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Tuesday
Nov292016

E.H. Browne on the Homilies

If you listen to certain neo-Puritan types, the Homilies as formularies are on the same footing, authoritatively speaking, as the Articles and Prayer Book.  But no one in his right mind thinks that a preacher's opinion can have the same authority as a confession or creed.  No Continental Reformer ever thought that, but somehow our neo-Puritan friends differ from those Continental Reformers whom they hold in highest regard.  Here's what Browne said about the Homilies:

All writers on the subject have agreed, that the kind of assent, which we are here called on to give to them, is general, not specific. We are not expected to express full concurrence with every statement, or every exposition of Holy Scripture contained in them, but merely in the general to approve of them, as a body of sound and orthodox discourses, and well adapted for the time for which they were composed. For instance we cannot be required to call the Apocrypha by the name of Holy Scripture, or to quote it as of Divine authority, because we find it so in the Homilies. We cannot be expected to think it a very cogent argument for the duty of fasting, that thereby we may encourage the fisheries and strengthen the seaport towns against foreign invasion. And perhaps we may agree with Dr. Hey, rather than with Bp. Burnet, and hold, that a person may fairly consider the Homilies to be a sound collection of religious instruction, who might yet shirk from calling the Roman Catholics idolaters. The Homilies are, in fact, semi-authoritative documents...

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Reader Comments (14)

The opposite, of course, is the absolute disregard for the homilies that is the current practice of continuing churches.

In my 8 years as an Anglican I cannot recall a single reference to any Homily in any sermon.

November 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKen

It is interesting to note, however, that King Edward's Preface to the First Book of Homilies specifically stated that their teaching was to be the standard for biblical exposition on the key theological issues of the English Reformation, including the authority of Scripture and justification by faith. According to Edward's Preface, no one was to preach anything which differed from their biblical interpretation. Soon to be required reading in every parish church in England every Sunday, the doctrines expounded by the homilies were intended "to expel and avoid . . . erroneous doctrine tending to superstition and idolatry, and clearly to put away all contention which hath heretofore risen through diversity of preaching." The English Reformers plainly did, in fact, think that the Homilies were on the same level of authority as the prayer book and the Articles. Indeed, the homilies were the first major liturgical change that Cranmer introduced into the Sarum Mass under Edward, and he did so as a doctrinal bridge to help the people understand the theological commitments expressed in the prayer book which was to come two years later. Then together the Book of Homilies and the Book of Common Prayer formed the worship experience of Edwardian parishioners. Whatever one might say about the importance of the Homilies in later Anglicanism, it is simply not historically factual to claim that the Homilies were not intended by the Edwardian and Elizabethan churches to establish and expound their clear doctrinal commitments. To label the best current scholarship (see MacCulluch, for example) on the subject as "Neo-Puritan" is uninformed at best, biased ignorance at worst.

November 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterA Cradle Episcopalian

Well, Cradle Episcopalian, "neo-Puritan" will stand regardless of your opinion. Not only did I not coin the term, my interactions with a number of the members of said party leaves me with no doubt as to its appropriateness. Edwardian Anglicanism ultimately did not "take" in the Church of England, to the chagrin of paleo and neo-Puritans alike, and MacCulloch is one who is happy about it. As he notes at the end of this article, of the two orthodox parties, Reformed and "Arminian", which contend for the right to use name "Anglican", they "contend for mastery within English tradition, and they have created that fascinating dialogue about the sacred which the world calls Anglicanism. Long may the fight continue. It will be better for the sanity of the Anglican tradition if neither side manages to win."

The only thing I would say in reply is to reiterate that for all intents and purposes one side did win.

November 30, 2016 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

Ken, this comes as no surprise, since it's difficult to get most Continuers to agree that the Articles are in some sense normative for Anglicans. The Articles are at least patient of both an Arminian and Catholic interpretation. Not so the spirit that breathes though the Homilies. The Homily on the Peril of Idolatry is one clear instance of the Puritan-ward bent of the homilist. Only the Calvinists and Anabaptists took such a position on the use of images in the church. The Lutherans did not, and later generations of Anglicans more or less adopted the Lutheran point of view.

November 30, 2016 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

My dear Embryo Parson, perhaps the best way we can witness to the Anglican tradition as you see it is to be generous and gracious with others with whom we disagree. A narrow defensiveness would seem to suggest an overriding passion, nay enthusiasm, more associated with the "Neo-Puritans" rather than the cultured reasonableness and commitment to intellectual discourse that MacCulloch would associate with the term "Anglican." Perhaps in the case of our discussion, a more gracious reply would have been to acknowledge your serious factual lapse in stating the Reformers never intended the homilies to be doctrinal standards, but then adding that later Anglicans no longer agreed with that approach and that certainly is the current position of both TEC and the CofE. Secondly, it would be so helpful if you could identify your source for the term "Neo-Puritan." That is new to me. It would be so helpful to know the source, because historically there are major doctrinal differences between the reformed theology of Edwardian Reformation and the reformed praxis of later Puritans. Any "Neo-Puritans" in the Anglican Communion today, if the term is accurately used, would have to refer to the opponents of the Edwardian and Elizabeth religious establishment, rather than to the English Reformers themselves. Perhaps neither you nor your "Neo-Puritan" opponents can rightly claim the English Reformers as establishing your respective understandings of Anglicanism, but then, of course, because Anglicanism has developed through the centuries with vibrant low, high and broad church groups within it, you wouldn't need to make such a claim to authenticate the validity of your branch of Anglicanism. So, my dear Embryo Pastor, please step back for a moment from the discussion. If I and/or the "Neo-Puritans" have treated you unkindly, I do apologize. Please realize that neither I nor historical accuracy are you enemy. Let's see if we can help each other make cogent statements that advance everyone's understanding of Anglicanism's diverse history and its relevance for the church's mission today in a warm, mutually respectful manner that let's everyone see that we are Christians by how we love each other.

November 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCradel Episcopalian

My dear Embryo Parson, perhaps the best way we can witness to the Anglican tradition as you see it is to be generous and gracious with others with whom we disagree. A narrow defensiveness would seem to suggest an overriding passion, nay enthusiasm, more associated with the "Neo-Puritans" rather than the cultured reasonableness and commitment to intellectual discourse that MacCulloch would associate with the term "Anglican."

Hello again Cradle Episcopalian. Let me preface my reply by saying that you should not think my use of the word “neo-Puritan” is intended to be in any way pejorative. You almost seem to have taken offense in a personal way. If so, please allow me to assure you that I meant it to be purely descriptive, though as you and I both know, “Anglican” and “Puritan” are names that stand for two bitterly divided camps historically speaking, and as a classical Anglican rather than a Neo-Puritan myself, I keenly understand the reasons for the chasm that separates me from him and his modern-day successors.

That being said, I agree with you that we should strive to “help each other make cogent statements that advance everyone's understanding of Anglicanism's diverse history and its relevance for the church's mission today in a warm, mutually respectful manner that let's everyone see that we are Christians by how we love each other.” We can certainly disagree without rancor. However, I’m not sure why you seem to assume that I wrote what I did because I have been “treated unkindly” by Neo-Puritans. Perhaps you are one who has observed my interactions with some of them in certain discussion fora where I essentially gave up on them and left. ;>) If so, please understand that my criticisms of Neo-Puritanism are based on substantive issues and not on any way I may have been “treated.” I’m 62 years old and accordingly very laid back about most things, and have accordingly ceased to be attuned to unimportant things such as personal slight. Let’s then move on now to the substance of your reply:

Perhaps in the case of our discussion, a more gracious reply would have been to acknowledge your serious factual lapse in stating the Reformers never intended the homilies to be doctrinal standards, but then adding that later Anglicans no longer agreed with that approach and that certainly is the current position of both TEC and the CofE.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t clear in the original post. I meant to say that the *Continental* Reformers, as opposed to the English ones, never elevated homilies to the level of creed or confession. At least I’m not aware of any who did, but perhaps you can enlighten me. By my lights, the Protestant Reformers believed that infallibility subsisted in the Bible alone. Councils could err, they said, and by logical extension the homilist especially could err, since he was but one man and largely ecclesially unchecked. You are correct, however, to say that the English Reformers of the English Reformation’s Edwardian phase thought that the Homilies should be accorded the same status as the other Anglican formularies. However, that position ultimately did not “take” with later, more mature classical Anglican divinity, and rightly so I would say for the reason I set forth above. While Scripture alone may be infallible, according to standard Protestant reasoning, a homilist’s exegesis will naturally be even less infallible than that of a church council or a church’s confession – such as the Articles of Religion. That’s why the Homilies cannot have the same authority as the Articles, or more importantly, the theology reflected in what the Church prays in her Book of Common Prayer. That’s why Browne and others who echo his assessment are right, in my estimation, and those who would elevate the Homilies to the level of confession and prayer book are wrong, and that would include Edwardian Reformers of the English Reformation.

Secondly, it would be so helpful if you could identify your source for the term "Neo-Puritan." That is new to me. It would be so helpful to know the source, because historically there are major doctrinal differences between the reformed theology of Edwardian Reformation and the reformed praxis of later Puritans. Any "Neo-Puritans" in the Anglican Communion today, if the term is accurately used, would have to refer to the opponents of the Edwardian and Elizabeth religious establishment, rather than to the English Reformers themselves.

Happily. To cite perhaps the most important example of several I will set forth below, here is “J.I. Packer in His Own Words”, writing the following:

“I would ask you to think of me as a Puritan: by which I mean, think of me as one who, like those great seventeenth-century leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, seeks to combine in himself the roles of scholar, preacher, and pastor, and speaks to you out of that purpose.

[My goal as a Christian theologian] is not adequately expressed by saying that I am to uphold an evangelical conservatism of generically Reformed or specifically Anglican or neo-Puritan or interdenominational pietist type, though I have been both applauded and booed on occasion for doing all these things, and I hope under God to continue to do them. But if I know myself I am first and foremost a theological exegete.”

So, in accordance with what I wrote at the beginning of this reply, “neo-Puritan” is not necessarily a pejorative term. Packer is a theologian for whom I have the highest regard, especially since he, unlike so many other Neo-Puritans I have encountered, extends some real Christian charity and understanding to those Anglicans who stand closer to the ancient Catholic faith. I respect him and any other Neo-Puritan who exhibits suchlike charity, even though I obviously disagree with him profoundly as to what Anglicanism really is. Returning to my list of examples:

Here is Scot McKnight using a label that Packer himself does not reject, “Neo-Puritan.”

And here is a discussion at TitusOneNine that uses the term with reference to the Syndey Anglicans.

Like I said, I didn’t coin the term. It’s been out there in use for quite a while, and a simple Google search would have been enough to educate you as to the thrust of its meaning. Now, you are keen to persuade us that there is a substantial difference between the Edwardian Reformers and the Puritans, but MacCulloch himself seems to belie that notion, as he shows here the clear trajectory of Cranmerianism toward what came to be known as Puritanism, a program of radical reform that was ultimately terminated by a faith and practice that came to be known as “Anglicanism”. MacCulloch argues that the Edwardian program of reform ultimately failed to become the established religion of the realm, however strenuously modern Neo-Puritans go on and on about “Anglicanism as established”, meaning the English Reformation’s Edwardian phase.

Perhaps neither you nor your "Neo-Puritan" opponents can rightly claim the English Reformers as establishing your respective understandings of Anglicanism, but then, of course, because Anglicanism has developed through the centuries with vibrant low, high and broad church groups within it, you wouldn't need to make such a claim to authenticate the validity of your branch of Anglicanism.

What I have done instead to resolve the question of Anglican identity to which you allude here is to follow the promptings of Anglican leaders in the stripe of Canon Arthur Middleton and ACC Metropolitan Mark Haverland, to wit, that we should strive to locate our identity in the mind of the Fathers and Doctors of the undivided church of the first millennium. I complement that by standing with Peter Leithart as he seeks to persuade his fellow Protestants that there is really no future in Protestantism as such. Having the Church of England be nothing more than the the Church of the Fathers, after all, was the stated aim of not only Caroline and Tractarian divinity, but also Edwardian divinity before it. In that mix of divines, some of them were wrong about what it meant to be a Church of the Fathers (if the Law of Contradiction still holds, that is), and I believe I know which divines they were. My only question at this point is what degree of comprehensiveness such a program would permit, but I’m quite certain that it will be a narrower type of comprehensiveness than what has been tried before.

December 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

My dear Embryo Parson, many thanks for the more irenic discourse in keeping with your elder statesman position. Thank you as well for acknowledging that the Edwardian Reformers felt the homilies were on the same level of authority as the Articles and prayer books, especially since one can detect the same theological hand behind them all, Cranmer himself. Thank you again for being kind enough to respond to my specific arguments, even if I do not find your reasoning convincing.

1. According to the English reformers, the creeds and confessions possessed authority in and so far as they were held to be valid expressions of biblical truth. In the unique development of the English Reformation, homilies, devised by committee and approved the church's leadership (not merely by an individual homilist) became the standard means under Henry for expressing the newly independent church's doctrinal commitments, i.e., the Bishops' Book and the King's Book. The Edwardian homilies merely stood in this tradition as a confessional document written in a catechetical manner so as to instruct the English people in the regime's official understanding of approved biblical interpretation. Hence, the creeds, the English prayer books, the Articles of Religion all were seen as expressing the Edwardian regime's consistent understanding of how to proclaim the saving truths God had entrusted to Scripture alone. For this reason, Article 11 can cite Cranmer's Homily on Justification/Salvation as the doctrinal standard for the Church of England on soteriology. If one were to make a distinction between them, the appropriate division would be pure doctrinal exposition based on sola scriptura (creeds, ancient and Reformation) and their application to the life of the church (worship and catechesis). But even in this division, the homilies and prayer books, as official church committee products, are on the same level of authority. To claim that the homilies lack authority because they were simply one person's opinion rather than the sober result of taking stock of the mind of the church is simply to read the current nature of church homilies artificially back into the sixteenth century. In actuality, some later members of the Church of England did not agree with the theology of the homilies and so sought to find strategies by which they could be sidelined.

2. You must forgive me if my study of the period is not deeply influenced by google searches, but I am grateful that you have now brought the use of this term by bloggers to my attention. My ignorance of the blogosphere is immense indeed, and anything you can do to help me to understand popular discussions of theology in the internet era will leave me greatly in your debt. However, I am curious. Packer uses the term "neo-Puritan" to refer to his commitment to seventeenth century theologians, not the English Reformers. As far as the Sydney Anglicans, they would see themselves more in the tradition of Perkins, than Cranmer. Yet, you claim the term is suitable for people who see themselves as followers of Cranmer and the Edwardian church, a la Chuck Collins.

3. This leads to your third rebuttal. Packer and the Sydney Anglicans see a difference between the English Reformers and the later Puritans and so do I, but you do not and claim MacCulloch as your source. I do believe you overstate your case. MacCulloch wants to make clear that Cranmer was indeed reformed, not merely an Erasmian humanist (a la Booty) nor a maleable late medieval Catholic (a la Mason). However, his reformed theology differed significantly from both Hooper and Knox, and the approach to church life promoted by the latter two would eventually emerge as Puritanism. There was a significant division among English reformers on matters of ecclesiastical practice, although they all held to a basically reformed soteriology and sacramental theology. If Cranmer's commitment to predestination made him seem radical in the eyes of Gardiner, Knox's commitment to the necessity of explicit biblical commands for everything in life made him seem very radical to Cranmer . Hence, Whitgift, as the epitome of the Elizabethan Establishment would simultaneously seek to suppress Puritan attempts at church government and liturgy while promoting a more clearly Calvinist addendum to the Articles of Religion on predestination. The battle between the "Coxians" and the "Knoxians" in Frankfurt during the Marian Exile gives ample evidence of serious disagreements between the reformed ethos of the Edwardian church and the reformed ethos for English-speaking people that would emerge from Geneva. To claim Cranmer's reformed theology as the father of Puritanism is significantly to misread the English Reformation and MacCulloch.

4. You claim that the later church turned its back on Edwardian sensibilities. Of course, the Caroline Divines thought themselves to be completing the Reformation, i.e., backpedaling from the excesses of the English Reformers to achieve a proper balance as a "reformed catholic" church. Yet, it is interesting to note that despite the Laudian commitments of the restoration bishops, the very Edwardian Black Rubric was returned to the prayer book in 1662--explicitly undercutting one of the Laudian party's chief aims. (I am aware of arguments to the contrary, but tI do not find them convincing.) Furthermore, with the accession of William and Mary, this party, in terms of leadership of the Church of England, goes into substantial decline. Not until the eventual triumph of the Oxford Movement did the Caroline divines once again substantially influence the direction of the Church of England, but even then, the strength of the Evangelical revival meant that the Anglo-Catholic party had to look to overseas jurisdictions to fully implement their renewal program, since they recognized that the Protestant religion establish by law in England prevented them from fully implementing their ideals. Nothing made this impasse clearer to the Anglo-Catholic party then the defeat of the 1928 Church of England proposed liturgy.

5. Finally, you continue to assert that the party of the Caroline Divines "won" the Anglican identity debate. That seems to me a very strange conclusion indeed, since in the Global South, the churches of CMS today seem to have the vast majority of Anglicans as their members. For many of them (whether rightly or wrongly), a bible-based faith, rather than a distant-culturally-determined liturgical tradition, seems to offer them an opportunity to engage in mission in their local context free from any sense of lingering colonial baggage. And in the UK, New Zealand, most of Australia and in the Canterbury-recognized provinces in North America, the teaching authority of the church has increasingly become unmoored from the authority of Scripture and tradition, creating a "catholic" ethos of cultural innovation that most of the Caroline Divines (even that wonderful consciously Pelagian Jeremy Taylor) would not recognize as being faithful to the church as they understood her. The fact that someone as learned and demonstrably holy as Canon Arthur Middleton finds himself addressing Forward and Faith and GAFCON, rather than Lambeth Conferences and Justin Welby's Community of St. Augustine, shows how far out of the current mainstream classical Caroline Divine theology is among the leadership of western Anglican churches. I am not sure, but it sounds like you yourself are a member of the Continuing Anglican movement. If that is correct, then you yourself have recognized the defeat of Caroline theology in TEC. Since the teaching magisterium of the catholic tradition within Anglicanism has led to such severe doctrinal innovation, how can anything but sola Scriptura, lead us back to the patristic church. After all, as Cranmer's Homily on Scripture shows, sola scriptura was but the patristic approach to doctrine according to Augustine and Chrysostom.

6. Well, my dear Embryo Parson, I have rabbited on, now haven't I. My thanks for your kind indulgence. You are must welcome to respond again, if you wish. However, you might have many other, far better uses of your time than to once again help someone with such limited knowledge of the blogosphere to understand how Anglicanism is construed online.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCradle Episcopalian

Zzzzz. Stay tuned folks.

December 3, 2016 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

My dear Embryo Parson, thank you for taking the time to respond, even if it was in such a disrespectful fashion to substantive arguments. Perhaps you have now given me my best introduction to the nature of internet discourse. I appreciate your parting gift of wisdom and remain in your debt. Have a great life and good witness!

December 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCradle Episcopalian

CE, I hope you do realize that "stay tuned folks" a) was not addressed to you specifically but to my readership and b) means that a response to your "substantive arguments" is forthcoming. As my readers know, I don't live at my blog and sometimes go weeks and even months sometimes between blog entries. So, please "stay tuned" along with the rest of my readers for that forthcoming response. It may be Monday before I have time to write one.

As to the "disrespect" you believe I have shown in my latest reply, let me just say that I won't take a lecture on what constitutes respect from someone who charges into these comboxes accusing me of being "uninformed" and harboring a "biased ignorance", not to mention your general sarcastic tone. "Zzzzz" is shorthand designed to communicate that I don't in fact find your responses substantive, or at least substantive enough to overcome what I have previously argued. So again, stay tuned.

December 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEmbryo Parson

Please take a breather, Cradle Episcopalian. You'll be permitted to comment here again after I post my reply, and not before. That is, if you so desire. In the comment I deleted tonight you made it sound as though you are (wisely) bowing out. Should you change your mind, however, you'll need to wait until I've posted the reply to your last long comment before you chime in again. Thanks for understanding.

December 3, 2016 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

And I ask your forgiveness for the sharp tone of my last comment, which I've edited to make it a little more gracious. I think I know who you are, by the way, and if I'm right about your identity I'm honored that you would stoop from your prominent place in the rarified world of Anglican academia to notice the scurvy likes of me here in the untidy, unscholarly world of "internet discourse." ;>)

Look for my response to your latest substantive comment, if you're still inclined, in about a week. It turns out I am too busy the first part of the coming week to address your response, but address it I will.

December 4, 2016 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

Haven't forgotten about you, Dr. ****. My response will have to wait until after the first of the year.

December 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEmbryo Parson

My dear Embryo Parson, many thanks for the more irenic discourse in keeping with your elder statesman position. Thank you as well for acknowledging that the Edwardian Reformers felt the homilies were on the same level of authority as the Articles and prayer books, especially since one can detect the same theological hand behind them all, Cranmer himself. Thank you again for being kind enough to respond to my specific arguments, even if I do not find your reasoning convincing.

You’re welcome, Dr. ****.

1. According to the English reformers, the creeds and confessions possessed authority in and so far as they were held to be valid expressions of biblical truth. In the unique development of the English Reformation, homilies, devised by committee and approved the church's leadership (not merely by an individual homilist) became the standard means under Henry for expressing the newly independent church's doctrinal commitments, i.e., the Bishops' Book and the King's Book. The Edwardian homilies merely stood in this tradition as a confessional document written in a catechetical manner so as to instruct the English people in the regime's official understanding of approved biblical interpretation. Hence, the creeds, the English prayer books, the Articles of Religion all were seen as expressing the Edwardian regime's consistent understanding of how to proclaim the saving truths God had entrusted to Scripture alone. For this reason, Article 11 can cite Cranmer's Homily on Justification/Salvation as the doctrinal standard for the Church of England on soteriology. If one were to make a distinction between them, the appropriate division would be pure doctrinal exposition based on sola scriptura (creeds, ancient and Reformation) and their application to the life of the church (worship and catechesis). But even in this division, the homilies and prayer books, as official church committee products, are on the same level of authority. To claim that the homilies lack authority because they were simply one person's opinion rather than the sober result of taking stock of the mind of the church is simply to read the current nature of church homilies artificially back into the sixteenth century. In actuality, some later members of the Church of England did not agree with the theology of the homilies and so sought to find strategies by which they could be sidelined.

It is quite irrelevant whether or not a homily is devised by committee and approved the church's leadership; in the nature of the case, the wordier any interpretive document is, the more it is likely to commit error along the way. This is because while Scripture itself may be fallible, its human interpreters are not. Even the exegete who is most assiduous in checking his logic and his grasp of facts is still fallible, as he harbors all manner of biases, presuppositions, and sinful dispositions that will shape, and inevitably taint, his interpretation. This is why, of necessity, the Homilies must be relegated to a “semi-authoritative” status, as Browne asserted of them. He even gives a couple of specifics of error in the quotation provided.

You have mentioned another reason why the Homilies came to be seen as semi-authoritative: later Anglican divinity frowned upon their theology, or at least some aspects of their theology. Of course, you assume the theology reflected in the Homilies is a “valid expression of biblical truth.” However, what if they are not? What if the later divines and clergy of the Church generally came to doubt the soundness of that theology, and what if they were right in doing so? It seems that much of the Edwardian theological bent has suffered from a substantial “reception” problem. Perhaps the most noteworthy case is that of the use of images in the church. The “Homily Against the Peril of Idolatry” is not only an example of horrible exegesis, but it also appears to sanction exactly the kind of iconoclasm condemned by the Catholic Church but which the Puritans took up with gusto. Later Anglican divinity opted for the wisdom of the Lutherans on this matter, thus relegating the Homily to the “semi-authoritative” status mentioned by Browne.

As noted here,

“The Elizabethan Act of Supremacy of 1559 makes the first four Ecumenical Councils standards for judging heresy, while the Homilies (authorised at a secondary level) and a consensus of later divines re-affirmed the universal acceptance of the first six.

The rejection of the Seventh Ecumenical Council was initially based on a Latin translation that actually misrepresented a key teaching of the Council and supported latreia being given to images. This plus popular teaching and superstition, as well as Aquinas’ infamous teaching that the highest worship was also due to images of Christ, the Crucifix or relics of the True Cross, were sufficient to convince them that image worshippers really were image worshippers, whatever other qualifications some might put forward. Interestingly, despite one iconoclastic Homily referred to in the Articles (where the Book of Homilies is said to “contain” good doctrine) and the efforts of individual men, iconoclasm never became the official policy of the Church as such in theory or practice.”

All this, however, has not stopped neo-Puritans in the Anglican churches from following their Puritan forebears as they condemn, of all things, the Advent wreath.

2. You must forgive me if my study of the period is not deeply influenced by google searches, but I am grateful that you have now brought the use of this term by bloggers to my attention. My ignorance of the blogosphere is immense indeed, and anything you can do to help me to understand popular discussions of theology in the internet era will leave me greatly in your debt. However, I am curious. Packer uses the term "neo-Puritan" to refer to his commitment to seventeenth century theologians, not the English Reformers. As far as the Sydney Anglicans, they would see themselves more in the tradition of Perkins, than Cranmer. Yet, you claim the term is suitable for people who see themselves as followers of Cranmer and the Edwardian church, a la Chuck Collins.

Well sir, my claim was merely that the use of the term is “out there”, is apt, and so I borrowed it. You asked for evidence of its use, and I have provided it.

3. This leads to your third rebuttal. Packer and the Sydney Anglicans see a difference between the English Reformers and the later Puritans and so do I, but you do not and claim MacCulloch as your source. I do believe you overstate your case. MacCulloch wants to make clear that Cranmer was indeed reformed, not merely an Erasmian humanist (a la Booty) nor a maleable late medieval Catholic (a la Mason). However, his reformed theology differed significantly from both Hooper and Knox, and the approach to church life promoted by the latter two would eventually emerge as Puritanism. There was a significant division among English reformers on matters of ecclesiastical practice, although they all held to a basically reformed soteriology and sacramental theology. If Cranmer's commitment to predestination made him seem radical in the eyes of Gardiner, Knox's commitment to the necessity of explicit biblical commands for everything in life made him seem very radical to Cranmer . Hence, Whitgift, as the epitome of the Elizabethan Establishment would simultaneously seek to suppress Puritan attempts at church government and liturgy while promoting a more clearly Calvinist addendum to the Articles of Religion on predestination. The battle between the "Coxians" and the "Knoxians" in Frankfurt during the Marian Exile gives ample evidence of serious disagreements between the reformed ethos of the Edwardian church and the reformed ethos for English-speaking people that would emerge from Geneva. To claim Cranmer's reformed theology as the father of Puritanism is significantly to misread the English Reformation and MacCulloch.

Let us then examine the words of MacCulloch,from his essay “Cranmer’s Ambiguous Legacy”:

“Archbishop Thomas Cranmer died at the stake in 1556, a martyr for the English Reformation; but did he die a martyr for the Church of England or for Anglicanism? If we examine Cranmer's career after he parted company in the early 1530s with the Catholicism of his first forty years, we find a man of international perspective, who sought to move England into the path of the wider European Reformation: in particular towards the Reformations to be found in the churches of south Germany and Switzerland. After Cranmer's death, most of these churches would be labelled 'Calvinist' or 'Reformed'. He would not have recognised these descriptions, but if he had lived, it is very likely that he would have done his best to take the English church in the same direction.”

MacCulloch goes on to imply that this trajectory could not help but proceed in a Puritan direction, especially after Elisabeth’s accession to the throne and her attempts to modify what she believed tobe the dangerous excesses of Edwardian faith and practice. MacCulloch argues, in essence, that the Cranmer’s reformed theology and Puritanism are in fact related as parent to child.

4. You claim that the later church turned its back on Edwardian sensibilities. Of course, the Caroline Divines thought themselves to be completing the Reformation, i.e., backpedaling from the excesses of the English Reformers to achieve a proper balance as a "reformed catholic" church. Yet, it is interesting to note that despite the Laudian commitments of the restoration bishops, the very Edwardian Black Rubric was returned to the prayer book in 1662--explicitly undercutting one of the Laudian party's chief aims. (I am aware of arguments to the contrary, but I do not find them convincing.) Furthermore, with the accession of William and Mary, this party, in terms of leadership of the Church of England, goes into substantial decline. Not until the eventual triumph of the Oxford Movement did the Caroline divines once again substantially influence the direction of the Church of England, but even then, the strength of the Evangelical revival meant that the Anglo-Catholic party had to look to overseas jurisdictions to fully implement their renewal program, since they recognized that the Protestant religion establish by law in England prevented them from fully implementing their ideals. Nothing made this impasse clearer to the Anglo-Catholic party then the defeat of the 1928 Church of England proposed liturgy.

I am also aware of those claims to the contrary, and you won’t be surprised to learn that I do find them convincing. Representative articles can be read here and here.

I also think you may be making too much of the decline of Caroline divinity after the accession of William and Mary. Whatever 18th-century Anglican divinity was and whatever was the level of corresponding desuetude of Caroline divinity , the stamp of its corrective course to the Edwardian Reformation cannot be minimized in the faith and practice of the Church of England and her children in the centuries that have ensued since that corrective phase of the English Reformation. Anglicans by and large are simply not going back to the Cranmerian vision of an English Reformed Church; the party you represent will likely remain a small one, the “protestations” ;) of the Church Society and like-minded groups notwithstanding.

5. Finally, you continue to assert that the party of the Caroline Divines "won" the Anglican identity debate. That seems to me a very strange conclusion indeed, since in the Global South, the churches of CMS today seem to have the vast majority of Anglicans as their members. For many of them (whether rightly or wrongly), a bible-based faith, rather than a distant-culturally-determined liturgical tradition, seems to offer them an opportunity to engage in mission in their local context free from any sense of lingering colonial baggage. And in the UK, New Zealand, most of Australia and in the Canterbury-recognized provinces in North America, the teaching authority of the church has increasingly become unmoored from the authority of Scripture and tradition, creating a "catholic" ethos of cultural innovation that most of the Caroline Divines (even that wonderful consciously Pelagian Jeremy Taylor) would not recognize as being faithful to the church as they understood her. The fact that someone as learned and demonstrably holy as Canon Arthur Middleton finds himself addressing Forward and Faith and GAFCON, rather than Lambeth Conferences and Justin Welby's Community of St. Augustine, shows how far out of the current mainstream classical Caroline Divine theology is among the leadership of western Anglican churches. I am not sure, but it sounds like you yourself are a member of the Continuing Anglican movement. If that is correct, then you yourself have recognized the defeat of Caroline theology in TEC. Since the teaching magisterium of the catholic tradition within Anglicanism has led to such severe doctrinal innovation, how can anything but sola Scriptura, lead us back to the patristic church. After all, as Cranmer's Homily on Scripture shows, sola scriptura was but the patristic approach to doctrine according to Augustine and Chrysostom.

Well it seems to me that the Anglicans of the Global South face their own crisis of identity, as they manifest the sort of naïve Biblicism you reference while they espouse errors such was women’s ordination and Pentecostal-style revivalism. That is why, if they are to be in any way discernably Anglican, they must turn away from these things and strive to be the “classical” Anglicans that were the English Reformers, i.e. the Edwardians and their Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline correctors. The English Reformation didn’t end until the late 17th century., and that is all I mean when I argue the Carolines “won.” They were the English Reformation’s capstone, whether the Church Society et al. want to recognize it or not.

You are correct in your guess that I am a Continuing Anglican, and I will naturally agree with you that the only ears for Canon Middleton’s message will be found in Anglo-Catholic circles and to a lesser degree Anglo-Protestant ones. The Caroline Divines would not recognize that burning garbage dumpster which is liberal Anglicanism. It is a little facile to say, however, that only sola scriptura will lead us back to the patristic church. If that were the case, all those churches who abide by this Reformational principle would be led to the faith and practice of the Fathers, but this is demonstrably not the case, as evidenced by their generally lack of interest in Catholic Christianity and their plethora of differing confessions. As Anglo-Catholic patrologist J.N.D. Kelly wrote, reconnoitering the patristic approach to authority in his book Early Christian Doctrines,

"Throughout the whole period Scripture and tradition ranked as complementary authorities, media different in form but coincident in content. To inquire which counted as superior or more ultimate is to pose the question in misleading terms. If Scripture was abundantly sufficient in principle, tradition was recognized as the surest clue to its interpretation, for in tradition the Church retained, as a legacy from the apostles which was embedded in all the organs of her institutional life, an unerring grasp of the real purport and meaning of the revelation to which Scripture and tradition alike bore witness" (pp. 47-48).

As scholars such as Quantin and Middleton have argued, the appeal to the Fathers by various schools of Anglican divines were often tainted by ideological concerns spawned by Erastianism and other English realities, especially in the case of the Edwardians, but even by the Carolines and the Tractarians. It is time, argues Middleton, to start taking the Fathers on their own terms, and if this means Anglicanism becoming a form of “Western Orthodoxy”, so be it. I am solidly with him on this. It’s the only way we’re going to finally solve the vexing question of Anglican identity. However, my guess is that most if not all Anglo-Protestants who adhere faithfully to the biblically dubious doctrine of sola Scriptura will have none of this.

6. Well, my dear Embryo Parson, I have rabbited on, now haven't I. My thanks for your kind indulgence. You are must welcome to respond again, if you wish. However, you might have many other, far better uses of your time than to once again help someone with such limited knowledge of the blogosphere to understand how Anglicanism is construed online.

I see you couldn’t resist leaving without a parting shot in the form of a final bit of snark. Well, I guess we benighted souls here in the blogosphere can’t hope to attain the heights attained by all you Brahmins of ”PhD Anglicansim”, but should you wish to learn more about that dark, unscholarly hollow we inhabit, I’m happy to take you on another tour. ;>)

With regards to you and all your fellow Berliner Anglicans, I am, devotedly,

The Embryo Parson

January 7, 2017 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

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