Considering Anglicanism

Discussion in 'New Members' started by C. Smith, Aug 27, 2019.

  1. Juliana

    Juliana Member Anglican

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    Please, if you know, can you tell me if it is at all sensible to become a member if my parish is not?
     
  2. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think this might be what confused me and made me think Anglicans didn't necessarily reflect Reformed views. But on the things that matter to me, it seems they do.
     
  4. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Whether Anglicans as individuals reflect Reformed views today is a matter of knowledge and obedience. What is meant by the statement that “Anglicanism is Reformed” is simply that the 39 Articles belong to the broader family of Reformed Confessions and that the Church of England saw itself as aligned with those Protestant Churches following the lines of Zurich and Geneva rather than Wittenburg and Augsburg. The “Via Media” notion, as E.A. Litton noted, is a failure.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This is a corrupt meme of broken 20th century scholarship, along the lines of the Reformation being between “Protestants” vs. “Catholics” or started by Henry VIII’s “divorce”. There isn’t a shred of evidence to support any of this. And the Anglicans from the 18th, or 17th, or especially the 16th centuries never saw it that way. It’s one of the most egregious and corrupt instances of rewriting history. Im not blaming you, I’m blaming the atheistic and anti-Anglican scholars who have been peddling this propaganda.

    First of all there was no such thing as Reformed theology until the 17th century (another big anachronism), second there are verbatim equivalencies between our Articles and the Augsburg Confession, and thirdly most importantly of all, Anglicans never saw other churches as somehow foundational to their identity but instead went directly to the Church Fathers. Thomas Cranmer’s personal library was larger than that of the University of Oxford.
     
  6. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    This is the first time you and I have been on two different planets. There were a lot of bare assertions in your post, but no citations, no sources. No argument. I cited Litton, who died in 1897. What does he have to do with “broken 20th century scholarship”? Other 19th c. sources (both primary and secondary) could be cited, if the goal is to avoid the 20th. As it happens, some of the best and most thorough secondary sources on the subject have been published since the year 2000. To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t needed to rely on any specific 20th c. source to support this interpretation (which was in fact the standard, traditional understanding until the Oxford Movement came along). So much for your first paragraph.

    Your second paragraph is entirely irrelevant to anything I said, and requires no response.
     
  7. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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  8. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yes, what they meant was, it had a Catholic identity that was reformed during the Reformation. Of course. Reformed = of the Reformation. Reformed as an adjective.

    The problem is, that in the 19th century the word “Reformed” began to be used as a substantive noun. “He is a Reformed.”

    The word went from an adjective to a substantive noun, and thus if you wanted merely to say “affected by the Reformation”, you could no longer say “reformed” because it has all these extra meanings now; you have to find some other word, like, “reformational”. Therefore translating what the Divines meant in your link, the Anglican tradition is Catholic and Reformational.

    You can see this very simply in the fact that the Anglican tradition lacks everything contained in the substantive noun Reformed.


    It’s not irrelevant, because consider something really important in how you phrased it. If our tradition was Reformed in the substantive sense I mentioned to Tiffy, then it would mean that the Reformed stuff was a more foundational than the Anglican stuff. But let’s flip it, let’s say that the Anglican stuff is more foundational than the Reformed stuff. Then it should be said that the Reformed tradition has Anglican elements to it.

    In the way our language is used, when we predicate X on Y, we mean that Y is more foundational and X is merely one of the partakes of it. Therefore if you say that Anglicanism is “Reformed” in the substantive sense, you’re unwittingly sneaking in that the Reformed stuff was more weighty/foundational, and Anglicanism something that cribbed from it.

    Even if you believed that “Anglican” and the substantive “Reformed” overlapped in some concepts, then you should be saying that the Reformed have Anglican concepts, not the other way around.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
  9. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    What primary sources can you cite from the period to support this contention?
    To say that the Church of England was Reformed is simply to assert (with evidence) that it was theologically aligned with Zurich and Geneva rather than with the Lutherans. For example, if you catalogue the differences between the 16th c. Confessions - esp. those pertaining to predestination, the nature of the Eucharist, the proper role and use of images, and church-state relations - in every case the Church of England sided with Zurich and Geneva rather than the Lutherans. This wasn’t mere coincidence. There was active correspondence and even collaboration between the English Reformers and their Swiss counterparts, which has been documented meticulously. This alignment is no 20th c. construction. It’s what actually happened, and what everyone knew to have happened before the Oxford Movement tried to rewrite history. I get the sense that this is a conclusion you intend to avoid and have ruled out a priori, for whatever reason.
     
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  10. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Stalwart, this then explains why so many, particularly Americans misunderstand me when I say the Anglican Church is Catholic and Reformed. They look at me and immediately think I'm saying it's Roman Catholic and has done time in Jail. :laugh: Far from implying it has come out of a Reformatory, I in fact mean it has continued in all the good praxis of the RC church but has successfully changed, amended and improved on, most of what was wrong with the RC church at the Reformation by sensibly pulling out of it and doing it all properly. ;)
    .
     
  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I think the Oxford Movement was a necessary swing of the pendulum which went just a bit too far at the time and needs to come to rest at a stable equilibrium achieving a sensible balance between Puritan Calvinistic and Evangelical Universalist Catholic. Something capable of preaching and effectively 'living out' the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ, i.e. having the stamp of His charater upon it.
    .
     
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  12. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    In some things there’s an overlap (which is as relevant as calling Aquinas a “calvinist” because he also taught double predestination). But funny enough, in all of the things you listed the CofE aligned with the Lutherans instead. Shall we go line by line?

    Predestination:
    -single predestination (Augustine) rather than double predestination (Aquinas/Calvin). Lutherans.

    Eucharist:
    -real presence rather than memorialism. Lutherans.

    Images:
    -allowed without worship, rather than destroyed. Lutherans.

    Church-state:
    -intertwined separate spheres: rather than erastianism. Lutherans.

    I could add a ton more:
    -allowance for free will
    -strong tradition of natural law
    -resistible grace
    -fallibility of the elect
    -unlimited atonement
    -conditional election

    But again, what does it matter that the Anglicans aligned with Lutherans on almost all loci? Does that mean that Lutheranism or the Reformed are somehow prior, and we had to choose between the one or the other of the more prior and “more serious” traditions? You realize you’re selling your own Church as a lightweight, also-has-been, johnny-come-lately? Instead of the Only actual serious church in the conversation, the ONLY one among them which dates to the 1st century AD?

    And if you read the Anglican divines themselves, rather than relying on secondary and tertiary sources, you’ll see a surprisingly different picture. Hooker, Andewes, Parker, Nowell, Cranmer, Bilson, Heylyn, Overall, Jewel, Hill, and many others.

    So either the divines suppressed in their official writings their “actual” thoughts, or something is seriously wrong in almost all modern histories of Anglicanism. For example I can’t tell how many times I’ve read Nowell and his Catechisms described as “calvinistic” when the actual guy preached what later would be termed arminian doctrines. For Hooker there’s a new highly-financed “Davenant Institute” which is trying to recast him, yes that Richard Hooker, as a “Reformed theologian”. It’s an effort of literally just the last 5 years and these people have no shame. Look up Brad Littlejohn, Davenant Institute, Richard Hooker. Littlejohn (an emphatic non-Anglican) did his PhD on Hooker which is what entitles him now to recast Hooker in his image, as Reformed theologian. I saw John Jewel described as a “calvinist bishop” just the other day, when the actual guy NEVER cited Calvin or Beza in his works, and called the nascent calvinists of his time, “Vermin”, and “worse than devils” (look up his 1672 Biography, I can send the page once I get home).

    Modern scholarship is broken, you’ll just have to take my word for it (some random guy on the Internet I know), or read the primary sources yourself.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
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  13. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    *Like* hugely all apart from 'Andewes' :laugh: Andrewes Stalwrat Andrewes! ;)
    .
     
  14. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I’ve read as much of the primary sources as I can get my hands on, and I didn’t recognize a single accurate statement in the above, I’m sorry to say. My initial exposure and attraction to Anglicanism had a lot to do with Tractarianism (and with Newman in particular, whose writings have had a profound influence on my life). It was only by delving into the primary sources for myself that it became clear (to me) that the Oxford Movement had rewritten history. My understanding changed as I came into possession of more facts. You seem determined to avoid the straightforward conclusion that a plain sense reading of the primary sources makes clear, and what the majority of scholars on both sides of the Tiber have recognized for hundreds of years. It’s highly unlikely that anything I say here will make any difference in that regard, and until you start producing some evidence to back up these claims there’s no reason for me to oppose my own research or the conclusions of scholarship. What ultimately matters here is not what labels we assign but rather that we seek to seek to follow the teaching of the Scriptures (whatever sound exegesis may reveal that to be), and to confirm for ourselves that this is in fact what historic Anglicanism has taught uninterruptedly. In the Reformed vs. Anglo-Catholic debate, we not only have two different readings of history but also two opposed understandings of the Gospel that can’t both be correct. That’s the real issue when it comes to debating Anglican identity today.
     
  15. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I’m happy to agree to disagree, but you’ve read Nowell, Jewel, and Hooker right? Can you hypothesizs why anyone would want to try to classify them as calvinist or “Reformed”? Jewel refers to himself as a Catholic what seems like hundreds of times, more than any Anglo-Catholic author I’ve ever read actually. He also calls the nascent calvinists of his time “vermin” and worse than devils” (see his 1672 bio).

    Can you hypothesize why someone would want to put big foundation money behind re-categorizing Hooker, unbelievably of all things, into a Reformed theologian?

    Have you read Cranmer’s Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament, and can you discover a single “Reformed” source cited in hundreds of pages?

    You’re still treating the Reformed as heavy, serious and foundational.
     
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  16. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I have read Jewell and Hooker, but not Nowell. My current reading list includes the writings of Hooker, Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and Andrewes, among others (I tend to take an “immersive” approach when studying a topic). My exposure to Cranmer has mostly come through his Collects and his contributions to the first Book of Homilies. Hooker is the writer with whom I have the greatest familiarity from that era.

    One would not expect Cranmer to reference many Reformed works in the work you cited. The final edition of Calvin’s Institutes wasn’t published until 9 years later. Jewell’s work hardly treats of the areas of theology (e.g., soteriology) where the Reformed approach was distinctive.

    I have seen you quote J.I. Packer approvingly in other threads; he was as Reformed as they come. What has become my own approach to Anglican practice (which I strive not to be “mine” at all) derives much from his example. What is your opinion of his legacy? (FWIW, Packer’s work was directly responsible for my own religious awakening earlier in life; despite different ecclesiastical allegiances in his final years, I have an unwavering appreciation for the impact his work has had on my life.)
     
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  17. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Well Zwingli came really early, in the 1520s actually, so there’s plenty of time for those who followed him to have made their affections known. But I get your point that Calvin’s own Calvinism really appears in the 1550s, and (I would add) really flowers with his student Theodore Beza from the 1580s on. That’s why by 1600 you’re starting to see some real full-blown English Calvinism among the likes of William Ames, and William Perkins. The only thing is, they never took control of the English church hierarchy, and by 1600 the prelates were in all-out war to push out the remaining clergy that were persuaded by the early-Reformed and calvinist arguments.

    So I would totally accept your point that for a time in the 1500s and 1600s, a large portion of English people were persuaded by Calvinism, but I’d also just as assert that the English prelates waged an all-out war to fix this. We see this in Archbishop Bancroft’s 1588 sermon where he warned that if the bishops didn’t fix this quickly, the rise of schism and heresy would undermine the whole country, and he was too right when England itself was nearly destroyed as a nation during the Great Rebellion: the Presbyterians, the newly-minted “Baptists”, the naked-walking Adamites, the communist Fifth Monarchists, the freshly-minted Quakers. Only the miracle of the Restoration brought things back from the brink. After 1660, the English people were on the side of the Church of England.


    Packer is someone with a complicated legacy, so I can’t claim to give a definitive portrait quickly. All I’ll say is this: he was the chairman and personally led the ACNA Taskforce to compose the ACNA Catechism in 2017-2019. And thumbing through the catechism you’ll see that it’s as far from Reformed theology as is possible for a document to be. You don’t see any covenant theology or TULIP theology on its pages. It’s a real head-scratcher, given Packer’s lectures on the Puritans from the 1980s.

    As I said I am not the best person to know the backstory behind that. My best (highly hypothetical) theory is that the early Packer flirted with Puritanism because of its (undeniable) emotional intensity, but the late Packer understood that faith must be based on will and intellect rather than emotions, and came back into the fold of orthodoxy, helping to capture the solid and stable mental mindset of a Church that counts in centuries rather than decades.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
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  18. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I think we need to be careful not to identify the Church with "the clergy", but your point is well taken. Part of the problem is, as some more recent historians have pointed out, is that the Church of England's Protestantism, while real, was in a state of arrested development following the Elizabethan Settlement. It's easy enough to recognize the continuity between the English 39 Articles and the confessions coming out of the Swiss Reformation in the 16th cent. The problem is that both were rather early expressions of alternative formulations to what the Lutherans were doing in the north. The Continental Reformed kept on producing more and more detailed confessional statements, holding synods, deciding controversial issues, etc. (in some of which cases the English Church participated in a positive way but then did not turn that participation into anything legally binding). There was of course the quite detailed Westminster Confession during the Civil War, but the acts of Parliament making that standard binding in England were revoked after the Restoration. One could say that since the earlier Swiss confessions led logically to the more detailed confessions on the Continent over the next decades (and I suspect this is correct), therefore the 39 Articles should be seen as (at least) consistent with those confessions as well. But at the same time, those confessions aren't morally or legally binding. Overall, I think Packer's approach was the more intellectually honest one, but one can always retort that Anglican confessional development stopped with the 39 Articles and that whatever they didn't address is to left to individual conscience.
     
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  19. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The problem I see people make, is they identify the 39 Articles too closely with the other confessional 16th century documents. There are at least two substantial, not accidental but substantial differences between our Articles and everything else written at that time (both roman and protestant):

    1. They are minimal, rather than maximal
    2. They were rejected and abolished by the Puritans when they came to power

    These are pretty cataclysmic points, when you look into them, but modern scholars have unfortunately overlooked them.

    The rejection of the Articles by the Puritans is highly significant, because it shows that they were incompatible with Reformed theology. The fact that the Puritans tried to pass the calvinistic Lambeth Articles in 1595 also shows that the original Articles did not capture the doctrines adequately and correction was needed.

    The fact of the Articles being minimal is also a huge point. Everybody else, the Romans, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, chose to write tomes where they minutely captured the precise nuances of theology. The Anglican decision was to write something that could fit on two sheets of paper. This means that people can see almost anything they want in there. It was strategically and tactically designed as "Mere Christianity", ie. the most Catholic document possible, rather than the Roman/Lutheran/Presbyterian strategy which was emphatically sectarian. So I don't see Swiss affinities at all, any more than I see Lutheran affinities. I even see affinities with Romanism in a certain context (that was the problem the Puritans had). We should be proud of our most Catholic 39 articles, rather than put them into a narrow pigeon hole of some narrow sectarianism.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2021
  20. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I am not entirely certain what "minimal vs. maximal" is intended to mean in this context. It could mean quantity, i.e., "less vs. more", or it could refer to quality, i.e., "indefinite vs. definite". It's clear that there have always been plenty of Anglicans out there who want it to mean the latter even if they only say it means the former. If you could point me in the direction of the primary sources pertaining to point #2, that would be most appreciated (I don't doubt that what you're saying on that subject is correct, I simply cannot locate the sources for some reason). The subsequent history of the Lambeth Articles and their impact on Anglicanism in Ireland is a fascinating one, and one clearly intertwined with monarchical, parliamentary, and ecclesiastical politics, as the Church of England itself was (and still is). Ultimately, more fundamental than the question of what was adopted or ratified where and when, is the question of truth. If the vision of the Reformed confessions, for instance, turns out to be the correct interpretation of the Scriptures, then it would in fact be "binding" in a very real sense, even if it is not explicitly contained in any acknowledged formulary. That hypothetical premise must be granted; otherwise the profound impact of other debates within Anglicanism - such as those over Women's Ordination - makes little sense. It's ultimately a question of truth, not law.
     
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