Sunday, Oct 01, 2006: “Anglicanism: Session 3”

St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
Lecture Series Led By Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, October 1, 2006


Anglicanism, Session 3, notes


While some in the Church in England were pursuing some sort of reconciliation with – or return to – the Church in Rome, Puritans were trying, not to overthrow the government, but to replace the established religion with a form in the Calvanist tradition. Some of them openly advocated rebellion and were treated as traitors, but other found ways to follow the letter of the law (and the BCP) but also to use other forms of worship, to render the bishops powerless and substitute their own ministers (whom they often ordained themselves).


The Via Media: The BCP’s title page explicitly referred to the “Church in England”, maintaining a conviction of its continued place in the greater Church. Some changes had been made, of course, but it retained the ancient traditions and worship. Elizabeth distrusted the conservatives because of their allegiance to Rome, and the reformers for their allegiance to Geneva. She wanted an English Church.


Matthew Parker worked well with her. He wanted a Church that was (Moorman, p. 213) “based upon true scholarship, drawing upon the best traditions of the primitive church, faithful to scripture, vital, honest, dignified… It is to him, perhaps more than to anyone else, that we owe the type of churchmanship which we associate with ‘Anglicanism.’”


The 1562 Convocation modified the 1553 42 Articles and established 39 of them. They reflect the conflicts of that specific time, but have continued in use in the C of E.


Writing around the year 1600, Richard Hooker wrote his Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, which provided a reasoned defense of the English Church’s way of life and sense of authority. It defined Anglicanism for future generations.


After Elizabeth’s death, James I from Scotland (1603 – 25) had to deal with the increasing power of the Puritans and with a movement to take power from the king and invest more of it in Parliament. In the January following his accession, he met with a group of 1000 Puritans who presented him with changes that they wanted incorporated into the BCP. After hearing their views and those of the bishops, James issued the 1604 Book (the Jacobean Prayer Book) which included several changes that went in the opposite direction from what the Puritans wanted. This movement was led by Archbishops of Canterbury Lancelot Andrews and William Laud. Those who supported them became known as the Laudians. (cf. Sydnor, pp. 40-41 for more details)The most lasting decision to come of the conference was the decision by King James to sponsor a new translation of the Scriptures, the Authorized Version. It would be published in 1611.


Many Puritans were exasperated by the actions of the king. Some of them left England for Holland in 1609 and settled there for a time. A group of them later returned to England briefly in order to prepare to emigrate to the New World. On September 6, 1620, they set sail from Plymouth aboard the Mayflower, arriving at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts on November 11. They formed a covenant to establish a society which followed strictly their religious principles.


James’ son and successor, Charles I (1625-49) took the divine right of kings to its extreme. Soon after his accession, he declared, “I owe the account of my actions to God alone,” regarding himself as above the law. During the time of the Commonwealth (1649-60), the Puritan influence held sway along with Puritan forms of worship in place of the BCP.


When Charles II (1660-85) came to the throne, a group of scholars known as the “Caroline Divines” pursued a Via Media which sought, not the lowest common denominator between Romanism and Puritanism, but a return to the beliefs and practices of the early Church. Their work would form the basis of Anglicanism for centuries to come.

The Puritans still held sway in Parliament, but Laudians had prepared a generation of scholars and church leaders who ensured that the Church was restored as it had existed historically in England.


A revised BCP was issued in 1662, with August 24 as it mandatory usage date. It was based on the 1604 book, but contained some modifications requested either by the Puritans or the Laudians. Neither party was fully satisfied. The Epistles and Gospels were now to be read from the 1611 Authorized Version, although the Psalms, 10 Commandments and excerpts in the Communion service continued to be from the 1539 Great Bible. (For other changes, cf. Sydnor, pp. 48-50).


James II (1685-1688), the brother of Charles II, was an acknowledged papist, and the people of England became increasingly suspicious of his intentions. 


In July 1688, revolutionaries issued an invitation to William of Orange and his wife Mary Stuart (a daughter of James by his first wife, Anne Hyde) to come to England in an attempt to overthrow the king. The invasion came on November 5, and James fled the country on December 18. In 1689, Parliament declared that William and Mary now ruled jointly. As William III and Mary II, they reigned from 1689-1702.


It was a time when the Church was still recognized as THE Church of England, but when toleration of non-jurors and non-conformists grew. However, advocates of both extremes continued to stir up trouble. William and Mary agreed to a separate Scottish Church with Presbyterian polity. Parliament passed “The Toleration Act” which allowed for the existence of other churches, though not on a par with the C of E; RCs and Unitarians were not included – toleration would only go so far.


At this same time, there came a renewal in the life of the church itself. “Clubs” were formed in which men came together weekly for prayer, study and good works; Samuel Wesley, John’s father, was a leader in this movement. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge was formed in 1698. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was begun in 1701 and began its missionary efforts. Increased focus was places on addressing the needs of the poor.


Anne (1702-1714) was not equal to the task of leading the nation and the church during the continued struggles between competing interests and visions. (Cf. Moorman, p. 270) In 1711 The Occasional Conformity Act levied fines on dissenters who held high office in church or state. The High-Church Tories held power until Anne’s death and passed legislation to enforce their kind of churchmanship.


George I (1714-1727): The Low-Church Whigs came to power and held onto it until 1760. They repealed the Occasional Conformity Act and other such legislation, allowing much more freedom in religion. Roman Catholics were still greatly limited and were suspect, and Quakers were considered dangerous. Many fled to America to begin a new life there.


While the two parties were battling each other, Deism rose throughout the country and began to exert greater influence.


George II (1727-1760): The bishops closely allied themselves with the Whig party, supporting them financially and even by raising armies to help suppress rebellions. The Whigs, in turn, repaid them with promotions. e.g. from a poor diocese in Wales to the wealthy and powerful ones in York, Westminster or Durham. The bishops were expected to live on a par with the wealthy.


Movements began to attempt a reconciliation with the Presbyterians, but that would have endangered the financial positions of the bishops, and so went nowhere. At the same time, these Broad churchmen freely welcomed and communicated with the Protestant churches in Europe.

relationship with the Church of Rome (see Moorman, p. 283)


Bishops were required to spend at least half the year in London for their official work as part of the government, so the churches were severely neglected. Confirmations were done in large numbers; e.g. one service lasted from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. with 1200 people being confirmed. Other bishops just gave a general blessing instead of a laying on of hands. Clergy began holding more than one church office at a time, enriching themselves but neglecting their work. The public’s opinion of the bishops plummeted. Parish clergy, in general, went about their work as best as they could, despite the lack of an active bishop. Because many served multiple churches and because the Low Church faction held power, many churches had either Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer on Sundays; Eucharist was celebrated quarterly, on Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide and Michaelmas. Some parishes celebrated it more often, some less.


George III (1760-1820): The SPG was active, promoting the faith in America among the colonists, slaves and native Americans, but the church in England was not much interested in their welfare. They saw the colonies as sources of materials and revenue. Requests for bishops to serve the colonies were repeatedly turned down, so that anyone wishing to be confirmed or ordained had to travel to England. No English bishop served the colonies until 1787 when Charles Inglis was ordained to serve in Nova Scotia.


Meanwhile, the American Revolution took place. The church in the new nation immediately faced a critical issue: authority over the church had rested in the British monarch as “Supreme Governor” of both Church and State. Now that, for America, there was no king, who was in charge?