Ask an Anglican: The Reformers and the Divines

800px-Cranmer_burning_foxeWesley writes:

 I have seen and heard you make reference to the classical Anglican divines. Who are the Anglican divines? Who were they, what was their place in Anglican history, what contributions did they make to the church, what are some of their best writings I could explore, and what kind of authority do they have in Anglican belief and practice with respect to Scripture, tradition, the Formularies, etc.?… [Also,] who were the English Reformers?…

The above is my primary question, but I also have others that I would be interested in hearing you address…

There were three waves of sixteenth century reformers who had a deep impact on the development of Anglicanism. The first were the continental reformers, men like Martin Luther and John Calvin. They never set foot in England, but their work was read with great interest by theologians in England and thus their influence upon the Anglican Reformation is undeniable.

The second group of reformers are those who were actually responsible for instigating and shaping the Reformation in England. Chief among them was Archbishop Thomas Cranmer who was largely responsible for the compiling of the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer. Cranmer is a figure of immense importance. There would be no Anglican Communion today if it wasn’t for him. Nevertheless, there is a reason why we are called Anglicans and not Cranmerians. The reformers in Cranmer’s generation knew that the Church of England needed to be reformed and they were united in opposing Romanism, but there was not theological unanimity amongst them otherwise. Some of these reformers, like Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr Vermigli, were not even English but spent some time in England trying to encourage the fledgling Reformation to take hold there. These early reformers must be taken seriously for the contributions which they made to the development of Anglicanism, particularly Cranmer, but they have to be understood as forming what might be called a kind of pre Anglicanism. Their major work was in liturgical revision and in working to free the Church of England from the tyranny of the papacy. They were playing with big ideas, but there was not yet consensus as to how those ideas ought to come together. In addition to Cranmer, this set of reformers includes figures like Nicholas Ridley and Robert Barnes.

The third set of reformers are those who played a part in the Elizabethan Settlement. In the preceding two decades, the Church of England had swung violently back and forth between extremes as monarchs lived and died. Under Queen Elizabeth I and largely at her behest, the Church of England came to an official theological consensus about the heart of the faith. This is not to say that every question that could ever be dreamed up was decided, nor that every Christian in England was happy with the results. Nonetheless, through painstaking effort, the Elizabethan Settlement produced a coherent, cogent, and even elegant articulation of the Christian faith that we call Anglicanism today. The reformers of this period include men like Bishop John Jewel who wrote An Apology for the Church of England and Archbishop Matthew Parker who presided over the Convocation of 1563 which produced the 39 Articles (revised from an earlier set of 42 by Cranmer). It’s a bit of an historical stretch, but I also tend to include in this period slightly later figures like Richard Hooker and Richard Field whose theological work defending the Elizabethan Settlement has been highly influential.

The Anglican Reformers did a great job of whittling down to the basics of the Christian faith and lifting up the heart of the Gospel that had been so long obscured. But the Anglican theologians of the seventeenth century took that same Gospel and made it sing. The seventeenth century was a golden era in Anglican theology, despite the fact that Puritans nearly destroyed the Church during that time. Sometimes called the Caroline Divines, the majority of these great theologians lived during the reign of King Charles I and, after the Restoration, King Charles II, but there were great divines throughout the seventeenth century who were deeply committed to the faith articulated by the Elizabethan Settlement. These divines filled in the gaps left by the reformers and created detailed pictures of what it meant to be a Reformed Catholic. They were committed to holy living, to prayer, to the careful explication of Scripture, to the sacraments, to the continuation of the sacred ministry, and to the monarchy. They included men like Lancelot Andrewes, William Laud, Jeremy Taylor, William Beveridge, Thomas Ken, and many, many more.

No individual reformer or divine is infallible. Their authority is always subordinate to the formularies, as well as to the writings of the Fathers and the Scriptures. Yet by reading them, we get a much fuller, richer picture of what it means to be Anglican. Many of them were imprisoned or killed for holding to the Anglican faith. Their example is inspiring and their writing is illuminating. And because they pre-date the modern Anglican idea of “church parties,” their work helps to clarify what it actually means to be Anglican and what essentials need to be held in common by all who would call themselves Anglican.

But you said you had a couple more quick questions…

What place do the Puritans have in classical Anglicanism, if any? Are any of the Puritan divines given any kind of consideration in terms of Anglican thought, belief, and practice? I realize the Puritans were at odds with the via media mentality, but I wonder if they still hold any kind of significance for Anglicans?

Nope, not really. Well, that’s being a bit cheeky. There were certainly Puritans who wrote good and interesting things that hold appeal across the theological spectrum. The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, for instance, is a masterpiece of pastoral theology. And certainly there were Anglican figures who had the occasional Puritan leaning that comes out in their writing. The line between Puritanism and Anglicanism was always very solid on paper but not always so solid in practice. By and large though the Puritans were set on a different trajectory than the Anglicans were, one which ultimately led them away from the Catholic faith. There is no reason to follow them down that same path unless we want to find ourselves similarly bereft.

Where does John Wesley and Methodism fit into classical Anglicanism?

It doesn’t.

It is my understanding that Wesley never separated from the Church of England and never intended Methodism to become a church separate from the Church of England. So where does he and his movement factor in, if at all?

It’s true that neither John Wesley nor his brother Charles ever officially left the Church of England, although John did sanction the formation of an American Methodist church without apostolic orders. Many of Charles Wesley’s hymns are in Anglican hymnals. Other than that though there is no ongoing connection between Methodism and Anglicanism. The Methodist movement coincides with the development of the Evangelical movement in Anglicanism and thus there are some shared features, particularly surrounding the topic of personal conversion. But the reformers and divines would likely have been quite puzzled by Methodism and its emphasis on the personal and subjective experience of God in conversion over the concrete and objective reality of God in Word and Sacrament (not that Methodism necessarily lacks the latter, but it does seem that all the weight is placed on the former).

Fourth is a question completely unrelated to the others; what is the Anglican position on clergy celibacy? Do any of the priests or bishops have to be celibate to hold their office?

With the exception of monks and nuns who take vows of celibacy, all Anglican clergy are free to marry. Article XXXII says, “Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God’s Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.”

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About Fr. Jonathan

Your average traditional crunchy Christ follower with a penchant for pop culture, politics, and puns.
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16 Responses to Ask an Anglican: The Reformers and the Divines

  1. I love this history lesson! More please! The Lord bless you.

  2. Wesley says:

    Thank so much for answering my questions! The information you provided was very helpful. Thanks also for this blog. I enjoy reading along. Keep up the good work!

  3. well done. Welcome back, Fr. J.

  4. “… the reformers and divines would likely have been quite puzzled by Methodism and its emphasis on the personal and subjective experience of God in conversion over the concrete and objective reality of God in Word and Sacrament (not that Methodism necessarily lacks the latter, but it does seem that all the weight is placed on the former).”

    It is my understanding as a United Methodist that 18th century Wesleyan Methodism always emphasized “the concrete and objective reality of God in Word and Sacrament” over “the personal and subjective experience of God in conversion”. John Wesley wrote a sermon against “enthusiasm” and carefully distinguished his “Aldersgate experience” from “happy feelings” in his Journal. In fact, it was after his Aldersgate experience that he began to emphasize the importance of the Eucharist. I the present UMC, the “objective reality of God in Word and Sacrament” is emphasized in several of its recent resolutions.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Hope,

      I figured I might hear from someone about that line. Believe it or not, I re-wrote it a couple of times trying to figure out the least offensive way to say it. It appears I failed.

      I don’t deny that Methodism historically had an emphasis on Word and Sacrament in addition to personal conversion, but that the latter was emphasized above the former. Wesley’s dedication to the Eucharist came long before his Aldersgate experience. It was a particular emphasis of his as a High Churchman. I’m not really trying to throw Wesley under the bus here, but it is curious to me that a tradition steeped in Word and Sacrament would so easily part with the historic episcopate which is proclaimed in the Word and grounds the Sacraments. This would have been very confusing to earlier generations of Anglican theologians.

      I’d be interested to see that sermon against enthusiasm. Is it available anywhere online?

      • estelduron says:

        Here it is: http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-37-the-nature-of-enthusiasm/

        As to why Wesley eventually “parted with the historic episcopate”, he happened to read Bishop Stillingfleet’s “The Irenicum”, which tried to reconcile the fact that both the Church of England and the Church of Scotland at the Restoration were both established churches and under royal protection. For Wesley, he never left the historic episcopate in the same way the Alexandrian Church was recognized by Rome despite the fact that its bishops received presbyteral consecration.

        I know, given the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, Methodist orders are considered of doubtful validity, that is why the UMC has been trying to rectify this. It would have been nice if full communion between the UMC and the Episcopal Church was achieved last year. Yet most of us in the UMC have come to accept the Lutheran concept of Apostolic Succession, i.e., Universal Priesthood (which is why the UMC is currently in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).

      • MichaelA says:

        “it is curious to me that a tradition steeped in Word and Sacrament would so easily part with the historic episcopate which is proclaimed in the Word and grounds the Sacraments”

        About as curious as a tradition arising from the theology of Pusey and Andrewes giving rise to someone like Jack Spong in USA or Robert Runcie in England, wouldn’t you say?

        I can’t think of a single tradition in any church or denomination that can claim to have preserved its traditions untouched by heresy or false teaching at some point. That is not meant to be patronising to anyone, quite the reverse. “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

  5. MichaelA says:

    Very sorry to hear about you being sick over Easter, Fr Jonathan. I hope the following post does not make it worse! I suppose every protagonist must have an antagonist, so I have gathered all the points where I differ and put them into a summary – obviously this leaves a lot where I agree:

    1. “The first were the continental reformers, men like Martin Luther and John Calvin. They never set foot in England, but their work was read with great interest by theologians in England and thus their influence upon the Anglican Reformation is undeniable.”

    This is partly true. However:

    (a) It wasn’t just reading and it wasn’t just one-way. The reformers all over Europe regularly corresponded with each other, just as they also corresponded with those that we now call “Catholic” (there was no rigid dividing line apparent at the time). They also conferred face to face. Cranmer was married to the daughter of the continental reformer Osiander.

    (b) Pre-reformation English protestantism also had a deep impact on the development of Anglicanism. Historians now recognise that “Lollardy” was much more widespread in England in the 15th century than previously thought. The same applied to theologians – the views of John Colet (Dean of St Pauls) Thomas Linacre (Professor of Philosophy at Oxford) or William Tyndale (bible translator) were distinctively protestant before Luther nailed his theses to the church door.

    2. “The reformers in Cranmer’s generation knew that the Church of England needed to be reformed and they were united in opposing Romanism, but there was not theological unanimity amongst them otherwise.”

    Well, yes in a way, but then there wasn’t theological unanimity among the Caroline divines either! In truth there was a great deal of unanimity among Cranmer’s generation – most Christians could pick up one of their treatises and not find the theology unusual.

    3. “Some of these reformers, like Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr Vermigli, were not even English but spent some time in England trying to encourage the fledgling Reformation to take hold there. ”

    Generally true, but note Bucer and Vermigli were invited by the King’s Council to England to fill the senior theological teaching posts much like other medieval theologians before them. It was common for senior clerical positions to be filled by foreigners (or in some cases not filled: A few years’ previously, the Pope’s secretary had been Bishop of Worcester for 13 years, during which time he never visited his bishopric. This was not unusual).

    4. “These early reformers must be taken seriously for the contributions which they made to the development of Anglicanism, particularly Cranmer, but they have to be understood as forming what might be called a kind of pre Anglicanism.”

    That is your perspective. In my view, they define Classical Anglicanism. I agree with later theologians like Jewel and Hooker because they hold to the foundation laid by Cranmer and Ridley.

    5. “The third set of reformers are those who played a part in the Elizabethan Settlement. In the preceding two decades, the Church of England had swung violently back and forth between extremes as monarchs lived and died. Under Queen Elizabeth I and largely at her behest, the Church of England came to an official theological consensus about the heart of the faith. ”

    Let’s keep this in context: If you lay out a scale between the theology of Cranmer and the theology of Reginald Pole (Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Mary), I suggest the Elizabethan Settlement will be so close to Cranmer’s end as to be virtually indistinguishable.

    6. “But the Anglican theologians of the seventeenth century took that same Gospel and made it sing. The seventeenth century was a golden era in Anglican theology, despite the fact that Puritans nearly destroyed the Church during that time.”

    I suggest this is a long way wide of the mark. “Puritanism” was a broad church, as were the “Anglican theologians” that you refer to. Your very point below about Richard Baxter illustrates this – there was virtually no difference in theology between him and his opponents. Unfortunately, puritans like Baxter were the true moderates, and they were driven out of the CofE by fools who had neither the capacity nor the vision to preserve its unity.

    7. “Sometimes called the Caroline Divines, the majority of these great theologians lived during the reign of King Charles I and, after the Restoration, King Charles II, but there were great divines throughout the seventeenth century who were deeply committed to the faith articulated by the Elizabethan Settlement. These divines filled in the gaps left by the reformers and created detailed pictures of what it meant to be a Reformed Catholic. They were committed to holy living, to prayer, to the careful explication of Scripture, to the sacraments, to the continuation of the sacred ministry, and to the monarchy. They included men like Lancelot Andrewes, William Laud, Jeremy Taylor, William Beveridge, Thomas Ken, and many, many more.”

    Lancelot Andrewes and William Laud in the same basket? Please. And William Laud differing theologically from those of his opponents? I don’t think so. In the case of the radical wing of the puritans, sure, but those people were few in number and were always going to leave CofE regardless.

    Laud’s (negative) genius lay in driving a large number of moderates into the arms of the radical puritans, and alienating many others who remained within the Church of England. Laud, Taylor and a few like them did far more to create opposition to episcopacy in England than the small number of radical puritans! If Laud had a fraction of Lancelot Andrewes’ godly common sense, the English Civil War may never have occurred.

    Taylor similarly proved ham-fisted and tactless in Ireland after the restoration. His writings on the issue of reconciling different theological views are impressive – but he proved quite unable to put them into effect as a bishop.

    The other problem I see with this is the implication that these theologians were in agreement even on the issues you mention. How on earth do you suggest that Thomas Ken’s attitude to the monarchy resembled William Laud’s? They were chalk and cheese.

    8. “Many of them were imprisoned or killed for holding to the Anglican faith.”

    Now this really is special pleading. Many who you deride as “puritans” (C. S. Lewis rightly warned against those who made that word into a term of abuse) equally were imprisoned or killed for holding to the Anglican faith. Of course there were the radicals like Prynne, but it is not they of whom I write. Baxter was an Anglican and wished to remain so. He didn’t leave Anglicanism, he was forced out, unnecessarily and counter-productively. They impoverished and imprisoned him when he was 70.

    In this respect, I do see a distinct resemblance between your position and William Laud – both characterized by a tendency to see only extremes and miss the large number of moderates in between. It was due to Laud’s needless alienation of moderates that he was sacrificed by Charles I to the axe, not because of his theology.

    9. “Nope, not really. Well, that’s being a bit cheeky.”

    Fair comment. But an accurate answer is that the “Puritans” influence in Anglicanism was and still is enormous. John Owen and William Baxter are widely read, as are those influenced by them, such as Charles Simeon and John Charles Ryle. And all of those writers influenced the Anglican evangelical missionary movement in the 18th and 19th century which, more than any other factor, has shaped the Anglican Communion as we know it today. Since I am a Classical Anglican, I heartily approve.!

    10. “And certainly there were Anglican figures who had the occasional Puritan leaning that comes out in their writing.”

    Quite a lot actually. “Puritan” no more defined a single belief (or set of beliefs) than “evangelical” does today.

    11. “The line between Puritanism and Anglicanism was always very solid on paper but not always so solid in practice.”

    I suggest it was not in the least solid, neither on paper nor in practice. Anyone who uses the same term for John Owen and John James will never be able to properly analyze Puritanism OR Anglicanism.

    12. “Where does John Wesley and Methodism fit into classical Anglicanism?

    It doesn’t.”

    There are all sorts of problems with this statement. To take just one example: Wesley’s strong focus on weekly communion and on the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in opposition to the large scale neglect of the Eucharist in much of the Church of England. To class Wesley’s opponents as “defenders of Classical Anglicanism” is hilarious, as well as wrong.

    15. “But the reformers and divines would likely have been quite puzzled by Methodism and its emphasis on the personal and subjective experience of God in conversion over the concrete and objective reality of God in Word and Sacrament (not that Methodism necessarily lacks the latter, but it does seem that all the weight is placed on the former”

    This would describe modern Methodism, not the views of 18th century Methodists. Let’s put the shoe on the other foot: How would you like it if people today defined classical Anglicanism by the views of certain bishops of TEC like John Spong? Not a pleasant thought.

    • estelduron says:

      <>

      Indeed. Most of those who opposed Wesley were either Deists or Latitudinarians. They believed in Eucharist three times a year only. In that sense, Wesley was indeed more “classical” than a bishop who disbelieved in constant communion. As for Wesley’s “extraordinary ordinations” he noted that the Classical Anglicans, especially Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer seemed to accept the ministry of John Calvin, even though he was not ordained neither as deacon or presbyter. Later, during Charles II reign, Bishop Stillingfleet (a Caroline divine) argued that originally (and this is confirmed by the “Didache”) the office of episkopos and prebyteros was originally one and the same (kinda like “apostles” and “disciple”). That is why St. Paul pairs episcopoi with diakonoi in his letter to Timothy and equates presbyteroi with episkopoi in his letter to Titus.

      <>

      The good thing is that modern Methodism, notably the UMC, is going back to her 18th century roots and re-emphasizing Word and Sacrament in their recent Resolutions every General Conference. The Order of Saint Luke (OSL) is a UMC order which promotes historical Wesleyan sacramentality.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Michael,

      As always, I appreciate your willingness to engage the topic openly and honestly.

      A few brief responses:

      (a) It wasn’t just reading and it wasn’t just one-way. The reformers all over Europe regularly corresponded with each other, just as they also corresponded with those that we now call “Catholic” (there was no rigid dividing line apparent at the time). They also conferred face to face. Cranmer was married to the daughter of the continental reformer Osiander.

      (b) Pre-reformation English protestantism also had a deep impact on the development of Anglicanism. Historians now recognise that “Lollardy” was much more widespread in England in the 15th century than previously thought. The same applied to theologians – the views of John Colet (Dean of St Pauls) ThomasLinacre (Professor of Philosophy at Oxford) or William Tyndale (bible translator) were distinctively protestant before Luther nailed his theses to the church door.

      I basically agree with this. The Reformation didn’t just spring into existence out of nowhere. There was a lot of groundwork laid in the preceding century. Certainly Tyndale’s influence shouldn’t be overlooked. Much of what we have in our English Bibles even today owes to his translation.

      “These early reformers must be taken seriously for the contributions which they made to the development of Anglicanism, particularly Cranmer, but they have to be understood as forming what might be called a kind of pre Anglicanism.”

      That is your perspective. In my view, they define Classical Anglicanism. I agree with later theologians like Jewel and Hooker because they hold to the foundation laid by Cranmer and Ridley.

      I don’t want to read into what you say, but it has always seemed to me from our interactions that you are keen to see Anglicanism as a kind of Zwinglian Reformed Christianity with vestments. I don’t mean that derisively, and please correct me if you think that’s a mischaracterization, but I simply don’t think that holds historically. Cranmer was a great figure who deserves to be celebrated in the Church, but even he doesn’t agree with himself half the time. By the end of his life he probably was relatively Zwinglian, but fortunately that is not where Anglicanism landed. And the projects of figures like Robert Barnes and Nicholas Ridley were very different. To be sure, they held a great deal of common ground between them, but in no way was there a coherent theological whole. This is not to impugn them. The work of their generation was not to systematize but to prophetically challenge. But if classical Anglicanism is nothing more than Cranmerianism than it is either completely incoherent and should be abandoned or is completely indistinguishable from other forms of Reformed Christianity and therefore need not continue to clutter up the Christian landscape.

      Let’s keep this in context: If you lay out a scale between the theology of Cranmer and the theology of Reginald Pole (Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Mary), I suggest the Elizabethan Settlement will be so close to Cranmer’s end as to be virtually indistinguishable.

      I can’t say that I know enough about the theology of Reginald Pole to comment on that, but as far as the Elizabethan Settlement being indistinguishable from Cranmer, that begs the question why the Settlement needed to happen at all. I don’t disagree that Cranmer’s work is influential here. Certainly it was his articles and his prayer book that formed the raw material. But changes were made that are significant. Would Cranmer have approved of those changes if he had survived? Who knows? My guess is that he probably could have lived with them, being essentially a pragmatist about reform, but that by the end his heart was more with the radical Reformed and he would have continued to press their cause.

      6. “But the Anglican theologians of the seventeenth century took that same Gospel and made it sing. The seventeenth century was a golden era in Anglican theology, despite the fact that Puritans nearly destroyed the Church during that time.”

      I suggest this is a long way wide of the mark. “Puritanism” was a broad church, as were the “Anglican theologians” that you refer to. Your very point below about Richard Baxter illustrates this – there was virtually no difference in theology between him and his opponents. Unfortunately, puritans like Baxter were the true moderates, and they were driven out of the CofE by fools who had neither the capacity nor the vision to preserve its unity.

      Certainly there is a range within Puritanism, particularly since the term is one applied by those criticizing it and not by those espousing it. But if we broadly class as Puritans those whose views were hostile to the Elizabethan Settlement because they believed that the Church of England needed to be further reformed, there can be little denying that this group almost destroyed the Church. The English Civil War was heavily the result of this kind of Puritanism. Yes, Baxter is a more moderate figure within that, which is why it is possible for me to read him without squirming quite so much, but his anti-episcopal views aligned him with a movement that almost swallowed the Church of England whole. Had the commonwealth gone on much longer than it did, all of the bishops who had escaped would have died and there would have been no restoration and thus no Anglicanism.

      Lancelot Andrewes and William Laud in the same basket? Please.

      Um… Thank you? Andrewes and Laud got on quite well, actually. Andrewes’ greatest work, his prayers, were a gift to Laud upon becoming Bishop of St Davids. I see a great deal of continuity between them.

      And William Laud differing theologically from those of his opponents? I don’t think so. In the case of the radical wing of the puritans, sure, but those people were few in number and were always going to leave CofE regardless.

      See above about the English Civil War. Those people managed to rip the Church and the nation apart, regardless of their numbers.

      Laud’s (negative) genius lay in driving a large number of moderates into the arms of the radical puritans, and alienating many others who remained within the Church of England. Laud, Taylor and a few like them did far more to create opposition to episcopacy in England than the small number of radical puritans! If Laud had a fraction of Lancelot Andrewes’ godly common sense, the English Civil War may never have occurred.

      Utter nonsense. Laud did more good for Anglicanism in his day than perhaps any archbishop before or since. Did he resort to harsh methods in terms of enforcing the law? Certainly, and I don’t think anyone today would defend that. But was he right to try to bring the Church into shape? Absolutely. There had been wide spread disregard for the principles of the Elizabethan Settlement running rampant in the C of E for decades. Laud insisted that it had to stop. And yes, that has a theological grounding, because how we vest, how we treat the altar, how we use the prayer book (or don’t), all of these things form the basis of our theological commitments as Anglicans. Laud understood that better than many so-called conservatives today who disregard the liturgy and the sacraments with almost the same level of abandon as liberals do.

      Taylor similarly proved ham-fisted and tactless in Ireland after the restoration. His writings on the issue of reconciling different theological views are impressive – but he proved quite unable to put them into effect as a bishop.

      Jeremy Taylor is one of the greatest theologians in the history of Anglicanism. Period. That he was unwilling to put up with wanton disregard for Anglican distinctives only further solidifies that for me.

      The other problem I see with this is the implication that these theologians were in agreement even on the issues you mention. How on earth do you suggest that Thomas Ken’s attitude to the monarchy resembled William Laud’s? They were chalk and cheese.

      I don’t suggest that they were all carbon copies of one another, any more than the theologians of any school or era ever are. But they held a great deal in common. I’d venture to say that Ken and Laud held much more in common than even the most moderate Puritan held in common with any of the divines. That includes on the topic of monarchy, which both Laud and Ken believed to be of divine right and which they both suffered for, though in different eras and under different circumstances.

      8. “Many of them were imprisoned or killed for holding to the Anglican faith.”

      Now this really is special pleading.

      No, it’s really not. It’s a true statement. I don’t know why you’re offended by it. The fact that so many were imprisoned or killed doesn’t make the faith that they held true or false. After all, Mormons and Muslims have been persecuted a plenty. But I do find it personally inspiring to know that there were people who fought for the faith I hold, who indeed fought so that I might be able to hold it.

      Many who you deride as “puritans”…

      I don’t recall deriding anyone. I could use a word other than Puritan if you like, but I don’t know of any other way to describe them. Uber Reformed, maybe? Radical Reformed?

      …equally were imprisoned or killed for holding to the Anglican faith…

      No, there were many Puritans who were imprisoned or killed for not holding to the Anglican faith. And that, of course, was wrong. I hope we would both agree that locking people up or killing them because of their religious beliefs is not good. The Puritans have heroes and martyrs to look to, which I would not deny them. But, like I said above, that does not make them right.

      In this respect, I do see a distinct resemblance between your position and William Laud – both characterized by a tendency to see only extremes and miss the large number of moderates in between. It was due to Laud’s needless alienation of moderates that he was sacrificed by Charles I to the axe, not because of his theology.

      No need to rehash from above. Suffice it to say, I think you’re sadly mistaken about Laud and I would invite you to read him more closely.

      …the “Puritans” influence in Anglicanism was and still is enormous…

      I’ll say a little bit more about this below. I think that you’re right, if by Anglicanism you mean churches that call themselves Anglican. But I also think that this is a large part of our problem today, that we don’t realize how much our theology has been shaped by those who rejected the very formularies that we supposedly uphold.

      Wesley’s strong focus on weekly communion and on the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in opposition to the large scale neglect of the Eucharist in much of the Church of England. To class Wesley’s opponents as “defenders of Classical Anglicanism” is hilarious, as well as wrong.

      First, there is not a shred of evidence to link Wesley’s personal devotion to the Eucharist with the parish Communion movement that occurred two centuries later. If that movement owes its genesis to anything preceding, it’s the influence of Anglo-Catholicism and the liturgical movement.

      Second, I nowhere “class Wesley’s opponents as defenders of Classical [sic] Anglicanism.” Indeed, if you look back at my comments, you’ll notice that I don’t mention Wesley’s opponents anywhere at all. What I did say was that the seventeenth century divines would have found Methodism puzzling. That’s speculation, of course, but I stand by it.

      15. “But the reformers and divines would likely have been quite puzzled by Methodism and its emphasis on the personal and subjective experience of God in conversion over the concrete and objective reality of God in Word and Sacrament (not that Methodism necessarily lacks the latter, but it does seem that all the weight is placed on the former”

      This would describe modern Methodism, not the views of 18th century Methodists. Let’s put the shoe on the other foot: How would you like it if people today defined classical Anglicanism by the views of certain bishops of TEC like John Spong? Not a pleasant thought.

      In point of fact, this describes eighteenth century Methodism much more than contemporary Methodism which has gone a long way towards recovering sacramental theology, at least in some quarters (obviously, Methodism is a diverse movement).

      But I think that this perhaps is a good place to re-iterate one of my theological presuppositions. Above, I describe Anglicanism and Puritanism as occupying two separate spaces. Of course, a lot of that depends on how you define either one of those terms. When I use the term “Anglicanism,” or sometimes “classical Anglicanism,” I am referring not to the entire swath of movements that have unevenly coexisted in the Church of England since the Reformation but to a particular theological strand within that same church and its daughters that has always vigorously defended the Elizabethan Settlement. This school has been called by various names. Often it has been referred to as High Churchmanship, though this is a confusing term today because we read it through the lens of modern notions about liturgy and the inheritance of the Oxford Movement. Modern Anglican churches have been vastly shaped by the theological movements of the nineteenth century, particularly Anglo-Catholicism and Evangelicalism. That does not necessarily have to be a bad thing because both of those movements began as attempts to return to classical Anglican roots, but in most cases today those movements have become so attached to forces from outside of Anglicanism that they are untethered from the Anglican Reformation. Hence, as I said before, Puritanism has a great influence on modern Anglican churches because most modern Anglican churches are not really Anglican in any meaningful way. I believe that if we can recover a sense of the spirit of classical Anglicanism, we can reform both the Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical movements, draw closer together, and create more faithful churches. That is my project and it is my passion.

      All of that said, if you are a strict adherent of one of these parties, or an adherent of some other view of what Anglicanism is, you’re bound to find what I’m doing odd or even distasteful. That’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But I think it would save us some time in these conversations if we didn’t have to constantly re-tread the same ground. If you see Baxter and Bucer as normative Anglicanism and Laud and Taylor as aberrations, we’re not talking about the same thing.

      • MIchaelA says:

        Trying to keep my rejoinder brief also!

        1. We will have to disagree about Laud, Taylor etc. I think Laud was more responsible than any single person for the rise of presbyterianism and congregationalism in England through his lack of tact, moderation and leadership (very similar to the way Mary I managed to establish protestantism in England to a degree that the early reformers never managed). And in this he was a great contrast to Andrewes, however much they may have agreed on doctrine. But I appreciate you hold a very different view!

        2. “I don’t want to read into what you say, but it has always seemed to me from our interactions that you are keen to see Anglicanism as a kind of Zwinglian Reformed Christianity with vestments”

        Zwinglian? Despite my constantly writing “black”, you keep reading “white”. Not much I can do about that, it appears.

        3. “But if classical Anglicanism is nothing more than Cranmerianism than it is either completely incoherent and should be abandoned or is completely indistinguishable from other forms of Reformed Christianity and therefore need not continue to clutter up the Christian landscape.”

        You are entitled to your opinion, which goes not just to doctrine but to the impact of doctrine. I think it would be fair to say that the majority of Anglicans in the world (possibly the vast majority) are quite comfortable where they are (perhaps its correct to call them ‘Cranmerian’ but they are certainly not ‘Laudian’) and they don’t find it completely incoherent, nor do they find it indistinguishable from other forms of Reformed Christianity. But perhaps we are all just to be pitied….

        4. “…but as far as the Elizabethan Settlement being indistinguishable from Cranmer, that begs the question why the Settlement needed to happen at all.”

        Because the same issues were apparent as in Cranmer’s day, and a resolution was required. Of course they weren’t exactly the same, but very similar – Ridley’s dispute with Hooper over vestments was not going to re-arise in the same form, but at its heart was a clash between ‘Geneva’ and ‘Oxford’ (the real centre of English theology before and after Luther) which would continue to arise. With the change of monarch, there were people trying to pull the new Queen and the Church in different directions, some (putting it simplistically) toward Geneva and some toward Rome. Matthew Parker and his bishops came up with an answer that was ‘Cranmerian’ if you like, and quite distinct from Geneva and Rome [how's that for generalisations?! - but you did ask]

        5. “No, it’s really not. It’s a true statement. I don’t know why you’re offended by it.”

        I am not in the least offended by it. I am just pointing out that Baxter, Owen and many others (a great many in fact) were tortured, imprisoned and killed by your heroes for the sake of Anglicanism. It happened to be a different version of Anglicanism to what you would agree with it, but that doesn’t change the fact that they suffered for Anglicanism.

        6. “No, there were many Puritans who were imprisoned or killed for not holding to the Anglican faith”

        And many for upholding it.

        7. “I think that you’re right, if by Anglicanism you mean churches that call themselves Anglican.”

        Yes, there’s about 85 million of us apparently, according to the Anglican Communion Office, and most of our brethren seem to have little interest in 19th century arguments between anglo-catholics and evangelicals.

        8. “First, there is not a shred of evidence to link Wesley’s personal devotion to the Eucharist with the parish Communion movement that occurred two centuries later”

        ????? I did not refer to “the parish Communion movement that occurred two centuries later” in any way, shape or form. What I wrote was that Wesley and other methodists of his day were characterised by a great devotion to the Eucharist that was generally not reflected among other Anglicans (and yes there were exceptions on both sides).

        9. “In point of fact, this describes eighteenth century Methodism much more than contemporary Methodism which has gone a long way towards recovering sacramental theology, at least in some quarters (obviously, Methodism is a diverse movement).”

        I think I have lost the thread of the argument here, but my point was that, not just Wesley but most of his contemporaries in the methodist movement, were characterised by a deep reverence for Holy Communion, and this tended to distinguish them from other Anglicans of their day (that is drawing a broad brush of course, but is generally true).

        10. “All of that said, if you are a strict adherent of one of these parties, or an adherent of some other view of what Anglicanism is, you’re bound to find what I’m doing odd or even distasteful.”

        *LOL* Of course. I am “a strict adherent of a party” in a way that you are not. Got it!

        11. “If you see Baxter and Bucer as normative Anglicanism and Laud and Taylor as aberrations, we’re not talking about the same thing.”

        I think we are clearly not talking about the same thing, but that doesn’t mean I have any less right to the term Anglican than you do. To answer your question, I see Baxter, Ridley, Cranmer, Hooker and Jewel as normative. Probably Andrewes and Ken as well even though I disagree with some points of their doctrine. But then, unlike Laud, I can cope with differences in doctrine! I don’t count Bucer as “normative” simply because he was in England for less than two years and was sick for a lot of that time, but I agree that his doctrine was much closer to the Anglicans than to Geneva or Wittenberg.

  6. Wesley says:

    I am thoroughly enjoying this discussion, guys! It is great to see the depth, detail, and conviction on both sides. It is a great learning opportunity for people with questions like me.

  7. Fr. Jonathan says:

    Hi Michael,

    2. “I don’t want to read into what you say, but it has always seemed to me from our interactions that you are keen to see Anglicanism as a kind of Zwinglian Reformed Christianity with vestments”

    Zwinglian? Despite my constantly writing “black”, you keep reading “white”. Not much I can do about that, it appears.

    As you’ll recall, the next part of my statement which you did not quote was as follows:

    …I don’t mean that derisively, and please correct me if you think that’s a mischaracterization, but I simply don’t think that holds historically…

    If “Zwinglian” is not an appropriate word, what word would you prefer? Calvinist? As I said, I’m not trying to malign you. I’m simply reflecting back to you what I am getting from the things you’ve written on here. I am more than willing to admit that it’s my own generally thick skull that is keeping me from understanding what you’re saying, but your “black/white” comment above doesn’t exactly elucidate the matter.

    3. “But if classical Anglicanism is nothing more than Cranmerianism than it is either completely incoherent and should be abandoned or is completely indistinguishable from other forms of Reformed Christianity and therefore need not continue to clutter up the Christian landscape.”

    You are entitled to your opinion, which goes not just to doctrine but to the impact of doctrine…

    I have no idea what that means.

    I think it would be fair to say that the majority of Anglicans in the world (possibly the vast majority) are quite comfortable where they are (perhaps its correct to call them ‘Cranmerian’ but they are certainly not ‘Laudian’) and they don’t find it completely incoherent, nor do they find it indistinguishable from other forms of Reformed Christianity. But perhaps we are all just to be pitied….

    So you don’t believe that there’s an inherent problem in a mass movement of people who all seem to believe completely different things from each other about what the Gospel is and why it matters? The Episcopal Church welcomes you.

    And no, the majority of Anglicans today are neither Cranmerian nor Laudian. They’re all over the map, but most of them have inherited a kind of modern Arminian Evangelicalism/Pentecostalism, with a sizable minority of more-catholic-than-the-pope.

    I am just pointing out that Baxter, Owen and many others (a great many in fact) were tortured, imprisoned and killed by your heroes for the sake of Anglicanism. It happened to be a different version of Anglicanism to what you would agree with it, but that doesn’t change the fact that they suffered for Anglicanism.

    Baxter wasn’t killed. Many were, Puritan and Anglican alike. Including, as it were, Archbishop Laud. Did they all believe they were right? Yes. Did they all want to see their understanding of the Christian faith become dominant in the Church of England? Yes. Were they all rooted in the formularies and the settlement? No. One side believed in the Anglican Reformation, the other believed that the Anglican Reformation wasn’t good enough. The word “Anglican” is an ahistorical word no matter how you slice it. Neither side would have used it. But given that one side believed in the Anglican Reformation and the other side did not, I think it is perfectly reasonable to apply the term to one theological strand and not the other. Frankly, I would be surprised if either Laud or Baxter would have a problem with that.

    8. “First, there is not a shred of evidence to link Wesley’s personal devotion to the Eucharist with the parish Communion movement that occurred two centuries later”

    ????? I did not refer to “the parish Communion movement that occurred two centuries later” in any way, shape or form. What I wrote was that Wesley and other methodists of his day were characterised by a great devotion to the Eucharist that was generally not reflected among other Anglicans (and yes there were exceptions on both sides).

    Your statement about Wesley’s Eucharistic piety was offered as an example of why I was wrong to say that Methodism does not “fit into classic Anglicanism.” If your point was not that Wesley’s Eucharistic piety somehow influenced the development of later Anglican Eucharistic renewal, then why on earth did you bring it up?

    10. “All of that said, if you are a strict adherent of one of these parties, or an adherent of some other view of what Anglicanism is, you’re bound to find what I’m doing odd or even distasteful.”

    *LOL* Of course. I am “a strict adherent of a party” in a way that you are not. Got it!

    Oy. The “you” here was the proverbial “you,” not you personally. If you (again, the proverbial you) are an Evangelical first and an Anglican only as a means of furthering that Evangelicalism (or a Liberal first, or an Anglo-Catholic first, or a crypto Calvinist first, or a Pentecostal first, etc, etc, yadda, yadda, ad nauseum), then you will not have much use for my project, as it is aimed at doing just the opposite, asserting that Anglican ought to be the first word in that mix and then showing where the content for that moniker comes from.

    11. “If you see Baxter and Bucer as normative Anglicanism and Laud and Taylor as aberrations, we’re not talking about the same thing.”

    I think we are clearly not talking about the same thing, but that doesn’t mean I have any less right to the term Anglican than you do.

    Anglican is certainly not a copyrighted phrase. And if the development of Anglicanism in the last two centuries is to be taken as normative then clearly the picture I’m painting is absurd. But if that’s the case, then Anglicanism as we see it practiced now has to become comfortable with having little in the way of historical roots. Moreover, the options that remain are either to say that one of the strands of theology in Anglicanism today is really normative Anglicanism and the rest is bunk or to do what has become somewhat more common since the 1950s and argue that Anglicanism has no theology, that it’s essentially an empty container into which people pour whatever theology they like. Personally, I find either one of those options wholly unsatisfying.

    To answer your question, I see Baxter, Ridley, Cranmer, Hooker and Jewel as normative. Probably Andrewes and Ken as well even though I disagree with some points of their doctrine. But then, unlike Laud, I can cope with differences in doctrine!

    If doctrine is not a mark of what is normative, then what is it that holds the Church together? How can we possibly claim to be one communion of Christians if we confess contradictory things?

    • MIchaelA says:

      Fr Jonathan,

      A general note: I tend to agree with everything in your post except where I specifically say otherwise.

      1. “If “Zwinglian” is not an appropriate word, what word would you prefer? Calvinist? As I said, I’m not trying to malign you. I’m simply reflecting back to you…”

      Obviously I am not making myself clear: I did not take exception to the word Zwinglian because I thought you were trying to malign me or be derisive. Rather, I just don’t understand how anyone who has read my posts on this blog could rationally think I was a Zwinglian!

      And since you brought it up, “Calvinist” would be true of me in some contexts and not so in others. I do agree with most of what John Calvin wrote, but that would put me at odds with a great many today who call themselves Calvinists (and most of whom don’t seem to have read Calvin).

      2. “So you don’t believe that there’s an inherent problem in a mass movement of people who all seem to believe completely different things from each other about what the Gospel is and why it matters?”

      I don’t believe that the vast majority of Anglicans today “believe completely different things from each other about what the Gospel is and why it matters”, hence I do not see the “inherent problem” that you refer to.

      However, I do agree that the vast majority of bishops in TEC (and many bishops in CofE and the Anglican Church of Australia), who are what I would term “thoroughly liberal”, do believe “completely different” things from most Anglicans. But those liberal leaders are not the vast majority of Anglicans – they are actually a tiny minority of the “85 million” Anglicans in the world today.

      3. “And no, the majority of Anglicans today are neither Cranmerian nor Laudian. They’re all over the map, but most of them have inherited a kind of modern Arminian Evangelicalism/Pentecostalism, with a sizable minority of more-catholic-than-the-pope.”

      It depends what you mean: If you are saying “survey the beliefs of the people in the pews and you will find vast variety of actual belief” then I agree with you but I would say that applies to every single church on earth, bar none. That is one of the reasons we have a liturgy, preaching and catechism – as an ongoing means of teaching the people. But if you mean “This characterises the official beliefs of a majority of Anglicans today”, then I would disagree. For starters, most Anglicans in the world through their leaders are signatories to the Jerusalem Declaration, which in turn affirms Scripture, the Councils, the Creeds, the BCP, the Articles and the Ordinal. I don’t see anything Arminian or Pentecostal about that, nor anything more Catholic than I can cope with.

      4. “… Were they all rooted in the formularies and the settlement? No. One side believed in the Anglican Reformation, the other believed that the Anglican Reformation wasn’t good enough. … “But given that one side believed in the Anglican Reformation and the other side did not …” etc

      Well I think we have already established that these excerpts are where I disagree with you. I do agree that there were many puritans who didn’t believe the Anglican reformation didn’t go far enough, but equally I contend that there were many who didn’t. I believe that this was Laud’s fundamental mistake, of effectively treating them all the same. In effect he forced many moderate Anglicans into the puritan camp (in a way that, for example, I don’t think either Andrewes or Ken would have done if they had been in his position). But I appreciate we disagree on this.

      5. “If your point was not that Wesley’s Eucharistic piety somehow influenced the development of later Anglican Eucharistic renewal, then why on earth did you bring it up?”

      With respect, you brought up Wesley and contrasted him with church leaders who disagreed with him, and I pointed out that in relation to devotion to the Eucharist, Wesley and his contemporaries were way ahead of much of the “official” church of England. The (in effect) driving out of the methodists from the Church of England was as much a reaction against their desire to give high devotion to Holy Communion as it was against their concepts of personal holiness and evangelisation of the masses. It is a useful reminder that people don’t always fit into rigid categories, particularly categories derived from other ages.

      6. “…or to do what has become somewhat more common since the 1950s and argue that Anglicanism has no theology…”

      As noted, I agree with most things in your post that I haven’t specifically disagreed with, but I just wanted to say that I think your point here is particularly important. Anglicanism comes under constant gibes from Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Reformed and other types for being some sort of wishy-washy in-between thing. I think that is quite wrong but that is mostly our fault: Anglicans need to learn about their doctrinal heritage and stand up and be proud of it.

      7. “If doctrine is not a mark of what is normative, then what is it that holds the Church together? How can we possibly claim to be one communion of Christians if we confess contradictory things?”

      You misunderstand me. I think doctrine is a mark of what is normative. We are a confessing church, even though our essential formularies (the BCP, the Articles and the Ordinal) are of a different nature to the Declarations and Confessions of the Lutherans, Presbyterians and Reformed types, and of a different nature again from the Catechism of the RCs. But in my view the three formularies together provide just as firm a doctrinal basis as those of other denominations.

      But where we differ is that I don’t think that e.g. Ridley, Hooker and Andrewes were as different as you seem to think they are. Nor do I believe that putting them into rigid categories necessarily works – it has been commented, for example, that Andrewes was probably closer to John Calvin in his theology about sacrifice in the Eucharist than any of his contemporaries (including many who called themselves Calvinists), and I think that is correct. It is not something Nicholas Ridley would have had a problem with either.

      Anyway, I don’t feel bound to accept 100% of what any theologian says, simply because he wrote it, so differences between Anglican divine don’t cause me a great deal of heartburn. I do think e.g. Andrewes went too far in a few aspects of his theology, but not so far as to invalidate everything else he wrote. The few things I have read by Baxter I find admirable, but I am sure if I read everything written by him, there would be things I disagree with. I can learn good stuff from both Andrewes and Baxter, and they both point me to higher realities and higher authorities beyond themselves.

  8. Father Jonathan; Thanks again for such great lessons. Could you deepen into the Reformation in England? And. . . about religious orders? In the diocese of Puerto Rico we have a project of creating a religious order. . . FRIARS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS. . . could you lecture us on the process of creating an order, canonically, according to our canons? God bless! Javier.

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