Archive for May, 2015

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

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. (more…)