What if the Whitby Synod had gone for the Celts?

Discussion in 'Church 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. highchurchman

    highchurchman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    S. Wilfred showed great hostility towards traditional clergy, especially British Bishops. It was a rule of the General Councils, that for safeties sake there should be three bishops at the consecration of a catholic bishop.* Unfortunately, the Church in Britain for some reason only used one! Inspite of this the British Church had been accepted by both sides of the equasion+ and had played its part in the development of the Universal Church and as far as I know no one bothered but Wilfred.
    The problem of Whitby, seems to have originated not from the Church, but from the Saxon State, especially in the North. I remarked in an earlier post, there was a split and Wilfred, if he didn't lead it, would I imagine. exacerbate it! Certainly at one time the ,'Celtic Church,' wouldn't eat with the Latin followers and people who did had to keep a fast for eighty days, whilst Wilfred wouldn't tolerate traditional bishops, as far as I understand. Ultimately, S.Wilfred caused so much trouble that even the supporters of the Latin Communion got fed up with him and he was sidelined. The traditionalists seemed to get bitter then, after many years and much heart ache, the two sids got together and the Church we know today,in Britain, had Both Continental and native traditional bishops in its make up. For after a while, there wasn't enough Latins on hand so the ,'others,' had to seek help for ordinations from the Celts.

    This is from memory, I have the evidence/books on my shelves, or piles, but can't find which & where. When I do I'll post it!
    * Interestingly, for all the fuss and feathers raised on this matter of three bishops, which is universally accepted and rightly so to my mind. The Utrecht Old Catholics, obtained orders from one Roman Archbishop, Deventer, I don' think anyone complained about it!

    + State and Church!
    Hope this is Ok, Scots Cousin?
     
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  8. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    Any words about how things went for the Celtic clergy after the Synod of Whitby (664)?

    S. Wilfred showed great hostility towards traditional clergy, especially British Bishops. It was a rule of the General Councils, that for safeties sake there should be three bishops at the consecration of a catholic bishop.* Unfortunately, the Church in Britain for some reason only used one! Inspite of this the British Church had been accepted by both sides of the equasion+ and had played its part in the development of the Universal Church and as far as I know no one bothered but Wilfred.
    The problem of Whitby, seems to have originated not from the Church, but from the Saxon State, especially in the North. I remarked in an earlier post, there was a split and Wilfred, if he didn't lead it, would I imagine. exacerbate it! Certainly at one time the ,'Celtic Church,' wouldn't eat with the Latin followers and people who did had to keep a fast for eighty days, whilst Wilfred wouldn't tolerate traditional bishops, as far as I understand. Ultimately, S.Wilfred caused so much trouble that even the supporters of the Latin Communion got fed up with him and he was sidelined. The traditionalists seemed to get bitter then, after many years and much heart ache, the two sids got together and the Church we know today,in Britain, had Both Continental and native traditional bishops in its make up. For after a while, there wasn't enough Latins on hand so the ,'others,' had to seek help for ordinations from the Celts.

    This is from memory, I have the evidence/books on my shelves, or piles, but can't find which & where. When I do I'll post it!
    * Interestingly, for all the fuss and feathers raised on this matter of three bishops, which is universally accepted and rightly so to my mind. The Utrecht Old Catholics, obtained orders from one Roman Archbishop, Deventer, I don' think anyone complained about it!

    + State and Church!
    Hope this is Ok, Scots Cousin?


    Your comments about S. Wilfred and the Celts are most welcome! Thank you for sharing your memory, O Cousin.
     
  9. 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.
     
  10. Botolph

    Botolph 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.
     
  11. 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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