The Duty of Catholicity

Doctor and Prince, Pope Leo I

Like many of my posts, this particular one is a work in progress. I hope to compile and update it as I collect quotes from notable Anglican divines.

In Keble’s, “Case of Catholic Subscription”, the question of how catholicity is found seems to diverge in sleight yet critical ways from earlier definitions of orthodoxy.  While Anglican greats, alongside Keble, acknowledge the importance of Apostolic tradition in understanding Articles, Keble sounds generally more optimistic about the continuity of this tradition into the Eastern and perhaps even the Roman Catholic church, saying, “Again it seems catholic to interpret it [the 39 Articles] so as to cast the least unnecessary censure on other portions of the existing Church– more especially where they form the great majority of Christendom“. It is unclear if Keble means “Christendom” in the sense of contemporary sister churches (Trent, Lateran IV, etc.) or the ancient cloud of witnesses (first five centuries). Keble then goes on to quote St. Vincent of Lerins, “because, argumentatively, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, are presumptions in favour of quod semper, until the contrary has been proved”.

This is fine and good, but what if Anglican divines indeed disagree in points of doctrine against Rome and the East– be it of the 6th, 9th, or 12th centuries of Christendom? When Anglicans claim to have retrieved the doctrine and practice of the primitive church, it ought be assumed they captured this very catholicity by subscribing to classical standards. Keble appears to do such when he quotes the 1571 Canon to prove catholic subscription. But, below is the complete quote from Canon 6 . Note: the criteria is not merely the consensus fidelum but also the rule of scripture. There is no car blanche pass for medieval doctors but a cautious resourcement of primitivism, usually limited to very early centuries:

“… shall behave themselves modestly and soberly in every department of their life. But especially shall they see to it that they teach nothing in the way of a sermon, which they would have religiously held and believed by the people, save what is agreeable to the teaching of the Old or New Testament, and what the Catholic fathers and ancient bishops have collected from this selfsame doctrine“.

Although the 1571 Canon was not signed by Elizabeth, the precept already carried forward from the Crown and convocation under Henry.  Yet where Keble departs from other declarations on primitive religion is unhinging Apostolic faith from the boundaries of  early centuries. Outside this bracket, English Reformers were certainly less confident, qualifying the reception of doctrine in very careful terms (such as ‘agreeable with scripture’). How primitive faith might be identified beyond the first five centuries is given by Henry VIII’s criteria. In the 1536 preface to the Ten Articles, Henry provides four rules. The first being scripture; second, the creeds; third, the Articles established by Crown and Convocation; and fourth, antiquity. Regarding the last item:

” That they ought and must utterly refuse and condemn all those opinions contrary to the said articles, which were of long time past condemned in the four holy councils, that is to say, in the council of Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedonense, and all other since that time in any point consonant to the same“.

The last council on Henry’s list, Chalcedon, was closed by 451 or 453 once Pope Leo received its canons. Though Leo was a great bishop and doctor of the church, he is not the last Father recognized by classical Anglicans. For example, Bp Gregory (d. 604), a later Pope, continues to shape Anglican identity through his great reforms in the Western Mass as well as the commission of Augustine of Canterbury to establish the British episcopate. Surely there are many other saints.

However, a boundary line for ‘sure orthodoxy’ (without dispute) apparently ends after the fourth universal council in the fifth century. What doctrine might be received afterwards depends on that peculiar clause,  ‘consonant to the same’. Certainly there’s no absolute line. Classical Anglicans today repeat a similar refrain with statements like, “The later ecumenical councils (i.e., the fifth, sixth, and seventh) are affirmed as orthodox to the degree that they are consistent with, while adding nothing to, the substance of dogma defined by the first four.”

But this refrain is becoming rare among Anglican conservatives who are more optimistic about Orthodoxy. For example, Forward in Faith– an evangelical and catholic alliance– recently rejected Andrewes formula for a relatively open-ended Vincentian canon: switching the first five centuries for the first millennium of faith. This is a typical tactic among Anglo-Catholics, and while a tenacious middle position remains (i.e., “consonant with”), Forward in Faith, previously known as the Evangelical and Catholic Mission (ECM). Fr. Deacon Kidd explained FiFNA’s new direction, perhaps illustrating a trend:

‘To acknowledge Seven Councils, then, means we must at least agree with the Orthodox numbering as defining the classical period of the Undivided Church.  (So instead of Lancelot Andrewes’ “four councils, five centuries,” we’re looking more in the neighborhood of Seven Councils and ten centuries.)…Most people who would affirm this probably fall somewhere in the middle: assuming the contents of the Councils to be Scriptural on the basis of their ecumenical status, but not necessarily having done all the work to connect the dots themselves.”

Reliable Centuries:
Nonetheless, the sobriety and caution of Anglican thought with respect to the past ought to be taken with more seriousness. Generally speaking, the first few centuries of the church are believed most reliable. Regarding these centuries, John Cosin says, “For the nearer they were to the Apostolic days, the better must they have understood the truth, and the more correctly, as we believe, have they explained it. This is especially the case where they are unanimous and consentient in matters of faith” (p. 20, The Religion, Discipline, and Rites of the CofE). In the Apology, John Jewel similarly says the same,

“We truly for our parts, as we have said, have done nothing in altering religion either upon rashness or arrogancy; nor nothing but with good leisure and great consideration. Neither had we ever intended to do it, except both the manifest and most assured will of God, opened to us in His Holy Scriptures, and the regard of our own salvation, had even constrained us thereunto. For though we have departed from that Church which these men call Catholic, and by that means gets us envy amongst them that want skill to judge, yet is this enough for us, and ought to be enough for every wise and good man, and one that maketh account of everlasting life, that we have gone from that Church which had power to err: which Christ, who cannot err, told so long before it should err; and which we ourselves did evidently see with our eyes to have gone both from the hly fathers; and from the Apostles, adn from Christ His own self, and from the primitive and Catholic Church; and we are come as near as we possibly could to the Church of the Apostles and of the old Catholic bishops and fathers; which Church we know hath hereunto been sound and perfect, and, as Tertullian termeth it, a pure virgin, spotted as yet with no idolatry, nor with any foul or shameful fault: and have directed, according to their customs and ordinances, not only our doctrine, but also the Sacraments and the form of common prayer.

And, as we know both Christ Himself and all good men heretofore have done, we have called home again to the original and first foundation that religion which  hath been foully foreslowed, and utterly corrupted by these men. For we thought it meet thence to take the pattern of reforming religion from whence the ground of religion was first taken: because this one reason, as saith the most ancient father Tertullian, hath great force against all heresies, “look, whatsoever was first, that is true; and whatsoever is latter, that is corrupt.” Irenaeus oftentimes appealed to the oldest churches, which had been nearest to Christ’s time, and which it was hard to believe had erred. But why at this day is not the same respect and consideration had? Why return we not to the pattern of the old churches? Why may not we hear at this time amongst us the same saying, which was openly pronounced in times past in the council of Nice by so many bishops and Catholic fathers, and nobody once speaking against it: that is to say, “hold still the old customs!” (p. 69, The Apology of the CofE)

Below are noteworthy quotations by Anglican churchmen regarding the duration of sure consensus/witness of these centuries (more to be added):

“One Canon reduced to writing by God Himself, two Testaments, three Creeds, four Councils, five centuries, and the succession of the Fathers in that period– the three centuries, that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith”. –Lancelot Andrewes, Opusc. Posthuma, p. 91

“As for our doctrine which we may rightly call Christ’s catholic doctrine, it is so far off from new that God, who is above all most ancient, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, hath left the same unto us in the Gospel, in the Prophets’ and Apostles’ works, being monuments of the great age…And we are to come to that Church, wherein themselves [sic. Rome] cannot deny (if they will say truly, and as they think in their own conscience) but all things be governed purely and reverently, and as much as we possibly could, very near to the order used in the old times…Scripture and the Primitive Church are the criteria by which the authenticity of a Church and the truth of its teaching are thus assessed”– John Jewel, Apologia

“Hence we lay down as a second postulate, ‘That in things whose fitness is not of itself apparent, nor may be easily proved, the concurrent judgment of antiquity ought to prevail with those who cannot allege any weighty impropriety against them’”–  Richard Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V

“Indeed, rites and customs instituted by the Apostles though not written, are still retained in our church; for it is not the mode of delivery but the author whence they proceed, that gives scriptures and the rites their force” — Richard Hooker, Ecclesiastical PolityBook II

“I am such a Catholic Christian as believeth the three Creeds, that of the Apostles, that of the Council of Nice, and that of Athanasius, the two latter being paraphrases to the former. And I believe them in that sense as the ancient Fathers and Councils that made them did understand them, to which three Creeds all the ministers of England do subscribe at their Ordination. And I also acknowledge for Orthodox all those other forms of Creeds that either were divised by Councils or particular Fathers, against such particular heresies as most reigned in their times…I reverence and admit the Four General Councils as Catholic and Orthodox. And the said Four General Councils are acknowledged by our Acts of Parliament, and received for orthodox by our Church…As for the Fathers,  I reverence them as much and more than the Jesuits do, and as much as themselves ever craved. For whatever the Fathers for the first five hundred years did with an unanime consent agree upon, to be believed as a necessary point of salvation, I either will believe it also, or at least will be humbly silent, not taking upon me to condemn the same.” — King James I

“The two Testaments which, by God’s appointment, constitute the one Canon of Scripture, are our broken and unchanging rule of religion and faith in the English Church. For the plain words of Holy Scripture contain everything that appertains to faith and practice. After scripture we hold as authorities the Three Creeds, the first four Councils, the first five Centuries, and the consentient line of Catholic Fathers during that period. For the original faith once delivered to the Saints is set forth in them pure and undefiled without human corruptions or novelties. Finally, we acknowledge such of the theology of later times as is not inconsistent with this primitive doctrine.” — John Cosin (p. 15-16, The Religion, Discipline, and Rites of the CofE)

Anglicans who favored a more Arminian or synergestic view of grace often limited primitivism to four or less centuries.

“From a child I was taught to love and reverence the Scripture, the oracles of God; and, next to these, to esteem the primitive Fathers, the writers of the first three centuries. Next after the primitive church I esteemed our own, the Church of England, as the most Scriptural national church in the world.”– John Wesley

“THE Church of England doth very piously declare her consent with the ancient Catholic Church, in not admitting any thing to be delivered as the sense of Scripture, which is contrary to the consent of the Catholic Church in the four first ages.”–Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699)

“That the best method for all churches and Christians to follow, is to lay aside all modern hypotheses, customs, and private opinions, and submit to all the doctrines, practices, worship, and discipline, not of any Particular, but of the Ancient and Universal church of Christ, from the beginning to the end of the fourth century —- Secondly, That the Liturgy in the Apostolical Constitutions is the most Ancient Christian Liturgy extant; that it is perfecdy pure and free from interpolation; and that the book itself, called the Apostolical Constitutions, contains at large the doctrines, laws, and settlements, which the first and purest ages of the gospel did with one consent believe, obey, and submit to. . . . That therefore the said book . . . ought to be received, submitted to, and allowed it’s [sic] due authority.”– Thomas Deacon

Finding formulas past five centuries is uncommon. The phrase ‘consonant with the same’ usually covers later doctrine. But, here is one from Joseph Hall (1574-1656), stretching our patristic period by another century as a time with no ‘heavy error’.

“IN truth he who heartily subscribes to the Word of God, consigned, as it is, to the everlasting record of letters, to all the primitive Creeds, to the four General Councils, to the concordant judgment of the Fathers for the first six hundred years from Christ, which we of the Reformed Church religiously profess to do, even though he be not exempt from error in minor points, yet he shall never be an heretic. Any particular Church may easily err, by affixing heresy to an opinion undeserving of it, whether a truth, or but a light error; but heavily neither soul nor Church can err, which walks needfully in the steps of the universal and ancient Church.”

However, the controversies between protestants was not so much over the resourcement of patristics. All parties did that, but the degree medieval ceremony and scholastic might be abolished. Percy Dearmer has a very fascinating quote regarding our orthodox retention of both, which I believe makes the CofE unique amongst reformation churches:

“The English Church happens to base herself in a special manner upon history–she appeals to the Scriptures and primitive antiquity for her theology, [* Articles VI., VIII., etc.] to the ancient Fathers for her ritual, [* The Preface Concerning the Service of the Church, Article XXIV., etc.] to Catholic tradition for her ceremonial; [* The Preface Of Ceremonies, Canon 30 (1603), Canon & (1640), etc.] she refers us to the second year of Edward VI for her ornaments, [* The Ornaments Rubric] and to the later middle ages for the arrangement of her chancels. [* “And the chancels shall remain as they have done in times past.” (First inserted in 1552.)] [24/25] Her formularies, therefore, cannot be understood without a good deal of historical knowledge. Some people may object to this, and may ask–Why should they be bound by documents that are two or three hundred years old? But the fact remains that they are so bound, whether they like it or not; and that the whole intention of the Reformers, as shown from end to end of the Prayer Book, Articles, and Canons, was to bind them to principles that are nearer two thousand than two hundred years of age. Nor will they be released from this bondage to historic continuity till the same authority that imposed it shall have removed it,–which will not be for a long time to come. The attempts that have been hitherto made at throwing off this light yoke have not been so conspicuously successful in their results as to encourage us to proceed. Therefore I ask Churchmen to renounce those futile experiments of private judgment, and to throw themselves into the task of realising in its entirety that sound Catholic ideal which the defenders of the English Church preserved for us through the most troublous period of her history. “– Dearmer, Loyalty to the Prayer Book

And, Cosin hints about a formula beyond five centuries. Thus far, Cosin seems to stretch the possibility of orthodoxy furthest among classical divines. This quote is from Cosin’s letter to the Countess of Peterborough, 1660 on the agreements and differences with Roman Catholics. Starting with the Creeds, Cosin says Anglicans agree with Romans in so far:

“All the decrees of faith and doctrine set forth, as well in the first four General Councils, as in all other Councils, which those first four approved and confirmed, and in the fifth and sixth General Councils besides (than which we find no more to be General), and in all the following councils that be thereunto agreeable, and in all the anathemas and condemnations given out by those Councils against heretics, for the defence of the Catholic Faith. The unanimous and general consent of the ancient Catholic Fathers and the universal Church of Chirst in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, and the collection of all necessary matters of Faith from them during the first six hundred years, and downwards to our own days.” — John Cosin

Any other varieties of Andrew Formula missed here, please share!

17 responses to “The Duty of Catholicity

  1. Very well done, Charles. I think you are getting much closer to the ideal, the real ideal.

    The reason that Elizabeth did not sign the canons of 1571 is that there was no need for her to do so. She chose to interfere as little as possible with the Church unless she had to defend it from the worst excesses of the times. When the Church has on its own done the right thing then you don’t need to give it the additional prop of royal assent. And by doing so you strengthen the Church. You give it a better sense of its true self, a vital necessity in times such as it was then experiencing.

    The Greek roots of the word “catholic” mean most literally “according to the whole.” It implies both the Church in time and space. When you read the Book of Common Prayer you should realize that we pray not merely for Anglicans but for “all that call themselves Christians,” for the Church Universal which is why the English Church tried to remain connected to both the Church of Rome and those connected with what they thought of as ‘reform.’ Unfortunately it is not always possible because the extremes want you to agree with them in every iota, and especially when and where they are wrong.


  2. Excellent post!

    I especially like your point that the later three (or perhaps four) general councils can only be received to the extent they are consonant with the prior four. This is spot on. Of course, by the same principle, certain Western Councils, such as the Council of Orange (529) also only have relative and conditioned authority.

    Additionally, I would agree that sufficient doubt about Rome’s catholicity has been proven to justify the more conservative aspects of the Reformation, though I am loathe to generally “unChurch” Roman Catholics, and even more reluctant to do so to the East. Indeed my considered and informed opinion is that, in the East, the historical accident of the Monastic Ascendency, which was more or less a direct result of the expansion of Islam, comprises the vast majority of any differences between classical Anglicanism and Orthodoxy.


  3. Hello +Lee and Death,

    I imagine the general rule is, ‘unless restated or revised, the canon is assumed to carry forward’. What was laid down in the Ten Articles had agreement of Crown plus convocation. But what I found most interesting about the 1571 canon was how it supplements Article 6 which assumes scriptural exegesis in matters of faith. The term, “consonant with the same”, I first heard from Fr. Hart. I’ve heard other formula, such as ‘consonant with scripture’. But the later is a huge equivocation which I think even dispensationalist Baptists might agree with high church Anglicans. In otherwords, it doesn’t help much.

    Death’s comparison of today’s Anglican diaspora to the Interregnum might also have relevancy to the Monastic Ascendency during the expansion of Islam. What else are the many lay communions which have emerged from the dashing of early/magisterial Protestantism? It illustrates how polity can shape theology. The influence of monastic/mendicant orders is very neglected and underrated with today’s fundamentalist, many of whom have more in common with friars than they know?


  4. Death, if you mean by the ‘Monastic Ascendency’ the Orthodox rule requiring bishops to be monks, that rule was made by Emperor Justinian at the beginning of the sixth century. Its cause was the scandal of bishops placing church property in the hands of their sons, i.e., enriching their families out of the Church’s pocket. It was a bad solution to a bad problem and as the recent election Archbishop Jonah shows, the problem of clerical mismanagement of Church property and wealthy hasn’t yet been solved. Even Saint Augustine of Hippo was guilty of embezzling from the income of property given to the Church for the relief of the poor when he appropriated the income for the support of his own episcopal monastic establishment. Here I believe that the last chapter of the Regula Benedicti is to the point. When the Church like the monk begins to construct his life on something other than a humble obedience of the plain w0rds of Scripture it is bound to go amiss.

    From my point of view, the Roman Church began to go astray when it began to regard itself and its bishop as something more than “primer inter pares,” the first among equals, and began to think of itself as a divine substitute for the imperial authority which had deserted the city for Constantiople. When Gregory the Great was elected bishop he had to wait until his election was confirmed by the Emperor from whom he received the pallium But his successors had that Roman itch for rule and the collapse of the imperial power in the West was simply too much of a temptation. And unlike our Lord they liked the idea of all the kings of the world bowing down to them. And then in the eleventh century they decided to turn all of the Church in the West into something modeled on the monastic reform of Cluny. Big mistake.

    I would not want to entirely unchurch Rome, but St Paul plainly predicted what they have done and called it “the doctrine of devils.” Unfortunately, the Anglo-papalist party in the Continuum was, I believe, addicted to the whole “back to Baroque” silliness by people over intrigued by the swish-ness, the homosexual high camp of Roman counter Reformation ceremonial, vesture and ornaments. I don’t think it is quite as evident among our present set of “partisan Anglo-Catholics” in the Continuum as it was once, but if you go to someplace like the newly elevated Roman Benedictine abbey at Cross Creek, it is as plain as if you were at a San Francisco street festival over run by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence or the clerical hangers on of Cardinal Levada when he was archbishop there.(And everything which Father Hart has said of him is true – only worse.)

    So, one way or the other, it all comes back to the rule of Scripture which St Vincent of Lerins defines as the bulk of Tradition. We must not only believe it to be true, but act on that belief and not let some later man made tradition substitute for it. What the fathers of the Anglican reform attempted, we must also continually attempt, i.e., to live in both the spirit and the letter of the Apostolic and sub-apostolic Church. It was a return which St Antony of Egypt, St Basil and St Augustine of Hippo were attempting but came short of even as we probably will as well. But that does not mean that we should not be doing everything within our power to achieve at least as much.


    • The Monastic Ascendency is a term of art within Byzantine church history. What I have in mind is the disappearance of the Cathedral Rite and Ordo and its replacement by the Monastic Typicon. In effect, this dramatic and under-appreciated event effectively made every Orthodox layman an involuntary religious, which to my mind is as bad as the Pharisee’s creed of applying the priestly law generally–it is extremely patient of justification by works of law and clericalism.


  5. Without in the least dismissing or demeaning the good works done by monastics either male or female, the exaltation of celibacy over the married state and monasticism over lay Christianity has, on the balance, been an evil thing. The loss of the very idea of the Church’s office and its suppression for the monastic liturgy gave all Christians the idea that they could get by letting others, i.e., the monks be holy.

    Hildebrand’s attempt to make all of the Western Church into an extended Cluniac monastic system was another mistake of the same kind. This is part of the reason why the restoring of the Church’s office in the Book of Common Prayer was such an important advance in terms of Catholic Christianity. It helped to both restore and exalt the lay role just as the suppression of the sub-diaconate gave back to epistle to the lay clerk and the Church to full lay participation. This is the reason that we must continue to insist that no Anglican parish can be fully Catholic in any real sense without the full restoration of the offices of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer. It need never be so much as sung solemnly – ever – but without its daily recitation there is a sense in which the Church is not fully present in that place.


    • Bishop Lee,

      Kudos for your sage comments on the restoration of leitourgia to the people, and the necessity of reviving the the Offices in Anglican parish life. Part of Anglicanism’s genius was the transformation it effected, by turning the nation “into a kind of monastery”, through the mandate that each parish church offer Morning and Evening Prayer on a daily basis.

      Besides according such obvious benefits as reading through the entirety of Scripture, and the hallowing effects of absolution and corporate worship, having the Offices as a daily feature of parish life, in tandem, of course, with the Holy Communion on every Sunday and holy day of obligation, ushers both priest and people into the rhythms of Benedictine spirituality; with it’s ideal of daily public worship and weekly Sunday Eucharist. Our divines saw such a schedule as an invaluable aid in Christian sanctification.


    • I think you are right on point about the difference between the edifying Book-of-Common-Prayer tradition and the way of Cluniac alineation–I can completely understand why Luther ran away and denounced that inhumane approach! IMHO, since the Middle Ages, the East has been ever so slightly on the wrong side of that line be imposing or expecting everyone–not just those who voluntarily chose it after carefully discerning a vocation–to adopt some degree of monastic discipline. Thus, though a beacon of light in terms of core Christian dogma, the East is needs just a bit of a pastoral reformation, though less so than Hildebrand’s Legalistic, Latin-Germanic version of Christianity.


  6. Charles,

    Thanks for those insights. What you say about Keble is interesting as he was one of the Tractarians who opposed the proposal to end the requirement (in 1835) that undergraduates at Oxford subscribe to the Articles. That being said it seems to have been evident that he had his own reasons for doing so.

    I do think the English Reformers were correct in their views about the Councils after the fourth one, and that is truly my greatest difficulty with the Affirmation of St. Louis, although it certainly has some other problems.


  7. The Orthodox as the Romans need to return to having a higher regard for Holy Scripture than for tradition when they diverge as they began to do at the beginning of the sixth century. Actually, it began earlier, but only manifested itself very strongly then.

    Again, when the prayer book was published it only continued a traditional pattern in the English Church (see Langland’s The Vision of Piers the Plowman) but by putting the liturgy in the English tongue made, made it possible for the laity to actually participate intelligently in what was being done.

    While we should be aware of the places in which both the churches of the Roman obedience and the Orthodox have rejected doctrines, disciplines, and the pattern of worship outlined in Holy Scripture, we also need to be aware of their glories which also belong to us as well. Our problem as Anglicans is that we have had two parties who have in one way or another rejected the prayer book pattern. What we need to emphasize is a full knowledge, acceptance and obedience of the Book of Common Prayer making it both our spiritual rule and teacher and glorying in its beauty and Catholic orthodoxy.


    • Just as a quibble, I would say that the Lambeth Communion has has three parties that have rejected the spirit of the BCP tradition — (1) the Puritan/Evangelical party; (2) the Anglo-Catholic party; and (3) the contemporary and ascendent Liberal/Liberation party. In sum, to a great extent, with exception of the Tudor and Stuart divines and their progeny and successors, Cranmer and Ridley cast pearls before swine.


      • Another quibble, Death, we might call that ‘puritan party’, really, a ‘new light’ one. The puritans were more a noble spirit (in their doctrinal solemnity and self-mortifications) than the New Lights – Purpose Driven christians today. I wouldn’t want to flatter today’s evangelical party with the puritanism of Savoy or New England who at least continued an idea of ‘church order’ with respect to parish boundaries, licences, and subscription to standards. I respect the puritans too much for that.


  8. Death, my own quibble would be with calling today’s Anglo-papists Anglo-Catholics. The old high Churchmen such as Rose, Keble and Pusey were Anglo-Catholics and were never tempted with such things as violated the prayer book and its rubrics. They could have an optimistic and positive view of both the East and Rome without feeling the necessity of imitating them. What we need to day are priests and bishops in their mold.

    Charles, I think you have too high a view of the Puritans and their ilk. To obtain positions in the Church they took oaths which they never had any intention of keeping and affirmed doctrines in which they never believed. The result in England was the first modern totalitarian state in which everyone was allowed to have an opinion as long as it was theirs and they carried those beliefs with them to New England where in the 18th century they twice jailed John Checkley for publishing books of Anglican theology. However much it might seem that they were zealous in their beliefs, it did not take long for their faith to degenerate into Unitariansim in much the same way that TEO today has become very close to Episcopaganism. And this is why it is so important to have the Athanasian Creed back in the American prayer book and in the regular worship of the Church.


    • HLP,

      Perhaps I should say Anglo-Tridentines, to distinguish from Prayer-Book Catholics.


      I stand beside my contention that the Puritans were the forerunners of the Evangelical Party, and that neither ever really conformed to, or were formed by, the authentic, pastoral Prayer-Book spirituality.


      • Hi Death,

        I believe the Anabaptists were, in many ways, the forerunners. There was much in Puritanism that continued the ‘church of england’. For me, the irony is when today’s evangelicals (and I am also speaking of the general evangelical movement in America which too many anglicans take their cues from) are lined up with the Puritans of old, the latter look like Roman Catholics. The old time puritans took catechism, infant baptism, subscription, rigid discipline of elders, parish boundaries, licencing of preachers, and an educated priesthood very seriously. For this reason, we have Yale and Harvard, much like Anglicans founded William and Mary for same ends. You also have the very curious yet common campaigns of Anglicans and Puritans against New Light intinerant preaching in Virginia and New England (BTW. I think Wesly deserves to be distanced from certain aspects of New Lightism due to his refusing to allow the extremis lay administration of sacrament to become a norm). In the end, both Puritan and Anglican authorities acted in a very ‘magisterial’ manner, indicative of a definite sense of ecclesiastical order.

        Where I believe the puritans unquestionably inform modern evangelicals is through the parallel current of Anabaptist iconoclasm which generally infected the Reformed camp, fostering an erosive practice of radical biblicism that Hooker distills and disparages. The early Puritans actually made use of the Fathers in their writings, quoting them much like Jewel. Whereas later generations, who made the severance from the wider society of the CofE complete, turned sola scriptura into the sad caricature it is today. Anyway, I don’t disagree with you, Death, but I only wanted to make this often point against Puritanism’s unfortunate truck with Anabaptism. I really think the influence of Zurich is what spoiled Swiss magisterial reformation, becoming a spreading cancer within original Protestantism that unlearned laity and low clergy levered against the prelates of church and state. Maybe the dimension is more sociological.

        Anyway, I apologize digressing from your more important points– Anglicanism has been divided by three parties. Their historicity is interesting, and like the Puritan one, I keep wondering about the Anglo-Catholic party, and how it can’t be reduced to a mere Roman invasion of jurisdiction but has indigenous qualities of its own. Precursors, perhaps less known, are the Recusants willing to recognize Royal authority under Charles I and, of course, Gardiner’s party who checked Cranmer’s more extreme Reformed mentality. Nor forget the catholic nobility in the north later preened by Henrietta. Central Churchmen, I suppose, have always endured these more centrifugal elements within the national church/household? Perhaps this was less a problem for the Reformed and Lutheran given their smaller principalities and free cities from which they worked from. The free church since the Tractarians have given similar opportunities, and today we see the respective parties finally going separate ways?


  9. Frequently modern Anglicans tend to extend the period of orthodoxy past the first five centuries, including even modern catholic thought. Amongst Anglo-Catholics this is especially symptomatic. In a not so old response about catholicism, the ACC Archbishop Haverland said,

    “I try to be an ecclesial thinker. I joined the ACC as soon as it formed and have never looked back. I begin with the actual faith and actual formularies of the actual Church in which I actually find myself. I think the faith that I hold is Anglican in a variety of ways which are very important to me. However it is much more important to me to maintain the faith of my Church and to be squarely within the consensus of the central tradition of Christendom on controversial matters. If that approach is insufficiently ‘Anglican’ in the minds of some, I am not too worried. I am more interested in being a faithful Anglican Catholic and in standing within the central tradition of Christendom than in meeting some criterion of Anglicanism that is not itself firmly rooted in the ACC’s actual formularies.

    For the most part the central tradition of Christendom can be identified simply by looking for the consensus of East and West even today.”–(May 20, 2010 @ Retro Church)

    Another ACC Bishop also wrote the following, July 18th, at the Continuum blog to a post by Fr. Hart called Pax-Anglicana:

    “I think the point of referring to a living consensus involving Rome and the Orthodox is to say that:
    1. Christendom is not all that divided – the vast majority of Christians ubique even now agree about most matters of most importance, including controversial matters such as the invocation of saints, a high doctrine of the Real Presence involving a transformation of more than the meaning or signification of the Elements, and the objective efficacy of seven sacraments;
    2. Anglicans can by looking to both Rome and the Orthodox show them their essential need for each other and also find for ourselves a standard to judge ourselves;
    3. the consensus (ab omnibus) is indeed a living consensus, not a mere historical construct or memory.

    So I would tend to say that when Rome and the Orthodox agree, we should be extremely reluctant to disagree. Where they disagree (the papacy, marital indissolubility, purgatory), we are free to adopt whichever position is truest to our own tradition and its scriptural foundation. The exception of an erroneous Rome/Orthodox consensus, namely the case of the marriage of bishops – is so contrary to the Biblical evidence that we hardly need to worry”.–

    Won’t a living consensus more likely equal the final dissolution of Anglicanism and a one-way ticket to either Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism? I dont see this a healthy polemic for any kind of distinct Anglican future, and am saddened when churchmen take such an ecumenical stance, ignoring historic Anglican teaching regarding sacraments, justification, and icons.


  10. From Daniel Waterland regarding novel opinions in worship: “If the supplicants cannot agree about the very object of worship, I do not see how they can at all unite in one common Liturgy, or so much as hold communion with each other. Indeed, all should agree to take scripture for their rule, and the practice of the three first centuries for the model of their worship. This is the shortest and best way of composing all differences: they that refuse it are justly blamable, and the dividers of the Christian Church; and be it at their peril who do so, as they will answer it at the great day of accounts”. — Works.V. 4, p. 13, “Exposition of the Church Catechism”


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