After the Glorious Revolution for one reason or another, the British royalty began to view the church not as an instrument of spiritual vitality for the nation, but stability. Perhaps they’d seen the tumult caused by both the civil war and William’s ascendancy and they didn’t want any more of that religious squabbling. Whatever the reason, the broad church principles of Latitudinarianism became the raison de etre of the church during the Hanoverian dynasties. Thus, the church of the 1700’s was a church that was governed mainly by two pieces of scripture “Everything decent and in good order”(1 Cor 14:40) and “do not be overly zealous.”(Romans 10:2) During this time, the authorities in and over the church viewed with apprehension those who held passionately to the core doctrines of the Reformation, including the need for individuals to respond to the gospel with faith and repentance and be, in the words of Jesus, “born again.” One of the most damning accusations you could make against a churchman or priest in this age was to accuse him of “Enthusiasm”.

Many of those accused of “enthusiasm” would fit well into what we have described as “Reformation Anglicans”(with some serious differences we’ll discuss later). Men like Charles Simeon, John Newton, and Augustus Toplady led great revivals and sought not only to bring British people to Christ, but to bring the Gospel to bear in the Church of England. They were rarely greeted with open arms in the Church of England though. Simeon’s own congregation hated him and the wardens even locked up the church so no one could come and hear him preach! John Newton sought ordination in the Church of England for seven years before a wealthy benefactor, Lord Dartmouth, finally procured an appointment for him and persuaded a bishop to ordain him. Regardless of the fact that Newton turned down dozens of offers to serve in dissenter churches, almost every bishop he spoke to questioned his loyalty to the Church of England. Ever since the restoration of the monarchy in the 1600’s, the theological descendants of the Reformation have lived in the Church of England mostly on the margins. Read the rest of this entry »

Perhaps you read my first three posts and and you thought to yourself “This sounds very different from how my rector described Anglicanism to me!”  “I thought we were a big tent?”  “What about the via media?”  You may even have had a t-shirt that encouraged people to join The Episcopal Church because “no matter what you believe, there’s someone else in The Episcopal Church who believes it too!”  You may feel this way especially if you entered Anglicanism in North America. I would wager that many Episcopal or Anglican confirmation classes would define Anglicanism as a sort of compromise position. In the 1840’s, this compromise position was termed the ‘via media,’ the middle way. More recently, this compromise position has been termed “Three Streams Anglicanism.”  This is the idea that in Anglicanism the three streams of catholic identity, evangelical truth, and charismatic experience come together. Those who identify Anglicanism in either of these ways would have a hard time with the sort of picture I’m painting here of different camps that have vastly different theological foundations. For them, Anglicanism doesn’t devolve into silly arguments over churchmanship or theology. We are a big tent! There is room for all here! Read the rest of this entry »

This is part three in a series on how Anglicanism has viewed itself in different times and different places.  Look here for part I and here for part II.  

A few years ago, I was setting up our chapel for a worship service. We don’t have a pulpit in the chapel, so we use a sort of moveable podium when we need one. This podium had been set up right in front of the altar (which, by the way, was set up not as a table, but an altar). One faithful woman questioned this. “Wouldn’t it be more Anglican to move the pulpit to the side and have the altar in the center?” Behind her question was the assumption that resides in many American Anglican churches, that High Churchmanship has a greater claim to being legitimately Anglican than Reformation ideas or even broad Anglican Evangelicalism. If what I have said about the history of Anglicanism so far is true, then how did we get here?

In order to understand how we got here, we must look at a particular movement within Anglicanism that doesn’t tend to get a lot of attention, even though it has profoundly impacted Anglicanism in North America. At the end of the Carolinian period, James II succeeded Charles II as King. Many had already suspected Charles II of having Catholic sympathies. James confirmed their suspicions when he converted to Catholicism. In response, James’ detractors in parliament invited his Protestant son-in-law, William of Orange, to invade England and oust the Catholic King. William accepted the proposal and came to the throne in what has come to be known as The Glorious Revolution, due to the fact that James fled before any blood could be shed. Read the rest of this entry »

High Church Anglicanism

“Are you high and hazy or low and lazy?”  “They are low church, so they have, like, guitars and a praise band.” “I’m pretty high church. I love all the smells and bells.”  “I like the low church stuff, cause I’m just more of a casual person.”  “I’m glad we’re going back to a more Anglican way of doing things here and emphasizing traditional worship more.”  High Church and Low Church. This distinction is one that Anglicans will be all too familiar with. Unfortunately, the history behind this distinction has largely been lost so that today when people talk about “High Church” and “Low Church” they do so referring mainly to taste. The problem with this trend is that it ignores the significant theological differences that underpin High Churchmenship, Reformation Anglicanism, and Anglican Evangelicalism.

Today we consider the “High Church” movement. English seperatists (those who wanted the Church to be disestablished from the government in England) originally gave this name to those who advocated strongly for an Established Church of England, but more and more it came to be identified with those who would have been known as ‘Conservatives’ during the English Reformation because of their desire to hold on to more of the traditional elements of the churches teaching and practice. High Church Anglicans are sometimes identified historically with Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud. This movement dominated the Church of England from the reign of Charles I until the Glorious Revolution. Read the rest of this entry »

Will The Real Anglicanism Please Stand Up?

Posted: May 11, 2015 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

“Are they even Anglican?” “We aren’t Baptists, we’re Episcopalians.” “He’s just a Presbyterian with robes on.” As a Reformation Anglican, you would think I would get used to hearing these kinds of statements. I have to admit, even after over a decade of active leadership in Anglican and Episcopal ministries, it still surprises me when I hear people articulate a monolithic understanding of what Anglicanism is. For this reason, it’s important that we ask the question “What does it mean to be authentically Anglican?” While this question seems straightforward at first, through Anglicanism’s 450 plus years some very different answers have been offered. This series of posts will examine some of the main ways Anglicans have identified themselves through the years.

            I must be honest, I am approaching this as a self-identified Reformation Anglican, and I do have a bias as to how Anglicanism should identify itself (not how it does, nor even how it must) and that bias rests on how I define what is meant by “One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” My case here is not to say, however, that Reformation Anglicanism (as we’ll define it in this post) is the only legitimate Anglican identity, but rather to simply make the case that Reformation Anglicanism is a legitimate Anglican identity, that we do have a seat in the boardroom.

It is also my hope that by more clearly lining out the differences with which Anglicans have approached their faith, we might more clearly think about some of the controversies we face. I have a friend who, due to a childhood illness, does not remember anything before her 7th or 8th birthday. She has built her recollection of her childhood largely off of what her family members have told her. There is a significant amount of institutional amnesia in American Anglicanism and it is my hope that we would build our memory not off of what we may have been taught in confirmation class, but on the facts of history itself. We will begin this series with where Anglicanism began

REFORMATION ANGLICANISM:

By Reformation Anglicanism, I mean Anglicanism as it developed during the time of the Reformation. Reformation Anglicanism was dominant in the Church of England from the reign of Edward VI through Elizabeth I (of course, with the exception of Mary Tudor’s reign). Reformation Anglicanism was largely formed under the leadership of Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. It claims such heroes as Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, John Jewell, and Richard Hooker to name a few. The doctrine of Reformation Anglicanism is contained mainly in the Edwardian prayer books (1549 and 1552), the Articles of Religion, and the Book of Homilies.

Careful and objective study of these documents seats Anglicanism at this time firmly within the trajectory of the Magisterial Reformation. Later historic revision recast this period as an attempt to pave a middle way (via media) between the church in Rome and the Reformed church in Geneva (led by John Calvin). I believe a careful study of the history and theology of the Anglican Reformers themselves (as opposed to their later historians) will show that if the Church in England were paving any middle way, it was more of a middle point between Calvin’s Geneva and Luther’s Wittenberg.[1] I do not say this as a polemical statement, but rather to say that it is the best interpretation of historical facts. The Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Book of Homilies all clearly articulate a form of doctrine that is much more in line with Reformation doctrine than that of the Roman Catholic Church. Read the rest of this entry »

Are You a Christian?

Posted: April 20, 2015 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

Turns out I wrote way too much for this sermon and had to cut a lot of it to try and keep some decent level of respect for our timeframe, but I wanted to share the rest of the text.  

Are you a Christian? Perhaps you are here today and your conscience is grieving over some past offense or some ongoing offense.  Perhaps you hear other people’s conversions and look at your own life and you don’t see anything like it. Sometimes I think doing drugs and ending up in jail is a prerequisite for becoming a Christians. Perhaps you look at other “superchristians” and your life simply doesn’t match up. Perhaps you have taken a stab at following Christ more intentionally and it just seems impossible. Perhaps you are just like so many people who feel so close to God here on Sunday morning, and if you’re lucky, that feeling doesn’t dissipate until Monday morning. Most weeks, you hardly make it to your car in the parking lot. You look at your life and you look at the Bible or you look at other Christians and you think “Am I even a Christian?” John is writing to you.

Or maybe those aren’t your issues. Perhaps you’ve never really been truly bothered by the question “Are you a Christian?” Your parents raised you in the church. The only drug problem you ever had was that you got drug to church on Sunday morning, you got drug to church on Sunday evening, you got drug to church on Wednesday evening… Perhaps you have been taught, as a dear friend of mine was once told by her priest “You have been born again. You’ve been baptized.”   (Never mind the fact that Hitler was baptized, confirmed, received mass, and was a communicant in good standing until 1941.) Perhaps the question has never bothered you. In quite a different way, this letter is for you. Read the rest of this entry »

Ken Boyd 1945-2015: Eulogy

Posted: March 12, 2015 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

The weekend before Dad got sick, he, his wife, and I were talking about my cousin, Luke’s, funeral.  Be commented that she didn’t want me to have to do that when she died.  Dad couldn’t understand this.  He was proud of me and loved to hear me preach.  As hard as it was, it was an honor to preach the gospel at his funeral.  

I am here today to do two things. First, I am here to remember my dad. Secondly, however, I am here to do what the apostle Paul said to the young pastor Timothy “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.”

So, you are here today because you loved my dad. And I have been thinking how best to remember Dad. I thought of something, and maybe it’s a bit irreverent, but I’ll give it a try anyway. You all know the poem, The Night Before Christmas”? Clement Clarke Moore didn’t describe Santa the way you and I tend to think of him. His Santa wasn’t the coke can Santa that stalks the malls around Christmas time. Listen to what he says, and I think you’ll agree he bears a striking resemblance to Dad.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! (That was from the scotch)
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; (Dad’s beard never got white, but he did use Just for Men one time. Bev said he looked like he guy from the Oxyclean Infomercials.)
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. (Now that’s dad)
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

Again, I don’t mean to be irreverent or disrespect Dad in any way, but in an odd way it does sort of encompass how I think about Dad. He was a jolly old elf. And he brought a lot of joy and laughter into a lot of lives.

You’re here today because of what Dad meant to you. Perhaps you worked with him at IBM. You saw his competence and his genius. My dad was genuinely brilliant. He could build a car, or a house, or a computer or a radio that could bounce radio waves off the moon. But you may have also seen what I saw, that he worked hard and did his job well, but he never climbed the company ladder, and he never, NEVER, put his career before his family. Read the rest of this entry »