Origins of the Church of England

Discussion in 'Church History' started by Botolph, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Recently I was confronted by this:

    The Church of England was created by a man that asked the Pope for permission to disobey the bible to marry his brother's wife. The argument was that because his brother and his future wife not have sexual relations, they were not married. This was true, so the King of England could marry his brother's virgin wife.

    After four of his five children died, leaving him only a daughter to inherit the Kingdom of England, he broke from the Catholic Church and cast the devoted Catholic English into a earthly hell.

    And appealing to the devil does nothing. His first daughter ruled England. Then his second bastard protestant daughter, whose mother he murdered, ruled England and unleashed absolute hell.​

    Whilst some of this is clearly polemical, and for my money some of it is just wrong, starting with the idea that the Church of England was created by. I have made some attempt to rebut this, however I would be interested to hear what other think, because it is not the first time I have heard this levelled.
     
  2. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    The Church of England was started by Augustine, a Catholic missionary. It was, however, reformed in 1526 due to various reasons *cough* indulgences, tyranny *cough*, but the romans love to point out the request for an annulment by King Henry. It is not like the King threw a fit because his annulment was denied, the reformation in England began because he had previous dust ups in the past with the Pope, leading him to question his authority.

    I would just respond with basically what I said above. If the person you are debating with is persistent and brings up other arguments, just say "well at least my Church wasn't corrupt to the point of selling free passes to heaven."

    In addition, watch some of these videos, they are very educational.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8fkNVqkOaw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULz7PZsMEf4
     
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  3. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    Oh, and in addition, Catholics killed Anglicans too. It wasn't a one sided war, so to speak. Just look at Thomas Cranmer, he was burned alive and beaten. However, this does not justify the actions of some Anglicans, we both did what we shouldn't have.
     
  4. BibleHoarder

    BibleHoarder Active Member

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    There's a lot of lies and misunderstandings about Anglicanism. I too noticed that the King Henry argument is a common misrepresentation of where Anglicanism really came from. The Anglo-Saxon catholic Christians have a lineage that goes way back before all that happened. The Book of Common Prayer and the 39 articles were established by Elizabeth and the bishops because they wanted to reclaim the church and reform it back into the hands of orthodox Christian doctrine to make up for all the damage done by her relatives "Bloody" Mary and Henry.

    I was reading debates and discussions between Roman and Orthodox Catholics about the subject of the 'true' church and historical Christianity. Anglicanism was the least likely candidate for this on my mind because, if the whole point was a bout justifying divorce, then why take it seriously? Thing is, when I began to research what Anglicanism was really about and which aspects of Catholic and Protestant doctrines they claim to be historical and orthodox, I came to find that Anglicanism was entirely reasonable and could be taken more seriously than initially thought.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I'd want to push back on that for several different reasons:
    1. If by "Catholic" you mean the Church Universal or the undivided church of the 1st millenium, then sure. Even John Calvin acknowledged St. Gregory the Great as "the last Great Pope" showing how even the non-catholic strands of Protestantism accept large chunks of the early undivided Church.

    But if you mean the Roman Catholic church, then Augustine was not sent by 'Roman Catholics', for the simple reason that there was no Roman Catholicism (as it exists today) until the Popes began to assert universal jurisdiction of the world. The Pope St. Gregory the Great has said: 'if any of my successors assert jurisdiction over the whole world, they will be the forerunners of the antichrist', which illustrates (again) the difference between the early Church and the new emergence of Roman Catholicism and the Greek Orthodox Church in the 7-8th centuries AD (none of whom are 'the' early church, despite their claims).

    2. St. Augustine of Canterbury wasn't the first 'Anglican'. According to the medieval historian Venerable Bede the Church of England was planted by Joseph of Arimathea. And even if you quibble with that, we know there were Christians in England from the 1-2nd centuries AD. What this means is that St Augustine of Canterbury is simply someone who brought the various bishops, priests and laity together, as the founder of the See of Canterbury.
     
  6. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    Yes, 1st definition. Thank you for your corrections.
     
  7. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Member Anglican

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    What an absurd summary.

    The Church of England - the Ecclesia Anglicanae - was founded from the streams of Romano-British, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Christianity.

    It is true that the formal separation (arguably a re-separation as the church had not always been subject to the Roman bishop) from Rome began under Henry VIII, however there are several myths about him.

    A) Henry pursued his annulment because he simply was overcome with lust.

    Henry was not a temperate man, however the notion that he sought separation with Rome purely over lust was absurd. The Pope was fully capable of granting him the title Defender of the Faith while he was shamelessly pursuing adulterous relationships while a "good son of the Church." If that was all he was after he very well could have remained married to Catherine of Aragon and remained under Rome.

    B) Henry sought ecclesiastical independence because of ulterior political motives.

    This assumes a very modern lens on what was still a fairly medieval period and a medieval man. Henry, while a sinner, also saw himself as a pious man, listening to five masses a day sometimes. The notion that he was cursed for his ostensibly unbiblical marriage (interestingly enough Luther despised Henry VIII and wrote to him to accept his lawful wife), would've been taken extremely seriously. Even more seriously were the stakes, as Henry VIII was the unification of the warring Yorkist/Lancastrian factions of the English royal families. A lack of a serious heir would've plunged England into years more of brutal civil war.

    Also the argument that Henry and Catherine were lawfully married is due to the argument that her and Arthur, Prince of Wales had not consummated their marriage, despite being married for months before he fell ill. It's in vogue for modern historians to discount his claims of enjoying his new marriage as "boasting" but frankly I do not know what is so difficult to accept that a young man would've consummated his marriage.

    C) The English Reformation is all about Henry.

    Lutheran and Reformed ideas were already on the island, as evidenced by the 63 Protestants burned alive by Henry. The Henrician separation made Protestant reform possible but that came later under Edward VI, not Henry.

    D) Misc

    This counting ignores his only legitimate son, Edward VI, the son of his (by all accounts, Protestant and Roman) lawful Queen Jane Seymour. By Catholic canon law and English succession law, Edward was the rightful monarch, not Mary after Henry's death. The most intense reform happened under Edward who was a serious Protestant.

    Even if Elizabeth was a "bastard" (arguably untrue if Prince Arthur & Princess Catherine's marriage was consummated, as Henry's marriage would've been invalid), she did not take the throne until after the ostensibly blessed Queen Mary died. Here's the rub: Mary made Elizabeth her heir. All this Roman myth making over Elizabeth's illegitimate hold on the throne is trounced by the fact that the intensely Roman queen legally made Elizabeth her heir.

    This is when the real Anglican settlement happens, the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, the Reformation bills, the Act of Supremacy, all of this takes place after Mary made Elizabeth the monarch and all of this already has their roots in Edward's reformation earlier.

    The notion that Henry is simply a cartoonish villain or that he is the sum of the English Reformation is historically absurd.
     
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  8. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I have taken this line.
    • Henry had no intent to form a new church by the Act of Supremacy or any other act. Henry sought not to pardon himself, and the annulment came from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, following a special court hearing in Dunstable Abbey. Henry's argument was that the Pope was acting like a Prince (the reasons for the refusal to grant the annulment by the Pope were clearly political not religious), and he did not seek to act himself like a Pope.
    The origins of the English Church are very early, and quite possibly in the Apostolic period, though there is no solid historical evidence.
    • Hippolytus (170-235) records Aristobulus of Britannia as being one of the seventy two disciples mentioned in Luke 10:1, and indicated in Romans 16:10. The historic accuracy of this may be questioned, however the early tradition of such a view is apparent.
    • There is a strong tradition associating Joseph of Arimathea with Glastonbury, which has some practical sensibility due to the Phoenician Trade Route, and the probable need Joseph of Arimathea had for some protection in the wake of the crucifixion and resurrection.
    • There were early Christians among the Roman Legions, and Christianity may well have arrived in England quite easily by that method, Early.
    • The first British martyr is Alban, and the date is vague, though most place it early, mid or late 3rd Century.
    • There were somewhere between three and six British Bishops at the Council of Arles in 314 AD, 16 years before the Council of Nicaea, so clearly by that stage the Church had some standing on the Island by that stage.
    • By the early 400’s following the teaching of Pelagius, a British Monk, whose teaching on free will drew ire from Augustine of Hippo and the Council of Carthage in 418 AD, and Pelagianism was rightly condemned as a heresy.
    So 200 years before Augustine the English Church had Martyrs, Bishops and Heretics.

    The Saxon assault on the English Southern Coast placed great pressure on the Celtic Church however it clearly survived. There is strong evidence to suggest that the community that gathered around Old Sarum (near Salisbury) was a major centre for the Church of the time and that the rites of the Old Sarum community were perhaps more elaborate and ornate and possibly more Oriental than the simpler Roman Rites. The almost certainly kept what we might describe as the Eastern date for Easter.

    Pope Gregory 1, famous for his quote ‘Non Angli, sed angeli ‘ (not angles but angels) reminds Anglicans that we do not accept the infallibility of the Pope.

    He commissioned Augustine to travel to England and convert the English. Much of our knowledge of the Augustinian Mission comes from the Venerable Bede and after having established his base in Kent, at Canterbury, where the community adopted a Benedictine rule, he went about the work of recovering England for the Christian Faith. Much of his time was spent in negotiation with the British Church already extant, though following some practices that did not accord with Roman practice. The English rites (probably old sarum) were a little to elaborate, and the Date of Easter they followed was in accord with the Byzantine Church. Number of compromises were made in the settlement of this, and the English Church adopted the latin date of Easter, and retained some of their own customs and prayers, but essentially fell into line.

    Essentially Ecclesiastical power moved from Sarum to Canterbury.

    1014 brought the Danish Invasion and Conquest, and the faith was alive, and Cnut seems happily to have fallen in line with English Church practice. He appointed Stigand as his Mass Priest. Stigand later became Archbishop of Canterbury while Edward the Confessor was King, leading to his excommunication by the Pope, though he continued to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Following Edward's death and the hasty coronation of Harold Godwinson, William of Normandy (who was conceived out of wedlock) mounted the second invasion of England under the authority of the Pope whose banners were carried into the battle at Battle near Hastings. Following Williams success, and coronation - by Stigand (?) - William’s regime went about enforcing the latin rite, deposing the English Bishops and replacing them with Italians and Normans, and bringing England more directly under Papal influence, many Churches were replaced with Norman Structures, and the old rites destroyed and replaced with the approved rite. Stigand was imprisoned and died in custody of starvation. Lanfranc, Abbot of Bec became ArchBishop of Canterbury, followed by Anselm, also Abbot of Bec. The nature and character of the English Church was significantly suppressed and changed.

    I think that it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the Act of Supremacy reasserted the independence of the Ancient and Venerable English Church.
     
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  9. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    Perhaps another argument for Arthur and Catherine not being married, is, that if they were Henry and Catherine would not have had children. Mary lived to 42 years old.
    If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonoured his brother. They will be childless. Lev 20;21
     
  10. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Deuteronomy 25:5-10
    When brothers reside together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, taking her in marriage, and performing the duty of a husband’s brother to her, and the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed to the name of the deceased brother, so that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. But if the man has no desire to marry his brother’s widow, then his brother’s widow shall go up to the elders at the gate and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his town shall summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying, ‘I have no desire to marry her’, then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, pull his sandal off his foot, spit in his face, and declare, ‘This is what is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ Throughout Israel his family shall be known as ‘the house of him whose sandal was pulled off.’

    Leviticus 20:17-21
    If a man takes his sister, a daughter of his father or a daughter of his mother, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace, and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people; he has uncovered his sister’s nakedness, he shall be subject to punishment. If a man lies with a woman having her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow and she has laid bare her flow of blood; both of them shall be cut off from their people. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister or of your father’s sister, for that is to lay bare one’s own flesh; they shall be subject to punishment. If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they shall be subject to punishment; they shall die childless. If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity; he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

    Matthew 22:23-28
    The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses said, “If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.” Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman herself died. In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.’

    Article XX
    ... it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. ...
    John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster interestingly turns up on twice on the maternal lineage of Catherine of Aragon and on both sides of Arthur's Lineage (therefore also Henry's), so none of this is totally detached from the Wars of the Roses, and the Struggle Henry VII had to assert the legitimacy of the House of Tudor, not simply as conquerors. The simple truth is in some ways Isabella of Castile had as good, if not better claim to the English Throne than Henry VII. There is no doubt that the arranged marriage of Catherine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor had the advantage of legitimising the House one Step Further, as indeed his own marriage to Elizabeth of York.

    Bearing Article 20 in mind it would seem that the passage from the Gospel of Matthew makes good sense invoking the Deuteronomy 25 principal, whilst I understand that Jesus is not talking here about real events, he certainly is not calling into question the viability of the practice, but rather challenging the Sadducees who rejected the idea of resurrection by view of having a limited understanding of it.

    The Deuteronomy passage is quite strong in terms of the importance of family and line, (something the Tudors understood) and clearly as Arthur had died without child it seems that there was an Old Testament Biblical injunction that Henry VIII should have married Catherine of Aragon as he did. No one raised the matter of the Leviticus passage at the time of Henry's, marriage to Catherine. Had they done so, I am sure they would have been slapped down with the Deuteronomy passage.

    The Leviticus passage is more intelligently read as referring to the living rather than a widow. So if Henry VIII had slept (to put it nicely) with Catherine while she was married to Arthur (still living) then the full force of Leviticus would have been invoked. To read the Leviticus passage as inferring that Henry VIII was in error to marry Catherine of Aragon is to expound one verse of scripture in a manner that is repugnant to another. The Leviticus passage seems vaguely reminiscent of the Table of Kindred and Affinity, or maybe it is just script ideas for the writers of afternoon soaps on TV.

    The Levitical passage was expounded by Henry VIII and others from some time later, as Henry VIII sought to understand why his only living male child, Henry Fitzroy, was the son of his then mistress Bessie Blount, given that Henry, Duke of Cornwall his son by Catherine had died less than 2 months old. Henry would never understand that God would not bless him, unless of course God was displeased with him, and so he had to understand why. Henry was concerned with the line, the Tudor obsession with succession, and dearly felt that it was his duty to leave the Kingdom with a legitimate male Heir, and preferably a spare as well. England could ill afford to descend into the wasteland of the Wars of the Roses yet again.
     

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