Monday, December 7, 2015

Bo Giertz

I think all of us have books that he have seen quoted, or have heard about so often, that we think we have read them. One of those books for me was Bo Giertz's 'Hammer of God' which he describes as 'A Novel of Pastoral Ministry.' It consists of three related stories, the first set in 1810-11; the second about 1870-1880; and the third in the 1930s. All three deal with the relationship between Pietism (in the UK, Evangelicalism) and the Church, which was a particular concern of Giertz himself, and the pressing need to reconcile the two.

Giertz was born in 1905 on the Swedish island of Öland. His father was a doctor, and a professed atheist, and his mother an agnostic, but they had their son baptized, and for traditional/cultural reasons confirmed. Giertz's father was converted to Christianity whilst attending the compulsory church services associated with his son's confirmation, whilst Giertz himself, as medical student at Uppsala, increasingly saw the disconnection between his own moral sense, and the behaviour of his fellow atheists. As a result he began attending lectures by a lay Evangelist, Natanael Beskow, who convinced him of both the existence of God, and the historicity of Jesus. As a result, Bo Giertz switched majors, from medicine to theology, and actively pursued his vocation to the priesthood. His theological mentor was the Norwegian-born Professor of Theology at Uppsala, Anton Fridrichsen, who had reacted strongly against Bultmann's attempts to demythologize Christianity, and he emerged from University in 1932 as a member of the High Church wing of the Church of Sweden.

From 1932 to 1935 he was a travelling lecturer on Christianity for the Church of Sweden's High School Students Association, and was ordained in 1934. He then went to Östra Husby parish where he encountered the sort of Pietism that had been popularized by Carl Rosenius, a mid-nineteenth century lay evangelist who was loosely affiliated with Methodism, and with the work of 18th century Swedish Pietist Henric Schartau. Unlike the High Church methods of pastoral care which tended to be purely formal and liturgical, Schartau placed great emphasis on the centrality and reality of Justification by Faith alone, encouraging his follows to abandon formalism and legalism, and embrace the historic teachings of the Church about justification and sanctification whole-heartedly. His Church-based form of Pietism became deeply entrenched in Western Sweden in the late 18th century, and laid the foundations of Church life there for the next century. In this he was influenced by Gösta Nelson (1890-1958), who had put the study of Schartua and his revival movement onto a proper historical and theological footing during the late-20s and early 30s. Like most Swedish Revivalists, the 'method for revival' was not the histrionics favoured on the American frontier, but a reengagement with the Bible, and with Reformation era writings such as Luther's Postils.

After Östra Husby, Giertz moved to Ekeby (1937/8) for a vacancy pastorate, and then as Assistant Vicar of Torpa, just outside of Gothenberg from 1938 to 1949, when he was elected Bishop of the diocese. Giertz's election was unusual in two ways. Firstly, Giertz was unusually young (43) and secondly, unlike most bishops-elect, was neither a senior diocesan clergyman, or academic. However, he was well-know as a writer, not just of 'Hammer of God' (1941,) but of 'Christ's Church' (1939), 'Faith Alone' (1943), and 'The Battle for Man' (1947). It would also seem that his long time interest in Schartauism also played well in the diocese, connecting with the dominant revival movement in the diocese.

Giertz served as Bishop of the Diocese from 1949-1970. During this time the Swedish Government pushed the Church of Sweden to start ordaining women, which occurred in 1958, and there was also a revision of the liturgy, which restored some traditional elements to the Mass, including an expanded Eucharistic Prayer. Giertz vehemently opposed the ordination of women, and founded the "Association for the Scriptures and Confession" to uphold the traditional view of the Church. On the other hand, he welcomed the conservative revision of the Swedish Church Order, and did much to promote "High Church" practices such as weekly Communion, and the Daily Office.

In retirement he continued to write, preach, and give leadership to the High Church Movement in Church of Sweden, passing away in 1998.

From my point of view, the importance of Giertz lies in his ability to reconcile the Confessional Orthodoxy with Pietism; the two major movements within the Lutheran tradition, which, since the late 17th century had so often had been at war with one another. To my mind, Anglicanism shares with Lutheranism this tendency toward Evangelical Catholicism, which means that we too face the problem of reconciling the Evangelical with the Confessional. However, if Anglican (or Lutheranism for that matter) is to be fully itself we have to be both Evangelical in our concern for souls, and Catholic is our regard for Scripture and Sacrament. The renewal of Anglicanism lies not so much in the muddy three streams theory which tries to reconcile Anglo-Catholicism, Evangelicalism, and the Charismatic Movement, but in a whole hearted return to the Bible, the Sacraments, and Confessional Documents, along with a proper Evangelical concern for souls.

As to whether or not I had read 'Hammer of God' or merely thought I had, the answer to that was that I had read the first of the three stories...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rabbit Tracks

One of the figures that I keep running across in my reading is Thomas Wilson, 1663-1755, Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man from 1697/8 to 1755. The eighteenth century was not an era of hard and fast party divisions, and there were some bishops of decidedly independent mind, such as Wilson slightly younger contemporary Thomas Potter, the High Church WHIG who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1737-47, or Edmund Gibson, the Canonist, who seems to have been independent of ecclesiastic affiliation. Wilson himself seems to have been exceedingly difficult to pigeon hole, being admired by early Evangelicals and Tractarians alike. Indeed, the Evangelical, Charles Simeon (1759-1836) learned the doctrine of substitutionary atonement from a short tract Wilson had written on Holy Communion, but the standard biography of Wilson appeared from the pen of no less a Tractarian than Keble himself almost a century after his death. Wilson also appears on a lot of the Rabbit Trails of eighteenth century Church history. He was a collaborator with Oglethorpe in the foundation of the colony of Georgia. Wesley respected him greatly, and there is some evidence that Law was also favourably disposed to the good bishop. His tracts were republished by SPCK long after his death, and word that one of his Sermons in Manx was to be read in one of the Island's parish churches was sure to draw a good congregation.

So what do we need to know about Thomas Wilson?

Firstly, it is important to remember that Wilson was a farmer's son, born at Burton on the Wirral Peninsular in 1663. He was educated by the local grammar school. His family could scrape together just enough money for young Thomas to attend Trinity College, Dublin, then much favoured by folks in the Northwest of England as a cheaper alternative to Oxford and Cambridge, and he graduate A.B. in 1683, and then studied medicine for a while before being ordained, with the express permission of the Archbishop of Dublin, to the diaconate at the age of 22 [1]. After a brief period in the ministry of the Church of Ireland, he returned to Lancashire as tutor to the sons of the Earl of Derby, who was also Lord (earlier, King) of Man [2]. He appears to have served as a tutor to the Derby family for some years, but was given the Vicarage of by them in 1694. He served there for a few years, but the death of the Baptist Levinz, the largely non-resident Bishop of Sodor and Man in 1694 changed the outlook.

The Earl of Derby was in no hurry to fill the post, but after an interval of eighteen months he offered it to Wilson, who promptly refused. He tried again a year later and received the same answer, and it was only when William III (Dutch Billy) became interested in the matter - telling Derby that if the Earl did not appoint a bishop he would - that Wilson finally accepted the offer of the Diocese of Sodor and Man. Wilson was consecrated as a Bishop in 1698 by the Archbishop of York, and set off to take possession of his diocese.

Sodor and Man was the smallest Diocese in the Church of England - just 17 parishes - and also the poorest - it brought in about three hundred and fifty pounds a year. Both the compactness of the diocese and its poverty was due to the northern end of the Diocese - the Western Isles of Scotland, Kintyre and various other odd bits of Argyll - having been spun off into the Diocese of the Isles in the 15th century by the King James II of Scotland. The transfer of the Western Isles to Scotland from Norwegian suzreignity also had the effect of removing the diocese of Sodor from the ecclesiastical Province of Nidaros (Trondheim) but like the Diocese of the Isles, which quickly became part of the Province of St Andrew's, Sodor remained without a Provincial affiliation until Henry VIII placed under Canterbury in 1534, then transferred it to York in 1543.

In the 150 years after the Reformation, Sodor had become something of an ecclesiastical backwater - not that it was ever really in the mainstream. The Bishops had even started to add 'and Man' to the title because they were now uncertain that the old term Sodor included the Isle of Man or not. This process was helped along by the fact that the Isle of Man was an independent Lordship for which homage was owed to the King of England, but was ruled by the Stanley Earls of Derby. Most of the population spoke Manx, not English, and most of the clergy were home-grown, and, if they received a university education at all, received it at Trinity College, Dublin, not Oxford or Cambridge. Wilson's installation as bishop was a typically Manx affair. Wilson had yet to acquire any Manx, the Archdeacon and most of the clergy were uncomfortable in English, so the service was conducted in Latin and the sermon preached in Manx. Wilson discovered that his cathedral lacked some essential amenities - like a roof; the Episcopal house - Bishopcourt - was showing signs of only irregular occupation; and to cap it all, the provision of churches on Man was inadequate and those there were needed repair.

Wilson set about his task as best he could. His first two problems to address were the state of the Bishop's residence, and the lack of church accommodation in Castletown and Douglas. Payment of the arrears of royal bounty owing to the diocese (about seven hundred pounds) allowed him to restore Bishopcourt, and also fund the construction of St Matthew's Church, Douglas, on a constricted sites by the Market Place to replace a small chapel built a generation or so earlier. Funds from friends in England, and some surplus episcopal revenues allowed him to construct a new church in Castletown - St Mary's - to save the residents the longish walk out to Malew Parish Church - which still stands in splendid isolation at a crossroads about midway between Castletown and Ballasalla. Wilson also set about learning Manx so he could read the service and preach in the language of the people. He seems to have acquired enough competency in the language that his Manx sermons were still popular a century later. An analysis of Wilson's style reveals a preacher who was keen to lay the basic truths of the Gospel before his hearers. He was not afraid to preach about original sin, man's true condition, our need for a Saviour, and the salvation offered to mankind through Jesus Christ. This was a contrast to the dull moralism that was so often characteristic of Anglican Preaching between the Glorious Revolution and the Evangelical Revival.

Wilson also took practical steps to reconcile Dissenters to the Church of England. There were very few Popish Recusants on the Island, but there were a number of Presbyterian. The Bishop's approach here was twofold. Firstly, he did not insist on small points of ceremonial. One or two clergy had scruples about the surplice, so he insisted only that it be worn by them some times. Some lay folks had scruples about kneeling, so the bishop did not insist upon it with the result that in time most conformed to the Church. Wilson also had the good sense to address a usual Presbyterian complaint about Anglicanism - its lack of discipline. In addition to the usual cases of bastardy, matrimonial cases, failure to receive the sacrament; non-payment of tithe, and so on and so forth, the Bishop was not shy to rebuke gossips, and those who circulated scandalous books, especially those that attacked Protestant orthodoxy. His outspokenness resulted in a stretch of imprisonment in Castle Rushen during a dispute over the conduct of the Governor's wife. The imprisonment was harsh enough to leave the Bishop with only restricted use of his right arm, suggesting that he may have had a minor stroke during his incarceration.

Wilson continued as Bishop until his death in 1755. He was revered by High Churchmen and Evangelicals alike, but in his later years he had to deal with some reversals. The Governor's Household and the garrison increasingly claimed exemption from ecclesiastical discipline, with the result that Wilson's careful maintained system of oversight of religion, morals, and manners began to break down. Church attendance remained high on the island, however, and there are signs that to some extent Church life was far more 'lively' than on the neighbouring islands of Britain and Ireland. It was not until long after Wilson's death that Methodism gained a foothold on the island, and Dissent did not find its way to the Isle of Man until around 1800. The Methodists themselves did not become dissenters until 1812, but the practice of dual affiliation - to the Parish Church and to the Wesleyan meeting continued for many years. In some respects, the Wilson combination of disciple and piety made it easy for Manxmen to transition to Methodist once dull orthodox descended on the Church during the reign of Bishop Cornelius Criggan, and the unpopular George Murray. It is perhaps fitting to record that when the Bishop died, he was buried outside Michael Church in a coffin made from an elm tree he had planted when he first came into the diocese in 1698. His funeral, it is said, was attended by every able bodied male on the island, it being the custom of the islanders that women did not attend funerals.

Wilson stands out for his combination of piety, discipline, and common sense in an era when all three were in short supply, and rationalism and formalism prevailed. He preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. He took advantage of the freedom allowed by the Isle of Man's status outside of the United Kingdom to make necessary reforms, and thus reconcile tender consciences to the Church. He was also strict, but loving disciplinarian, opposed to both error in religion and viciousness of manners in an era when Church discipline had all but broken down. He seems to have been in some measure sympathetic to the Wesleys and their efforts at methodical religion, seeing it, perhaps, as a mainland counterpart to is maintenance of the old ways in his island bishop. Perhaps it would have been good for the Church of the Augustan Age if there had been a few more like him. [1] Canonical age for ordination to the diaconate is 23 in Ireland. [2] The title King of Man, or King of Man and the Isles disappears around 1509 to avoid unpleasantness with Henry VIII.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Middle Way

One of the problems that Anglicanism faces today is that no-one is quite sure what it is. Even among those of us who self-describe as orthodox or conservative; some try to make it into Catholicism with married priests; others into 'Western Orthodoxy;' a few more into the English version of Calvinism; and so on and so forth. In many respects, it is almost easier to say what Anglicanism is NOT, but I suspect that might have to do with both the 16th century need for a broadly based, national, Protestant Church, and subsequent pressures towards an inclusive orthodoxy, rather than anything inherently vague about the formularies. Certainly in the initial phase after the Marian Reaction, Elizabeth and her counsellors could not afford to exclude anyone except the diehard Papists, and the initial settlement reflected this, with the Supremacy, and the BCP being restored in 1559, but the drawing up of a confession was postponed until 1562/3, and even then it was to be 1571 before the Settlement attained the shape it was to very largely retain until modern times.

However, in order to understand where "the Settlement" came from, one needs to take a quick look at the development of the three major formularies of the English Reformation - the Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Homilies. Not one of the three falls simply into a Lutheran or Reformed model, and the three of them track slightly different developmental paths, so naturally, we have to ask ourselves what was going on in each case.

I have long since come to the conclusion - after reading both Harold Browne and W H Griffith-Thomas' commentaries on the Articles - that, because of their ancestry in the Ten Articles of 1537, and the unpublished Thirteen Articles of 1539/40, the Articles of Religion are first and foremost a descendent of the Confession of Augsburg. However, whilst the Articles follow Augsburg closely in matters such as the authority of Scripture, Baptism, Predestination, Clerical Celibacy, and Church ceremonial, they can and do strike off on their own occasionally, such as in Articles 28 and 29 concerning the Eucharist, which are clearly Reformed. Much of this has to do with the fact that when the Forty-two Articles were being drafted in 1551-53, Philippism (which sought the middle ground between Luther and Calvin) was influential, as the Gneiso-Lutheran reaction had not yet set in, and the theological tide seemed to be set in favour of Geneva at least on the issue of the Lord's Supper; an area where Calvin was at his most positive and creative. When the Forty-two Articles were revisited in 1562/3, the Convocation text promoted a High Calvinist doctrine of the Eucharist within what is otherwise an Augsburg derived document. To complicate matters further, Elizabeth I, and some of her Bishops, particularly Ghest and Cheney, were not yet ready to go that far, so Article 29 was suppressed from 1563 to 1571 in order to accommodate the 'Lutheran Tendency.' Even after 1571, the Articles cut their own path between Wittenberg and Geneva being closer to the former on Baptism and Predestination, and the latter on the Lord's Supper. Later attempts by Archbishop Whitgift to move the position of the Church of England closer to that of mainstream Calvinism fell foul of, first, Queen Elizabeth I, and then after his death of James I's reluctance to accommodate the Puritans, and Charles I's Arminianism. This left the Church of England with a confession which is Lutheran in some respects and Reformed in others.

The Book of Common Prayer presents a slightly different picture. It is true to say that it draws heavily on mediaeval texts, but more often than not, there is a Lutheran model that assisted Cranmer and his assistants in perfecting the English form of the liturgy. Matins and Evensong have clear Lutheran precedents in the form of the Schleswig-Holstein order of 1535, and in germ, in Luther's comments about the usefulness of the daily Office for scholars and clergy made in the mid-1520s. The Communion Office also has a good deal of the Lutheran about it, with even the Decalogue having a precedent in the form of the Frankfurt order of 1537. Other elements, such as the thanksgiving after Communion, derive from the Nuremberg Order of the early 1530s behind which lay Luther's 'Formula Missae.' Another major influence on the 1549 and 1552 BCPs was Archbishop Herman's 'Cologne Church Order' of 1545 - which would have been pretty much hot off the press when Cranmer was working on the Order of Communion in early 1548. The Orders for Baptism and Confirmation also have unmistakeable signs of Lutheran influence. However, many of the alterations made in 1552 came at the suggestion of Peter Martyr and Martin Bucer, and have a more clearly Reformed pedigree. However, the 1559 revision tended to play up the moderate side of the settlement, with its requirement that traditional vestments and ornaments be retained, but this proved to be a passing phase as the returning exiles were in no mood to retain chasubles, and other such manifestations of traditional religion.

The Book of Homilies is a far more frustrating creation in that it has all the hallmarks of a collection of sermons that has not been edited to produce a uniform whole. Doctrinal inconsistency, within a basically Protestant framework is its hallmark. Just to give one examples. The Homily of Justification is clearly leans more to the Lutheran than the Reformed understanding of the doctrine, not that the space between them is that great. On the other hand, the homily on 'the Peril of Idolatry' seems to come from a hand that has accepted the Reformed, rather than the Lutheran understanding of that topic. This seems to be the character of the whole work, with each writer riding his hobby horses without regard to the opinions of his fellow homilists. On the whole it is a very uneven collection, which ends up having a slight predominance of Reformed over Lutheran voices. This is probably a very accurate reflection of where the intellectual life of the Church of England stood in 1548-50.

In the end one has to accept that the Church of England, and thus the churches of the Anglican tradition, if they are going to be true to the historic formularies of the Church, have to concede that the core doctrinal position of the Church is Augustinianism, and lies somewhere between confessional Lutheranism, and confessional Calvinism in its particulars. In many respects the Articles of Religion in particular lean towards the Lutheran position, but in respect to the Lord's Supper, the Articles avoid the sort of realistic understanding of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist which is characteristic of Old Lutheranism, and lean more on the 'non-realist' passages from St Augustine's writings. Modern attempts to reconstruct Anglican orthodoxy along other lines have to be understood as exercises in Revisionism, not the Revisionism of the Episcopal Liberals of the 1960s and 70s, but that of the nineteenth century 'Catholic Revival.' In one respect, the Catholic Revival was a blessing in it delivered the Church from the rather arid Pietism and Rationalism of the late 18th century, but ultimately it had little use for the Church's historic formularies hence the attempts to downgrade the Articles into an historic document, and revise the BCP to eliminate, or at least mute, its Reformed content.

Folks often lament the fact that there is not one 'Continuing Anglican Church' but the fact of the matter is that there cannot be one church when there are (at least) two theologies. The history of Churches that have a double standard, or fail to enforce their formularies - such as the Old Prussian Union, the Episcopal Church, the Church of England, ELCA, etc. - is that they end up being, at best, a group of theological parties in search of a Church, or they lapse into liberalism, and then material heresy. However, one has to set against that the fact that over much confessional rigour tends to result in churches where the overall atmosphere is 'you and I are the only true Anglicans - and I am not too sure about you!' The best chance for Anglican union is for the Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer to be used as focuses of unity, accepted because they reflect the doctrine of Scripture, not on their own merits. This is usually referred to as quia subscription. This makes a range of views possible, because Scripture is open to a certain amount of interpretation, but not to the extent that one has seen in modern times in the Episcopal Church, and other liberal provinces of the Anglican Communion. The general approach to theology suggested by the English Reformation is one based upon Scripture alone, but Scripture seen through the lens of the four Latin Doctors, the Early Fathers, and the first four Ecumenical Councils. The BCP and the Articles echo this position, which Bishop Andrewes summarized in his well-known definition of Anglicanism's rule of faith as One Revelation; Two Testaments; Three Creeds; Four Councils; Five centuries. Unfortunately, even among self-proclaimed traditionalists there is a move away from that theology today.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Revolution Before Last

One of the persistent problems for the traditional Anglican Movement has been the cleavage between the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic understandings of the Church, and the fact that is rather difficult for the two sides to find a mutual accommodation, especially given the determination of some Anglo-Catholics to make sure they are never just a 'tolerated' opinion within the Church. The opposition between the two positions stems from the fact that Evangelicals focus on the Bible, the Creeds, the Articles of Religion, and the Homilies understood in their natural and grammatical sense as their sources of doctrinal authority, with the Early Fathers and Councls being understood through the prism of the Reformation. On the other hand, Anglo-Catholics tend to want to side-line, if not totally ignore the Reformation era, and use a new declaration strongly supporting the idea of the Seven Councils as the teaching standard after Scripture as a way of placing Anglicanism into the context of Catholic Ecumenicism. Being the product of catholic-leaning Broad Churchmen and Anglo-Catholics, the Affirmation of St Louis, declares the new Anglican Church to be one that accepts the Seven Ecumenical Councils as authoritative, proclaims the Mass to be a sacrifice, teaches that there are seven sacraments, and subordinates the Thirty-nine Articles to the Affirmation of St Louis. The present Forward-in-Faith, North America declaration also goes beyond what an Evangelical can sign in good conscience, not just in referencing the "Seven and Seven," but also in using the word 'substantial' to describe the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. That provision also locks out some old-fashioned Churchmen, such as myself, who firmly believe in the real presence, but do not accept that it needs to be based on Scholastic understanding of physics, which is why I had to disassociate myself from FiFNA in the summer of 2013 following their decision to alter their Declaration!

I suppose it is not surprising that the Continuum has taken this rather catholic turn, given that it seems to be increasingly defined by the Affirmation of St Louis, rather than the Articles of Religion, and the Book of Common Prayer. The basic difficulty of the Affirmation is that the two major influences behind it - conservative Broad Churchmanship, and Anglo-Catholicism - both had a large measure of influence from the Tractarian Movement which to a certain extent wished to suppress the Evangelical side of Anglicanism in favour of the Catholic. This particular version of Anglicanism got an awful lot of traction in the USA where the Episcopal Church was not just a minority Church, but in some senses a counter-cultural church - aristocratic in a populist society; formal in a society that favours spontaneity; surrounded by a mediaeval glow in a country which always espouses modernity more than tradition. This predisposed many American Churchmen, already influenced by the Romanticism of the early 19th century, to accept the Tractarians more readily than was the case among English Churchmen. As a result, apart from a few enclaves of (liberal) evangelicalism in places like Virginia, the Episcopal Church generally divided between those who were Liberal thinkers (both Low Church and Broad Church) and those who were Catholic minded (both Broad Church and High Church.) This had the inevitable result that when the Affirmation was framed it left no place for traditional Evangelicalism, which was, as I have noted, all but dead in ECUSA and in the Anglican Church of Canada.

This brings me to the title of my post 'the Revolution before Last.' There is a very real sense in which the St Louis Congress took the path of "canonizing" the revolution before last - the "Catholic Revival" - as being the norm for Anglicanism. The Affirmation of St Louis very much reflects the position adopted by the conservative wing of ECUSA in the 1950s and 60s, which was Reformed Catholicism with the accent on the Catholicism. This should have played out well in the USA and Canada had it not been for two factors which I mentioned above - the determination of the Anglo-Catholics to have some measure of control over the new body that went beyond a veto, and the fact that the orthodox Broad Church element recognized that Affirmation of St Louis had moved Anglican teaching a long way to the catholic side of things. The break up of the original version of the Anglican Catholic Church into three jurisdictions in 1981-84 is very much a product of this awaken to the implication of what had been done at St Louis coupled to a leadership which had only limited experience and some considerable internal animosities. Deeply regrettable though this is, it was pretty much inevitable given the circumstances of the time. Some Low Church and Broad Church types felt they had been hoodwinked, whilst some Anglo-Catholics felt that the Broad Churchmen were not being sincere in their support for the ACC, or were not "real" Anglicans. As a result, the Continuum persisted in having two streams which find unity difficult to achieve mainly because neither side really wants to capitulate, though I suspect a genuine compromise might work.

Although I am quick to point out the historical bloopers in the Affirmation of St Louis, and to express my irritation as to its subordination of previous Anglican formularies to the newer text, ninety percent of it really is very good, and addresses issues that were only just beginning to present themselves in the mid-1970s. This is especially true of the paragraphs on, for example, human responsibility, marriage, and the sanctity of human life. Quite frankly, out of forty plus paragraphs in the Affirmation only three or four of them are controversial, and I am not sure that clarifying them to give a higher status to the Articles of Religion, etc., would really require the Anglo-Catholics to give up anything of any real substance, whilst opening the doors to moderate Evangelicals. For example, would altering the provision 'all previous Anglican formularies to be interpreted in accordance with these principles' to 'all previous Anglican formularies to be interpreted in accordance with the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church' - wording which Matthew Parker would have approved, in my opinion - be too high a price to pay for unity? Only time will tell.

At the end of the day, there is a sort of regret on my part that the process of reform that began in 1977 got out of hand and led to schism. Certainly, the interim period spoken of in the Affirmation of St Louis should have been much longer. I think the United Episcopal Church took a wise course in taking the Affirmation of St Louis with a grain of salt, and not incorporating it into its Constitution and Canons. The Affirmation certain represents a value position paper when it comes to affirming the central tradition of Western theology, morality and ethics in an increasingly secular and hostile world, but I do not think we should revise, reinterpret or dispense with the Articles of Religion, or the Book of Common Prayer in order to satisfy the agenda of the St Louis Congress. Anglicanism has always had an Evangelical tradition, and any document with stifles that needs to be looked at carefully, especially at a time when we are clearly moving into a post-Christian age in both North America and Western Europe.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

North Transpennine Electrification

We are going to take a little break from matters ecclesiastical, partly because I need to write about something else for once, and secondly, because I need to vent.

Northern England is straddled by a belt of fairly large cities - Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield, and Leeds - with an appropriately dense rail network. At the east end this fans out to serve a series of smaller cities and towns on the East Coast - Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Hull and Grimsby-Cleethorpes, along with the significant rail/industrial centres of Scunthorpe and Doncaster. These have been linked for over a century by a series of well defined routes which collectively formed what was franchised as "Transpennine Express" when the operation of the railways system was privatized in the late 1990s.

The Traditional Route Pattern.
The main routes across northern England are products of the Victoria explosion of railway construction. In order of construction they were:

* The Manchester and Leeds railway, via Rochdale and Wakefield which became the core of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (1841).
* The Manchester and Huddersfield Railway, which linked Manchester and Leeds via Huddersfield and Dewsbury, and quickly became part of the London and North Western Railway. This so-called "Diggle Route" opened in 1845.
* The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway became the first railway to link Manchester and Sheffield directly via Penistone in 1845. This route, usually called "Woodhead" after the mountain pass it used to pass into Yorkshire.
* Lastly, there is the Hope Valley Route, opened by the Midland Railway in 1898 to link their lines in South Yorkshire with Manchester, and Liverpool.

Prior to 1948 most Transpennine services were jointly run by two railway companies. Latter this was the London, Midland and Scottish to the West, and the London and North Eastern to the East following the 1923 Grouping of Britain's Railways. Prior to 1923 the pairings had been more complex, producing the rather notorious situation in Hull where three Liverpool trains left via three different routes within half an hour each morning.

The three routes from Hull to Liverpool were the North Eastern and LNWR route via Selby, Leeds, Dewsbury, and Huddersfield to Liverpool Lime Street; the Lancashire and Yorkshire via Goole, Wakefield, Rochdale, and Oldham to Liverpool Exchange; and the Great Central via Doncaster, Sheffield, Penistone, Manchester, and Warrington. Newcastle to Liverpool traffic tended to run via Sunderland, Stockton, Northallerton, and Harrogate to Leeds, then via Diggle and the LNWR to Lime Street; whilst Scarborough was served by good connections at Leeds.

The other Transpennine route was from New Holland (later Grimsby) via Brigg, Gainsborough, and Retford to Sheffield and Manchester, with a few trains passing over the Cheshire Lines Committee to Liverpool Central.

After the grouping, the Hull-Manchester-Liverpool traffic remained competitive with routes via Leeds (ex-NER/LNWR) and Sheffield (ex-GCR) retaining service. Grmsby to Manchester and Liverpool via Sheffield continued little changed, and the old NER-LNWR route between Newcastle and Liverpool saw a steady increase in the number of trains running over it, with some travelling via York and the ECML rather than via Ripon. AND, this was to remain very much the pattern until the late 1960s.

British Rail's Rationization.
Writing in 1965 the author of 'The Future of Britain's Railways' commented that the Beeching Plan "seems to believe there was one city in Yorkshire, namely Leeds, and one in Lancashire, namely Manchester." Maybe this comment got through because when the Modernisation Plan deal with the Northeast to Lancashire long distance services in 1966/7 the new route structure turned out to be more diverse than originally though. Trains from the Northeast and Scarborough were funnelled along the old LNWR route from Leeds, through Hudderfield, to Manchester Victoria before taking the historic Liverpool and Manchester Railway into Lime Street. Services from Humberside operated from Hull (5 trains a day) and Grimsby-Cleethorpes (4 trains a day) via Sheffield to Manchester Piccadilly, and then, increasingly, over the CLC route via Warrington to Liverpool Lime Street. The Hull/Cleethorpes to Manchester service were augmented by a limited number of trains from the East Midlands and East Anglia and the Northwest to give an hourly service between Sheffield and Manchester/Liverpool. This was, in 1970, transferred from the electrified Woodhead route to the slower Hope Valley line so that all passenger trains in Sheffield could serve the Midland station. However, a series of improvements to the Hope Valley line has reduced the journey time from 63 minutes to 52, and allowed Stockport to be served via the Hazel Grove curve. This period also saw the transference of mainline trains from Grimsby-Cleethorpes from the old mainline via Brigg and Retford, to the newer, more heavily populated, but slightly slower route via Scunthorpe and Doncaster.

Subsequent developments have built on this plan, but with a couple of significant changes.
Firstly, Hull-Liverpool trains were cut back to Manchester and diverted to run via Leeds in the mid-1990s. This was accompanied by an increase to an hourly service as part of a three trains per hour service from Leeds to Manchester introduced by Regional Railways during Sectorization. The other two trains were an hourly Scarborough-York-Leeds-Manchester train, and an hourly Newcastle-Darlington-York-Leeds-Manchester-Liverpool train. At the same time all long distance trains were diverted to Manchester Piccadilly station, with Victoria being downgraded to mainly suburban status.
Initially Grimsby-Cleethorpes lost its through service to Lancashire with the Sheffield - Manchester - Liverpool service being provided by the hourly East Anglia to Nottingham - Sheffield - Manchester and Liverpool service. However, the advent of the Manchester Airport rail link led to an hourly Grimsby-Cleethorpes - Scunthorpe - Doncaster - Sheffield - Manchester Piccadilly - Manchester Airport service being introduced in 1998.
On the NTP route, a fourth Leeds - Manchester service was added in 2000, with the addition of a Middlesbrough - Northallerton - York - Leeds - Manchester train running via what was left of the old Leeds Northern Railway between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe.

With its extremely dense service over the Pennines, the route between Leeds and Manchester has been an obvious candidate for electrification for many years. However, the spread of services at the eastern end making an economic case for this has been difficult due to the high cost to benefit ratio of wiring to York and possibly Hull. Rather than break the traditional cross-Pennine links, electrification has been deferred repeatedly, until now.

With increasing pressure to make the railway "greener" two projects have become very attractive to the long term planners. The first was the Northwest Electric scheme to wire the routes from Manchester to Liverpool; and Manchester to Bury, Bolton, and Blackpool. This would allow the conversion of Liverpool-Manchester, and Liverpool/Manchester to Blackpool, Glasgow, and Edinburgh services to electric traction as well as a nest of suburban services. The second scheme that was attractive was York-Leeds-Manchester which would allow Transpennine to go electric, but this scheme has come with a hefty price tag in terms of dislocating existing traffic patterns, though undoubtedly, electric traction will be a major boon on the steeply graded route over Diggle.

In the UK, Railway investment schemes need to meet an hypothetical 8% cost to benefit ratio in order to get government approval, and whilst the Leeds - Manchester core meets this criterion handsomely, the feeder routes at the east end have difficult producing an economic case. Once the ECML was electrified, the Leeds to York section was a shoo-in mainly due to it allowing the conversion of the key Newcastle to Liverpool service to electric traction. Fringe benefits include offering better access to Leeds for East Coast trains, who could run some Northeast/Scotland trains via Leeds to offer an improved Leeds to Scotland service. It was also felt that the relatively under used Scarborough service could be switched to the ex-L&Y line via Rochdale without generating too much ill-feeling. However, the Hull Line was a different matter.

Hull-Leeds loadings are fairly healthy, and with the addition of Hull to London 'Hull Trains' services it was felt that there was a chance that the ministry would say 'yes' to Hull electrification, especially with the fringe benefit of "free" Leeds to Selby suburban electrification. However, with the less rosy economic climate post-2007, the man from the ministry said 'no' so that only the main Manchester-Leeds-York electrification, plus a short additional stretch from Micklefield to Selby for West Yorkshire PTE will go ahead. This has necessarily caused a complete rethink of Trans-Pennine services.

Instead of the present fork-like route structure, it seems likely that the new pattern with be:
2tph Newcastle-York-Leeds-Manchester-Liverpool 2tph York-Leeds-Manchester-Manchester Airport
Hull-Manchester trains will be diverted via Sheffield, which produces about the same end-to-end timing as Hull to Manchester with a change in Leeds. There will be a connecting service to Leeds, but the real loosers are Middlesbrough and North Lincolnshire, both of which will loose their through service to Manchester, and Manchester Airport altogether. Additionally, there is a strong chance that Grimsby will loose its through through service to Sheffield in favour of changing into the Hull-Sheffield-Manchester service at Doncaster, or worse still, the Sheffield service will become an extension of the all-station Sheffield to Scunthorpe service operated by Northern Rail for South Yorkshire PTE. Admittedly carryings from west of Sheffield to east of Doncaster (and vice versa) have never been as high as anticipated, but the Grimsby-Meadowhall/Sheffield traffic has always been fairly brisk. In spite of what some pundits believe, adding another train crossing from East Coast Mainline from Northeast to Southwest at Doncaster does not seem to be an option, even though there will shortly be a third fast Manchester-Sheffield path available. So Northern Lincolnshire looses out again, having lost its through services to the East Midlands and London with privatization in the 1990s, and North Transpennine Electrification proceeds as the usual 'bean counter project' within the great tradition of British electrification schemes.

Electrification in England
Suburban electrification in England has a long history starting with the Tyne electric scheme in 1904-06. This was followed by a host of small scale projects around Liverpool, Manchester, and London between 1907 and 1930. However, mainline electrification was slow in coming mainly due to the complex traffic patterns in Britain, and the inherent conservatism of railway managers.

The first major project was the main Sheffield - Manchester line over Woodhead was proposed for electrification by both the GCR and the LNER, but was only approved at the third attempt in the late 1930s. It was electrified on the 1500V DC system, as the first stage of a much bigger project, but it was 1954 before this project was finished. The original intention had been to follow this up with the electrification of the East Coast Mainline south of York, but that scheme was shelved during WW2, leaving Woodhead isolated as the technology moved on.

By the time the Woodhead project was completed, Britain was in the process of adopting 25kV AC as its standard overhead electrification system as being both cheaper and more efficient than 1.5kV DC. After the initial pilot schemes between Morecambe and Lancaster, and London and Shenfield, the first major 25kV scheme was the London - Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool scheme of the early 1960s. This was expanded to Preston in 1972, and Glasgow in 1974, but this scheme was done somewhat on the cheap, with no wires for the routes taking train north out of Manchester and Liverpool to Scotland - a parsimonious policy that was to be followed on all subsequent electrification scheme.

Wires on the East Coast followed in 1991 again with some notable gaps, then to Norwich in 1994, with various small fill-in projects taking place. Extensive suburban electrifications have taken place in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham, but there are still large areas of Britain with dense traffic where diesel is likely to be the main traction source for at least another generation.

The present NTP scheme seems to follow in this penny-pinching tradition, but it is to be hoped that within a few years pressure from Hull and East Riding Councils, Hull Trains and rail users in the area will bring about an add-on electrification between Selby and Hull. In the meantime, they are in the process of creating an enormous dog's breakfast for medium and long distance travellers between the Northeast, North Lincs., Yorkshire, and Lancashire.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Anglican Identity

One of the difficulties with being an Anglican in the first quarter of the twenty-first century is that of identity. I cannot help but feel that the last four decades have been somewhat of a wild ride during which a number of Anglican identities have evolved which bare some sort of resemblance to historic Anglicanism. However, it is arguable whether any of them actually is historically Anglican. One is reminded somewhat of the attempts of early mediaeval kings to attach something of the grandeur of Rome to their petty kingdoms.

On thing that is pretty clear is that fifty years ago, Anglicanism already had something of a problem. The Catholic, Evangelical, and Liberal streams had been interacting for over a century without things going critical, but with the development of both the 'God is Dead' theology of the likes of Don Cupitt, and the siren song of liturgical revision it was clear that something was going to happen, and it was not going to be good. By the 1960s Anglicanism increasingly identified itself not by the Book of Common Prayer, the Articles, and the Episcopate, but by the looser standard of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (CLQ) of 1884/88. The snag with this is that the CLQ was never intended to be an internal definition of what Anglicanism is, but a document governing Ecumencial encounters and inter-church relationships. The trouble with this looser formula - adopted to try and contain the pressures building between Catholics and Liberals - was that it was just too loose. It said something about what it meant to claim an heritage from the early church, but there was nothing specifically Anglican or Catholic about it, and herein lay the rub. Without a strong centre Anglicanism gradually devolved into a loose alliance of national, episcopally governed, Protestant Churches, several of the more influential of which had a pronounced liberal Revisionist bent.

The train wreck when it came was a double collision. From the point of view of the laity, the more frustrating angle was the liturgical fidgets that developed from the early 1960s onwards. The Church of England, which fully embraced the process, set forth new liturgies in three series starting in 1961, 1967, and 1972 respectively; and this was followed by the Alternative Service Book in 1980, which was supplemented by 'Patterns for Worship' about ten years later, and completely replaced by 'Common Worship' in 2000-2007. Ireland, which was relatively unenthusiastic about liturgical reform, produced an alternative Eucharistic liturgy in 1976; the Alternative Prayer Book in 1984; and a new "BCP" in 2004. ECUSA was initially rather keen on the idea of revision - with the Green Book appearing in 1967; the Zebra in 1973; and the first draft of the 1979 BCP in 1976 pending final approval three years later. This would have registered more as a nuisance than a disaster had it not been for the fact that the Ordination of Women debate was raging at the same time, and the ECUSA was revising its positions on abortion, contraception, divorce, and remarriage, and discover that in some case, like civil rights for homosexuals, that it actually had a position for the first time in its history. The result was considerable unsettlement, and it was inevitable that there would be protest movements both internal and external.

However, there has been a tendency for the cure to be almost as bad as the disease. The older Continuing Anglican groups tended to summarize their "grievances" in the form of a Solemn Declaration, and/or Declaration of Principles. The former had been pioneered by the Church of Ireland and the Church of Canada at the time of the dissolution of the union to the Church of England. The latter came from the Reformed Episcopal Church, which had draw its version up to protest Tractarianism in 1873. For the most part, these early efforts affirmed their believe in the authority of Scripture, the three ancient Creeds, the two Domincial Sacraments, and the Church in question's Anglican heritage whilst specifically repudiating modern errors concerning Holy Orders, and Morality. For the Broad Church majority of lay continuers this was sufficient, but there was a feeling - at least on the Catholic leaning wing - that something more systematic was needed, and that appeared in the form of the Affirmation of St Louis in 1977.

I have written about the Affirmation several times in this blog, so I am not going to bore you with a reiteration of my observations, except to say that it went somewhat beyond a restatement of the traditional Anglican position. Certainly many of its provisions have common sense on their side - such as the provision that a 'non-political' method of electing bishops be found. However, what seems to have slipped by, almost totally unobserved, was a small provision which if consistently followed would revolutionize the Church. It is the simple provision that all pre-existing formularies be interpreted in accordance with this Affirmation. On the face of it, this is a very simple and sensible declaration, but its implementation effectively side-lined the Reformation inheritance of Anglicanism by justifying and making normative the Anglo-Catholic rejection of the Articles and Homilies. It also created a second, Catholic, string of revisionism within the Anglican tradition, and led to enormous conflict within the new Continuing Church as it became clear that although diversity of liturgical practice would be tolerated - at least for the time being - the theology was going to be Anglo-Catholic, and those who held a differing point of view could put up or shut up.

For those whose roots were more in the "orthodox middle" of Episcopalianism the new situation was a difficult one, and it was clear that not all would remain within the new Anglican Catholic Church. The United Episcopal Church was the initial fruit of the post-1980 brake up of the St Louis Continuum, which in some respects is a heavy burden to bare. However, the UECNA hit upon a middle course - more by accident than design. A return was made to an only slightly modified version of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as they had stood in 1958, the only significant change to which was a specific protest in favour of the Articles of Religion in declaration of Conformity, coupled with a tendency to accept the moral and polity provisions of the Affirmation of St Louis. This neatly side stepped the "Catholic Revisionist" element of the Affirmation, but also committed the UECNA to the broad framework erected at St Louis.

The legacy of the 1960s and 70s remains with us in form of a great deal of unclearness about what constitutes Anglicanism. The worst aspect of this is that in addition to Liberal and Catholic Revisionists; we know have three streams Anglicans; Confessional Anglicans, and a half dozen other variants. At the end of the day, what we need more than anything else is a return to "mere" Anglicanism, an awareness of where we came from historically that can inform where the church should be going in the future. One of the beauties of Anglicanism has always been how it manages to be simultaneously both Catholic and Evangelical, and I suspect many of us are acutely aware of just how close we have come over the last forty years to loosing that side of our inheritance. Anglicanism, even orthodox Anglicanism, is always going to be a little bit frustrating for "Pure Ponders" who cannot cope with mess and differing ways of doing things, but it is that very messiness that makes Anglicanism so appealing for so many. Even in the days of rigid orthodoxy, Anglicanism always allowed different schools of thought to survive, even thrive, and it is that acceptance of a broad orthodoxy that we need to recover once more in order to thrive.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Thou shalt not steal!

I have no objection to anyone reading my articles on the internet, but I do object to folks copying material that I have published on the interest and turning it into book form so that they can make money. So for the time being there will be no further articles on this blog until I have had the opportunity to clarify the issues involved including whether the publisher of the book that bears my name has broken Google's T&Cs and U.S. Laws concerning intellectual property by reproducing my articles without permission.

Peter D. Robinson