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Another perspective on “What is classical Anglicanism?”

June 10, 2015

Recently I had a post on An interesting Anglican blog: “Once again I thank You”, where I mentioned Adam Young’s post The Five Points of Classical Anglicanism.  In response to this, Fr. Dennis of the blog BCP Anglican has written a post titled What is classical Anglicanism? that is worth reading as well.  One point he makes that is definitely worth pondering is this:

While this five-point summary is interesting, I see two main problems. The first is the issue of defining “Classical Anglicanism.” Does one include the developing ideas of the Oxford martyrs and certain Marian exiles while rejecting Lancelot Andrewes and the Caroline churchmen? While I admire the heroism and struggles of Cranmer and his contemporaries, it seems to me that classical Anglicanism is more descriptive of the formative period from Elizabeth I to the Restoration, including people such as Jewel, Hooker, Andrewes, Cosins, Ken, even Laud, and perhaps even later Taylor and Law.

I suppose I see “classical Anglicanism” as extending from Cranmer through the Carolines and Lancelot Andrewes to say, Charles Simeon; I’d actually stop short of the Oxford Movement for the most part. But I freely admit that defining “classical Anglicanism” is likely to depend largely on one’s own theological presuppositions.

Fr. Dennis also gives his thoughts on whether or not classical Anglicanism is/was/should be considered “Calvinist” or “Reformed”.  From my own perspective the Articles of Religion come across as moderately Reformed – but go check out what Fr. Dennis has to say in his post.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2015 1:52 pm

    The Caroline churchmen cannot be included in the company of “classical Anglicanism” simply because if the original Anglican churchmen had lived long enough to consider their views, they would not have received them. The Carolines departed from their forebears in nearly every way; theology, ecclesiology, polity and manners, but most importantly, the Church of England turned from its fellowship among the Reformed churches toward the establishment of an “Anglican Communion.”

  2. June 11, 2015 10:40 am

    My point about defining “classical Anglicanism” was meant to be more of a historical observation than a theological position. Of course, Cranmer is of immense importance for both the Prayer Book and the Articles of Religion. However, he lived in a chaotic time and was martyred. We can’t be sure how he might have developed if history had been different. As it is, the Elizabethan Prayer Book and Articles of Religion became official and “classical,” at least for England. And despite interpretations from differing perspectives, people like Jewel and Hooker became identified as typical Anglican thinkers accepted by “high-church” and “low-church” alike. Although there are many people who continue “classical” Anglicanism later, the eighteenth century in general is not part of a “classical” Anglican period.
    For example, Charles Wesley was probably “a classical Anglican” whereas John Wesley crossed several lines. Charles Simeon might very well qualify as a classical “low-church” Anglican as John Keble might qualify as a classical “high-church” Anglican. While many later Evangelicals and Tractarians may have been saintly individuals who added to Anglicanism in a variety of ways, many of them were not very “classical” from a sixteenth- or seventeenth-century perspective.

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