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Anglicanism

Christian denomination; branch of Protestant Christianity

Top 10 Anglicanism related articles

Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.[1]

Adherents of Anglicanism are called Anglicans; they are also called Episcopalians in some countries. The majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional ecclesiastical provinces of the international Anglican Communion,[2] which forms the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.[3] These provinces are in full communion with the See of Canterbury and thus with the British Monarch’s personal choice of the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the communion refers to as its primus inter pares (Latin, 'first among equals'). The Archbishop calls the decennial Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, and is the president of the Anglican Consultative Council.[4][5] Some churches that are not part of the Anglican Communion or recognised by it also call themselves Anglican, including those that are within the Continuing Anglican movement and Anglican realignment.[6]

Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic Church, apostolic succession ("historic episcopate"), and the writings of the Church Fathers.[1] Anglicanism forms one of the branches of Western Christianity, having definitively declared its independence from the Holy See at the time of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement.[7] Many of the new Anglican formularies of the mid-16th century corresponded closely to those of contemporary Protestantism. These reforms in the Church of England were understood by one of those most responsible for them, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others as navigating a middle way between two of the emerging Protestant traditions, namely Lutheranism and Calvinism.[8]

In the first half of the 17th century, the Church of England and its associated Church of Ireland were presented by some Anglican divines as comprising a distinct Christian tradition, with theologies, structures, and forms of worship representing a different kind of middle way, or via media, between Protestantism and Catholicism – a perspective that came to be highly influential in later theories of Anglican identity and expressed in the description of Anglicanism as "Catholic and Reformed".[9] The degree of distinction between Protestant and Catholic tendencies within the Anglican tradition is routinely a matter of debate both within specific Anglican churches and throughout the Anglican Communion. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer, the collection of services in one Book used for centuries. The Book is acknowledged as a principal tie that binds the Anglican Communion together as a liturgical rather than a confessional tradition or one possessing a magisterium as in the Roman Catholic Church.

After the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America (which would later form the basis for the modern country of Canada) were each reconstituted into autonomous churches with their own bishops and self-governing structures; these were known as the American Episcopal Church and the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada. Through the expansion of the British Empire and the activity of Christian missions, this model was adopted as the model for many newly formed churches, especially in Africa, Australasia, and Asia-Pacific. In the 19th century, the term Anglicanism was coined to describe the common religious tradition of these churches; as also that of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which, though originating earlier within the Church of Scotland, had come to be recognised as sharing this common identity.

Anglicanism Intro articles: 30

Terminology

Jesus Christ supporting an English flag and staff in the crook of his right arm depicted in a stained glass window in Rochester Cathedral, Kent

The word Anglican originates in Anglicana ecclesia libera sit, a phrase from the Magna Carta dated 15 June 1215, meaning "the Anglican Church shall be free".[10] Adherents of Anglicanism are called Anglicans. As an adjective, "Anglican" is used to describe the people, institutions, and churches, as well as the liturgical traditions and theological concepts developed by the Church of England.[5]

As a noun, an Anglican is a member of a church in the Anglican Communion. The word is also used by followers of separated groups which have left the communion or have been founded separately from it, although this is considered as a misuse by the Anglican Communion. The word Anglicanism came into being in the 19th century.[5] The word originally referred only to the teachings and rites of Christians throughout the world in communion with the see of Canterbury, but has come to sometimes be extended to any church following those traditions rather than actual membership in the modern Anglican Communion.[5]

Although the term Anglican is found referring to the Church of England as far back as the 16th century, its use did not become general until the latter half of the 19th century. In British parliamentary legislation referring to the English Established Church, there is no need for a description; it is simply the Church of England, though the word "Protestant" is used in many legal acts specifying the succession to the Crown and qualifications for office. When the Union with Ireland Act created the United Church of England and Ireland, it is specified that it shall be one "Protestant Episcopal Church", thereby distinguishing its form of church government from the Presbyterian polity that prevails in the Church of Scotland.[11]

The word Episcopal is preferred in the title of the Episcopal Church (the province of the Anglican Communion covering the United States) and the Scottish Episcopal Church, though the full name of the former is The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Elsewhere, however, the term "Anglican Church" came to be preferred as it distinguished these churches from others that maintain an episcopal polity.

Definition

Anglicanism, in its structures, theology, and forms of worship, is commonly understood as a distinct Christian tradition representing a middle ground between what are perceived to be the extremes of the claims of 16th-century Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran and Reformed varieties of Protestantism of that era. As such, it is often referred to as being a via media (or "middle way") between these traditions.[12]

The faith of Anglicans is founded in the Scriptures and the Gospels, the traditions of the Apostolic Church, the historical episcopate, the first four ecumenical councils,[13] and the early Church Fathers (among these councils, especially the premier four ones,[13] and among these Fathers, especially those active during the five initial centuries of Christianity, according to the quinquasaecularist principle proposed by the English bishop Lancelot Andrewes and the Lutheran dissident Georg Calixtus). Anglicans understand the Old and New Testaments as "containing all things necessary for salvation" and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.[14] Reason and tradition are seen as valuable means to interpret scripture (a position first formulated in detail by Richard Hooker), but there is no full mutual agreement among Anglicans about exactly how scripture, reason, and tradition interact (or ought to interact) with each other.[15] Anglicans understand the Apostles' Creed as the baptismal symbol and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.

Anglicans believe the catholic and apostolic faith is revealed in Holy Scripture and the Catholic creeds and interpret these in light of the Christian tradition of the historic church, scholarship, reason, and experience.[16]

Anglicans celebrate the traditional sacraments, with special emphasis being given to the Eucharist, also called Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper or the Mass. The Eucharist is central to worship for most Anglicans as a communal offering of prayer and praise in which the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are proclaimed through prayer, reading of the Bible, singing, giving God thanks over the bread and wine for the innumerable benefits obtained through the passion of Christ, the breaking of the bread, the blessing of the cup, and the partaking of the body and blood of Christ as instituted at the Last Supper, however one wished to define the Presence. The consecrated bread and wine which are the true body and blood of Christ after a spiritual manner (not in a crude physical way) are outward symbols of an inner grace given by Christ, which to the repentant conveys forgiveness and cleaning from sin. While many Anglicans celebrate the Eucharist in similar ways to the predominant western Catholic tradition, a considerable degree of liturgical freedom is permitted, and worship styles range from the simple to elaborate.

Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the collection of services that worshippers in most Anglican churches have used for centuries. It was called common prayer originally because it was intended for use in all Church of England churches, which had previously followed differing local liturgies. The term was kept when the church became international, because all Anglicans used to share in its use around the world.

In 1549, the first Book of Common Prayer was compiled by Thomas Cranmer, who was then Archbishop of Canterbury. While it has since undergone many revisions and Anglican churches in different countries have developed other service books, the Prayer Book is still acknowledged as one of the ties that bind Anglicans together.

Anglicanism Terminology articles: 24

Anglican identity

Early history

Saint Alban is venerated as the first-recorded British Christian martyr.

The founding of Christianity in Britain is commonly attributed to Joseph of Arimathea, according to Anglican legend, and is commemorated in Glastonbury Abbey.[a][18] Many of the early Church Fathers wrote of the presence of Christianity in Roman Britain, with Tertullian stating "those parts of Britain into which the Roman arms had never penetrated were become subject to Christ".[19] Saint Alban, who was executed in AD 209, is the first Christian martyr in the British Isles. For this reason he is venerated as the British protomartyr.[20] The historian Heinrich Zimmer writes that "Just as Britain was a part of the Roman Empire, so the British Church formed (during the fourth century) a branch of the Catholic Church of the West; and during the whole of that century, from the Council of Arles (316) onward, took part in all proceedings concerning the Church."[21]

After Roman troops withdrew from Britain, the "absence of Roman military and governmental influence and overall decline of Roman imperial political power enabled Britain and the surrounding isles to develop distinctively from the rest of the West. A new culture emerged around the Irish Sea among the Celtic peoples with Celtic Christianity at its core. What resulted was a form of Christianity distinct from Rome in many traditions and practices."[b][24][25]

The historian Charles Thomas, in addition to the Celticist Heinrich Zimmer, writes that the distinction between sub-Roman and post-Roman Insular Christianity, also known as Celtic Christianity, began to become apparent around AD 475,[26] with the Celtic churches allowing married clergy,[27] observing Lent and Easter according to their own calendar,[28][29] and having a different tonsure; moreover, like the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Celtic churches operated independently of the Pope's authority,[30] as a result of their isolated development in the British Isles.[31]

Augustine of Canterbury was the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

In what is known as the Gregorian mission, Pope Gregory I sent Augustine of Canterbury to the British Isles in AD 596, with the purpose of evangelising the pagans there (who were largely Anglo-Saxons),[32] as well as to reconcile the Celtic churches in the British Isles to the See of Rome.[33] In Kent, Augustine persuaded the Anglo-Saxon king "Æthelberht and his people to accept Christianity".[34] Augustine, on two occasions, "met in conference with members of the Celtic episcopacy, but no understanding was reached between them."[35]

Eventually, the "Christian Church of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria convened the Synod of Whitby in 663/664 to decide whether to follow Celtic or Roman usages." This meeting, with King Oswiu as the final decision maker, "led to the acceptance of Roman usage elsewhere in England and brought the English Church into close contact with the Continent".[36] As a result of assuming Roman usages, the Celtic Church surrendered its independence, and, from this point on, the Church in England "was no longer purely Celtic, but became Anglo-Roman-Celtic".[37] The theologian Christopher L. Webber writes that, although "the Roman form of Christianity became the dominant influence in Britain as in all of western Europe, Anglican Christianity has continued to have a distinctive quality because of its Celtic heritage."[38][39][40]

The Church in England remained united with Rome until the English Parliament, through the Act of Supremacy (1534), declared King Henry VIII to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England to fulfill the "English desire to be independent from continental Europe religiously and politically." As the change is mostly political for the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage,[41] the English Church under Henry VIII continued to maintain Roman Catholic doctrines and the sacraments despite the separation from Rome. With little exception, Henry VIII allowed no changes during his lifetime.[42] Under King Edward VI (1547–1553), however, the church in England underwent what is known as the English Reformation, in the course of which it acquired a number of characteristics that would subsequently become recognised as constituting its distinctive "Anglican" identity.[43]

Development

With the Elizabethan Settlement of 1559, the Protestant identity of the English and Irish churches was affirmed by means of parliamentary legislation which mandated allegiance and loyalty to the English Crown in all their members. The Elizabethan church began to develop distinct religious traditions, assimilating some of the theology of Reformed churches with the services in the Book of Common Prayer (which drew extensively on the Sarum Rite native to England), under the leadership and organisation of a continuing episcopate.[44] Over the years, these traditions themselves came to command adherence and loyalty. The Elizabethan Settlement stopped the radical Protestant tendencies under Edward VI by combining the more radical elements of the Second Prayer Book of 1552 with the conservative "Catholic" First Prayer Book of 1549. From then on, Protestantism was in a "state of arrested development", regardless of the attempts to detach the Church of England from its "idiosyncratic anchorage in the medieval past" by various groups which tried to push it towards a more Reformed theology and governance in the years 1560–1660.[45]

Queen Elizabeth I revived the Church of England in 1559, and established a uniform faith and practice. She took the title "Supreme Governor".

Although two important constitutive elements of what later would emerge as Anglicanism were present in 1559 – scripture, the historic episcopate, the Book of Common Prayer, the teachings of the First Four Ecumenical Councils as the yardstick of catholicity, the teaching of the Church Fathers and Catholic bishops, and informed reason – neither the laypeople nor the clergy perceived themselves as Anglicans at the beginning of Elizabeth I's reign, as there was no such identity. Neither does the term via media appear until the 1627 to describe a church which refused to identify itself definitely as Catholic or Protestant, or as both, "and had decided in the end that this is virtue rather than a handicap".[46]

Historical studies on the period 1560–1660 written before the late 1960s tended to project the predominant conformist spirituality and doctrine of the 1660s on the ecclesiastical situation one hundred years before, and there was also a tendency to take polemically binary partitions of reality claimed by contestants studied (such as the dichotomies Protestant-"Popish" or "Laudian"-"Puritan") at face value. Since the late 1960s, these interpretations have been criticised. Studies on the subject written during the last forty-five years have, however, not reached any consensus on how to interpret this period in English church history. The extent to which one or several positions concerning doctrine and spirituality existed alongside the more well-known and articulate Puritan movement and the Durham House Party, and the exact extent of continental Calvinism among the English elite and among the ordinary churchgoers from the 1560s to the 1620s are subjects of current and ongoing debate.[c]

In 1662, under King Charles II, a revised Book of Common Prayer was produced, which was acceptable to high churchmen as well as some Puritans, and is still considered authoritative to this day.[47]

In so far as Anglicans derived their identity from both parliamentary legislation and ecclesiastical tradition, a crisis of identity could result wherever secular and religious loyalties came into conflict – and such a crisis indeed occurred in 1776 with the American Declaration of Independence, most of whose signatories were, at least nominally, Anglican.[48] For these American patriots, even the forms of Anglican services were in doubt, since the Prayer Book rites of Matins, Evensong, and Holy Communion all included specific prayers for the British Royal Family. Consequently, the conclusion of the War of Independence eventually resulted in the creation of two new Anglican churches, the Episcopal Church in the United States in those states that had achieved independence; and in the 1830s The Church of England in Canada became independent from the Church of England in those North American colonies which had remained under British control and to which many Loyalist churchmen had migrated.[49]

Reluctantly, legislation was passed in the British Parliament (the Consecration of Bishops Abroad Act 1786) to allow bishops to be consecrated for an American church outside of allegiance to the British Crown (since no dioceses had ever been established in the former American colonies).[49] Both in the United States and in Canada, the new Anglican churches developed novel models of self-government, collective decision-making, and self-supported financing; that would be consistent with separation of religious and secular identities.[50]

In the following century, two further factors acted to accelerate the development of a distinct Anglican identity. From 1828 and 1829, Dissenters and Catholics could be elected to the House of Commons,[51] which consequently ceased to be a body drawn purely from the established churches of Scotland, England, and Ireland; but which nevertheless, over the following ten years, engaged in extensive reforming legislation affecting the interests of the English and Irish churches; which, by the Acts of Union of 1800, had been reconstituted as the United Church of England and Ireland. The propriety of this legislation was bitterly contested by the Oxford Movement (Tractarians),[52] who in response developed a vision of Anglicanism as religious tradition deriving ultimately from the ecumenical councils of the patristic church. Those within the Church of England opposed to the Tractarians, and to their revived ritual practices, introduced a stream of bills in parliament aimed to control innovations in worship.[53] This only made the dilemma more acute, with consequent continual litigation in the secular and ecclesiastical courts.

Over the same period, Anglican churches engaged vigorously in Christian missions, resulting in the creation, by the end of the century, of over ninety colonial bishoprics,[54] which gradually coalesced into new self-governing churches on the Canadian and American models. However, the case of John Colenso, Bishop of Natal, reinstated in 1865 by the English Judicial Committee of the Privy Council over the heads of the Church in South Africa,[55] demonstrated acutely that the extension of episcopacy had to be accompanied by a recognised Anglican ecclesiology of ecclesiastical authority, distinct from secular power.

Consequently, at the instigation of the bishops of Canada and South Africa, the first Lambeth Conference was called in 1867;[56] to be followed by further conferences in 1878 and 1888, and thereafter at ten-year intervals. The various papers and declarations of successive Lambeth Conferences have served to frame the continued Anglican debate on identity, especially as relating to the possibility of ecumenical discussion with other churches. This ecumenical aspiration became much more of a possibility, as other denominational groups rapidly followed the example of the Anglican Communion in founding their own transnational alliances: the Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Ecumenical Methodist Council, the International Congregational Council, and the Baptist World Alliance.

Theories

Anglicanism was seen as a middle way, or via media, between two branches of Protestantism, Lutheranism and Reformed Christianity.[57] In their rejection of absolute parliamentary authority, the Tractarians – and in particular John Henry Newman – looked back to the writings of 17th-century Anglican divines, finding in these texts the idea of the English church as a via media between the Protestant and Catholic traditions.[58] This view was associated – especially in the writings of Edward Bouverie Pusey – with the theory of Anglicanism as one of three "branches" (alongside the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church) historically arising out of the common tradition of the earliest ecumenical councils. Newman himself subsequently rejected his theory of the via media, as essentially historicist and static and hence unable to accommodate any dynamic development within the church.[58] Nevertheless, the aspiration to ground Anglican identity in the writings of the 17th-century divines and in faithfulness to the traditions of the Church Fathers reflects a continuing theme of Anglican ecclesiology, most recently in the writings of Henry Robert McAdoo.[59]

The Tractarian formulation of the theory of the via media between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism was essentially a party platform, and not acceptable to Anglicans outside the confines of the Oxford Movement. However, this theory of the via media was reworked in the ecclesiological writings of Frederick Denison Maurice, in a more dynamic form that became widely influential. Both Maurice and Newman saw the Church of England of their day as sorely deficient in faith; but whereas Newman had looked back to a distant past when the light of faith might have appeared to burn brighter, Maurice looked forward to the possibility of a brighter revelation of faith in the future. Maurice saw the Protestant and Catholic strands within the Church of England as contrary but complementary, both maintaining elements of the true church, but incomplete without the other; such that a true catholic and evangelical church might come into being by a union of opposites.[60]

Frederick Denison Maurice was a prominent 19th-century Anglican theologian

Central to Maurice's perspective was his belief that the collective elements of family, nation, and church represented a divine order of structures through which God unfolds his continuing work of creation. Hence, for Maurice, the Protestant tradition had maintained the elements of national distinction which were amongst the marks of the true universal church, but which had been lost within contemporary Roman Catholicism in the internationalism of centralised papal authority. Within the coming universal church that Maurice foresaw, national churches would each maintain the six signs of Catholicity: baptism, Eucharist, the creeds, Scripture, an episcopal ministry, and a fixed liturgy (which could take a variety of forms in accordance with divinely ordained distinctions in national characteristics).[58] Not surprisingly, this vision of a becoming universal church as a congregation of autonomous national churches proved highly congenial in Anglican circles; and Maurice's six signs were adapted to form the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888.[61]

In the latter decades of the 20th century, Maurice's theory, and the various strands of Anglican thought that derived from it, have been criticised by Stephen Sykes,[62] who argues that the terms Protestant and Catholic as used in these approaches are synthetic constructs denoting ecclesiastic identities unacceptable to those to whom the labels are applied. Hence, the Catholic Church does not regard itself as a party or strand within the universal church – but rather identifies itself as the universal church. Moreover, Sykes criticises the proposition, implicit in theories of via media, that there is no distinctive body of Anglican doctrines, other than those of the universal church; accusing this of being an excuse not to undertake systematic doctrine at all.[63]

Contrariwise, Sykes notes a high degree of commonality in Anglican liturgical forms and in the doctrinal understandings expressed within those liturgies. He proposes that Anglican identity might rather be found within a shared consistent pattern of prescriptive liturgies, established and maintained through canon law, and embodying both a historic deposit of formal statements of doctrine, and also framing the regular reading and proclamation of scripture.[64] Sykes nevertheless agrees with those heirs of Maurice who emphasise the incompleteness of Anglicanism as a positive feature, and quotes with qualified approval the words of Michael Ramsey:

For while the Anglican church is vindicated by its place in history, with a strikingly balanced witness to Gospel and Church and sound learning, its greater vindication lies in its pointing through its own history to something of which it is a fragment. Its credentials are its incompleteness, with the tension and the travail of its soul. It is clumsy and untidy, it baffles neatness and logic. For it is not sent to commend itself as 'the best type of Christianity,' but by its very brokenness to point to the universal Church wherein all have died.[65]

Anglicanism Anglican identity articles: 68

Doctrine

"Catholic and Reformed"

The distinction between Reformed and Catholic, and the coherence of the two, is a matter of debate within the Anglican Communion. The Oxford Movement of the mid-19th century revived and extended doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral practices similar to those of Roman Catholicism. This extends beyond the ceremony of high-church services to even more theologically significant territory, such as sacramental theology (see Anglican sacraments). While Anglo-Catholic practices, particularly liturgical ones, have become more common within the tradition over the last century, there are also places where practices and beliefs resonate more closely with the evangelical movements of the 1730s (see Sydney Anglicanism).

Guiding principles

Richard Hooker (1554–1600), one of the most influential figures in shaping Anglican theology and self-identity.

For high-church Anglicans, doctrine is neither established by a magisterium, nor derived from the theology of an eponymous founder (such as Calvinism), nor summed up in a confession of faith beyond the ecumenical creeds (such as the Lutheran Book of Concord). For them, the earliest Anglican theological documents are its prayer books, which they see as the products of profound theological reflection, compromise, and synthesis. They emphasise the Book of Common Prayer as a key expression of Anglican doctrine. The principle of looking to the prayer books as a guide to the parameters of belief and practice is called by the Latin name lex orandi, lex credendi ("the law of prayer is the law of belief").

Within the prayer books are the fundamentals of Anglican doctrine: the Apostles' and Nicene creeds, the Athanasian Creed (now rarely used), the scriptures (via the lectionary), the sacraments, daily prayer, the catechism, and apostolic succession in the context of the historic threefold ministry. For some low-church and evangelical Anglicans, the 16th-century Reformed Thirty-Nine Articles form the basis of doctrine.

Distinctives of Anglican belief

The Thirty-Nine Articles played a significant role in Anglican doctrine and practice. Following the passing of the 1604 canons, all Anglican clergy had to formally subscribe to the articles. Today, however, the articles are no longer binding,[66] but are seen as a historical document which has played a significant role in the shaping of Anglican identity. The degree to which each of the articles has remained influential varies.

On the doctrine of justification, for example, there is a wide range of beliefs within the Anglican Communion, with some Anglo-Catholics arguing for a faith with good works and the sacraments. At the same time, however, some evangelical Anglicans ascribe to the Reformed emphasis on sola fide ("faith alone") in their doctrine of justification (see Sydney Anglicanism). Still other Anglicans adopt a nuanced view of justification, taking elements from the early Church Fathers, Catholicism, Protestantism, liberal theology, and latitudinarian thought.

Arguably, the most influential of the original articles has been Article VI on the "sufficiency of scripture", which says that "Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." This article has informed Anglican biblical exegesis and hermeneutics since earliest times.

Anglicans look for authority in their "standard divines" (see below). Historically, the most influential of these – apart from Cranmer – has been the 16th-century cleric and theologian Richard Hooker, who after 1660 was increasingly portrayed as the founding father of Anglicanism. Hooker's description of Anglican authority as being derived primarily from scripture, informed by reason (the intellect and the experience of God) and tradition (the practices and beliefs of the historical church), has influenced Anglican self-identity and doctrinal reflection perhaps more powerfully than any other formula. The analogy of the "three-legged stool" of scripture, reason, and tradition is often incorrectly attributed to Hooker. Rather, Hooker's description is a hierarchy of authority, with scripture as foundational and reason and tradition as vitally important, but secondary, authorities.

Finally, the extension of Anglicanism into non-English cultures, the growing diversity of prayer books, and the increasing interest in ecumenical dialogue have led to further reflection on the parameters of Anglican identity. Many Anglicans look to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888 as the sine qua non of communal identity.[67] In brief, the quadrilateral's four points are the scriptures as containing all things necessary to salvation; the creeds (specifically, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds) as the sufficient statement of Christian faith; the dominical sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion; and the historic episcopate.[67]

Anglican divines

Thomas Cranmer wrote the first two editions of the BCP

Within the Anglican tradition, "divines" are clergy of the Church of England whose theological writings have been considered standards for faith, doctrine, worship, and spirituality, and whose influence has permeated the Anglican Communion in varying degrees through the years.[68] While there is no authoritative list of these Anglican divines, there are some whose names would likely be found on most lists – those who are commemorated in lesser feasts of the Anglican churches and those whose works are frequently anthologised.[69]

The corpus produced by Anglican divines is diverse. What they have in common is a commitment to the faith as conveyed by scripture and the Book of Common Prayer, thus regarding prayer and theology in a manner akin to that of the Apostolic Fathers.[70] On the whole, Anglican divines view the via media of Anglicanism not as a compromise, but as "a positive position, witnessing to the universality of God and God's kingdom working through the fallible, earthly ecclesia Anglicana".[71]

These theologians regard scripture as interpreted through tradition and reason as authoritative in matters concerning salvation. Reason and tradition, indeed, is extant in and presupposed by scripture, thus implying co-operation between God and humanity, God and nature, and between the sacred and secular. Faith is thus regarded as incarnational and authority as dispersed.

Amongst the early Anglican divines of the 16th and 17th centuries, the names of Thomas Cranmer, John Jewel, Matthew Parker, Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, and Jeremy Taylor predominate. The influential character of Hooker's Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity cannot be overestimated. Published in 1593 and subsequently, Hooker's eight-volume work is primarily a treatise on church-state relations, but it deals comprehensively with issues of biblical interpretation, soteriology, ethics, and sanctification. Throughout the work, Hooker makes clear that theology involves prayer and is concerned with ultimate issues and that theology is relevant to the social mission of the church.

The 18th century saw the rise of two important movements in Anglicanism: Cambridge Platonism, with its mystical understanding of reason as the "candle of the Lord", and the evangelical revival, with its emphasis on the personal experience of the Holy Spirit. The Cambridge Platonist movement evolved into a school called Latitudinarianism, which emphasised reason as the barometer of discernment and took a stance of indifference towards doctrinal and ecclesiological differences.

The evangelical revival, influenced by such figures as John Wesley and Charles Simeon, re-emphasised the importance of justification through faith and the consequent importance of personal conversion. Some in this movement, such as Wesley and George Whitefield, took the message to the United States, influencing the First Great Awakening and creating an Anglo-American movement called Methodism that would eventually break away, structurally, from the Anglican churches after the American Revolution.

By the 19th century, there was a renewed interest in pre-Reformation English religious thought and practice. Theologians such as John Keble, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and John Henry Newman had widespread influence in the realm of polemics, homiletics and theological and devotional works, not least because they largely repudiated the old high-church tradition and replaced it with a dynamic appeal to antiquity which looked beyond the Reformers and Anglican formularies.[72] Their work is largely credited with the development of the Oxford Movement, which sought to reassert Catholic identity and practice in Anglicanism.[73]

In contrast to this movement, clergy such as the Bishop of Liverpool, J. C. Ryle, sought to uphold the distinctly Reformed identity of the Church of England. He was not a servant of the status quo, but argued for a lively religion which emphasised grace, holy and charitable living, and the plain use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (interpreted in a partisan evangelical way)[d] without additional rituals. Frederick Denison Maurice, through such works as The Kingdom of Christ, played a pivotal role in inaugurating another movement, Christian socialism. In this, Maurice transformed Hooker's emphasis on the incarnational nature of Anglican spirituality to an imperative for social justice.

In the 19th century, Anglican biblical scholarship began to assume a distinct character, represented by the so-called "Cambridge triumvirate" of Joseph Lightfoot, F. J. A. Hort, and Brooke Foss Westcott. Their orientation is best summed up by Lightfoot's observation that "Life which Christ is and which Christ communicates, the life which fills our whole beings as we realise its capacities, is active fellowship with God."

The earlier part of the 20th century is marked by Charles Gore, with his emphasis on natural revelation, and William Temple's focus on Christianity and society, while, from outside England, Robert Leighton, Archbishop of Glasgow, and several clergy from the United States have been suggested, such as William Porcher DuBose, John Henry Hobart (1775–1830, Bishop of New York 1816–30), William Meade, Phillips Brooks, and Charles Brent.[74]

Churchmanship

An eastward-facing Solemn High Mass, a Catholic liturgical phenomenon which re-emerged in Anglicanism following the Catholic Revival of the 19th century

Churchmanship can be defined as the manifestation of theology in the realms of liturgy, piety and, to some extent, spirituality. Anglican diversity in this respect has tended to reflect the diversity in the tradition's Reformed and Catholic identity. Different individuals, groups, parishes, dioceses and provinces may identify more closely with one or the other, or some mixture of the two.

The range of Anglican belief and practice became particularly divisive during the 19th century, when some clergy were disciplined and even imprisoned on charges of introducing illegal ritual while, at the same time, others were criticised for engaging in public worship services with ministers of Reformed churches. Resistance to the growing acceptance and restoration of traditional Catholic ceremonial by the mainstream of Anglicanism ultimately led to the formation of small breakaway churches such as the Free Church of England in England (1844) and the Reformed Episcopal Church in North America (1873).[75][76]

Anglo-Catholic (and some broad-church) Anglicans celebrate public liturgy in ways that understand worship to be something very special and of utmost importance. Vestments are worn by the clergy, sung settings are often used, and incense may be used. Nowadays, in most Anglican churches, the Eucharist is celebrated in a manner similar to the usage of Roman Catholics and some Lutherans, though, in many churches, more traditional, "pre–Vatican II" models of worship are common (e.g., an "eastward orientation" at the altar). Whilst many Anglo-Catholics derive much of their liturgical practice from that of the pre-Reformation English church, others more closely follow traditional Roman Catholic practices.

The Eucharist may sometimes be celebrated in the form known as High Mass, with a priest, deacon and subdeacon (usually actually a layperson) dressed in traditional vestments, with incense and sanctus bells and prayers adapted from the Roman Missal or other sources by the celebrant. Such churches may also have forms of eucharistic adoration such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In terms of personal piety, some Anglicans may recite the Rosary and Angelus, be involved in a devotional society dedicated to "Our Lady" (the Blessed Virgin Mary) and seek the intercession of the saints.

In recent decades, the prayer books of several provinces have, out of deference to a greater agreement with Eastern Conciliarism (and a perceived greater respect accorded Anglicanism by Eastern Orthodoxy than by Roman Catholicism), instituted a number of historically Eastern and Oriental Orthodox elements in their liturgies, including introduction of the Trisagion and deletion of the filioque clause from the Nicene Creed.

For their part, those evangelical (and some broad-church) Anglicans who emphasise the more Protestant aspects of the Church stress the Reformation theme of salvation by grace through faith. They emphasise the two dominical sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, viewing the other five as "lesser rites". Some evangelical Anglicans may even tend to take the inerrancy of scripture literally, adopting the view of Article VI that it contains all things necessary to salvation in an explicit sense. Worship in churches influenced by these principles tends to be significantly less elaborate, with greater emphasis on the Liturgy of the Word (the reading of the scriptures, the sermon, and the intercessory prayers).

The Order for Holy Communion may be celebrated bi-weekly or monthly (in preference to the daily offices), by priests attired in choir habit, or more regular clothes, rather than Eucharistic vestments. Ceremony may be in keeping with their view of the provisions of the 17th-century Puritans – being a Reformed interpretation of the Ornaments Rubric – no candles, no incense, no bells, and a minimum of manual actions by the presiding celebrant (such as touching the elements at the Words of Institution).

In recent decades, there has been a growth of charismatic worship among Anglicans. Both Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals have been affected by this movement such that it is not uncommon to find typically charismatic postures, music, and other themes evident during the services of otherwise Anglo-Catholic or evangelical parishes.

The spectrum of Anglican beliefs and practice is too large to be fit into these labels. Many Anglicans locate themselves somewhere in the spectrum of the broad-church tradition and consider themselves an amalgam of evangelical and Catholic. Such Anglicans stress that Anglicanism is the via media (middle way) between the two major strains of Western Christianity and that Anglicanism is like a "bridge" between the two strains.

Sacramental doctrine and practice

In accord with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as being both a church in the Catholic tradition as well as a Reformed church. With respect to sacramental theology, the Catholic heritage is perhaps most strongly asserted in the importance Anglicanism places on the sacraments as a means of grace, sanctification, and salvation, as expressed in the church's liturgy and doctrine.

Of the seven sacraments, all Anglicans recognise Baptism and the Eucharist as being directly instituted by Christ. The other five – Confession/Absolution, Matrimony, Confirmation, Holy Orders (also called Ordination), and Anointing of the Sick (also called Unction) – are regarded variously as full sacraments by Anglo-Catholics and many high-church and some broad-church Anglicans, but merely as "sacramental rites" by other broad-church and low-church Anglicans, especially evangelicals associated with Reform UK and the Diocese of Sydney.

Eucharistic theology

Anglican eucharistic theology is divergent in practice, reflecting the essential comprehensiveness of the tradition. A few low-church Anglicans take a strictly memorialist (Zwinglian) view of the sacrament. In other words, they see Holy Communion as a memorial to Christ's suffering, and participation in the Eucharist as both a re-enactment of the Last Supper and a foreshadowing of the heavenly banquet – the fulfilment of the eucharistic promise.

Other low-church Anglicans believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist but deny that the presence of Christ is carnal or is necessarily localised in the bread and wine. Despite explicit criticism in the Thirty-Nine Articles, many high-church or Anglo-Catholic Anglicans hold, more or less, the Catholic view of the real presence as expressed in the doctrine of transubstantiation, seeing the Eucharist as a liturgical representation of Christ's atoning sacrifice with the elements actually transformed into Christ's body and blood.

The majority of Anglicans, however, have in common a belief in the real presence, defined in one way or another. To that extent, they are in the company of the continental reformer Martin Luther and Calvin rather than Ulrich Zwingli. The Catechism of the American BCP of 1976 repeats the standard Anglican view ("The outward and visible sign in the Eucharist is the bread and wine"..."The inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith") without further definition. It should be remembered that Anglicanism has no official doctrine on this matter, believing it is wiser to leave the Presence a mystery. The faithful can believe privately whatever explanation they favor, be it transubstantiation, consubstantiation, receptionism, or virtualism (the two most congenial to Anglicans for centuries until the Oxford Movement), each of which espouses belief in the real presence in one way or another, or memorialism, which has never been an option with Anglicans.

A famous Anglican aphorism regarding Christ's presence in the sacrament, commonly misattributed to Queen Elizabeth I, is first found in print in a poem by John Donne:[77]

He was the word that spake it,
He took the bread and brake it:
And what that word did make it,
I do believe and take it.[78]

An Anglican position on the eucharistic sacrifice ("Sacrifice of the Mass") was expressed in the response Saepius officio of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to Pope Leo XIII's Papal Encyclical Apostolicae curae: viz. that the Prayer Book contained a strong sacrificial theology. Later revisions of the Prayer Book influenced by the Scottish Canon of 1764 first adopted by the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1789 made this assertion quite evident: "we do make and celebrate before thy Divine Majesty with these thy holy gifts, which we now OFFER unto thee, the memorial thy Son has commanded us to make", which is repeated in the 1929 English BCP and included in such words or others such as "present" or "show forth" in subsequent revisions.

Anglican and Roman Catholic representatives declared that they had "substantial agreement on the doctrine of the Eucharist" in the Windsor Statement on Eucharistic Doctrine by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Consultation (1971)[79] and the Elucidation of the ARCIC Windsor Statement (1979). The final response (1991) to these documents by the Vatican made it plain that it did not consider the degree of agreement reached to be satisfactory.

Anglicanism Doctrine articles: 111