The Rev. William Burkitt, a late-Stuart rector who also saw the reign of William of Orange, was best known for his biblical commentaries (recommended by the Victorian Charles Spurgeon). But, he also wrote a number of pastoral advises anticipating the early Anglican evangelical movement. An SPCK favorite was The Poor Man’s Help enjoying more than thirty editions throughout the 18th century. Within the Help is a chapter on the ‘Glorifying God in Family Worship’, accompanied with a number of private prayers and a basic catechism for family governors. Burkitt’s work shows the relation the evangelical movement’s early concern with the Lord’s Table, building off the deposit of devotional works common to the interregnum. Continue reading
Category Archives: Catechism
Anglican formulas have suffered a number of erroneous assertions regarding their confessional application and breadth. The idea that Anglicanism is characterized by ‘temperament’ ( i.e., silence upon controversial points, avoidance of party disputes, classical tenets of faith treated ‘indifferently’, etc ) rather than ‘confession’ is an imprint carried over from the late Hanoverian reign of latitudinarianism. At times it is surprising how liberal polemics creep themselves into otherwise conservative Anglican apologetics. Looking particularly at the 1604 Canon we find the Articles of 1562 indeed possess a binding quality for both clergy and laity, albeit in different ways. Continue reading
Perhaps longer Catechisms have a troubled history in Anglicanism? Their absence certainly is not due to any penchant for ambiguity or aversion to scientific theology. Early catehcisms, like Necessary Doctrine, were established, as Henry says, for “the abolition of controversy”. Their intent was not only to educate baptismal candidates but also clergy. The 1928 BCP short catechism (probably the longest of the Anglican short catechisms) has kept traction, especially amongst Anglo-Catholics, but the longer varieties seem to have fallen by the wayside, where length is identified with ‘puritanism’. There are a number of Anglican Longer Catechisms which not only prove valuable for seminary students but nurture growing faith by expounding questions sprouting from baptismal and eucharistic creeds.
An earlier post on Necessary Doctrine made some general statements about Henrican theology. I’d like to recap two points. First, the early date of clerical subscription was as early as 1536, followed by the Catechism in 1538. The intent of catechism, bible, and articles teaching together was a continuous feature of Settlement, beginning with Henry. Second, Henry’s theology, even in the mid-1530’s, was ‘reformed’ (Augustinian). The Henrican view of God’s grace began to theologically impact Worship, first, with respect to saints and, by Edward’s reign, vulgarities in the Mass. Henrican Catechisms and Articles were not merely ‘negative statements’ but were tied to matters of ceremony, each connected to the same doctrine of salvation. In this respect, Henrican theology offers a system of thinking, centered on the idea of ‘justification’. A high treatment of grace does not downplay sacrament but extols dependence on the very means instituted by Him.
The 1543 English catechism, known as the King’s Book, officially titled A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man, often is described as reversing the England’s move toward Protestantism. However, earlier formularies, be it the 1537 Bishop’s catechism or Ten Articles, have no fundamental disagreement with Henry’s alleged Romanism. This is more apparent when Protestant confessions are understood as possessing two ‘sorts of laws’ (as Hooker might say)—those dealing with church order vs. doctrine. The King’s book, like the Ten Articles which it is based upon, maintains this necessary difference, and, while it remains stubborn against certain Protestant views (namely, the Mass), it is consistent with the development of earlier English thought. Hopefully, a study on Necessary Doctrine will not only show the early date of English Confessionalism, but also how Protestant/Evangelical ideas were fundamental to Henrican ceremony.