Sunday, Oct 22, 2006: “Anglicanism: Session 5”

St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
Lecture Series Led By Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, October 22, 2006


Anglicanism, Session 5, notes


Mark Chapman (p. 58) discusses the formation of church parties, which he distinguishes from earlier movements within the C of E. He says, “What characterized the modern church party was its clamor for an authority and an identity that was distinct from the wider church and nation, and where partisan identity was sometimes as important, or even more important, than ecclesiastical identity.” This developed during a time when being a church member began to be seen as requiring more of a commitment than simply being an Englishman. The two dominant movements, leading to a “party spirit”, were Evangelicalism and Anglo-Catholicism.

Evangelicalism “was marked by a form of religious authenticity based on the security of a personal religious experience as a mark of authenticity.” (Chapman, p. 59) Taking inspiration from the leaders of The Great Awakening of the 18th century, and especially from the Wesleys and others within the Anglican tradition, they began working for changes in the church.


In reaction to the image of humanity presented by the Enlightenment, Evangelicals viewed people as fallen and depraved, and in need of salvation. Accepting Christ as Savior was the only way.


Among the prominent leaders of Evangelicalism were John Venn, William Wilberforce and Hannah More. They gathered at Clapham and became known as “the Clapham Sect.” They pushed for social changes, as well as changes of interior attitudes. Wilberforce, as an MP, is best known for his work in helping to abolish slavery in the UK. They used creative ways, both in Parliament and in society itself, to continue pushing for Abolition. Moorman (pp. 320-321) mentions that they would, for example, invite people to dinner; as the guests ate, they would find written at the bottom of their soup bowls the words “Abolish all slavery.” They also distributed fliers with a picture of a black man and the simple caption “A man and a brother.” In 1833, Parliament abolished all slavery throughout the British Empire.


Several members of the Evangelical movement established “The Society for the Suppression of Vice” which worked for changes in laws on the local level as well.


The Evangelicals came to make more and more of a clear distinction between those who were on the inside and those who were on the outside. “Are you saved?” “Conversion soon became the test of Evangelical belonging; testifying and witnessing to a change of heart, and allowing this change of heart to control one’s whole life, dominated Evangelical piety; the chief object of preaching was to win over converts.” (Chapman, p. 62)

Some of the Evangelicals, led by Charles Simeon, founded the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1799. It began work in parts of Africa and in India. They brought an Evangelical approach to faith and the Church which sometimes contrasted with that promoted by the SPG. The CMS established Sierra Leone as a home for slaves who had been freed.


The Church in England was in great need of reform by the 1820s, but people differed on what form those reforms should take. It was seen a corrupt and greedy with little or no concern for ordinary people and especially for the poor. According to Moorman (p. 330), “Bishops were burned in effigy, the palace at Bristol was destroyed by the mob, and crowds cheered when a speaker proposed that Canterbury Cathedral should be turned into stables for the cavalry. Politicians kept telling the Church that she must put her own house in order, and implied that unless she did so it would be done for her by others. But little was done; for, while some clamored for reform, others saw the Church a bulwark against revolution and chaos and were afraid to start on reforms which might lead further than what was anticipated.” The Evangelicals began to work for reform from within the Church.


Chapman, pp. 65-66: “Many Evangelicals in the first years of the 19th century began to interpret Scripture in terms of the supposed prediction of the end-times. A revolutionary age led many to read their own times using the Book of Revelation as a guide.”


Evangelical leader Henry Venn spoke of the Bible as the “infallible word of God”; yet true fundamentalism with an attempted literal reading of the Bible did not arise until the late 19th century. Literal inerrancy became the hallmark of the newspaper The Record, and it eventually became the dominant form of Evangelicalism.

As the years went by, some of the more prominent Evangelicals began to seek and assert more and more power in the Church and, where possible, in the government. As Chapman points out (p. 67), they began to show open hostility to anyone who did not give, what they perceived to be, sufficient support for their particular points of view. They became virulently anti-Roman and insisted that the first duty of clergy was to protect the Church from anything that, in their minds, even vaguely resembled Romanism.


By the 20th century, the Evangelicals had adopted a fortress-like mentality, one which continued through most of the century. During the 1960s, however, there came a split in adherents of the movement. Some of them continued to retreat into their fortresses, clinging to ultra-conservative view on such topics as the interpretation of scripture, the ordination of women and homosexuality. Many others, however, tried to end their isolation and to bring a more moderate form of Evangelicalism into the mainstream of the C of E. One of their number, George Carey, even served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991-2003.


During the 19th century, there arose another important movement in the C of E which was often diametrically opposed to Evangelicalism. It became know as Anglo-Catholicism. It found its beginnings in the Oxford Movement.


Like Evangelicalism, Anglo-Catholicism began as a response to a crisis of authority. Evangelicalism began to focus on the authority of the individual, converted heart and on a particular interpretation of scripture. Anglo-Catholicism focused instead on the Church as a visible, ordered society.


Like so many other movements before it, the Oxford Movement began in response to a change in society and in government. Parliament and other parts of the government began to include more and more dissenters and Roman Catholics, yet it continued to decide issue concerning the C of E. Chapman (pp. 76-77) cites the move to consolidate the sees in Ireland. John Henry Newman traced the beginning of the Oxford Movement to the July 14, 1833, sermon of John Keble in which he spoke of a “National Apostasy.” It emphasized the independence of the Church, and focused its attention on the ordained ministry and the sacraments. (Keble was a Professor of Poetry who specialized in the Caroline Divines and had done extensive study of the writings of Richard Hooker.)

Founded primarily by historians, like Newman, it emphasized the need to study the Church Fathers and other writings reflecting early Church tradition. It asserted that the undivided Church of the first few centuries provided the timeless example of authentic Christianity. It allowed for a broader approach to the interpretation of scripture than that taken by the Evangelicals, calling the Church once again to a reliance on scripture, tradition and reason.


Newman began publishing a series of “Tracts for the Times” which gave the Movement the name “Tractarianism.” He was later joined in his efforts by Richard Froude and Edward Pusey. The series began to emphasize the Church of England as the “Via Media.” They criticized the Evangelicals emphasis on the necessity of an adult conversion, showing that this was not the teaching of the early Church nor of the leaders of the Reformation.


Keble insisted that, because of apostolic succession, the C of E was “the only church in the realm which has a right to be quite sure that she has the Lord’s Body to give to his people.” Participants in the movement focused on the unique role of bishops as the successors to the apostles in leading the Church. They saw the state as essentially betraying the Church, and asserted the need for the Church to defend itself and to exercise authority over itself.

In the late 1830s, the movement’s work began to have a significant effect on the Church’s liturgy and architecture. It emphasized a move away from some of the rather plain styles that had been favored by the Calvinists and, later, by the Evangelicals, and toward a richer style of architecture and worship alike. The altars and chancel areas were elevated and more highly decorated. Rented pews and special places of seating were removed and were replaced with simple pews that were used by all members of the congregation. All were to be given a full view of the altar. Baptismal fonts were moved to the west end of the nave. Organs began to replace parish bands.


Edward Pusey became the leader of the Movement and led a revival of the liturgy. Adherents of the movement began using liturgical vestments and, in a then-controversial move that was subsequently taken to court, began placing candles on the altars and using flowers to decorate it. There was also a heated controversy over the movement’s use of “S.” instead of “St.” before the names of saints: a practice that was strongly denounced by the Evangelicals.


Chapman (p. 84) quotes Lord Shaftsbury, an Evangelical leader in Parliament as declaring indignantly about worship in one Anglo-Catholic church: “In outward form and ritual, it is the worship of Jupiter and Juno. [It was] such a scene of theatrical gymnastics, and signing, screaming, genuflections, and strange movements of the priests, their backs almost always to the people, as I never saw before even in a Roman temple… The communicants went up to the tune of soft music, as though it had been a melodrama, and one was astonished, at the close, that there was no fall of the curtain.” Anglo-Catholic churches were condemned and taken to court for the use of incense and “excessive kneeling” for the use of wafers for bread, and for mixing water with the wine during the Eucharist.


The Episcopal Church, in its 1844 General Convention, debated a resolution condemning the Oxford Movement. The Evangelicals, who then dominated and who continued to insist on the necessity of an adult conversion experience, were up in arms against it. Nine dioceses, including the Diocese of Ohio (there was as yet no Diocese of Southern Ohio), voted in favor of the resolution; 12 voted against it; and six were split. Bishop Philander Chase warned against the “dreadful perversions” of Rome that he thought were part of the Movement. In the end, a watered-down resolution was adopted; the convention was unwilling to rule against the Movement. Many of the bishops were in favor of the strong emphasis on the episcopacy found in the Tracts. In the House of Deputies, the Evangelicals likewise found that they did not have the votes to dominate.


In succeeding years, the battles continued, especially during the elections and confirmations of bishops. The Civil War temporarily interrupted the struggles between the two parties; but after the War, with the southern Church (which tended to be more Evangelical) weakened, the Evangelical movement lost some of its influence. In 1873, a small group of Evangelicals separated to form the Reformed Episcopal Church.


In England the Cambridge Camden Society, led by liturgist and musician John Mason Neale, began a reform of the Church’s liturgy and introduced greater ceremony into the worship of both groups, most of whom began to refer to themselves at Evangelical Catholics and Anglo-Catholics. (Pritchard, pp. 148-9, mentions a tour of English churches that shocked the Society members: “When.. their tours revealed pews that faced away from the altar, chancels that had been closed off, and even a senior warden who climbed upon an altar to open windows during a worship service, they began to campaign for liturgical reform.” Some of their actions set off violent opposition, such as the Exeter surplice riots of 1840.


In America, Presiding Bishop John Henry Hopkins (1865-1868) wrote liturgical manuals that allowed for the use of cassocks and surplices, bishops robes, stoles etc. Even influential Evangelical Catholics, like William Augustus Muhlenberg approved of the daily celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer and the weekly celebration of the Eucharist; he also founded a boys’ choir at the Church of the Holy Communion in New York City. The Episcopal Church began to incorporate aspects of both Evangelicalism and Anglo-Catholicism into its life and to begin focusing on ecumenical discussions.


In subsequent years, Anglo-Catholicism evolved more extensively in a few places, with the use of certain ritual practices becoming identified as a mark of belonging to the movement. Religious orders of women were permitted for the first time since the Reformation.


The so-called “Broad-Churchmen” of the late 19th century sought to accept and incorporate aspects of both Evangelicalism and Anglo-Catholicism into the life of the Church. They tried to refocus people’s attention away from the often trivial issues that divided them and toward the central mission of the Church. They went on to encourage a critical reading of the scriptures, echoing a movement which was beginning in Germany and which would transform mainline Christianity during the coming century.


During the 20th century, Anglo-Catholicism split into different groups, just as Evangelicalism had done. Some went to greater extremes in practice. Many elements of Anglo-Catholic worship however, became part of the Anglican mainstream and are widely accepted today as part of Anglican life and worship.


One great leader of the movement at the turn of the (19th-20th) century was Percy Dearmer, a liturgist and musician. He published in 1899 The Parson’s Handbook, which became accepted as the authoritative liturgical book for the English Church. He also chose Ralph Vaughan Williams to work with him on the English Hymnal which incorporated music from the English folk tradition.


The Anglo-Catholic movement also came to include a strong emphasis on social involvement. Frank Weston, the Bishop of Zanzibar, declared (Chapman, p. 92): “You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the tabernacle if you do not pity Jesus in the slum… It is folly; it is madness, to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the sacrament and Jesus on the throne of glory when you are sweating Him in the bodies and souls of his children.”


Over the years, Anglo-Catholicism has become part of the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church mainstream. Archbishops of Canterbury Michael Ramsey (1961-1974), Robert Runcie 1980-1991) and Rowan Williams (2003-?) all came from an Anglo-Catholic background, but embraced its open form rather than its more closed variety.