Category Archives: Erastianism

Degrees of Benevolence

Samaritan

the Good Samaritan

Modern liberals have basically run amok with the Christian notion of Love, turning it into a radical leveling or egalitarian creed disconnected from other salutary virtues such as Duty or Justice. The older Protestant view better joined these categories. I’ve discussed this subject in relation to John Wesley’s recommended ‘circles of reproof‘ with the second-half of the same essay touching wider Anglican divinity. Not long thereafter I came across the same in Bishop Gilbert Burnet’s Exposition of the Church Catechism, and it appears to be quite a familiar notion in England’s Long Reformation as to what it means to ‘love thy neighbor’. Below are relevant extracts from Burnet’s Exposition coupled with his late-contemporary, the Rev. Dr. White Kennett, on Christian charity.  Continue reading

Prayers Abroad

Prayers at Sea (1717 engraving)

The Forms of Prayer given at the back of the 1662 BCP contain an echo of Anglican polity before Lambeth. They belong a time where the Kingdom of Great Britain had spread her branches far across the globe by merchant and colonial enterprise. With Navy crews and Company plantations naturally followed the rites of the English Church, which the Diocese of London regulated, keeping common order and uniting prayers of scattered communities. The Prayers for Use at Sea  hearken back to this era, evidencing the old jurisdiction before revolution.

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The Crown’s Style

King Henry VIII and Emperor Maximilian

The English Crown’s title, “King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c.”, somewhat summed Anglican polity before the rise of the Quadrilateral and Lambeth Communion. Lambeth was a devolutionary answer to the crisis of Empire that resulted in creating a number of equally independent churches. Before Lambeth, Anglican churches weren’t based on popular sovereignty but royal Supremacy. This resulted in a communion with degrees and hierarchies– some nearer, some further– in the Church of England. And, because Anglican colonial government likewise centered on establishment, the style marked proximity to an ecclesiastical center. When Lambeth formed in 1887, it’s national character rejected the original regiment based on supremacy (1). Continue reading

Pseudoadiaphora

Bishop Ridley of London 1550

Among the Oxford Martyrs burnt at the stake by Queen Mary on Oct. 16th 1555 was the Anglo-Lutheran divine, Nicholas Ridley. As Bishop of London under Edward VI, Ridley signed the patent of succession against Mary for Lady Jane Gray’s enthronement, sealing his fate with the subsequent fall of the Seymour House. But less known than his martyrdom, was Ridley’s ardent defense of Church law against John Hooper’s vestment controversy. Ridley’s defense against private opinion in areas of ritual established the general argument used by Prayer Book apologies. Continue reading

The Royal Issue

Queen Sophia

Britain’s Erastian system, namely the King as Head, is found throughout the BCP’s liturgy– the litany, ordinal, the communion intercessions, and the daily offices. During the 16th to 19th centuries an Oath of Allegiance was added to subscription standards. Thus, the Crown’s headship became an article of faith and a marker of genuine high churchmanship. Supremacy had expelled the jurisdiction of the Roman Papacy while the 1701 Settlement Act ensured the Crown’s successors– the Governors of England’s Church– remained Protestant. Royal headship thus directed the Church of England’s relations, especially those of marriage and godparentage, toward other Protestant states, proving to be a greater factor in protestant unionism than quarrelsome conferences amongst divinity. Continue reading

Necessary Doctrine and Erudition

Bishop John Stokesley

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.
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Institution of Ministers

christchurchparishNicely, the 1928 Office of Institution, included as part of the Ordinal, conveniently contains a section which delineates our standards of faith. We might call these standards, “the Books of the Church”. Together they sum Anglican Faith, Order, and Worship. Churches that use the 1928 prayer book might want to re-examine the same Institution Office, an office first known to the American version (1).
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