Sunday, December 20, 2009


One of the less exciting things about being a bishop is that one has to deal with ecclesastical politics. Now I freely confess that there was a time in my life when Church politics had their appeal, but when I saw what they could do in terms of destroyed ministries and shattered churches I decided that the best policy was to watch, but not get involved. I have far more important things to do.

St Paul wrote, "Woe to me, if I preach not the Gospel!" and he wrote that because he felt impelled to use the whole of his wit and energy to proclaim the saving good news of Jesus Christ. St Paul had walked away from fame and renown to become a preacher of the sect of the Nazarenes, a proclaimer of the Way, as Christianity was then called. Why? Because he knew it to be the truth. That should give us a clue as to what we should be about. Our priority is to preach the Gospel.

So far as I am concerned that preaching of the Gospel has to include some fairly unfashionable statements.

Firstly, that human beings are very far gone from their original righteousness.

Secondly, that we are called by God to repent of our sins and accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

Thirdly, that Christ has died that "all those who believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Fourthly, that God's grace, not our works, make us "right" before Him and bring us to eternal life.

Fifthly, that those truly called will persevere in the Faith.

I have never been able to determine for myself whether I believe those propositions in a Calvinist or an Arminian sense, but I am very aware of the fact that I have been called and baptized, and am therefore participating in the process that will, by God's grace, bring me to eternal salvation. In that journey I am sustained by God's Word, the Sacraments, and Prayer, and give evidence of my faith by good works. I am also called, as a Minister of Word and Sacrament, to proclaim that good news - as is every other bishop, priest or deacon of the Church.

From my anle, one of the problems with the Church today is that we are not clear enough about sin being the problem and Christ being the answer. We waffle. Why? I do not know. Perhaps that we are afraid of offending people? Well, if we are, then God is offended at us. St Paul was not afraid of offending people with the truth, so let us say with him,

"Woe to me, if I preach not the Gospel."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Continuing Passivity

One of the things that greatly concerns me is the general passivity of the Continuing Anglican Churches. There are times when I am tempted to refer to the whole movement as the Anglican Recusant Movement because they display the same sort of "if people want the true Faith; they will come to us" mentality as English Roman Catholics did in the eighteenth century. They perhaps had some cause, as the Hannoverian Jackboot was apt to come down on religious minorities such as English Roman Catholics and Scottish Episcopalians, but so far as the USA was concerned that threat was removed by the Treaty of Paris.

The great and common enemy of all orthodox Christians are secularism and indifferentism. Secularism starts with the marginalization of religion on the basis that man is now "grown-up" but ends up by persecuting religion. Indifferentism teaches that all religions are basically the same, and none is any more or less true than another. The former is the credo of the self-appointed American intellectual elite, but they have been pretty successful in spreading the second error to the mainline Protestant Churches and to "Spirit of Vatican II" Roman Catholics. It has certainly undermined the desire and the ability of mainline Christian denominations to evangelize.

Continuing Anglicans have a slightly different problem. We are not much geared towards Evangelism, which seems to be a by-product of the "anti-Evangelical" stance taken by many Broad and High Church Episcopalians. There was an old quip in the West that the Baptist and Methodist missionaries arrived by mule train; the Presbyterian missionary by stagecoach; and the Episcopalian missionary by Pullman Car. Unfortunately, we still have a bit of that Pullman Car Evangelism attitude today; doubly so when you consider that the churches that survive the next fifty years will be those that Evangelize an increasingly secular culture.

However, Evangelism does not have to be a noisy in-your-face venture. A good, Bible-based preaching ministry, a preparedness to welcome strangers, and a willingness to reach out to the wider community are three factors that tend to lead to growth. There is a high interest in Christianity in American society as a whole, and there will always be those who are interested enough to seek out teachers. Being a teaching church that takes people's intellects seriously has always been one of the strengths of Anglicanism, but we need to translate that into something that has a positive Evangelical thrust. Unfortunately, as a life-long Anglican, I am not sure how one does that. Until I figure it out I will teach, and encourage my congregation to be as welcoming as possible, and trust that being a Church that stands unequivocably for the Gospel of Christ will encourage visitors to become members.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Law and Gospel

The two words "Canon Law" often get you one of those glazed looks, even at clergy gatherings where most folks should know better. However, it is a "true saying and full worthy of all acceptation" that no human institution of any size can survive without some sort of Law for its governance. In the case of Canon Law, this administrative function is coupled to the higher function of preserving the Sacraments and Ministry from profanation and irreverence.

Canon Law was something that evolved slowly over the centuries. Ecumenical Councils and Provincial Synods, and at times Diocesan Synods, legislated for the Church with the result that a vast body of Law, broadly similar in many of its principles, but varying in detail grew up over the centuries. From c.1200 Rome's role as an appeal court for the western Church helped to give Canon Law a more uniform basis, but it 1917 before a unified Codex of Canon Law was published.

In England, Wales and Ireland, quite a lot of Canon Law was absorbed into Common Law, and is only now being rooted out in the name of Secularism. The result of this Common/Canon Law over lap was that at the Reformation the basic purview of Canon Law was the clergy and the sacraments, church buildings and how they were used and furnished; those elements of Canon Law which dealt with marriage and property were part of Common Law. Also, things like the due form for appointing a bishop were part of Statute Law, so much was the Church bound up with the Establishment.

The inertia of the Establishment meant that a lot of the tensions that could lead to schism were absorbed in the late mediaeval tangle of rights and privileges that protected clergy from bishops, bishops from the clergy, and the clergy from the laity. The Church of England did suffer schisms, but they were departures of people who basically did not share its theology and ethos - the Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Baptists to name three. The Non-Jurors, loyal High Churchmen though they were, departed over what was essentially a political principle. The Methodists were lost through a mixture of inertia and misunderstanding, coupled with the desire of the Methodist preachers to govern their own house. On the whole, the Church of England and the Church of Ireland rubbed along quite happily as part of the Establishment in a compaitively homogenous cultural and spiritual environment.

In Scotland and America things developed differently. The Scottish Episcopal Church developed a fairly comprehensive Canon Law to govern its internal affairs. This was couple to a great respect for the function of the College of Bishops as the final court of appeal. The Scottish love of Logic did the rest, and apart from the "English Episcopalians" of the mid-1840s, the SEC stayed together fairly well and was even able to absorb the old "Qualified Congregations" into its busom.

The American Church's Constitution and Canons provided an excellent framework, but an inadequate one. It required some very careful handling from Bishop White (PA 1787-1836) to stop disputes between bishops escalating into open schism. Eventually, the House of Bishops was large enough for most trivial disputes to get lost in the mix. The major disputes between Evangelical and Catholic tendancies took place against the background of mutual loyalty to the Protestant Episcopal Church. The PECUSA only suffered two significant departures, that of Bishop Cummins and a few dozen his Evangelical clergy friends in 1873, and of the Anglican Church of North America (Episcopal) following the St Louis Congress in 1977.

Both the REC and the 1977 ACNA(E) suffered in their early days from both lack of experienced leadership, and some pretty strong personalities in the top slots. There were times in the early days when the Chicago Synod and the Philadelphia Synods of the REC were at each other's throats (the REC in England actually split), and the history of the Continuum has been fraught with dispute and schism. Much of this was due to three factors:

1. No clear method of resolving disputes within the College of Bishops
2. A failure to appreciate the need for a clear Canon Law to resolve disputes and provide guidance on how the church should be governed, coupled with a preparedness to set aside Canon Law in the name of political expediency.
3. The dominance of Churchmanship over loyalty to the denomination.

It was these factors that lead to the break-up of the original College of Bishops. However, human beings tend to learn from their errors, (except for Socialists) so in order to see what the future of the Continuum might hold, we have to ask the question who has learned from the mistakes of the early days?

Without a shadow of a doubt both the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Province of Christ the King have both learned the lesson. Both jurisdictions go to great lengths to obey the provisions of their Canon Law Codes. Of course occasional mistakes are made, but these usually do not usually compromise the integrity of the Church.

The only serious split that the ACC has experienced since it internationalised its Canon Law took place because a group of bishops put their own interests above the Law of the Church. Although this may seem like a failure, the rule of law within the ACC still allowed the damage to be limited, and in the UK, many of the parishes that were syphoned off by the departing bishop have returned to the fold. It is also becoming evident that the ACC's stability is becoming attractive to an increasing number of Continuing Anglican not just in the USA, but in the UK, Africa, and Australia.

APCK has displayed a similar tendancy towards stability encouraged and enforced by the rule of Law. However, the more uniform Churchmanship - a product of Archbishop Morse's thirty years as bishop and of its reliance on its own seminary - have tended to set boundaries to internal disputes. As a result there have been very few major departures from APCK; the two that have occured have been over issues on which their Canons do not speak clearly - the ordination of divorced and remarriage men, and Ecumenicism.

Of course, even though Law can help prevent disputes and provide for the administration of the Church, it should never blind us to the need for the Church to be committed - first and foremost - to preaching the Gospel. A shared vision of the Catholic Faith and a broad and tolerant understanding of the orthodox Anglican tradition is the surest way of preventing schism. The two working together will eventually produce a strong and unified Church which will be able to successfully combat the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil and show forth the glory of the Gospel.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The ACC Provincial Synod

Denise and I spent the bulk of this week (Oct. 27th to 30th) at the Anglican Catholic Church's Provincial Synod in Richmond, VA. From my own point of view, it was a case of "and a good time was had by all" - especially as it was a meeting without rancour.

I was ordained in the ACC some fifteen years ago at a time when the Original Province was experiencing appreciable turmoil. Being an old ACC man, the Synod enabled me to renew some old friendships, and meet in person several folks from the ACC whom I have come to know well via the Internet. It was also very good for me spiritually to worship with a large group of Anglican clergy and layfolks not just from all-over the USA, but also from the UK, the Sudan, India, South Africa, South American and the Carribbean.

What was also interesting to me was the way in which the Anglican Catholic Church had matured in the years since I left. Whatever surface disagreements there may be are now underpinned by a much stronger loyalty to an organisation that has stood the test of both time and schism. The ACC was founded in 1977, and has now survived some thirty-two years. More importantly, it has also survived two messy schisms. The first, in 1991, occured when three domestic dioceses left to join the Anglican Church in America. More painfully, the newly created Traditional Anglican Communion chose to realign with the ACA rather than the ACC. In the reorganisation that followed, the remnant of the Traditional Anglican Communion that chose to remain with the ACC was organised into the Original Province, which then served the USA, Australia, and a few clergy in Canada. The ACC Province of India serving India, Pakistan and Burma suffered prolonged litigation at the hands of the Church of India bishops who had chosen to go with the new TAC. This was not resolved until 2002. A second schism followed in 1997 when a dispute in the College of Bishops escalated out of control and significant portions of five diocese left the ACC and reconstituted themselves as two small jurisdictions, one known as the Holy Catholic Church (Anglican Rite) and the other as the HCC(Western Rite); neither of these bodies have prospered. This coincided with a period in which three successive Metropolitans - Oliver Lewis, Dean Stephens, and John T. Cahoon - died in quick succession.

It has now been twelve years since the ACC was last afflicted with schism, and this period of stability has seen expansion. Firstly, the church has consolidated its position in the USA. Secondly, the ACC has experienced considerable growth in Southern Africa to the point where the division of present Missionary Diocese has been approved. The ACC has also received the Diocese of Aweli, Sudan, and has begun work in Rwanda and Kenya. The Province of India has also experienced a period of stability, and it recently elected a new Metropolitan, the Most Rev. John Augustine. This, coupled with the election of Bishops for the Diocese of the United Kingdom and Missionary Diocese of Australia and New Zealand has put the ACC back to where it was in the mid-1990s.

The ACC is often criticized by outsiders for its extensive Canon Law and procedures. However, it is difficult not to attribute some of the Church's present stability to the clarity of its Canon Law Code. It certainly avoids many minor disputes, and provides clear solutions to others. The meetings of both the full Synod and of the various houses of Synod were free from any sort of rancour, and I was impressed with the way in which even the budget - a controversial matter in any church organisation - was dealt with efficiently. Archbishop Haverland proved to be an excellent chairman - good humored and occasionally witty, who dealt with the usual procedural wrangles light-heartedly, and with grace. On the whole, I have to say that it was one of the most hopeful, and purposeful meetings of a Continuing Anglican Church that it has been my privilege to attend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Canterbury-Rome Bypass

Before starting on the meat of this article I would like to say that I have not had access to the full text of the Apostolic Constitution, and so my comments are based on the press coverage and synopses that have been published in the last forty-eight hours. I would also like to add that the views herein expressed are my own, and not UECNA policy.

October 21st's announcement of a new deal for Anglicans converting to Roman Catholicism was really no great surprise. It had been buzzed about for several months by the Vaticanistas that an official response to the approaches of Forward in Faith and the Traditional Anglican Communion was going to be forthcoming. I think most religious commentators had decided that the practical effect of the Roman response would amount to "Yeah - that and a subway token'll get you a ride down town!"

In spite of the hooplah, there is actually nothing here that is new. What is innovative is the way in which different provisions have been brought together to allow Anglo-Papalists to convert to Roman Catholicism and retain something of their liturgical inheritance within a quasi-diocesan structure.

The two major provisions that have been brought together are:

1. The "Pastoral Provision" promulgated in 1982 to allow groups of American Episcopalians - in this context former members of ECUSA, as it then was - to convert, and have their own liturgical use which retained elements of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and the Psalter from the 1928 BCP. Over the last 27 years this has led to the formation of approximately ten parishes, and a similar number of missions. These are served by former Anglican priests reordained in the Roman Church, and use a version of the 1979 BCP in which the Episcopalian Eucharistic Prayers have been replaced by those from the Roman Missal. A couple of these Anglican Use Roman Catholic parishes have been very successful, but it is not path that many traditionalist Anglicans have felt called to follow.

2. The examples of the "Military Ordinariate" or "Apostolic Administration" have been used to create the model for a special Ordinariate for the Anglican Use of the Latin Rite. The two models both contribute something. Military Ordinariates are effectively non-geographical dioceses for RC military personnel and their families. They were created because the Military has its own demands and culture. A parish of former Anglicans will similarly have its own culture and ethos which is not easily accomodated within the mainly Hispanic and Irish Catholic culture in the USA, or the Irish and Polish Catholic culture of the UK and Australia. The other model would be the Apostolic Administration of Campos, which placed a diocese that refused to impliment the Novus Ordo reform of the liturgy directly under Rome giving it a protected status under Roman Catholic Canon Law. In a similar way, the special Ordinariate for the Anglican Use will give it a protected status within the wider Latin Rite.

In bringing these two provisions together Pope Benedict XVI has created a mechanism whereby the Anglican Use is, to some degree, independent of the local RC Episcopate. It will therefore be free of the wider diocesan and cultural policy considerations that have often caused RC bishops to close down or refuse to create Anglican Use parishes. This will be particularly useful in England and Australia, where the Pastoral Provision has not previous been available. If one may take refuge in stereotypes for a moment, one cannot imagine bishops raised in the Low Church Irish Catholic culture of English-speaking Roman Catholicism being sympathetic to the Anglicized culture of a bunch of ex-TAC High Churchmen.

Apart from the Traditional Anglican Communion, I suspect that the beefed-up and internationalized "Pastoral Provision" will attract only Anglo-Papalists. These are Anglicans who are essentially RC in doctrine already, but who, for various reasons, have not yet swum the Tiber. For Anglo-Papalists, accepting the new arrangement is a golden opportunity for them to normalize their position by going into a part of the Roman Catholic Church that allows a liturgy with far more familiar elements in it - such as Evensong - than the standard Roman Rite.

For those who are already married bishops in the TAC there is also an outside chance that after reordination as Roman Catholic priests, they might be accorded the title of Monsignor. This has already happened in the case of the former Anglican Bishop of London, Msgr. Graham Leonard, who converted in the mid-1990s. It is also not too fanciful to imagine that they might be given faculties to confer confirmation, as is already the case with some RC priests. It is also just conceiveable that they might receive "ordinary jurisdiction" over the parishes of their former dioceses. Of the package that goes with being a bishop, they have lost only a funny hat, some jewelry and the authority to ordain.

Practically speaking, I think it is far more likely that Rome might ordain as bishops two or three celibate former Anglican priests reordained under Pastoral provision. These bishop will then become the ordinaries for the beefed-up Anglican Use. For those who were married former Anglican bishops, the likeliest outcome is that they will be reordained as Roman Catholic priests and given some sort of "Papal Attaboy" for converting in the cause of Christian Unity. I certainly do not expect to see Rome ordaining a married man to the Episcopate as that would put the cat among the pigeons with the Orthodox, who are also being courted by Benedict XVI.

However, for most Continuing Anglicans the new Apostolic Constitution will be simply an interesting development that demonstrates that Rome has given up on the Lambeth Communion. Sorry, Rowen! What it effectively grants is the opportunity to convert to a culturally sympathetic part of the Roman Catholic Church, because organic unity between Canterbury and the Papacy is no longer perceived as being possible. As a result there is no attempt to address the doctrinal issues that separate Catholic Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the Apostolic Constitution. I think the realists amoung us will see that it would be unrealistic to expect Rome to make any obvious doctrinal concessions to a disunited Lambeth Communion. After all, Rome cannot err in matters of faith - or so they believe!

The Catholic Anglicans and High Churchmen who make up the bulk of the continuum, when they discuss what it means to be "catholic," echo Bishop Thomas Ken's words by defining what Anglicans believe as "the Catholic faith professed before the disunion of East and West, free from all Papal additions and Puritan subtractions."

For most traditional Anglicans those "Papal additions" are areas of deep doctrinal disagreement with Roman Catholicism. At the very least, the areas of disagreement include,

1. The Supremacy, Universal Jurisdiction and Infallibility of the Pope

2. The status and scope of the Marian doctrines

3. The doctrine of the Eucharist

4. Certain disciplinary issues such as compulsory confession and clerical celibacy

Those of us who were reared in the older school of High Churchmanship would add

5. The doctrines of Justification and Sanctification

6. The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Scripture

7. The status of the Deutero-Canonical Books
So far as we know, none of these issues has been addressed in the new Apostolic Constitution.

As I stated above, what the new Apostolic Constitution seems to be offering is the opportunity to convert to Roman Catholicism, but retain a Romanised version of the 1979 BCP, and have one's own Rome appointed Anglican Use bishop. Whilst I can sincerely wish those who want to go that route "bon voyage," I cannot and will not go with them, because, in the end I prefer the Christianity of the Bible, the (traditional) Book of Common Prayer, and the Articles of Religion to that of Rome. I firmly believe that our Anglican Reformation brought us closer to the faith of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church, and that to embrace the errors of modern Rome is to depart from the faith delivered once for all to the saints.

So basically - "Thanks, but no thanks! - Oh, and by the way - nice try! But you haven't even chosen the right Prayer Book!"

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Credibility Gap

The various Continuing Anglican Churches come in for a great deal of criticism, and even the most optimistic supporter of the movement has to admit that some of it is justified. At times there has been just a bit too much of the "ecclesiastical Brigadoon" about the whole enterprise for folks outside the Continuing Anglican Movement to take it seriously. I am not just talking about the propensity of some towards elaborate titles, "bells and smells; lace and tat" bit about a more serious deficiency - a credibility gap that results from the willingness of some to set aside Canon Law to gain temporary advantages.

It is a commonly acknowledged fact that no society can function effectively without laws which are respected and observed. In secular society law exists to protect the life, well-being, rights and property of the individual, and to create an atmosphere in which men and women can live together in peace. In the Church, Canon Law exist to protect the Church from heresy, the sacraments from irreverence, the priesthood from unworthy men, and so forth. One of the first things that the new Anglican Catholic Church did after the Denver consecrations was set about revising and clarifying Canon Law, and other bodies have been similarly keen to be seen as churches that not only have clergy and congregations, but a structure and Canon Law.

However, none of us who have been in the Continuum more than five minutes can pretend to be blind to the fact that nearly every jurisdiction has, at some point in its history, been subject to the whims of bishops. Such senior clergy have been prepared manipulated rather than administered Canon Law in unspiritual attempts to empire build within the Church. We all know that when law is manipulated rather than administered the respect for the law inevitably declines and the eventual result is either schism or anarchy or both. The commonest problems with regards to Canon Law in the Continuum are, not surprisingly, associated with the clergy; their selection, discipline and preferment. Every jurisdiction has clergy of dubious quality who found their way into the ranks because someone failed to follow the proper procedure or owed some a favour. Most jurisdictions can also point to incident where bishops have been created in dubious circumstance - usually to pay back a political favour, or to avoid the election of a man who might prove troublesome to various vested interests. In one jurisdiction I heard the "Military Ordinariate" of one jurisdiction described as "the open back door to the episcopate" because it was controlled by the House of Bishops and was used to make bishops of men who were felt to be "owed a mitre."

In all these cases, it is the laity who suffer. Unsuitable and incompetant clergy empty churches, and, in the worse case scenario, turn people away from Christ. Unsuitable bishops destroy dioceses and sow schism. If the Continuum wants to be taken seriously it needs to get away from ecclesiastical politics and "doing favours" and adhere strictly to its own Canon Law. The bottom line is that if bishops want to be trusted by their clergy, they should be humble enough to play by the rules; if the clergy wanted to trusted by the laity, they too should have the humility to obey Canon Law. I suspect that the overall effect would be to create an atmosphere of trust and regularity that would help to heal our divisions, and bridge the credibility gap that leads so many dispossessed Anglicans to dismiss the Continuum as a sort of ecclesiastical Brigadoon.

I hope that those of us in Continuum now have the maturity to realise that if a canon is bad, it can be changed. Yes, it takes a little time, but to "finesse" our way around it only gives force to the arguments of those who would dismiss the Continuum irrelevant and self-serving. Likewise I would hope that the era of back room deals is passed, and that we need to do business openly and according to our own Canons. The hard truth here for all Continuing Anglicans is that if we want to be taken serious we need to follow our own laws honestly.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Thirty-Nine Articles today

What is the proper role of the Thirty-nine Articles today?

Well, I am tempted to answer that question by saying "more than the Anglo-Papalists desire, and less than the Evangelicals want!"

Anglo-Papalists would really like to forget about the Articles of Religion altogether and shut them off into the "historical documents" category, if not loose them altogether. They recognize, quite rightly, that they are a road block to remaking Anglicanism in the image of 1930s, 1950s or modern Roman Catholicism.

Evangelicals, on the other hand, want to make the Articles into a narrow and binding Confession of Faith. This has a bit more justification behind it than the Anglo-Papalist position, but it still has its problems:
Firstly, Anglicans have never regarded the Articles as a Confession of Faith in the narrow sense, but rather as a broad affirmation to the Biblical version of Christianity. We have been required to subscribe to the Articles as "containing nothing contrary to Scripture" rather than asked to bind ourselves to a particular version of Biblical theology. This is a fair, logical, and Evangelical way of making one's subscription, as it commits us not to the personal opinions of a group of sixteenth century theologians, but to the doctrine of Scripture.

Secondly, I would also like to point out that the Articles have never been a stand-alone document. Not only do they refer not just to the Scriptures, but to the Early Fathers (specifically Jerome), and to the Book of Homilies, but we have always been bidden - for example, by Abp. Matthew Parker - to interpret them in the most catholic sense.

Thirdly, theology did not stop in 1563. The development of culture and society in history throws up new challenges to orthodox Christianity from time to time. The Articles do not answer these questions, but they do give us a theological method with which to approach new challenges. This method begins with Scripture, and looks to the Early Fathers and Councils of the Church to guide us as to the authentic teaching of Scripture. Private opinion has little or no place in our tradition.

Anglicans are first and foremost "Bible Catholics." Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, we teach that all doctrine necessary to Salvation is to be found in the Canonical Scriptures. We also take a distinctly Pauline and Augustinian approach to the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification. However, we also embrace the Catholic tradition of the Church that is rooted in the Fathers and the Councils in so far as it is compatible with Scripture.

The Articles of Religion are therefore part of a wider theological tradition built on the Bible, that includes the ancient creeds, the Early Fathers, and the Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church. They are not a stand alone document. Anglican tradition also affirms the principle of "adiaphora" and also affirms the need for dignity and beauty in worship, following traditional Catholic Uses in so far as they are not contrary to Scripture. Anglicans should reject all Papal additions and Puritan subtractions from the Faith of the (Early) Church. Unfortunately there are enthusiasts on both sides who will not be content unless we embrace the errors of Rome - or for that matter Geneva. As we are bound by truth and not expediency, we cannot in good conscience do this, but must remain faithful to the Bible, the Fathers and Ancient Councils, and our liturgical tradition as it is enshrined in the historic BCP!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Distinctive Anglicanism

The distinctive character of Classical Anglicanism was forged between 1559 and 1688. The Elizabethan Settlement had left the church with its old Catholic hierarchy intact, a moderate Reformed Confession of Faith, and a more or less Lutheran Liturgy. Anglicanism's distinctive flavour came from how this broad structure worked out in practice.

The first major controversy that shaped Anglicanism was the Vestarian Controversy of the 1560s and 70s. A considerable number of clergy had spent 1554-59 in exile in the various Protestant enclaves in Germany and Switzerland. Many of these churches had rebelled against vestments and a strict liturgy, as well as adopting Reformed theology. These men came home with a strong desire to "complete" the reformation by sweeping away whatever remained of the old ceremonial. The first serious outbreak of this radicalism came in London in 1560. The Queen saw the scruples of the newly returned exiles as simple disobedience and told Parker to sort it out. In the middle of all this, Parker and Elizabeth evidently must have decided that some sort of compromise was necessary. Parker therefore required the use of the surplice in parish churches, and the surplice and cope in cathedrals and collegiate churches. The vestments were those traditionally associated with the daily Office (the surplice) and processions (the cope) rather than the Mass. Resistence continued, but constant pressure from the civil and ecclesiastical authorities ensured a large measure of outward compliance.

The next phase centred on the Episcopate. Those who had been in Geneva and Strassburg during Mary's reign strongly favoured a more intensive form of church disciple, and the modification or abolition of the Episcopate in favour of a Presbyterian system of Church government. John Whitgift (1530-1604) was the strongest advocate of the Anglican position and wrote extensively in defense of Episcopal government, the liturgy, and the use of vestments. However, Whtgift shared the strongly Calvinist theology of his opponants. The conflict was really between High Church and Low Church Calvinists.

Whitgift's rather rough and ready defense of the Anglican position was later expanded by Richard Hooker (1554-1600) in his "Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" which gave a theological rationale to compliment Whitgift's polemics. However, one has to be very careful to read Hooker on his own terms not through his nineteenth century High Church, or twentieth century Liberal editors. He was a man who believed passionately in the supremacy of Scripture, but saw reason and tradition as being the best keys to unlocking its meaning.

Whitgift's theological Calvinism led him to disciple Baro and Barrett, two Cambridge theologians who questioned the Calvinist orthodoxy of the Church of England in the 1580s and 90s. Whitgift sought to put an end to the controversyby issuing the unequivocably Calvinist "Lambeth Articles" (1595) but the Queen refused to give them Parliamentry Authority. Although Baro and Barrett quickly disappeared from the scene, they had influenced a generation of churchmen who were to become influential in the last years of Elizabeth's reign.

The oldest of them were Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) and Richard Neile (1562-1640). Although this group was often called "the (English) Arminians" they did not share the theology of the Dutch Arminians except in so far as they sat loosely on the doctrine of Predestination. More important to the English Arminians, formed an ecclesiastical "Court Party" that valued an orderly and beautiful liturgy, divine right Episcopacy, and a strong sacramentalism. This put them at odds with a strong "Parliamentry Party" of Puritans who valued preaching, a more democratic mode of Church government, and austerity.

As the differing values of Court and Parliament came increasing into conflict not just over religion, but over politics, taxation, foreign policy, and the role of parliament. Charles' religious and political traditionalism eventually precipitated the English Civil War, which Charles lost. However, the Parliamentarians were unable to "win the peace" by establishing a stable form of government to replace the old monarchy. As a result, Charles II was swept back into power by General Monck and a political elite weary with the experimentation of the Cromwellian interlude.

Inspite of the attempts of the "hot heads" in both Church and State to turn the clock back. The eventual shape of the Settlement in both religion and politics was essentially "business as usual." The King reconciled the middle classes by promising triennial Parliaments, and the Bishops tried to conciliate moderate Presbyterians by some minor adjustments to the Prayer Book. The old Calvinist fires were to a large extent banked though not extinguished, and the High Church bishops had their hands full repairing the physical damage caused by Civil War and the temporary proscription of Anglicanism under Cromwell.

The final convulsion that shaped Anglicanism was the Glorious Revolution of 1688. James II & VII had tried to extend civil rights to his Roman Catholic co-religionists by rewriting civic charters, hand picking the judiciary, and raising a standing army. These were all measures that alienated the ruling class with the result that they invited James' son-in-law - Wiliam of Orange - to invade Britain. The revolution turned out to be a bloodless one so far as England was concerned.; though Scotland and Ireland were not so fortunate. However, the Battles of the Boyne and Aughrim settled the issue in favour of William III and Mary II. The Calvinist William replaced the Jacobite Episcopal, with the Williamite Presbyterian, as the Established Church in Scotland, but otherwise, it was business as usual.

In terms of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland, the 1688 Settlement led to the toleration of Protestant dissent, and another attempt to bring moderate dissenters back into the Established Church. The Non-Jurors, the High Church radicals, left, and there was a desire to follow a moderate "middle way" that an eighteenth century describe as "a benign and comfortable air of liberty and toleration." The combination of a tolerant Biblical orthodoxy, Episcopal Government, and Liturgical worship was now established as the Anglican Way, and it continued to be the mainstream of our Church until the 1970s.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Conservative Reformation - Part IV

There have been persistent attempts to sideline the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (hereafter "the Articles") in recent years mainly from advocates of Liberal theology. As a result, most Anglican clergy have not looked at the Articles quite as closely as perhaps they should have done. The attiude of many seems to be that either that they are irrelevant or that of Oscar Wilde, who when asked to subscribe to the articles when he got to university said, "I'll subscribe to forty if you like!" More moderate folks do at least have the wisdom to see that the Articles have to be read in context. That context is, of course, the theological atmosphere of the fifty years preceeding 1563.

In some respects the English Reformation came rather late in the day, so in some senses it is derivative. The creative thinking was done elsewhere - in Germany and Switzerland - so the English contribution to the English Reformation was that of commonsense and moderation. The basic framework of both Lutheran and Reformed theology was set before the theological Reformation for underway in England, so it is possible to see where previous Confessional statements influenced the Articles.

So from whence do the Articles derive?

The format of the Articles follows that of the Confession of Augsburg (1530) in that it consists of a series relatively short statements either upholding traditional Catholic theology, or explaining where the Church of England differed from it. So let us begin with the basic structure of the Articles, which divide up as follows:

1 to 8 deal with the Fundamentals - the Holy Trinity, the Scriptures and the Creeds
9 to 18 with "the Doctrines of Grace"
19 to 24 with the nature of the Church
25 to 31 with the Sacraments
32 to 39 deal with various disciplinary and civil matters

So keeping this format in mind, let us work through the Articles seeing where they derive from, and their similarities and differences from other Reformation era Confessions.

The first five Articles deal with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and are in line with Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed teaching on this point. The wording, on the whole, echoes that of the Augburg Confession, though it is somewhat expanded. It also bears some resemblance to the Scotch Confession of 1560, which itself was influenced by the 42 Articles and the Helvetian Confession. Articles 6 to 8 follow the broad consensus of Lutheran and Reformed thought on Holy Scripture and the Creeds.

A similar consensus approach continues as the Articles address the subjects of justification, the role of good works, and predestination. To summarize the position taken by the Articles

1. Justification is by grace through "Faith Only."
2. Good Works play no part in our justification, but, after justification, they are acceptable to God, and are evidences of a living faith.
3. Article 17 asserts that Anglicans, in line with St Paul's teaching in Romans, believe in "predestination to life."

All of this is in agreement with the Lutheran Confessions and with the earlier less radical views of Bullinger, Calvin, and their generation of "Swiss" Reformers.

The Articles take a slightly more independent tack when it comes to the sacraments. The Article on the general theology of the Sacraments, and that on baptism are very much in line with the views of the Lutherans and the Helvetian and Heidelberg Confessions. In other words, Baptism conveys regeneration which is susequently manifested by a life lived in accordance with God's Commandments.

The Articles on the Lord's Supper are perhaps the most ambiguous part of the Thirty-nine. They only seems to absolutely preclude the mediaeval doctrine of transubstantiation, and the "Low Reformed" teaching of Memorialism. However, they tend to favour a High Calvinist understanding of the sacrament. Basically, Christ is present "in an heavenly and spiritual manner" and we receive him "by Faith." This is essentially a receptionist point of view, but one with a high degree of objectivity. On the other hand, the Articles pronouncements are not watertight, and it is perfectly possible to hold the Lutheran doctrine of Sacramental Union, and still subscribe to the Articles.

Articles 32 to 39 declare the need for an ordered and authorized ministry, the lawfulness of oaths, and that the civil authorities are part of the Divine Order. The Articles presume that the ministry of the Church will be episcopally governed and will consist of bishops, priests and deacons ordained in accordance with the provisions of the Anglican Ordinal. The Articles also insist that the rites and ceremonies of the Church, provided they contain nothing contrary to God's Word, may be regulated by the Bishops under the oversight of the Prince to ensure that God's people are duly edified - a clearly Lutheran position, and very different to the "regulative principle" beloved of later generations of reformed theologicans.

On the whole, the Articles are a moderate and temperate document which generally fall into line with the historic Reformed Confessions, but they leave the door a little bit open for those of Philippist and Lutheran views on the Lord's Supper. In a sense they are a broad and inclusive document, but that does not mean that they lack substance. Their inclusiveness derives from a studied vagueness on those point that were contested between Lutheran and Reformed theologians. The aim of the 39 Articles was to build a nation Protestant consensus on which to found a Bible-based, reformed Catholic Church.

It is the subsequent history of Anglicanism, rather than an inherent flaws in the Articles themselves that have led to the diminishing of their authority. Seventeenth century theologians rebelling against the double-predestinarian orthodoxy of Dort tended to sit lightly on Article 17. However, the Caroline Divines established a new, High Church Protestant orthodoxy which remained dominant for over a century. Then in the nineteenth century both liberal Broad Churchmen and Anglo-Catholics sought to diminish the authority of the Articles so that they could the more easily promote their own reworkings of Anglicanism. It was this later, Victorian phase in the remaking of Anglicanism that laid the groundwork for the theological chaos and moral relativism that took of the Anglican Communion in the second half of the twentieth century.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Conservative Reformation - Part III

The two key pieces of the Elizabethan Settlement were the 1559 revision of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, and the Articles of Religion. The two of them set the theological tone for the English Reformation by providing the Liturgy by which the church prayed daily, and the doctrinal standard to which the clergy were expected to subscribe and adhere.

Of the two, the BCP is ultimately the more important in terms of the daily lives of ordinary English Christians. They heard it Sunday by Sunday and at Holyday, market day, and weekday services throughout their lives. By such frequent hearing and repetition it slowly carved its way into the language and culture of England, so much so that even in the last twenty years, an English Novelist (P.D. James, I think) has written a series of novels that used phrases from the BCP as their titles - for example "Devices and Desires" which comes from the General Confession. Slightly revised in 1604, and again more extensively in 1662, but in essence the 1552/59 Prayer Book remains the official, if sometimes hard to find, liturgy of the Church of England.

In his liturgical methodology Cranmer seems to have preferred the "invisible mending" of the Lutheran Church Orders. Thus is revision of the Breviary into Morning Prayer (Matins) and Evening Prayer (Evensong) was more along the lines of an abridgement than a radical reworking, with the legendary material and short Scripture Readings of the old Rite being replaced by roughly four chapters of the Bible each day. Cranmer's 1549 Lectionary starts with Genesis 1 and Matthew 1 at the beginning of January and works through the Old Testament and much of Apocrypha once; the New Testament, except for Revelation three times, and Revelation was read once. The old Canticles were retained, as were some of the Preces - responses - that were so much a feature of the old Office.

The original 1549 BCP "Order of Holy Communion commonly called the Mass" was even more conservative than Luther. Although the offertory and private prayers of the celebrant where removed in accordance with Lutheran think, the old Roman Canon was replaced by a new Canon, or Prayer of Consecration incorporating both the actual consecration, but also the Prayer for the Church and a Prayer of Oblation. This was composed to replace the Gregorian Canon of the Roman Mass, which seemed very disjointed when translated into English. A translation of the Gregorian Canon survived from c. 1548 which has been attributed to Miles Coverdale, which may have been a working draft for the 1549 BCP. However, it seems inconceivable that Cranmer ever intended to use the Old Canon in the new "Mass."

Even with Cranmer's reworking of the Canon into the Prayer of Consecration, the Communion service of the 1549 BCP received some unfortunate friends, and some stinging criticism. Stephen Gardiner (1500-55), Bishop of Winchester under Henry VIII, who was a non-Papal Catholic in theology, said that it preserved the essentials of the Latin Mass; an assertion that led to a lengthy pamphlet war between he and Cranmer. Martin Bucer, the moderate Reformed former Pastor of Strassburg, criticized it strongly in his "Censura." Many of Cranmer's revisions seem to have been made in answer to Bucer's criticism, but it is clear that in any case, if Diamaid McCulloch is correct, the 1549 was intended as only an "interim rite" anyway.

Cranmer's rearrangement of the Order for Holy Communion was pretty radical, and when finished it lay somewhere between Luther's 1526 "German Mass" and the Reformed orders of Strassburg and Geneva in format. The running order of the 1549 service had been:

Lord's Prayer
Collect for Purity
Collect of the Day
Collect for the King
Sursum Corda
The Canon - consisting of the Prayer for the Church, the Prayer of Consecration, and the Prayer of Oblation
The Lord's Prayer
Fraction and Peace
Short Exhortation
General Confession
Comfortable Words
Prayer of Humble Access
Agnus Dei
Prayer of Thanksgiving

Cranmer modified this to eliminate any impression that there was any "oblation or sacrifice" in the Lord's Supper. This was mostly achieved by breaking up the Canon of the 1549 BCP. Therefore the 1552 Lord's Supper had the following running order:

Lord's Prayer
Collect for Purity
Ten Commandments interspersed with the Kyrie eleison
Collect of the Day
Collect for the King
Scripture Sentences whilst the alms are collected
Prayer for the Church
General Confession
Comfortable Words
Sursum Corda
Prayer of Humble Access
Prayer of Consecration ending with the Words of Institution
Lord's Prayer
Prayer of Oblation, or
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Gloria in Excelsis

More radical still was what Cranmer did to the physical setting of the Eucharist. The 1549 service was still celebrated facing east with the priest in alb and chasuble or alb and cope. In 1552, Mass vestments were swept away and replaced with the surplice. The wooden table set up like an altar of 1549 is moved out into the middle of the chancel, set lengthways with its ends east and west, and the communicants knelt around it. Even this radical rearrangement was too conservative for some.

The revised form of the Prayer of Consecration consisting of just a brief explanation of why we celebrate this service and the Words of institution is still more Lutheran than Reformed in feel, but on the other had the words said to the communicant when given the Bread and Wine indicated that Cranmer was now in the "true presence" camp of Bucer, Bullinger, and Calvin, rather than the "real presence" camp of Luther, Melancthon, and his uncle by marriage Osiander. In place of the traditional formulars used in 1549, Cranmer orders the following "Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving" and "Drink this in remembrance that Christ's blood was shed for thee" speak of a concept of the Eucharist where the presence of Christ is not in the elements but rather in the celebration. However, the eleventh hour intervention from Hooper and Knox resulted in the assertion of the so-called "Black Rubric" which denied that there was any "real and essential" presence of Christ in the elements, and made it clear that kneeling was a sign of thankfulness(!) for the Christ's work. Cranmer's final change was to put the Gloria in Excelsis after Communion; a move probably inspired by St Matthew 26.30.

This rather long diversion is necessary in order to better explain what happened to the 1552 BCP when Elizabeth and her advisors got hold of it in 1559. It is pretty clear from what happened to the BCP that Elizabeth and her advisors intended to draw back a little from the Religious Settlement of 1552. For a start, Morning Prayer was now prefaced by two rubrics (instructions) the first of which commanded that "chancels shall remain as in times past" and the second required that the ornaments of both churches and ministers should be those allowed "by authority of Parliament in the second of the reign of King Edward the Sixt." This effectively authorized altar-like Communion Tables and Eucharistic vestments, but stopped short of allowing holy water, ashes on Ash Wednesday, and the old procession of Palms on Palm Sunday all of which had been abolished in 1548. The legislation also restricted the use of candles to two placed on the altar.

The next piece of invisible mending came in the Communion service where the words of administration for the Bread are altered to "The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving." The words said for the administration of the the Chalice now said, "The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ's Blood was shed for thee and be thankful." This resulted in a formular which was much more Lutheran or Philippist than Reformed. The other important change to the Communion service was the removal of the "Black Rubric" which was offensive to Lutherans, and indeed anyone else who believed in the real present of Christ in the Eucharist. It was not restored until 1662, and even then it is significantly modified.

The other changes were mainly a minor importance. The lectionary was modified so that the New Testament was read twice not thrice, and the petition against the Pope was removed from the Litany, so as not to offend those who might have a lingering affection for the Papacy. There was also quite a large number of minor corrections to the Epistles and Gospels which were then largely drawn from "The Great Bible" of 1538.

Had the ceremonial provisions of the 1559 BCP not become dead letters within eighteen months of the book's publication the services of the Church of England would have possessed a certain resemblance to those of the Lutheran Churches of northern Germany, Denmark and Norway. As it was, there was a fairly widespread rebellion against the vestments required by the new BCP. As usual the flashpoint was London where a lot of the Protestant exiles who had waited out Mary's reign in Zurich, Strassburg, and Geneva accumulated.

An early sign of the trouble that vestments were to cause had been the attitude of Parker's consecrators. Only Barlow, the principal consecrator was properly vested. Hodgkin wore a surplice, and Coverdale a grey gown! The bishops soon found that parish clergy lately returned from Germany and Switzerland were no more receptive than Hodgkin and Coverdale. Parker had to fight hard to enforce the use of the surplice, and so far as London was concerned Eucharistic vestments were a dead letter. On the other hand there is a little evidence that in some rural parishes they may have continued in use for some years until the Puritanism or age caught up with them, and there are occasionally records of albs being used down to the latter part of the eighteenth century.

Even with the later concessions with regards to the use of vestments, the 1559 revision of the Book of Common Prayer placed the Church of England between the Lutheran and Reformed traditions in its liturgical practice. The BCP had some strong resemblances to the Lutheran Church Orders, but there had been far more Reformed influence on the Communion Service than one would find in most of Germany. On the other hand, the daily Offices had a far more important role in the life of the Church of England than they had in Germany or Scandanavia. Here the English retention of "choir obligation" with its consequent duty for deacons, priests and bishops to say Matins and Evensong daily, if possible in public, led to daily public services in the cathedrals and larger parish churches. The preservation of full-time professional choirs and organs in the great churches soon ensured that large scale church music was produced for the daily Office. This led to that peculiarly Anglican achievement the daily choral offices of Matins and Evensong.

In the next installment I propose to spend some time looking at the Thirty-nine Articles, and how they tread a middle course between Wittenberg and Geneva.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Conservative Reformation (Part II)

On her accession in November 1558 the three most pressing issues for Elizabeth were - an empty treasury, an incomplete and inconclusive war with France, and the settlement of Religion. The first and second of these took care of themselves. Hostilities had ceased with France, and the treasury began to refill from the Queen's ordinary revenue. This left religion as the thorniest problem.

Elizabeth's own religious convictions do not seem to have been a major force in her life by the standards of her time, but it is nonetheless clear that she preferred Protestantism. She had, after all, been educated by reform-minded Christian humanists like John Cheke, and she had dissimulated on the subject of religion, as only Elizabeth could dissimulate, throughout her half-sister's reign. Even if she had had a less protestant education, given that the Roman Church had declared her mother's marriage invalid, and her a bastard, she was not predisposed to remain under the Papal obedience. It therefore became clear that as soon as possible she would reinstate the Act of Supremacy as the first step towards a religious settlement. England quickly broke with Rome with Parliament declaring Elizabeth "Supreme Governor... on earth" (not as is popularly supposed 'Supreme Head") of the Church of England. Then comes a curious lull of several months as Elizabeth takes soundings, and allows the renewed break with Rome sink in. There seems to have been some neccessary delay, firstly, for Parliament's Christmas recess, and secondly, to allow Elizabeth and the Privvy Council to fill the bishoprics left vacant as all but two of Mary's bishops resigned or were deprived of their livings.

The clearest sign of where Elizabeth's religious policy was going was the Westminster Conference that took place early in 1559. This set piece was intended to signal a move back to Protestant camp. At the same time the second Prayer Book of King Edward VI began to reappear in some key parishes, and some hot heads began cleansing churches of "idols" until the government forbade such wanton destruction.

A few months later, when the Act of Uniformity appeared it was a basically a restoration of the status quo as it had existed in 1552/3, except that Elizabeth and her Council made several conservative amendments to the 1552 BCP. Firstly, "chancels were to remain as in times past;" secondly, the traditional vestments were restored; thirdly, the BlackRubric was removed and the words "The body (blood) of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given (shed) for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life" were added to preface the more Reformed form of 1552; and finally, the condemnation of the Pope was removed from the Litany. All of these changes moved the Church away from a more strictly Reformed position to make it possible to reach and accomodation with the English Lutherans.

For her Archbishop Elizabeth choose Matthew Parker. Born in Norwich in 1504, Parker had been Ann Boleyn, and later Henry VIII's chaplain. He had been Dean of Stoke by Clare from 1536-1546, but after the college was dissolved in the latter year he married and moved back to Cambridge. He was know to be a moderate advocate of the reformation, but after being removed from his Ecclesiastical offices in 1553 he was allowed to remain quietly on his farm in Suffolk through Mary I's reign. Parker was a moderate, but convinced Protestant, who had had a scholarly career at Cambridge and was a friend of both Peter Martyr and Martin Bucer. Elizabeth and Cecil had to work on Parker in order to get him to agree to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he eventually agreed and was consecrated on Dec. 19th 1559.

Parker did not have much time to get his earings as Archbishop as within a few months, he and his brother bishops issued some interim injunctions modifying the provisions f the 1559 BCP regarding vestments. Elizabeth also gave orders the restoration of some fifty minor Holydays to the calendar - without making liturgical provsion for them - forbade controversial preaching and limited the number of licensed preachers. Parker also laboured on making the cumbersome machinery of the Church of England work for a reformed Church.

Phases 1 and 2 of Elizabeth's settlement - the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity - seem to have met with little opposition, and not much enthusiasm. In the past ten years there had been four changes of religion, so most folks were prepared to go to their parish churches and take what was offered. Elizabeth and Parker's careful implimentation of the settlement had kept both the Lutherans and Reformed on board by pursuing a "Via Media" between Wittenberg and Geneva. However, there was still a need to produce some sort of doctrinal statement, and this was achieved at a join session of the Convocations of Canterbury and York in the winter of 1562/3.

It seems almost certain that Archbishop Parker was the guiding light in the reworking of Cranmer's Forty-Two Articles as the Thirty-Nine Articles. In this he was assisted by Edmund Grindal, Bishop of London. Things had moved on a bit in the preceeding nine years as the Anabaptist threat had receded and the Council of Trent was finally drawing to its close. Parker's redrafting of the Articles removed many of the references to the Anabaptists, whilst responses to some of the already issued decrees of Trent were incorporated into the text. The final draft was presented to a Convocation that was in a Reformed and reforming mood. A measure to remove organs from churches had been only narrowly defeated, so it must have come as a surprise when the Thirty-Nine Articles came through the neccessary debate relatively unscathed. The Queen, however, suppressed Article 29 as being offensive to Lutherans and others who held the traditional doctrine of the Real Presence, before they were issued in 1563. This may have irritated some of the more ardent spirits on the Reformed wing but it was a short-lived annoyance as it was restored in 1571 as the influence of Lutheranism waned in England, and there was less need to appease "Church Papists."

The 39 Articles as they emerged from the 1563 Convocation are an interesting document. Parker was going for consensus, and for the most part the Articles seem closer in spirit to the Augsburg Confession than to the various Swiss Confessions of the preceeding thirty years. The Lutherans lost out on with the (briefly suppressed) Twenty-ninth Article which takes a clearly Reformed position. On the other hand, the Lutheran concept of Adiaphora - that ceremonials not clearly contrary to Scripture may be regulated by the church - is firmly entrenched in the Articles, which marks a serious defeat for the Calvinist party.

The Articles really mark the end of the legislative phase of the Elizabethan Settlement. In theory the Church of England had a reformed liturgy, but with the traditional vestments still in use. Church interiors should have been changed only by the removal of altars, roods, rood lofts, and superstitious images, the last named were to be replaced with illuminated sentences a scripture painted on the church walls. Its doctrine was Protestant, treading a middle path between Lutheranism and Reformed positions. It government remained in the hands of Bishops in the Apostolic Succession, and the old cathedral establishments and church courts continued as before. In practice, there were compromises.

For a start, the unofficially cleansing of superstitious objects from churches often went beyond what was strictly neccessary. Organs had been removed from some churches, and were no longer used in others. Sacred music was at a low ebb. The churches were increasingly used as two rooms - the nave for Matins and Evensong, and the chancel for the Lord's Supper. Vestments - other than cassock, surplice, cope, tippet and hood - seem to have disappeared in many areas and did not reappear until modern times. Some ministers - particularly those of what was soon to be called a Puritan persuasion - omitted parts of the Prayer Book Services to make more time for preaching. Parker moved against these abuses in a variety of ways.

Firstly, he made it clear that simple church music in English was to be encouraged. This provision was, after some hesitation, embraced with enthusiasm and gradually the large scale choral services that we associate with Anglicanism developed as composers such as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd write grand music for the cathedrals and Elizabeth's Chapel Royal. Parker also promoted the compilation of the "Old Version" of the Psalms of David in Metre, and incident that led to the Church of England being "psalmody only" in many places until c.1800.

Secondly, he and Archbishop Grindal of York ordered that Morning Prayer, the Litany, and the Communion service were to be read as one in parish churches. This made it easier for magistrates to spot omissions. It also led to the characteristic Anglican "Dry Service" of Matins, Litany and Ante-Communion ending with a sermon. Due to the inertia of the faithful and the reformation's "no Mass without Communicants" rule, celebations of Holy Communion declined to once a month, once in two months, or once a quarter depending on the size of the parish. A few big city parishes and the cathedrals still maintained weekly celebrations.

Thirdly, in an attempt to secure uniformity in ceremonial, he required the use of cassock, surplice, tippet and hood at all services in parishes churches. He also required the use of the Cope in cathedrals and collegiate churches. Eucharistic vestments were allowed to quietly disappear, but remained legal.

Gradually, this Via Media Anglicana settled down to being the religion of England, though for the next century - until after 1662 - there was persistant agtitation for a further reformation of religion to put England in the Reformed or Calvinist camp.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Conservative Reformation - Part I

There has been a pretty concerted attempt over the last 175 years by one party within the Anglican Church to deny the Protestant heritage of orthodox Episcopalianism. This has generally taken the form of either a deliberate misreading of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, (for example J. H. Newman's "Tract XC") or, more recently, an outright denial that they have any relevance to the modern Church. Whilst I would strongly disagree with the arguments contained in Tract XC, it is true to say, that you have to put the Articles into their historical context in order to fully appreciate what Archbishop Matthew Parker and the Convocations of Canterbury and York were trying to do back in 1563.

Theologically, the Protestant Reformers brake down into three groups. For the sake of argument let us call them conservative Biblicists, moderate Biblicists, and radical Biblicists. The Conservative Biblists were headed by Luther, and include other big names such as Melancthon, Bugenhagen, Olaus Petri, and most of the earlier English reformers - Barnes, Tyndale, etc.. The Reformers consist of the moderate Swiss and Rhineland reformers such as Calvin, Bucer, Oecelampadius, Peter Martyr, and Bullinger. The radical camp consists of people like Carlstadt and Michael Servetus who ultimately started rethinking the Creeds. The radical camp eventually painted themselves into a corner and survive only in radical Biblicist groups like the Amish, and the Mennonites. They have a distant mainstream cousin in the form of the various Baptist Churches, but on the whole their tradition has ended up being pretty marginal. On the other hand, the conservative and moderate Biblicists were to form the mainstream of the European Reformation.

The reason for this is that the various State Churches fell broadly into two groups. The Conservative Biblicists conducted their own form of the Reformation in North Germany and Scandanavia giving those countries a Evangelical Lutheran heritage. The Swiss soon abandoned some of the more extreme positions of Zwingli and conducted a moderate "Bible exclusively" Reformation in the Swiss Cantons, spreading it to Strassbourg, various Rhineland States, the Northern Netherlands, and Scotland. The English Church went its own way somewhere in between the two camps, giving some truth to MacCauley's old jibe about the Church of England. To modify MacCuley in the interests of accuracy it would be fair to say that Anglicanism ended up with "a Catholic hierarchy; Bucerian Articles; and a Lutheran Liturgy." Why was this?

In the 1530s and early 1540s it looked as though England was eventually going to embrace a conservative form of Lutheranism, akin to that of Sweden. Archbishop Cranmer was a Lutheran, and so were most of the Reform minded folks with influence. However, about 1545, Reformed ideas, mainly coming from Strassbourg and the Rhineland rather than directly from Geneva and Zurich, began to gain ground. Nicholas Ridley (1500-55), the "bright young thing" of the reforming movement seems to have embraced the Reformed Eucharistic theology after reading a ninth century tract by a monk called Ratramnus. He eventually convinced Latimer and Cranmer that the Lutheran position on the Eucharist was incorrect, and the stage was set for the Edwardian Reformation to proceed along moderate Reformed, rather than Lutheran lines.

Inspite of its conservativism, and favour with modern Anglo-Catholics, the 1549 BCP was carefully framed within a Reformed theological framework. However, Cranmer, who was a believer in gradualism, framed the service in such a way that Henrician Catholics would not be overly shocked by it, and that the Lutheran mainstream of the Reforming party could accept it whole-heartedly. By all accounts he did the job a bit too well, resulting in a lengthy debate with the Henrician Catholic bishop Stephen Gardner (1500-55), who believed that the 1549 Eucharist was capable of Catholic interpretation, and on the other front it was heavily criticized by Martin Bucer, the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, who produced his "Censura" of the First BCP in 1550. Cranmer, who increasingly identified with the Reformed camp, went back to the drawing board, heavily modified the Communion service, and stripped away much of the ceremonial left in 1549.

The 1552 BCP marked the high water mark of Reformed thinking when it came to the liturgy of the Church of England. Edward VI died within a year, and the Accession of Mary Tudor (1516-58) made it dangerous to be a Protestant as she formally returned the country to the Roman obedience. However, Mary's ill-advised policy of burning prominent Protestants like Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, Hooper, Taylor, and various other important members of Edward's hierarchy did not play well with the general population. If she had lived longer Queen Mary would probably have been successful in returning England to the Catholic fold, or more likely, have pitched the country into Religious War, but as it was she died in November 1558 leaving a country stuck between the Old and New Religions.

Her successor, her half-sister Elizabeth (1533-1603) had been educated by John Cheke, and had had Matthew Parker as her chaplain at one stage. She therefore lent towards Protestantism, but was relatively uninfluenced by Continental trends being a partisan of neither Lutheranism or Calvinism. Matthew Parker (c.1504-1575), her choice for Archbishop of Canterbury, was also a proponant of the insular version of Protestantism and relatively uninfluenced by foreign disputes, whilst being full aware of all the issues. Sir William Cecil, her chief advisor, was also no fan of foreign fads, though perhaps a little more inclined to Calvinism than the Queen. With these three in charge of policy the stage was set for a moderate, "pan-Protestant" religious settlement, reflecting the government's need to bring all three streams of English Protestantism within the national Church. Elizabeth, Cecil, and Parker therefore set out to comprehend Lutherans, Bucerians, and Calvinists within one National Church. Paradoxically, what started off as a matter of political expediency ended up producing what John Wesley described as the "best reformed Church in Christendom."

In the next article we are going to look at how this was brought about and why it is so important for Continuing Anglicans to preserve their Reformed Catholic heritage.

Monday, July 27, 2009

GenCon 2009

There is no doubt about, but GenCon 2009 was the end of the line for Conservatives in the Episcopal Church; just as GC 2000 was "the end" for Catholics in ECUSA. Measures calling for the full inclusion of the LGBT candidates in the ordination, and authorizing the Liturgical Commission to draw up rites for Same Sex Unions effectively mean that the policy of radical inclusion has reached its logical conclusion, which, paradoxically is the "radical exclusion" of Classical Anglicanism, Evangelicalism and Anglo-Catholicism from TEC.

Of course, the demise of the last remnants of traditional Anglicanism in TEC will not be immediate. However, there is no disguising the fact that the remaining conservative parishes are now pockets of resistence in a foreign land, and that there is no hope of a counter-revolution. They should be able to circle the wagons and survive within TEC until their present clergy retire - then they can expect to be "radically included."

However, the new TEC is not that new. It began in the 1960s with the decision of the House of Bishops not to discipline Bishop Pike for his anti-Trinitarian views. Then it continued with the ordination of women (1976); censuring of Bishop Chambers for his support of Continuing Anglicanism (1978); the first woman bishop (1987); and the removal of the conscience clauses (2000) for those opposed to Women Ordination. All of these events are landmarks on ECUSA's road to rejecting Biblical theology and morality in favour of a New Religion.

We should be very thankful for those who had the vision to see where it was all going, and created the Continuing Anglican Church. The St. Louis Congress of Concerned Churchmen (1977), and the Denver Consecrations (1978) marked a new beginning for Anglicanism based up its four fundamental:

The Bible
The Ancient Creeds
The Two Dominical Sacraments, and
The traditional threefold (male) ministry of deacon, priest, and bishop

They also had the wisdom to go a little beyond traditional Anglican doctrine and clarify the position of the Church on issues such as the number of Ecumenical Councils we accept, and where the church stands on, among other things, the sanctity of human life, and the sanctity of marriage.

Organizationally, Continuum is far from perfect, as we have become divided on secondary issues, but we have at least retained "the Faith once delivered to the Saints." After thirty years, the Continuum is reaching maturity, and seeking to work beyond the mistakes of the past - which were entirely political, not theological.

The three jurisdictions that came out of the Denver Consecrations - the Anglican Catholic Church; the Anglican Province of Christ the King, and the United Episcopal Church of North America, are sharing ministers and resources and are slowly moving forward on the issue of achieving an institutional unity that will reflect our unity of faith. I hope that those Catholic Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics who have finally run out of room in TEC will look seriously at the Continuum and realise that the Faith of their Fathers (and mothers!) is alive and well in that little church down the road.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Apostolic Succession in the UECNA

The Succession list given on the United Episcopal Church's website follows a line that incorporates English, Scottish, and Old Catholic lines of Succession. As a result it wanders around the houses a little. The most direct line is as follows:

STEPHEN C. REBER (PB IV, UECNA), who was consecrated in 1996 by

JOHN GRAMLEY (PB III, UECNA), who was consecrated in 1991 by

ALBION KNIGHT (PB II, UECNA), who was consecrated in 1984 by

C. Dale. D. DOREN (PB I, UECNA), who had founded the United Episcopal Church of North America in December 1980. He had been consecrated as Anglican Catholic Bishop of the Midwest on 27 January 1978 by

A. A. CHAMBERS, who had been consecrated as Bishop of Springfield, IL in 1962 [2] by

ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER (PB, PECUSA 1958-1964), who in 1951 had been consecrated as Bishop of Missouri by

HENRY KNOX SHERRILL (PB, PECUSA 1946-58), who in 1930 had been consecrated Bishop of Massachusetts by

JAMES DEWOLFE PERRY (PB 1928-1937) Bishop of Rhode Island) who had been consecrated in 1911 by

DANIEL SYLVESTER TUTTLE, (PB 1901-23) Bishop of Missouri, who had been consecrated as Missionary Bishop of Montana in 1867 by

JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, (PB 1861-67) Bishop of Vermont, who had been consecrated in 1832 by

WILLIAM WHITE, (PB 1787-1789; 1796-1836) Bishop of Pennsylvania, who had been consecrated in February 1787 [1] by

JOHN MOORE, Archbishop of Canterbury 1783-1805

[1] Both the English and Scottish lines of succession derive from the Rt. Rev. Gilbert Sheldon, Bishop of London 1660-63, who consecrated bishops for the Church of Scotland in 1661. In 1678 he consecrated Henry Compton as Bishop of London. Archbishop Moore's orders derive from Compton.

[2] Old Catholic orders enter this line of succession through Horace B. Donegan, who as Bishop of New York, was one of the co-consecrators of A. A. Chambers. A Polish National Catholic Bishop had taken part in the laying on of hands at Donegan's consecration in 1948. In the case of the line of succession published on the UECNA website they enter through Bishop Hulse of Cuba who was consecrated in 1912.

I am not usually one who gets obsessed with Apostolic Succession lists, but just so that you know, your unworthy blogger was consecrated 10 January 2009 in St Louis, MO, by the Most Rev. Stephen C. Reber (PB IV UECNA), assisted by the Rt. Rev. D. Presley Hutchens, Bishop of New Orleans, Anglican Catholic Church, and the Rt. Rev. William Wiygul, Bishop of the Southeastern States, Anglican Province of Christ the King.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Influence of Tractarianism

It is extremely difficult to gauge just how much influence Tractarianism has had in the Anglican world. At the very least, the modern revival of weekly Communion as the main service, a greater interest in liturgical science and a greater and more widespread understanding of Catholic side of Anglicanism should attributed to Tractarianism. However, how much else? We cannot really tell.

The main reason for this is that the Oxford Movement once it escaped from its university setting was not a sharp edged organisation. On the one hand its more moderate followers were ultimately little different to the "Central Churchmen" and on the other it was pretty difficult to decide whether someone was a Prayer Book Catholic, or a mainstream Anglo-Catholic. The boundaries are very vague. Then, of course, the Anglo-Papalists took the ball and ran with it - to all sorts of interesting and unusual places.

All this means that Tractarianism's influence is far more widespread and defuse than one might suspect. However, it was to the Tractarians themselves, and to their assertion of the Catholic character of Anglicanism that I was drawn, formed my theology, and ultimate led me to all sorts of interesting and unusual places.

The first priest I encountered who was a fully paid up member of the Catholic movement was the Rev. E. F. L. Brown (1915-94) who was retired from a ministry spent largely in the diocese of Chelmsford and acted as the assistant priest at my local parish church. Fr. Brown was a member of various Catholic societies, loved Walsingham, and had a way with a 1662 BCP Communion service that had to be seen to be believed. He had grown up at the London end of Essex, and had been accepted for training before World War II, and had arranged to go to Chichester Theological College. However, Hitler intervened and he spent the war in the Army. After demob in 1946 he went to Edinburgh Theological College (intending Chichester men went there for a couple of years after 1945 as the Royal Navy was still using the College buildings) and was ordained in 1948 as Assistant Curate at Inverness Cathedral. He married while still a curate and moved South again after his time at Inverness ending up as Vicar of Foxearth near Sudbury. A quite and unremakable ministry of some 37 years. What he communicated to me was first of all, that the Catholic Movement was a deeply serious one seeking holiness through prayer, worship and sacrament.

The seriousness of Tractarianism is something that was fully absorbed by all branches of the Catholic Movement in the Church of England - Prayer Book Catholic, Anglo-Catholics, and Anglo-Papalists. This seriousness stems from the awareness that human beings were made by God to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him in the next. OK - I know that's the Baltimore Catechism, but it make the point! Thus the spiritual life is the highest calling of humanity, and this cause the Tractarians to stress the old Benedictine (and New Testament) ideal of Conversion of Life. I'll be writing more about this in a later Blog entry.

The other thing that Fr Brown communicated was the idea that the Catholic Movement was fun. The British glory in eccentricity - provided it does not go too far! The Catholic Movement has produced more than its share. Anyone who has been around the Catholic Movement for a while has a story or two about the priests of yesteryear who were characters. One of my favourite stories is about Fr. Colin Stephenson, who was an extreme Anglo-Papalist. He once asked Fr. Cyril Tomkinson if he could celebrate a private Mass at All Saints, Margaret Street, and he replied,

"No, you'll only use that horrid Roman book! The rule here is music by Mozart, decor by Comper, choreogaphy by Fortescue but (wagging his finger) - libretto by Cranmer!"

Another aspect of the "fun" is the liturgy itself. Even in Prayer Book Catholic worship the senses are involved in worship by music, colour, and ceremonial all of which fire the imagination, feed our faith, and foster a sense of mystery, the otherness of God. Even today, there is something about catholic Anglican worship that can lift the worshipper to heaven, and allow us a glimpse of His glory.

It is that mix of orthodox theology, transcendant worship, deep seriousness and a sense of fun that has kept me loyal to the catholic side of Anglicanism for the last 25 years. I hope it is something that I can pass along to the next generation just as Fr. Brown passed it on to me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"At the Reformation...

the Church of England became Protestant in order to become more catholic"
William Van Mildert, Bishop of Durham 1826-36

Van Mildert was a traditional High Churchman, steeped in the theology of the Early Fathers and the Caroline Divines. At first glance his statement looks paradoxical, but what he is getting at is the method of reform. That at the Reformation the Church of England used protestant ideas from the continent to slough off the accumulated abuses of the Middle Ages. Then, interpreting her new formularies in, as Archbishop Parker phrased it, "the most catholic sense" established a national Church which was reformed Catholic in character.

The Anglican Reformation was, in some ways, rather messy, and it owed rather a lot to some of the key players - Elizabeth I, Matthew Parker, and Lord Cecil. They crafted a broadly based Protestant Settlement of Religion that was governed by a conservative revision of the Book of Common Prayer, and from 1563 by the 39 Articles Although the Book of Common Prayer held up very well under pressure, apart from its provisions about vestments being ignored, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (hereafter XXXIX) were soon found to be capable of wide interpretation. The philosophy driving the Elizabethan Settlement was that of making a national Protestant and Episcopal Church. Doctrinally they had tried to comprehend both the Reformed (Calvinist) and Lutheran positions. The result was that the XXXIX largely reflected Lutheran theology except on the topic of Holy Communion where they veered towards the "spiritual presence' views of Cranmer's friend Martin Bucer (1491-1551).

For the first fifty years after 1559, most senior churchmen were High Church Calvinists, and interpreted the XXXIX in that way. They were basically Reformed in theology, but accepted the discipline and liturgy of the Church of England. However, after about 1585 there was a dissenting minority, who, once they became a discernable party, were called Arminians, and later High Churchmen, whose theology was more Patristic in inspiration. They gradually abandoned the Predestinarian theology of the Reformed party, and began preaching the doctrines of Free Wil, Baptismal Regeneration, the Centrality of Holy Communion, and the Divine origin of Episcopacy, all of which they found in the Fathers of the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries. In the later years of James I and in the reign of Charles I they gradually came to be the dominant party in the Church of England, and after the brief Puritan victory of Cromwell's Commonwealth (1644-1660) they were triumphant in the Restoration Church.

The Patristic influenced "Reformed Catholic" theology that they developed and propagated was a dominant school of Anglican thought from the 1660s to the 1840s. From the Caroline Divines, the torch passed to the Non-Jurors, to High Church Whigs like John Potter and Edmund Gibbon, then to the "Orthodox Party" under George III and the Regency, and to E. Harold Browne, and the Wordsworth brothers who were the last major exponants of the tradition. This tradition was absorbed and radicalized by the Tractarians and the Prayer Book Catholics. The older moderate tradition also continued, at least in the UK, and gradually came to be known as Central Churchmanship.

Tractarian Worship

I think a lot of folks confuse Tractarian with Anglo-Catholic. The two are certainly related but they are not identical, but Anglo-Catholicism represents a further radicalization of the High Church Tradition that the Tractarians had themselves tweeked.

In the UK, where I grew up, Tractarianism was generally regarded as having split into two schools in the mid-nineteenth century. These later gave rise to the two dominant twentieth century strains of High Churchmanship - Prayer Book Catholicism and Ritualism/Anglo-Catholicism. Around where I grew up there were far more parishes that took the Prayer Book Catholic approach than the Anglo-Catholic, and the parish that I grew up in was one of them.

The basic principle of Tractarian liturgical theology was that one "took the Book of Common Prayer seriously." This meant, among other things, that

1. Holy Communion should be celebrated every Sunday and Holyday
2. Morning and Evening Prayer should be said every day - publically in church if at all possible.
3. That opportunity for private/auricular confession should be given to those whose consciences demanded it
4. That the rubrics (instructions) in the Book of Common Prayer be followed.
5. That the occasional offices - baptism, marriage, etc. - be performed in a dignified manner and in accordance with Canon (Church) Law.

It does not sound a very ambitious programme, but for parish churches of the time it was almost revolutionary. Indeed, it would be a bit of a stretch for a lot of our parishes today - for example, how many have daily Mattins and Evensong? I know my parish does not manage it! This simple programme of reform soon produced its own worship schedule, as exemplified by my home parish. In 1890, the services were as follows:

Sundays -
8.00am Holy Communion
10.30am Morning Prayer, Litany and Sermon
12noon Holy Communion (1st and 3rd)
2.15pm Sunday School/Catechism
6.30pm Evensong

8.00am Holy Communion (Holydays)
10.00am Morning Prayer
10.30am Holy Communion (Thursdays)
5.30pm Evening Prayer (6.30pm Evensong on Fridays)

Later (1925) this changed a little:

8.00am Holy Communion
10.30am Sung Holy Communion (1st and 3rd) 10.30am Morning Prayer (2nd, 4th and 5th)
2.15pm Sunday School/Catechism
6.30pm Evensong

7.30am Morning Prayer
8.00am Holy Communion (Holydays)
10.30am Holy Communion (Thursdays)
5.30pm Evening Prayer
6.00pm Confessions (Saturdays Only)

You will notice from both schedules that the accustomed Morning Prayer and sermon was allowed to remain in place unchallenged as the main service, whilst the missing elements of the Prayer Book schedule were slowly introduced.

Finally when I was a kid, the parish briefly attained something close to the Tractarian ideal:

8.00am Holy Communion
9.30am Sung Communion
10.30am Mattins
6.30am Evensong

On weekdays MP was at 9.00am and EP at 5.30am. There were to additional Eucharists on Tuesdays at 7.30am and Wednesday 9.30am.

Strictly speaking, the Sung Communion should have followed Mattins, but MP had ben at 10.30am since the eighteeenth century, but otherwise all was as it should be.

The ceremonial was pretty simple. Eucharistic vestments were used for the Holy Communion, but there was no elevation or ringing of bells at the consecration, and reverences ere confined to bows. A couple of Readers assisted at the main Sunday Eucharist as Chalice Bearers, Epistoller, and server. Incense was reserved for the three great feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday. Mattins and Evensong saw the officiant in traditional Anglican choir dress - cassock, surplice, tippet and hood. Everything from "O Lord, open thou our lips" to the end of the third Collect except for the lessons was sung or chanted with the sermon rounding off the service before the blessing. Sometimes these services would be left to the Readers, with the priest giving just the absolution and the blessing.

Tractarian worship focussed on faithful adherence to the provisions of the BCP. Complicated ceremonial and sacristy histronics were not part of the tradition. However, no-one had any doubt about the fact that the Church exists first and foremost to worship God, celebrate the sacraments and preach the Gospel, and not as a source of entertainment.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reformed Catholicism

There have been at least two attempts to rename a portion of the Protestant Episcopal Church as the Reformed Catholic Church. The first came in 1861 when the newly formed Protestant Episcopal Church of the Confederate States met to discuss its constitution. Bishop Green of Mississippi suggested the name, only to have to withdraw it when the strength of Virginia's opposition became known. The second came at the General Convention of 1889, and failed by only three votes!

Why the fascination with the name "Reformed Catholic?"

Anglicans - even the ones who if pushed would call themselves "protestant" - feel a certain discomfort with the term. The source of that discomfort is the fact that the word "Protestant" means not only someone who protests against the errors and innovations of Roman Catholicism, but it also covers a multitude of denominations that have chucked out any concept of being "Catholic" in favour of Radical Biblicism. However, inspite of being used with a capital-R to cover Calvinism, the term "reformed" better encapsulates what Anglican feel happened in their reformation. The Anglican Reformers took the existing Church and reformed it. As one Anglican apologist retorted to a Roman Catholic who asked "Where was your Church before the Reformation?" - "Where was your face before you washed it this morning?"

Anglicans understand their church to be Catholic because of its continuity. After all, almost all Anglican bishops have both William Wareham, the last but one RC, and Thomas Cranmer, the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury in their Apostolic succession. Anglicans also have the Bible, the Creeds, a reformed Liturgy, the Sacraments, as well as that threefold Apostolic ministry. Anglicans have also stated in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral that they believe the Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Episcopal Ministry to be the marks of the Church.

So "reformed Catholic" reflects a great deal of the Anglican self-understanding as being in origin the Catholic Church of England reformed according to Scripture. Also, it isn't really a party label, the High Church Protestants of the eighteenth century used, as have some modern Anglo-Catholics, and in recent times, the Evangelical Scholar, Dr Peter Toon. The fact that it has been accepted as a describer for Anglicanism by men of various parties shows what a widespread appeal it has as a definer for Anglicanism.