What if the Whitby Synod had gone for the Celts?

Discussion in 'Anglican History' started by Scottish Monk, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    Earlier today I landed on an interesting webpage announcing a course: CH130 - The Venerable Bede and the Origins of Anglicanism. The course took place in the summer of 2012 at The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church at New York. The course was led by J. Robert Wright, author of A Companion to Bede: A Reader's Commentary on the Ecclesiastical History of the English People. I wish I had been able to attend this class.

    However, only learning of the course six months after the course ended--I thought I would do the next best thing to attending the course--start a thread on one of the lines in the course announcement:

    What might Anglicanism be like today if the Synod of Whitby (664 A.D.) had gone the other way?

    So, how about it Anglican Historians? What if the Synod of Whitby had gone for the Celtic rather than the Roman way?

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  2. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    Then the church would have been different. How different? Read about ancient Celtic Christianity, and you will see.
     
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  3. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Dear Scots American Cousin,

    First of all, Whitby didn't go the Roman way, at least in my opinion. It followed the Continental way, in both Rite and Ceremonial. As far as I have been taught there was no split in doctrine,it was same then as now, Revelation, Scripture and Tradition.
    In 607 AD, the Celtic Bishops had given the thumbs down to Roman attempts at hegemony but decided it would be more sensible to mix with the immediate neighbours. Rome didn't achieve any ascendancy till the 1500s at Trent. Though not for the want of trying!
    Even after Whitby, it took some two hundred years for the fusion to heal and for those two hundred there was a rent in the ,'garment,' with the Church being split!'. In Ireland the split took even longer, mixing with the Latins,(for want of a better word,) taking till the eleventh century to come about.
     
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  4. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Not all the Celts complied with the Synod of Whitby. The Celtic Church in Dumnonia (what is now Cornwall and Devon) didn't . In 705, Aldhelm, the first Bishop of Sherborne wrote to Geraint of King of Dumnonia rebuking him for adhering to the Celtic Church and asking him to conform to Roman orthodoxy.

    Apart from a brief period in the 9th century when the Cornish Bishop Kenstec acknowledged the authority of Ceolnoth, (Archbishop of Canterbury, 833-870), it wasn't until 930 that the English King Athelstan conquered the Cornish and brought the remnants of the Kingdom of Dumnonia under English control. The Celtic Church in Cornwall then became remodeled on Saxon lines. Foreshadowing the later dissolution of monasteries under Henry VIII, Celtic monasteries were dissolved and some were reconstituted as collegiate churches as at St Michael's Mount and St Buryan in Cornwall. In the heyday of Celtic Monasticism in Cornwall there were somewhere in the the region of 98 monastic foundations. We see evidence of this in Cornish place names starting with Lan, signifying a religious/monastic enclosure. I believe that there was similar resistance to Roman authority made by the Celtic Church in Wales.

    The main differences between the Celtic Church and Rome are well known - the calculation of the date of Easter, style of monastic tonsure, baptismal rites and method of consecrating Bishops. Prefiguring Apsotolicae Curae, Rome seemed to have questioned the validity of Celtic Orders to the extent that Celtic clergy had to submit to supplemental rites to regularize their Orders. Bishop Chad is perhaps a well known example of this kind. Even the consecration of churches was called into question, its members were refused communionwithout first making a formal submission, and doubts were shown even as to the validity of their baptisms.
     
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  5. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for this good history lesson.
     
  6. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    Symphorian. . .

    Thank you for sharing about Cornwall (and Celtic) Christian history.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Mockingbird

    Mockingbird Member

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    The Celtic-84 Easter computation would in time have collapsed under the weight of its own shortcomings, and Northumbria would have adopted the Alexandrian computus in the end, though perhaps in a modified form which formally, though not in fact, allowed Easter to fall on the 14th through the 20th of the moon.
     
  8. Philip Barrington

    Philip Barrington Well-Known Member

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    I feel this is an interesting, if moot question. Had the Celts prevailed at Whitby it seems clear that the Church in the land conquered by Cnut 1014, would have been different. How different we can only guess. Whilst Celtic heritage continued to survive in the Church past Whitby, it it probable that had the Celtic options prevailed there would have been influence from Rome.

    I think that it is reasonable to conclude that the conquest in 1066 by the Normans under the Pope's banners would have happened anyway, and the deposition of the English Bishops in the years that followed would have been essentially the same, if not more severe.
     
  9. Mockingbird

    Mockingbird Member

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    I accept the first two, but the third and the fourth seem to be over-generalizations from individual cases.
     

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