Friday, July 31, 2015

Eccentric Calvinists with bishops: Another ramble about Anglicanism

Anglicanism is interesting to me because of personal and church history but I don't much follow its current doings because I don't have to. The gay-marriage thing just copies the larger culture including the law in America, and I found out the Episcopalians have a new presiding bishop. Recently I Googled who the Bishop of Pennsylvania is because I didn't know.

Anyway, here are lots of familiar talking points with some new insights.

The old Prayer Book, which I grew up with, was conservative American Episcopalians' big no to the Sixties, culturally like the Tridentine Mass that way. That said, books I really like, such as the missals, were all banned in the Episcopal Church the way the Mrs. Buckets wanted it.

A friend who really doesn't like Anglicanism (of course I don't believe in it either):
The old 1928 BCP is quite beautiful. Its fakery all the more dangerous because it is covered in such ornate and moving language.
The point of my last sentence.

Another Catholic Fellow (ACF):
Not fakery at all. Clearly a Genevan work, with no pretense to anything else. How the Anglo-Catholic movement got moving I can only understand by looking at Parliament itself — a mixed bag of every belief, yet in charge of the established church.
I think Anglo-Catholicism and the older high churchmanship got started thanks to Anglicanism's few remaining Catholic elements: bishops (unusual for Protestants), the creeds, and the idea of a liturgy, even though it wasn't a Catholic liturgy anymore. The old high churchmen thought Anglicanism was in the apostolic club with Catholicism and Orthodoxy but the best thanks to being "reformed." Actually a true-church claim (very Catholic); the branch theory isn't the relativism some think. Anglicanism is Erastian, but Anglo-Catholicism got started by asserting divine origins and authority for Anglicanism vs. the government (imitating "nobody can own the Catholic Church"); it was like the older high churchmanship except, ironically, it was less tied to the bishops. The Oxford dons who started it acted on their own, I think independently of the bishops. That it ended up imitating the Catholic Church sort of makes sense given the claims it made for Anglicanism but that came later and was almost accidental.
ACF: I presume it attracted a lot of medievalists in that second generation, the ones that found incense so fascinating.
Right; the second generation was when the Anglo-Catholic movement got together with the Romantic movement reacting against the Industrial Revolution.
ACF: Dr. Tighe is the one person I would love to hear speak on the subject. If he ever lectures on this, someone please let me know — I would schedule a trip back north for that. (yes, even deal with 309 at rush hour, if necessary).
Bill Tighe has explained to me that Anglicanism was just eccentric Calvinism that happened to retain bishops.

I think Anglicanism retained those Catholic elements because the king wasn't sure he wanted to leave the church, plus the government, while brutal, wasn't stupid. They compromised to try to persuade as many of the English and Welsh as possible to accept the new faith, while at the same time being enamored of the new heresies in Europe.

That compromise reminds of my line about the Episcopal Church: if I tried to invent a church to please as many as possible, including myself, it would look much like their liberal high church. I'd congratulate myself on being a theological genius as well as a marketing one (like the guys who created the Edsel thought they were; true story). Ha. God has other plans.
ACF: I have always thought that their episcopacy was kept as an office, rather than an order. James ONE stated "No bishops? Then no king?" His son paid the price. But then, here we go again: semantics = such a pain in the keester in any subject, but especially theology.
I understand the king liked bishops because he thought that arrangement favors kings. Anglicanism thinks of bishops as an order, not an office: still like us; not like other Protestants. But I've learned that it wasn't that clear to begin with: most of the time they kept their claim to apostolic succession but not always.
ACF: So many of the Edwardine appointments were radical Calvinists, who only accepted the office in order to destroy it.
First fellow's answer:
Right. Vestments controversy and all that. It was the experience of the Edwardine "reform" that pushed most of the Henrician clergy into Mary's arms when she ascended to the throne. Very ardent proponents of Henry's "reform" like Bonner and Gardiner returned to Rome and stayed there because of the heresy they had seen unleashed under Edward. When Bloody Bess of wretched memory decided to re-create the fake state religion of her brother and father, only one of the English bishops went along with her, largely because of the gross evil they had observed under Edward.

When Henry split, only one bishop remained faith, when Bloody Bess split, only one bishop followed her. We can thank Edward for that.
Bloody Bess: as Anglo-Catholic alumnus Fr. George Rutler says, a historic example of the ministry of women.
Anglicanism kept as much Catholic form as possible because the vast bulk of the English and Scottish and Irish people were Catholics, didn't like the Reformation, and only went along because of massive government persecution of the faith and the long-life of Bloody Bess of wretched memory. The monarchs like bishops, so they stayed around, and some aspects of traditional liturgical piety (Ember Days, Rogation Days, a Litany that removed the saints and abused the Pope but kept most everything else) were kept. But for the rest, heresy and evil.
But after Henry VIII, under Edward VI, it clearly wasn't Catholicism anymore, bishops, Ember Days, etc. notwithstanding.
Right, precisely. The C of E was a Calvinist body at that point, with just enough Catholic form left to keep people from open revolt. Also, the fact that the King was sickly and fey probably didn't inspire revolution either. Just wait him out...

Most folks, as Eamon Duffy has shown, took the same attitude toward Elizabeth. Hide all the Catholic stuff and just wait for her to die and then when a Catholic monarchy was restored the faith would return. Only problem was, she refused to die. By the time she did, the police state + brainwashing had done the trick.
Christopher Haigh writes about something moving to us Catholics: how the English did what you describe, secretly practicing Catholicism into the 1580s. (Example: the Anglican vicar who'd secretly celebrate Mass, then give people the real Sacrament at the Anglican service.) By 1600 the people had been forced to accept the new faith but treated it with the same reverence with which they'd practiced Catholicism. Extreme Protestants, the Puritans, were an annoying minority.
Lots of people don't realize this, but the BCP was translated into Latin for use of the parishes the Anglicans stole for their own use in Ireland. Covering up their fakery with the flowery tongue of Mother Church.
I knew. Oxford and Cambridge also used the BCP in Latin, as that was the world academic language so for them it was "a tongue understanded of the people." A reason for the Latin BCP in Ireland was many of the Irish still didn't speak or understand English. In Ireland, as in England and Wales, the debut of the BCP was at the same time as the removal of Catholic externals. Before the BCP, the English did hide the schism from the Irish, who at the time were sort of indifferent cultural Catholics, not the pious institution-builders of Catholic emancipation and immigration to America in the 1800s. The first people in Ireland to revolt against the schism were the ethnic English who lived in the Pale. Once the BCP and the rest of King Edward's (and/or his regents') program got under way, the Irish resisted. If not Edward, definitely Elizabeth. Peter Robinson writes that Edward's new religion didn't spread far past the cities; Elizabeth really got the Protestantization under way.

Update: That should be "eccentric Reformed with bishops."

1 comment:

  1. The punk singer Nick Cave called the Anglican Church "the decaf of worship".


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