raise Tumults, or to offer any violence or hurt to his Majesties Royal Person, State of Government, or to any of his Majesties Subjects within his Majesties Dominions.

Also I do swear from my heart, that notwithstanding any Declaration or sentence of Excommunication or Deprivation made or granted, or to be made or granted by the Pope or his Successors, or by any Authority derived or pretended to be derived from him or his See, against the said King, his Heirs or Successors, or any Absolution of the said Subjects from their Obedience; I will bare faith and true Allegiance to his Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, and him and them will defend to the uttermost of my power, against all Conspiracies and attempts whatsoever which shall be made against his or their Persons, their Crown and Dignity, by reason or color of any such Sentence or Declaration, or otherwise; and will do my best endeavor to disclose and make known unto his Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, all Treasons and Traitorous Conspiracies which I shall know or hear of, to be against him or any of them.

And I do further swear, That I do from my heart abhor, detest, and abjure, as impious and heretical, this damnable Doctrine and Position, that Princes which be excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, may be deposed or murdered by their Subjects, or any other whatsoever.

And I do believe, in Conscience and resolved, That neither the Pope, nor any person whatsoever hath power to absolve one of this Oath, or any part thereof which I acknowledge by good and full Authority to be lawfully administered unto me, and do renounce all Pardons and Dispensations to the contrary. And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge, and swear according to these express words by me spoken, and according to the plain and common sense and understanding of the same words, without any equivocation or mental evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever: And I do make this Recognition and acknowledgment heartily, willingly and truly, upon the true faith of a Christian. So help me God, etc.

While Roman plots certainly endangered the king’s reformation and peace, the consequences following civil war and the lack of comprehension for Puritans ultimately invoked a range of toleration that Papists eventually exploited. Nor did a century of latitudinarianism help. By the early 19th century radical Jacobinism/socialism seized and levered the Commons against Church & Crown, emancipating Papists by reason of ‘equality’, thus, dealing Supremacy a lethal blow. In 1850 Rome finally restored her Latin hierarchy in England, bringing bishops and cardinals to the realm. Emancipation was given to Romanists earlier in Quebec and other colonial dominions, no less shrinking Anglicana’s ancient headship.  Supremacy set both the basis and preserved England’s reformation, but decolonialization and democracy has severed the Monarchy as a penultimate, covenanted expression of a churched people (a- covenant isle, Bret-land).

Today, not only has the prayer book jettisoned Supremacy Oaths, but the Laudian incorporating a secular Romanism to absorb old catholics into the CofE has entirely reversed itself against Anglican empire. Pope Benedict XVI’s Personal Ordinariates would ultimately absorb Anglican clergy in their own land, submitting Anglicans to Roman catholic doctrines and jurisdiction.

Alongside the problem of ‘formulary surrender’ is public memory. While liturgical commemorations of Charles I’s martyrdom underline historical differences between Anglicans and ‘dissenters’, public celebrations like Bonfire Night (Nov. 5) remind the dangers of Rome. However, like Charles I’s martyrdom, King James’ “Thanksgiving” (Bonfire Night) has been removed from Church Kalendars. As forgetfulness ensues, we cannot restore memory without the pain of going back to the many interlocking Anglican documents and apologies.

12 responses to “The King’s Allegiance

  1. 1. How central are these conclusions to understanding the heart and future of the English Reformation?

    ” Supremacy was a return to England’s ancient custom”

    ” It is really a return to patristic opinion, distinguishing between body and soul, not state and church.”

    ” Supremacy set both the basis and preserved England’s reformation, but decolonialization and democracy has severed the Monarchy as a penultimate, covenanted expression of a baptized, churched people.”

    2. When did Protestantism really begin?

    The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards:

    3. Does true catholicity have a temporal or ghostly aspect?

    Practice of Prelates:

    4. Has everyone forgotten the heritage of the British Church?

    Protestant Heritage:


    • Hello CV! Good to have you post!

      1. What do you mean by Supremacy as the “heart” of Reformation? Another visitor who knows more than I regarding theonomic Monarchism, Peter Escalante (Bascilica Project), said the heart of reformation in England was ‘justification by faith’. Like yourself, I have been visiting other Anglo-Catholic blogs admist this Personal Ordinairite maneuver by Rome. Most AC’s, thankfully, reject the Pope’s offer.

      That being said, read between the lines. When delineating differences with Rome it appears the difference is only over ecclesiastics, i.e., the Pope not absolutely ruling other Archbishops and provinces.

      I must ask, ‘is this really the heart of Reformation– merely jurisdictional differences?!?” Surely, it was a part, and I would say extremely important, even preconditional (in a way), given jurisdictional changes cleared the path for ‘new learning’. If the Pope is Antichrist (with Laud and Andrewes, i cannot really say this), but even if the Papacy was antichrist, in what way so? I would say he holds the Church in captivity by the doctrine of works, and for me this was the cornerstone of church reform. If we continue along this same line of thought, we next ask what rites and offices are essential vs. adiaphora. Adiaphora is a necessary corollary to ‘justification by faith’, and from it we can argue why communion with the Pope is not necessary to salvation anymore than bowing to icons. However, essence and well-being remain two different categories. What is essential is also unalterable.

      So, I can only concur with you given the following qualification: “At the heart of Supremacy is the need for Reformation (this was the very reason for returning to ancient custom w/ prince as head of the provincial church), and at the heart of Reform were doctrines of grace, of which the 39 Articles are in perfect agreement with Augustine and the best of antiquity. At least this would be my position.

      But again, we can only get there by prima scriptura (Augustine’s method) and with Supremacy “clearing the way” so to speak. Given this, we should also acknowledge Supremacy ironically was the source of ceremonial conservatism that puritans and later evangelicals would hold against the CofE.

      So, for some, Supremacy is a double-edged sword. In my mind, the real tragedy was not the King’s court, royal chapels, or marriage alliances, but manner which the House of Commons later overturned all custom, constitution, and canon in the realm, and for me this all goes back to the civil war and anabaptist infection within Puritan ideology.

      2. Yikes! Lollards! Let me chew on this for a while. I confess ignorance. Lollardy has affinities with anabaptism, and the doctrine is hard to pinpoint perhaps due to the decentralized, lay nature of the movement. But I appreciate the link, and acknowledge it as preparing the way for Luther’s ‘perfect storm’. I think this is a lot like the ‘great schism’, i.e., it’s not easy to set a date. My guess are protestant demands can be traced back to desert fathers. There has and will always be need for Reform. What was brilliant regarding Anglicanism was the contribution and “braking influence” of Supremacy, suppressing Lollard tendencies? Here is the idea in general, which I know you are in agreement of?

      3. Apologetics against Prelacy are also apologetics against Monarchy. Why be an Anglican if bishops are antichrist? I will try to post some classical 17th century apologies for the episcopate in my next reply.

      4. “protestantism” is a broad term. My opinion is Protestantism is also found in the writings of the Fathers and is best summed by the Articles of Faith. Technically speaking, it is a reference to the Protestation in Speyer 1529. It was neither radical iconoclastic nor anti-authoritarian:

      This is where I stand right now. I sound critical, but can learn and change. 🙂
      Oh yeah, I totally agree, we have lost our Protestant moorings.


  2. Chapel Mouse says:

    ” “protestantism” is a broad term.”

    1. Why not let it be defined by those who will yet give their lives over to death in its witness?

    Chapel Mouse says:

    ” Isn’t Rome’s doctrine of salvation really antichrist?”

    ” It is really a return to patristic opinion, distinguishing between body and soul, not state and church.”

    2. What is an argument regarding the means of justification to those who do not believe in the sufficiency of grace?

    Did His Majesty Henry VIII believe that God’s sovereignty in election was subservient to the will of human authority, such that any man could deny His Majesty’s election unto salvation via excommunication?

    How central to the Act of Supremacy is our answer to the immediately preceding question?

    Chapel Mouse says:

    “This would consummate in the Orange Institution and 1700 Settlement Act.”

    I must ask, ‘is this really the heart of Reformation– merely jurisdictional differences?!?”

    3. If the priesthood is for all believers, why not also its oath?

    What Christian man is not of the tribe of Levi that he should seek a priest other than our High Priest in heaven to intercede on his behalf to God?

    Would not such a man still be seeking justification under the old covenant and law, and not under the gospel of Christ and his shed blood?


    • 1. martyrdom does not make an opinion correct or true. Fanatics have suffered for their convictions.

      2. justification by faith is perhaps one of the most misunderstood and abused doctrines of the Reformation. First, justification does not nullify Christ’s sacraments nor the role of preaching. Nor does justification rob such ‘means of grace’ their objectivity. However, faith is required to receive the benefits given through such.

      Second, we, as a principle, do not place the ‘irregular’ above the ‘regular’ with respect to mediation of grace. For instance, not all Christians need to be knocked off their horse in order to have a genuine conversion experience. Nor speak tongues. The ordinary means of grace is by preaching the Word and offering the sacraments (visual word), the authority of which was instituted by Christ and passed on by the laying on hands. Apostolic succession is nothing other than such. The episcopate is reasoned from presbyters like Timothy who ruled more than a single church– not a presbyterian system.

      Regular vs. irregular ministry. We should strive for the former, but I do not deny the latter. Under covenant breaking ‘tolerance’, men are free to seek the fellowship as they desire, even if it is only a para-ministry (mail order catalog) or bible study group. There is likely some grace even there, but I would not subsitute such for the fullness of the apostolic church, its sacraments and preaching. Regarding “election”, the church may error in discipline. But regarding doctrine necessary for salvation, the church is indefatigable, and this is according to the Word of Christ.

      3. The problem in the medieval church, as I understand it, was not simply a specific priesthood given stewardship responsibilities but one which demanded more from men than Christ required. For salvation, Christ two sacraments, the testimony, and an appointed ministry to dispense such is regular and sufficient. Rome demanded indulgences, pilgrimages, rosaries, and even this was not enough. To take it to the ‘next level’, i.e., rejecting all order in the church, as anabaptists do is going beyond the limits which the Articles and Anglican settlement established. Anglicana, like Lutheranism, recognized the general priesthood, and elevated its place in the church. But it did not erase Bishops or Priests. That would belong to Radicals. The same can be said in any defense of Kingship, in my opinion. No bishop, no king.

      I believe the English Reformation did not establish anything new or ‘uncatholic’. Instead, it restored the role of laity within the Church (in both liturgy and government), the necessity of Word and Sacrament for salvation, and reinvigorated the Curia’s preaching function by the priest and bishop.

      All I can do is stand by the Articles, Prayer Book, and Reformation Injunctions. I see no where a repudiation of priests or bishops. That being said, there is no reason why you cannot, as a father, instruct your children and raise them in prayer. Who is preventing you from doing this?


  3. “Why be an Anglican if bishops are antichrist? I will try to post some classical 17th century apologies for the episcopate in my next reply.”

    Is there a means whereby one may become a member of the Church of England other than by being born by God’s grace an Englishman and also being set aside by the Father before the foundations of the world as an inheritance to the Son?

    If there is such means, are Scriptures to mean to show them, that we must appeal to the apologies of men?

    In like manner, were a Chinaman to swear an oath to defend Presbytery over Prelacy, might the Moderator of the General Assembly make him a Scotian by the laying on of hands?


    • Dear CV,

      Normally we become a member of the Church by baptism. We are kept in our baptism by the preaching of the Word and Supper. The fact Englishmen may someday be a minority in their own country has nothing to do with a ‘china man’ being chinese. Rather, in my opinion, it is a corruption of the biblical and traditional idea of ‘households’ and ‘nations’. That being said, a household (in this case a King’s) may include the ‘stranger’ alongside ‘his own seed’. Read the ordinance for circumcision given to Abraham in Gen. 17. The Oath defines the King’s realm to include dominions as well as England proper. This is not always blood tied. However, there is no excuse for blatant globalism or diversification either, and the loss of biblical households is a curse rather than blessing. Again, the idea that being born ‘english’ constitutes ‘election’ is “gross BI” (I want to be deferent), and violates the wise silence advised on the subject of predestination by the Articles. It is enough to have biblical and traditional ‘households’ (whether these are the size of a nation or single family), and for these households to keep covenant. The Articles say we can also fall from grace, so we should not place confidence in the flesh but look to the Promise which is placed upon the outward NT signs of covenant– i.e., the sacraments and preaching ministry. The Pope did usurp these things, but even the English King did not entertain the same pretense. It would be good if the Monarchy ruled and defended the Church, preserving the antique and biblical notion of ‘household’ as well as ‘due order’, but whether the King is head or we are English does not change the means by which we are grafted (and kept) in Christ. — Word and Sacrament.


      • I guess, CV, I am just not sure where you are coming from. It sounds like, by way of general baptism, you believe there should be no institutionalized leadership in the Church. The funny thing, other confessional churches you visit, like baptist or Presbyterians, will also believe in church order and examining one’s call. Unless you adequately prove spiritual gifts to the leadership, they won’t ask you to preach during public worship. So, even baptists and presbyterians are very ‘high’.

        Perhaps you are looking for a radical Pentecostal or more charismatic church? But all these churches will play the role of ‘antichrist’ because all want to teach a specific doctrine and will back up particulars with their leadership. The anabaptists were notorious in their use of severe excommunications. While I think Quakers, etc., are no longer of this mind, Restorationist churches also can be very heavy handed about conformity.

        I am still not sure why you are attracted to Anglicanism, since so many of her doctrines are wrong (the episcopate, sacrament), and all I can do is reason you want communion with the English crown. If so, then why not join a secular royalist society like Loyal Orange or St. George (see my links)?

        Looking into the history of Supremacy, it appears the Crown has renounced jurisdiction, and parliament has removed King’s headship over the church. Constitutionally the Crown is no longer in play, so perhaps the communion is not there either? It’s really just a bunch of old documents and a memory of another age. The royals are probably more unitarian than traditionalist anyway.

        Here are the some titles arguing the divine institution of the bishopric:

        Thomas Bilson, Perpetual Government of Christ’s Church 1593
        Bancroft, Survey of Holy Discipline 1593

        I received Tyndale’s book on Christian Obedience. Thank you very much. Though I might be terse, I hope your studies prosper you, and you soon find a church you believe you can commit. I would recommend you join a church you feel like-minded with. If you sacrifice your own conscience for the sake of a single, abstract doctrine like Supremacy (which is no longer in play), you will be very unhappy. I know. This was my problem in the OPC (with respect to RPW and solemn league). You need to find a church where you can embrace their articles in a plain, unequivocal way.


  4. I would content that the end product of the English Reformation — the English Religious Settlement under Elizabeth I, which, much like the English Constituion, is not reduced to a single memorandum but rather is expressed in a serious of interlocking documents and formularies, is sufficiently unique that it cannot fruitfully lumped in with the Protestant Reformation except in the sense that it rejected the status quo ante of papal ascendency.

    Moreover, the heart of the English Reformation is not easily distilled from its formularies, such as the 39 Articles, precisely because their import is more negative — what is ruled out — and positive — an express, clear confession of doctrine. For example, an on an apparently express, positive statement, such as the Article’s commendation of the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone, they does so in a manner that is not wholly consistent with Lutheran and Calvinist confessions, especially in light of the Articles insistence that faith without works is dead. I am not suggesting that a harmony of Protestant confessions cannot be argued on this point, but rather that is a rather difficult slog, and a concept that cannot go very far. To wit, and as a second instance, the Articles state that predestination to life is God purpose, but nowhere in the Anglican formularies is predestination to life qualified as unconditional, and the expression that it is God’s “purpose,” not predetermination suggest something entirely different than what we find in the Reformed confessions.

    OK, so what then is the heart of the English Reformation? First, that as a Christian Nation with a Christian prince, the C of E is entitled to jurisdictional autonomy in matters of discipline and worship. Second, that in matters of doctrine, authority rests in the Scripture as construed by the Ancient Fathers (a return to the unity of the preSchism Church). The first principle is Henrican and enshrined in the Articles and Oaths and various Test Acts. The second is a paraphrase of a quote from Queen Elizabeth I herself, and boils down what is left after omitting everything excluded by the Articles, namely both Papal and Puritan innovation alike.


    • Perhaps this question is a ‘difficult slog’. And maybe we best leave it at that. However, I find it incredibly odd that AC’s don’t get how justification is the bedrock of our sacramentology. If they understood this, they’d understand a very deep rift between us and Rome, and why our differences do not amount to opinion in jurisdiction, erastianism, or merely papacy. I would like to go into this deeper, but for convenience sake will simply quote our “blog-buddies” because recently the topic was touched upon.

      At the Continuum, LKW said regarding the RC/Lutheran joint declaration on Justification:

      ” “Just wondering if the Joint Declaration in which the RCs and Lutherans resolved the Justification argument means that the hurdle to healing the Anglo-Roman Schism is really as insurmountable as some may think.”

      The claim that the so-called “Joint Declaration” resolved the Justification argument is mostly illusory. The Vatican has never approved that document officially, and as RC notes, many RC’s feel it was a sell out.

      The same is true on the Protestant side.
      The JD has been popular with liberal Lutherans and other liberal Protestants, who imagine that 500 years of debate can be settled by a brief document. Those who have looked at it more closely are not so sure. That includes theologians like RC Sproul, Michael Horton, and Bishop Fitz Allison.

      One major sticking point is Rome’s continued non-acceptance of the formula “simul iustus et peccator,” the invaluable insight that even while we continue to be sinners, actually and actively, God does not renege on His sovereign decree in which He declares us righteous, whereby “there is now no condemnation to those who are in [by faith alone] Christ Jesus.”

      Stated briefly, this means we are already righteous in terms of God’s Justification, but still sinful in terms of our incomplete Sanctification.

      And of course anything an RC says about justification must be evaluated in terms of their doctrines of indulgences and of purgatory, which (even under the most benign interpretation) neutralize the finished work of Christ.

      As Richard Hooker said, this is still the “grand question which hangeth yet between us,” and speaking personally, is the Maginot line I will defend with my dying breath.

      Remember the iota.

      I find this statement by Hooker enlightening, so I just ordered Hooker’s book regarding the fundamental difference between us and Rome. This must have been the understanding in the late 16th century?

      My understanding of Justification and their relation to the two sacraments vs. other rites of the church is from Melanchthon’s Apology. It provides perhaps one of the longest Reformation essays on the subject. I was moving in a semi-pelegian direction until I reread the Apology, which in my opinion is a far superior defense for Justification than any calvinistic statement I’ve read while a Presbyterian (Westminster, Dutch confessions, or Calvin’s Institutes). The question of church rites boils down to God’s sovereignty, and how He decides to remit sin, not church rites adopted over time. So, the two sacraments have a unique place, while the other five do not have “the same nature”. That being said, I won’t say the others do not bless or adorn the Body of christ with spiritual gifts. How sin is forgiven, at least for me, is the heart of the Reformation. The juncture point was when Henry promoted a man of the ‘new learning’ (cranmer) vis a vis men like Gardiner. However, both Gardiner and Cranmer held the same concilarist/erastian views of the Church, ie., jurisdiction. But Cranmer understood why the break from Rome was necessary. It was more fundamental than corruptions but deeply pastoral, i.e, the Gospel and souls of men? I have to cringe when Reformation is reduced to jurisdiction. It was pastoral at its heart. ? It’s more than Jurisdiction, or if Rome allows married bishops.

      Bp. Robinson recently posted something good about BCP catholic vs. Anglocatholic response to the Papacy’s Note.


      • I definitely agree that Anglicans fall on the Reformed side of the Justification-by-Faith question — indeed, the Articles plainly and expressly reject the Roman works-merits-purgation-indulgence doctrinal complex, (just as the Orthodox do).

        Rather, my point is the Anglican iteration of the the doctrine is, less vociferous than the classic Lutheran expressions and, perhaps, therefore less patient of fideism (of so I hope!). IMHO, I believe that this is so because the Lutheran tradition really did see justification-by-faith as THE crucial issue, which I think is a historical accident based on Luther’s personal experience at Cluny.

        This leads to me second point, that Anglicanism, not having to carry the personal idiosyncratic of a Luther or Calvin (even Cranmer — an important figure but less so in shaping the final form of the English Settlement than Elizabeth herself), puts the justification debate in the context of several serious issues with Roman, medieval developments of doctrine and that, moreover, this is so because our overarching principle is a return to the doctrines of the primitive church.


      • P.S.,

        Perhaps, upon reflection, I err in listing the National Church as one of the top two point of the English Reformation! Most certainly the Reformation is not reducible to jurisdiction. Not in England either.

        However, the rights of a national or particular church are defended in the English Reformation, along Orthodox lines. I believe this is important and underestimated as it does reflect the importance of ancient precedent in the English Reformation. So, I really do believe that the overarching principle of restoration of primitive doctrine, not any one particular aspect thereof, is the key to unlocking the English Reformation and explains the more conservative, moderate, and balanced approach of the formularies objectively understood (that is, without Evanglical or Anglo-Catholic spin.


      • While Newman misses the point, in his Tract 90 Newman quotes Jewel’s homily on Sacraments. Jewel explains why the two are distinguished from the seven:

        “You shall hear how many sacraments there be, that were instituted by our SAVIOUR CHRIST, and are to be continued, and received of every Christian in due time and order, and for such purpose as our SAVIOUR CHRIST willed them to be received. And as for the number of them, if they should be considered according to the exact signification of a sacrament, namely, for visible signs expressly commanded in the New Testament, whereunto is annexed the promise of free forgiveness of our sins, and of our holiness and joining in CHRIST, there be but two; namely, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord. For although absolution hath the promise of forgiveness of sin; yet by the express word of the New Testament, it hath not this promise annexed and tied to the visible sign, which is imposition of hands. For this visible sign (I mean laying on of hands) is not expressly commanded in the New Testament to be used in absolution, as the visible signs in Baptism and he LORD’S Supper are: and therefore absolution is no such sacrament as Baptism and Communion are. And though the ordering of ministers hath this visible sign and promise; yet it lacks the promise of remission of sin, as all other sacraments besides the two above named do. Therefore neither it, nor any other sacrament else, be such sacraments as Baptism and the Communion are. But in a general acception, the name of a sacrament may be attributed to any thing, whereby an holy thing is signified. In which understanding of the word, the ancient writers have given this name, not only to the other five, commonly of late years taken and used for supplying the number of the seven sacraments; but also to divers and sundry other ceremonies, as to oil, washing of feet, and such like; not meaning thereby to repute them as sacraments, in the same signification that the two forenamed sacraments are.”

        Anyway, there surely are more reasons why we cannot accept Rome’s offer, in jurisdiction, liturgy, order, and doctrine.


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