To The COE Historians/Members


I know that nowadays the Church of England is divided into Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical/Protestant wings but I am curious as to what the COE was like in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
Was it more fundamentalist along the lines of modern day Protestantism or was it more liturgical and Catholic?


First of all, I’m not COE but Episcopalian. GKC, another frequent Anglican poster, is “Continuing Anglican”–also American and not COE (I’m actually a British subject, but that’s another issue. . . . )

In the second place, I’d challenge several of your premises. Anglicanism is divided today more along a liberal/conservative faultline than an Anglo-Catholic/Evangelical one. ACs and Evangelicals are closer than ever, though certainly they still form distinct wings of Anglicanism. As in any church, lots of people are in the middle–on the liberal/conservative spectrum as well as the Catholic/Protestant one.

Another premise I’d challenge is that modern Protestantism is largely fundamentalist. Fundamentalism is just one form of modern Protestantism–but it is indeed a distinctly modern form. Obviously most premodern Christians held views that today would sound rather “fundamentalist”–but the term is anachronistic.

OK, now to your actual question. Anglicanism went through a lot of changes in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it had different “wings” then as now. On the whole, though, it’s fair to say that it would have looked more “Protestant” than most forms of Anglicanism today (at least most forms I’ve encountered in the U.S. and Britain). Anglicans generally celebrated the Eucharist every month or even every quarter rather than daily or weekly (except in cathedrals, but even there it wasn’t always very frequent); they didn’t use Eucharistic vestments; they didn’t celebrate in the eastward position; they didn’t have candles, incense, frequent signs of the cross, etc., as most of us do now.

There was a “high church” movement in the early 17th century, which helped spark the Civil War of the 1640s. Even these guys, though, didn’t go as far as later Anglo-Catholics and would seem quite tame today. This high church movement became powerful again in the Restoration of the 1660s and lost power with the Glorious Revolution of 1689. The more extreme high churchmen refused to swear allegiance to the Hanoverian regime, and many of their bishops were deposed in England. The Scottish Episcopal Church, if I’m not mistaken, took this “non-juring” position as a whole and was actually out of communion wit England for decades. The Anglo-Catholic movement of the 19th century looked back to these earlier “non-jurors” for theological support. Liturgically, though, even the non-jurors stopped well short of what we’d now call Anglo-Catholicism.

We could go into more specifics, and GKC might want to challenge some aspects of what I’ve said. But this will do for a start.



Actually, and maybe because I’m sick as a dog, I don’t have all that much to disagree with here, though I expect that the details might be spun out a little differently. I’d emphasize that the liberal taint in modern Anglicanism renders the possiblilty of true Anglo-Catholicism there moot, in so far as it results in females in sacerdotal garments, and a few other points. Historicallly, I don’t believe the official Scottich Episcopal Church was much affected by the non-jurors. that is, when + Seabury was consecrated, and brought the episcopacy to the American church, he received it, not from the official CoE presence in Scotland, who would have punted it as readily as did the Bishop of London, but from what was arguablely the great-great grandfathers of todays Continuing Anglicans, who maintained a schismatic High Church presence for over a hundred years.



What was the COE like under Cromwell?
I can only imagine it was near Hell on Earth!
If you would like to read the adventures of his ugly, disgusting head and it’s postmortem history click here;)


Well at least England was a republic instead of a monarchy.


No it wasn’t!
It was a tinhorn dictatorship:mad:
R.I.P. Charles Stuart.
R.I.H. Cromwell.


I’m not a member of the COE, I’m a Catholic, but I would venture to guess that the COE had become very worldly and elitist in the 18th century. Father Wesley actually spent most of his ministry going out on horseback and preaching to the poor people who weren’t welcome in the established Church at the time. The Church that eventually became Methodist reached out to those who were alienated from the COE. I learned this from a Church history class at my Catholic Church. I’m not sure about the style of worship in the COE at the time, but I am familiar with the fact that the COE was definintely made up primarily of well-to-do people, not the poor, working-class types.

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