Anglicanism


#1

I’d like to discuss this in a way where no one gets overly offended, if that is possible.

I know that those who are part of a church that sprouted from the Church of England thoroughly dislike it when they hear (or read) the following: “your church started because Henry VIII couldn’t get a valid divorce” or much less charitable statements. The typical counter-argument is that “Anglo-Catholicism began much earlier.”

It is the latter I’d like to discuss. I agree that the former is often said in a derogatory manner. I don’t intend to paint the Church of England and her subsequent offspring in a nasty light, but I have distinct reservations on the history of the latter statement especially as it tends to minimalise Henry VIII’s role and the Reformation’s role in the formation of the Church of England.

Yes, there were Celtic traditions adopted into English Catholicism which made it somewhat distinct and it did use the Sarum Mass. At the same time Irish Catholicism was also distinct, as were other regionally variant Catholic churches that did not separate (yes, there is a Church of Ireland, but it is an Anglican Church). Salisbury was not the only diocese to have a different Mass (the Sarum Rite), in fact the Use of Sarum was taken from the Use of Rouen in France.

So it all comes back to Henry VIII who began as a great defender of Rome and severely persecuted the Lutherans in Britain. In fact he wrote the book, In Defence of the Seven Sacraments when the Protestant movement first began (likely written by Thomas More in reality).

The people of England loved Queen Catherine of Aragon and had no real use for Lutherans and Protestantism. It was not until Anne Boleyn became Queen and Cardinal Wolsey was arested that Henry VIII began reading the works of William Tyndale and Thomas Cromwell entered into the king’s inner circle. Cromwell, by many accounts, was a master of realpolitik and an all around terrible individual. He of course helped to frame the very woman that got him his position, on charges of incest, adultery, witchcraft, and high treason - after Cromwell had tortured Anne’s brother and another man.

Then it took a few acts of Parliament and some work by Cromwell to sort things out. Papal authority was abolished by Henry himself. Cromwell dissolved the Catholic monasteries. Royal Supremacy made it high treason to deny the supremacy of the monarch as the sole head of the Church of England. The Act against Papal Authority made an oath renouncing Rome and supporting the monarch a requirement for nearly all secular and religious officers.

Cromwell and Cranmer led the intellectual of the Lollard movement and also included many of Luther’s ideas as well. This led to the venerable Universities of Britain turning out a new, more radical group of Reformist/Protestant leaders of the new Church of England.

In summary, I can understand why Anglicans would not wish to have people like Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell as the founders of their church, but I really cannot see how it can be argued within the bounds of historical reason.

And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there weren’t Catholics who were nasty individuals as well. There certainly were. I certainly don’t want to go down the road of who was more cruel ad infinitum.

I just cannot see how one can say that Anglicanism truly began prior to Henry VIII.


#2

I’m Anglo-Catholic, and I don’t find much in your post to disagree with, though I’d expand, embelish and modfiy a few points. For a good, moderate and scholarly treatment of the times and situations, I always recommend J. J. Scarisbrick’s HENRY VIII.

Rather than claim that Anglicanism per se predated Henry, I would point out the marked tendency in England, for 300 years prior to Henry, to move the monarchy to a position of authority , with respect to the Church in England, and to minimize the authority of any agency outside England (i.e., Rome) over the English Church. There is a lengthy list of Parliamentary acts preceding Henry’s acts of 1534-35, all leading in the same direction, limiting extra-national authority and perogatives, expanding the role of the Crown, and all brought to an head by Henry’s Great Problem, and how it was handled. It was an example of nascent nationalism. In that sense, the path that led to Henry did precede Henry.

Sure, there is a case to be made for some Celtic influence, pre Whitby, but that’s not the major issue.

GKC

*Anglicanus Catholicus *


#3

I would actually make a twofold argument:

  1. Anglicanism developed from the pre-Reformation English Christianity–our archbishops are in succession from St. Augustine of Canterbury, etc. (this is the argument you are talking about); and

  2. Anglicanism as a distinct version of Christianity, with the Prayer Book, Articles, etc., developed some time after Henry VIII.

I would put somewhat less weight on yet another point:

2a. The Henrician schism was in fact a temporary one–the permanent one was under Elizabeth.

Henry’s schism did indeed play an important role in breaking the Church of England away from Western Catholicism. But the distinctive liturgical and doctrinal formularies of Anglicanism postdated Henry, and the institutions of the Church of England long preceded him. It is therefore unreasonable to call him the founder.

Also, I would argue as a general principle that adherents of a tradition have the right to decide what moment in their history they regard as decisive for their identity. They do not of course have the right to play with historical facts–as many Anglo-Catholics do, in my opinion, by exaggerating the independence of pre-Reformation “Anglicanism” (i.e., the Catholic Church in England) and by misrepresenting the English Reformation as something far less Protestant (and far more radically different from the Continental Reformation) than it actually was. But once the facts are agreed on, we and not you get to decide which of them we will regard as constitutive of our identity. (Yes, this is related to the heated argument I’ve been having about Islam on another thread.)

In Christ,

Edwin


#4

Ditto


#5

I do hope I’m not one that you conisder as exaggerating the independence of the Church in England, by pointing out that there were a long list of pre-Henrician Acts of Parliament that nibbled away at the extra-national, and customary perogatives then existing. There were such, I promise.

Otherwise, I’m not in much disagreement with this observation.

GKC


#6

There is a lengthy list of Parliamentary acts preceding Henry’s acts of 1534-35, all leading in the same direction, limiting extra-national authority and perogatives, expanding the role of the Crown, and all brought to an head by Henry’s Great Problem, and how it was handled. It was an example of nascent nationalism. In that sense, the path that led to Henry did precede Henry.

That is a good point, but in that sense it was simply an extension of the monarchy’s powers. As you say, it was a form of nascent nationalism, but I doubt that many of the previous monarchs foresaw a completely new and separated church.

  1. Anglicanism developed from the pre-Reformation English Christianity–our archbishops are in succession from St. Augustine of Canterbury, etc. (this is the argument you are talking about);

Yes, you kept some of the same diocese, but somewhere reality has to cross with attempts at legitimacy. Clearly Thomas a Becket, one of the Archbishops of Canterbury that you mention, would not have supported placing the Church beneath the monarchy as Mathew Parker had.

  1. Anglicanism as a distinct version of Christianity, with the Prayer Book, Articles, etc., developed some time after Henry VIII.

Certainly. At the time the majority of theologians and those with a religious vocation were Catholic and unceremoniously had their monestaries dissolved by Cromwell. It, no doubt, takes time to develop a church into something different than what it was originally. Plus, the people did not particularly care for Henry’s decision, nor for Anne Boleyn, nor for what Henry did with Anne Boleyn in favour of Jane Seymour.

I don’t envy Matthew Parker and the early leaders of the CoE. They were under a constant barrage of requests and demands for changes that ranged from minor to radical. Some wanted minor colour changes to the vestments, others wished to be rid of them entirely. Some wanted no bishops at all, others wanted a hierarchy that resembled the Catholic Church (with Elizabeth where the Pope would have been placed). I imagine there were days when he wanted to just roll back over and sleep in and not have to listen to the barrage of theological concerns.

2a. The Henrician schism was in fact a temporary one–the permanent one was under Elizabeth.

More or less true, but Mary Tudor wasn’t much of an influence really as her reign was short.

It is therefore unreasonable to call him the founder.

I called him a founder.

Also, I would argue as a general principle that adherents of a tradition have the right to decide what moment in their history they regard as decisive for their identity. They do not of course have the right to play with historical facts–as many Anglo-Catholics do, in my opinion, by exaggerating the independence of pre-Reformation “Anglicanism” (i.e., the Catholic Church in England) and by misrepresenting the English Reformation as something far less Protestant (and far more radically different from the Continental Reformation) than it actually was. But once the facts are agreed on, we and not you get to decide which of them we will regard as constitutive of our identity. (Yes, this is related to the heated argument I’ve been having about Islam on another thread.)

I’m not aware of the argument in another thread and did not intend to stir trouble in that way.

I don’t really have a problem if you believe that Saint Patrick and Saint Columba were the original Anglicans. As you say, that is your prerogative in the sense that it is your religion on which you may base your own personal beliefs.

On the other hand, as someone who is quite fond of history, you cannot expect me to really believe something that is not credible. For example, I’ve had a member of the CoE tell me that all the Christian monarchs that pre-dated Henry VIII were also the head of the Church of England. That does not ring true to me. Especially when I can read the Acts of Parliament for myself.

I appreciate the input though, and I will check out J. J. Scarisbrick’s HENRY VIII. An interesting figure, no matter how one comes to view his place in history.


#7

I doubt that they did, but that was the way the trend was running, in small steps, and Henry took it to its logical conclusion. Not that he was looking at his action as an inevitable conclusion, he was looking at it as a political solution to a political problem that Clement was forcing on him. And it fit with the national experience.

I hope you can find Scarisbrick’s book. It is the standard bio of Henry, better than Pollard’s; not pro-Henry but pro-history. It gives a good look at Henry, who was a fascinating train wreck, and the world he functioned in.

GKC


#8

Edwin,

You make a good point in noting that Henry made microscopic doctrinal changes compared to those that occurred under Elizabeth. But I can’t agree with your conclusion that he is, therefore, absolved of the primary responsibility for the schism.

The change he made was to sever the accountability to Rome. That single change is what ALLOWED the local politics and schemers to so massively influence the church a generation later.

By analogy, Henry sawed through the bolts that held the church to its foundation (one of rock, I might add). The fact that it was not until years later that a flood came and MOVED the building to a new location does not prove that his actions were not the cause.


#9

I think that invoking causality in this discussion is pointless, because causal chains are infinite. Henry’s actions were themselves caused by many other factors, and they in turn by others.

Asking who founded a church is a different question from asking what the causes of its foundation (as an independent body) were. Reasonably, “founder” should imply the person or persons who came up with the distinctive teachings, practices, etc., and/or the person (real or legendary) to whom adherents of that tradition look back as their founder. Causality doesn’t really have much to do with it.

We could argue that Henry II was a founder because his conflict with the Church was one link in the causal chain leading to Henry VIII’s schism. Once you start invoking causality, you can find some way of bringing in just about everything that has ever happened, because everything affects everything else.

Edwin


#10

That sounds an awful lot like rationalizing. Any age in the church has involved authority conflicts, true. So of course you can find them in England before Henry VIII. But surely you don’t think that the Elizabethan changes could have taken place until papal authority was discarded? Unthinkable. It is a prerequisite.

Given what you know of human nature, don’t you think that ANY human being thrust into a position of holding ultimate power over doctrinal and disciplinary matters in an entire major nation’s church would inevitably result in corruption, scheming and abuse? It would take a major positive miracle for that NOT to happen. (That’s exactly what it requires in Rome too).

Causality might be a difficult argument to prove, but it strikes me as almost evasive to refuse to acknowledge at least the probability that the change Henry VIII made lead almost inevitably to later changes of convenience and avarice?

P.S. Don’t compare it to Orthodoxy since they retain collegiality of patriarchs spread among disparate cultures and regional interests. No such balancing forces remained in England after Henry VIII.


#11

This argument is highly illustrative of the state of institutionalized Anglicanism today. No one is responsible for anything,and the only sin is to say that there is sin.

Even if, in some obtuse way, everything can effect everything else, it’s the person who owns the finger that pulls the trigger that’s responsible for a murder by shooting.

One of the things I had to come to grips with as a project manager is that responsibility comes in one size: 100%. It can’t be subdivided, but only shared, in proportions of 100%. And setting the stage is not the same thing as performing the act.

Blessings,

Gerry


#12

You don’t understand. I’m not disputing the causality, but the relationship between causality and identity.

Anglicanism does not define itself as the church founded by Henry VIII. The only Anglicans for whom this might be true are those for whom national independence is the central principle. And I have recently come to realize that there are far more of these besotted heretics than I thought.

Edwin


#13

That’s a pretty bizarre claim to make on the basis of what I said,. I never said that Henry wasn’t responsible for his actions or that his actions were not sinful.

I see no substance in your post whatsoever. You aren’t even making an argument–just spouting managerial cliches.

Edwin


#14

Which Henry?

And they aren’t cliches. They were principles that were very much in play for the four years I served as a Rector’s (Senior) Warden whan I worshipped among the Anglicans in Michael Ingham’s part of the Anglican world.

Blessings,

Gerry


#15

Ah, I get it. Until Elizabethan times, English folk still identified themselves as catholic, in spite of the defiance of Rome on certain issues.

Not until the Church of England became more protestantized did they stop identifying themselves as catholic.

Interesting argument, but from the catholic definitions, irrelevant. Each bishop took his diocese into schism when he chose King over Church. They were still valid bishops, still validly (if illicitly) ordained new priests (until the ordination form was corrupted - controversial, I know).

You seem to be taking the position that the CofE started in Elizabethan times because that is when significant doctrinal changes started. We say it started the moment Henry VIII coerced schism out of the bishops of the nation.

Boils down to semantics, really. Good discussion, as usual with you.

So I understand you, imagine if the current followers of the SSPX schism last hundreds of years. Over time, they adopt an increasing number of positions incompatible with catholicism. Hypothetically, then can they disown archbishop LeFebvre as their founder once their beliefs no longer gel with his? Still seems disingenuous to me.


#16

Thomas a Becket’s quarrel with Henry II was not over the liberty of the Church from interference by the Crown, so much as over the liberty of the Church to try clerics by her own laws - even though this led in practice to a very broad definition of what counted as being a cleric; which meant that men of very unclerical life were able to “get away with murder”. Which is an abuse of the Church’s liberty. Henry VIII deserves credit for making that kind of thing impossible.

The matter of Richard Hunne in 1514 didn’t do the London clergy any favours - soton.ac.uk/~gwb/henrefhunne.htm

Brief but informative article here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Hunne ##

Certainly. At the time the majority of theologians and those with a religious vocation were Catholic and unceremoniously had their monestaries dissolved by Cromwell. It, no doubt, takes time to develop a church into something different than what it was originally. Plus, the people did not particularly care for Henry’s decision, nor for Anne Boleyn, nor for what Henry did with Anne Boleyn in favour of Jane Seymour.

Cardinal Wolsey dissolved a number of religious houses to endow what began life as Cardinal College, & became…I forget which college. :slight_smile: Dissolving religious houses is not in itself a bad act.

As for what the people wanted - it’s hard to see how that matters, one way or the other. ##

I don’t envy Matthew Parker and the early leaders of the CoE. They were under a constant barrage of requests and demands for changes that ranged from minor to radical. Some wanted minor colour changes to the vestments, others wished to be rid of them entirely. Some wanted no bishops at all, others wanted a hierarchy that resembled the Catholic Church (with Elizabeth where the Pope would have been placed). I imagine there were days when he wanted to just roll back over and sleep in and not have to listen to the barrage of theological concerns.

Matthew Parker deserves credit for one thing at least - his interest in Old English - though his activities did have an apologetic purpose (not that he was untypical in this).

More or less true, but Mary Tudor wasn’t much of an influence really as her reign was short.

I called him a founder.

I’m not aware of the argument in another thread and did not intend to stir trouble in that way.

I don’t really have a problem if you believe that Saint Patrick and Saint Columba were the original Anglicans. As you say, that is your prerogative in the sense that it is your religion on which you may base your own personal beliefs.

On the other hand, as someone who is quite fond of history, you cannot expect me to really believe something that is not credible. For example, I’ve had a member of the CoE tell me that all the Christian monarchs that pre-dated Henry VIII were also the head of the Church of England. That does not ring true to me. Especially when I can read the Acts of Parliament for myself.

I appreciate the input though, and I will check out J. J. Scarisbrick’s HENRY VIII. An interesting figure, no matter how one comes to view his place in history.

IMHO, Henry VIII deserves much more respect than he seems to get. (Scarisbrick’s book on the English Reformation is also worth reading.)

That said, the theological legitimacy of Anglicanism does not depend on the King’s character - it depends, not on men, but on Christ. And He sometimes (often ?) uses unlikely instruments to get His work done. ##


#17

“## Cardinal Wolsey dissolved a number of religious houses to endow what began life as Cardinal College, & became…I forget which college. Dissolving religious houses is not in itself a bad act.”

Cardinal College, as it originally was. IIRC, Fisher did likewise.

GKC


#18

Ah, I get it. Until Elizabethan times, English folk still identified themselves as catholic, in spite of the defiance of Rome on certain issues.

Not necessarily. There were recusant Catholics in Elizabethan England (Shakespeare’s father, for example), but there were others who were Protestants as well. Indeed, Calvinism in the form of Puritanism began to spread amongst the population at this time (in fairness this was something Matthew Parker wished to fight and was dismayed at Elizabeth’s refusal to do so).

Prior to Elizabeth it was somewhat of a mixed bag of Protestantism and Anglo-Catholicism that varied under Henry VIII and swung more heavily towards Catholicism under Mary Tudor, who was no real heroine herself.

Not until the Church of England became more protestantized did they stop identifying themselves as catholic.

The CoE has almost always had an Anglo-Catholic wing that has varied in strength depending upon the monarch and the intellectual ebb and flow of the times (the Oxford Movement being a good example). So, your statement is somewhat too simplistic.


#19

Which is an abuse of the Church’s liberty. Henry VIII deserves credit for making that kind of thing impossible.

I’m not sure I’d take the route of making Henry VIII the poster child of reform :wink:

Dissolving religious houses is not in itself a bad act.

That is a fair point, but in this case and given Thomas Cromwell’s less than stellar character, I think it is fair to assume that his dissolving of the monasteries was more politically-based than religiously-based. In that sense it was more likely a move towards harming the Catholic Church in Britain and aiding the monarch and the Reformation Parliament than it was a high-minded religious act.

As for what the people wanted - it’s hard to see how that matters, one way or the other

My point was that there was not an overwhelming groundswell of support for reformation or Protestantism at that time in England.

Matthew Parker deserves credit for one thing at least - his interest in Old English - though his activities did have an apologetic purpose (not that he was untypical in this).

Actually, I rather think Parker was a decent individual handed an extremely difficult job. I may not agree with his Protestant leanings and certainly with the validity of his position, but I was very sincere in that I’d not have envied his job at all.

That said, the theological legitimacy of Anglicanism does not depend on the King’s character - it depends, not on men, but on Christ. And He sometimes (often ?) uses unlikely instruments to get His work done.

Not on the monarch’s character, no, but on the monarch himself (herself) at least for a certain time period (clearly not any longer).


#20

There’s a drift developing in the thread around the term “Catholic.”

To the Church, a Catholic is one who is in communion with a Bishop who is himself in communion with the Bishop of Rome. There’s no such a thing as “more or less” Catholic or Protestant in the thought of the Church.

Folks who want to have a discussion with Catholics loose the opportunity to do so when Catholics forget this position of the Church. You can’t accept another definition of the term and continue to discuss from the perspective of the Catholic Church.

Let others play it fast and loose with the term “Catholic.” Members of the Catholic Church, in communion with the successor to St. Peter, never should.

Blessings,

Gerry


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