In the last two posts in this series, we saw the development of church parties and the distinctive of the Old High Churchmen before the Oxford Movement and during that movement. We saw how the Tractarians differed from the Orthodox. Now we will see what happened when the Cambridge Camden Movement, or the Ritualists, entered the scene.
The Cambridge Camden Society
Many Anglicans would be surprised if they attended a typical Church of England or Episcopal service in the year 1800. The first thing that would surprise them would be that, most likely, the typical Sunday morning service would be Morning Prayer or Mattins, rather than Communion. During this time, hymns were just becoming popular and acceptable in Anglican services, before this time the only allowed music were metrical psalms (in cathedrals, Anglican chant was developing). A modern Anglican would marvel at the simplicity of the service. The Holy Table would have no cross or candles on it and only be covered by a linen cloth. The elements would be upon it and the chalice would be unmixed. The priest would read most of the service from the north end (or the desk if it was Morning Prayer). The only lawful vestments were the cassock, surplice, and tippet and copes in cathedrals. There was no incense or processions or statues or icons. Another surprising fact is that the Tractarians were not that concerned with medieval ceremonial. Newman celebrated Communion from the north end in surplice and scarf until he converted to Rome. However, as we saw in the last paragraph of the former post, however, that would all change with the Cambridge Camden Society, which began in 1839 as an undergraduate society, which met at first to read the tracts coming from Oxford.
This group of undergraduates was an extension of the Oxford Movement, however, they began to emphasize different aspects than their fathers at Oxford. Eventually, the aim of the Cambridge Camden Society was to, “promote the study of Ecclesiastical Architecture and Antiquities and the restoration of mutilated architectural remains.” After its inception, the Society published “Church schemes” which described the architectural features of churches. Inspired by a general survey of German churches, the Society embarked on a journey to survey English churches, among the aims was to note structural and stylistic details but more importantly to document the parts of medieval churches associated with ritual and the parts which had religious significance. Their visits shaped the designs they promoted in their “Church schemes.” In conjunction with these schemes, the Society published how-to booklets which explained unfamiliar ecclesiastical architecture to English Protestants. The Society emphasized the Church as the House of God and the glory of Church history. The conclusion of the Society’s extensive visits of various parish churches was that the Gothic style was in ruin in England and needed to be repaired. The Society participated in repairs when they could but issued pamphlets to churchwardens explaining the reasons why renovations should take place and gave suggestions for immediate repairs. As the Oxford Movement was renewing unreformed theology in the Church of England, the Cambridge Camden Society was renewing unreformed architecture in the Church of England.
“The Cambridge Camden Society's ideal church was to be built in Decorated Gothic, with a wealth of decorative detail and including all the appurtenances of ritual; its interior dim with a blaze of light at the east end, a substantial chancel, chancel arch, an altar with steps and railings, a font, open seating, but no galleries.” They preferred the churches to be dim because it created a stark contrast to Protestant and Non-comformist churches in addition they emphasized the east end of the chancel. Many symbols of the “old” Established church were removed in churches influenced by the Society. Private boxed pews were removed in favor of open pews, also the galleries were removed. Likewise, the distinction between chancel and nave was accentuated and the chancel increased in size to accommodate more ritual. Also, the Society wanted the baptismal font to be at the west end of the church. This symbolizes the life of the Christian, one is born at the west end and dies at the east in the chancel and is resurrected at the altar. One of the defeats of the movement was during the renovation of the Church of St. Sepulchre in Cambridge, when the stone altar was rejected as unlawful in the Church of England, which showed that there was opposition to what the Society was doing. The Society moved to London in 1845 and was renamed the Ecclesiological Society and eventually disbanded in 1868, when it was felt that the goals of the Society had been accomplished, despite the protestations from Evangelicals and some High Churchmen.
The descendants of the Cambridge Camden Society and later Ecclesiological Society became known as Ritualists because of their attachment to the ritual of the medieval church. These Ritualists became the more influential of the Oxford Movement, originally overshadowing the original group, which was purely theological (and remained so under the leadership of Pusey). In the latter part of the 19th century, the Ritualists and Tractarians had converged on issues of ritual and ceremonial. They began to apply an old term to themselves: Anglo-Catholic. Up until the late 19th century, this had referred to either ordinary members of the Church of England or to old High Churchmanship. (On another note, the term “Anglican” also referred to Old High Churchmanship as well which explains why Anglo-Catholic also had this connotation as late as the later 1870’s). Eventually, the Tractarian-Ritualists claimed the name “Anglo-Catholic” for themselves and the –ism was attached to “Anglo-Catholic” to encapsulate the theology of the Oxford Movement and the ritual renaissance of the Cambridge Camden Society (later Ecclesiological Society).
The Cambridge Camden Society introduced vestments and ceremonies which had been outlawed in the Church of England since the Reformation. Things such as albs, stoles, maniples, amices, chasubles, birettas, miters, crosiers, surpliced choirs, processions, torches, crucifixes, icons, statues, rosaries, novenas, and ceremonies such as the asperges, plainsong chants, the lavabo, elevation, bowing, crossing, etc. From the poet, John Mason Neale, we have hymns such as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Overall, the practices introduced by the Cambridge Camden Society must be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine if they imply unreformed, Roman theology still.
Broad Church Liberals
The original liberals in the Church of England were the latitudinarian low churchmen who had their roots in a group of philosophers at Cambridge University, called the Cambridge Platonists. This group of philosophers were reacting against two extremes that of the Puritans and the thought of Hobbes. The Cambridge Platonists thought that religion and reason were in harmony with each other and advocated moderation in things religious. It is important to remember the historical scenario in which the Cambridge Platonists lived and operated. Roughly, they were active from around 1633 to 1688. During this time we have the Laudian reforms, Civil War, Protectorate, Restoration, and the Ejection of the Puritan ministers. The Cambridge Platonists were latitudinarians in matters of religion, meaning they wanted a latitude or broadness in interpreting Church dogma and ritual. It was because of this position to the Settlement that the latitudinarians merited the title, “Low Churchmen.” Low Churchmen remained the Latitudinarian party up until the Oxford Movement, when that term began to be applied to Evangelicals by the Tractarians. It was during this time that the liberal churchmen acquired the name “Broad Church.” Here is a brief summary of the broad church party:
“Unlike the Evangelicals and the Tractarians who opposed them, the
comparatively tiny Broad Church party never formed an organized, much less
essentially homogeneous, group. They were a loosely associated group of
intellectuals in the Church of England who in many ways represented what was to
become liberal twentieth-century Protestantism. Working under the direct or
indirect influence of German liberal thought, members of the Broad Church party
emphasized that the Bible, though in some sense divinely inspired, was not, as
Evangelicals and Tractarians believed, literally true in every detail, and that
therefore the scriptures should be read metaphorically, or even mythologically.
These beliefs appeared in the controversial Essays and Reviews (1860). Some
Broad Churchmen, like Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby, and F.D.
Maurice, the Christian Socialist Professor of Theology at King’s College London,
also emphasized a social gospel: that one could worship Christ best by working for
social justice. In this too the early Tractarians opposed them: in his Apologia pro
Vita Sua (1864), Newman said repeatedly that the great enemy he was fighting was
liberalism, and made it clear that Arnold was a prime example of that ideology he
detested” (Churchmanship differences, 13).
The Broad Churchmen were influenced by German liberal thought which dealt with theories of the divine inspiration of Scripture. The Broad Churchmen, with liberal, German Protestants, agreed that, though the Bible was inspired in some way, it was not literal in every detail and should be read figuratively:
“To many Broad Churchmen, biblical truth, together with the evidences of the natural world (as in Paley'sEvidences of Christianity, 1974, and Natural Theology, 1802), mediates the correspondences between the divine and human orders and is communicated through figures of speech and analogies. . . . To the literalist Evangelicals, the natural world is a snare and a delusion, anticipating in the deleterious effects of the Fall; to Broad Churchmen, the empirical facts of the natural world are read analogically as revelatory of God's nature and the divine plan for the world. . . . The Broad Church position locates the analogies not in not in the relation between the design of the world and the divine nature but in correspondences between human life and experience and aspects of the divine order, ultimately between the human heart and the divine spirit” (Landow).
Liberalism would come to dominate the theological seminaries and episcopal bench in the Church of England in the 20th Century.
What Happened to the Old High Churchmen?
Up to this point, it seemed as if the fate of the Old High Churchmen was doomed upon the advent of the Tractarians. However, it is not entirely true that the Orthodox suddenly disappeared when the Tracts for the Times were published. I am going to present my hypothesis on the matter which is based on the reading I’ve done.
First, the Old High Churchmen were at a high point in the 18th and early 19th century, due to the wane of Jacobitism which made high Churchmanship a fashionable thing again. This would change in the years prior to the Oxford Movement with the acts of Parliament which opened the legislature to non-conformists. This weakened one of the main tenets of Old High Churchmanship, which had a high view of the establishment. I believe that with this blow in their ideology, Tractarianism seemed more attractive to many in the Hackney Phalanx and other pre-Tractarian High Churchmen, which we know many Orthodox did join up with the Tractarians. Likewise, this made other options more attractive to Old High Churchmen such as the Evangelicals or Broad Church parties. Likewise, the influx of Non-jurors into the Church of England (the reason for their schism was largely non-existent at this point) caused the rise in popularity of the virtualist position, which was closer to the later Tractarian position than the dominant receptionism. It is important to remember that most Old High Churchmen espoused receptionism and not virutalism. The Non-jurors held much “higher” views which would be used by the Tractarians as evidence of their genuineness against the Establishment Churchmen. Many Old High Churchmen joined later moderate strands of Tractarianism because of its similarity with their own beliefs and the supposed continuity with the Non-jurors.
The second fact has to do with a fault of the Old High Churchmen which they brought upon themselves, so to say. The Old High Churchmen had a strong view of baptismal regeneration (without adopting the ex opere operato view if the Roman Catholic Church). Their view of baptism and also in reaction to nascent Evangelical subjectivism caused the old High Churchmen to take a negative view of a subjective conversion experience in the Christian life. Well, it isn’t fair to say they were “anti-conversion” but anti-conversionist, meaning they were against what many modern people would call “decisionism,” although Evangelicalism was different then than now but that’s the best way I can think of to explain it. The Old High Churchmen emphasized conversion of life and usually had a high moralistic tone to their sermons and homilies. This weakness in their theology was no match for the Evangelical emphasis on conversion of t he heart and the Tractarian emphasis on the sanctification of life by the working of the Spirit.
Another weakness of the Old High Church party was that it lost at the war of words with the Tractarians. The Tractarians-Ritualists assumed the title Anglo-Catholic for their movement and gradually, with the introduction of new ceremonial, the old terms “high church” and “low church” gradually acquired a ceremonial flavor to them which was absent in the original meaning. As time passed, more parties adopted the ceremonial that the Ritualists advocated which caused the old High Churchmen to have to reevaluate their self-definition.
I have a confession to make. The thesis behind this series of posts was to determine and document the demise of the Old High Church party because when I first began writing these articles, I presumed that this variety of churchmanship had completely disappeared. Luckily, that presumption was entirely false. While the Old High Churchmen had been weakened and perhaps changed a bit from the Oxford Movement, their spiritual descendants continued on in the Church of England (and also in America) to live in contentment with the Anglican Settlement, although with a new sense of ceremonial expression in their spirituality than had been used before. The two destinations of Old High Churchmen were the Central Party (in England, and in America conservative Broad) and the Prayer Book Catholics.
As the official Anglican liturgy became to be viewed of as inadequate by Anglo-Catholics, the Old High Churchmen remained true to the Prayer Book. Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics hardened and polarized in opposition to each other and left a void in the middle. The Central Churchmen occupied this void. They adhered to a conservative view of the Bible, adhered to the Prayer Book, Articles, and the Early Fathers. They adopted moderate ceremonial and became what we regard today as “classical Anglicanism.” Central Churchmen followed the theology of the Caroline Divines, Non-jurors, and later High Churchmen. They, like their predecessors, tended to be Arminian in soteriology (though I wouldn’t be surprised if a few predestinarians joined the Central crowd). They believed that, in baptism, regeneration was conferred to the recipient. They believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, though, not the localized presence of either transubstantiation or consubstantiation. They also adhered to moderate apostolic succession and a plene esse view of the episcopacy. Little has been said up to this point about the relation of sacrifice with the Eucharist (which will be corrected in the edits of these posts). Central Churchmen were reluctant to correlate sacrifice and the Eucharist, however, a general consensus emerged whereby the Eucharist was, “commemoration (amnesis) of the one perfect sacrifice once offered, and the second, it is our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for Christ's saving work. The offering of ourselves in Christ's service is also part of this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” (+Robinson). On the subject of apostolic succession, the Central Churchmen continue in the thought and practice of the Old High Churchmen, maintaining the high view of the episcopacy but not to the point of advocating a fully Roman doctrine of tactile succession. “In some circles there has been far too much made of this physical continuity of hands on heads, and not enough made of the "other" Apostolic Succession - that of doctrine. Most "middle Anglican" wroters on the subject refer to both aspects. They admit that the concept of Apostolic Succession was first and foremost one relating to the need for the Church to continue in "the Apostles' doctrine and teaching" and the ordination was both a commissioning by the church to administer the sacraments and preach the Word, but also an attestation to a man's orthodoxy” (Robinson). I’m relying heavily on Archbishop Robinson’s (UECNA) posts on this subject, as I cannot find much more online to elaborate on Central positions.
Prayer Book Catholicism represented another descendant of Old High Churchmanship due to its emphasis on the catholicity of the Prayer Book. This strand of thought seems to have its origin in the “Bisley School” of moderate Tractarianism. Prayer Book Catholicism also sprung up when Anglo-Catholics, especially the most extreme version of them, the Anglo-Papalists, were wholly convinced that the Prayer Book was not authentically Catholic. Anglo-Papalists began to substitute the Missal and Breviary for the Prayer Book services of Holy Communion and Morning and Evening Prayer. While Anglo-Papalists were looking to Rome for what they viewed as genuinely Catholic and representative of the apostolic church, the Prayer Book Catholics looked to the ancient uses of England for guidance in matters of ceremonial. They refused to substitute the Missal for the Prayer Book. They instead viewed the Prayer Book as comfortably within the catholic heritage of the English Church:
“One approach to being Anglo-Catholic was the cultivation of an "Olde English" style of worship. Anglo-Catholics were widely suspected of disloyalty to Anglican principles. So, some sought to demonstrate that Catholic worship was entirely compatible with loyal conformity to the Book of Common Prayer.
These "Prayer Book Catholics" set about researching and reconstructing late medieval English (or "Sarum") ceremonial, vestments, and church decoration. A typical "Sarum Rite" parish might have an altar with a cross and two candlesticks, framed by a cloth dossal and two side curtains. Services would follow the Prayer Book strictly, with congregational singing of English plainsong Mass settings. The clergy would wear full-cut gothic vestments or long, flowing surplices.
The style of worship that Fr. Rogers brought here to Ascension in the 1940s seems to have been inspired mainly by this Prayer Book Catholic tradition (with a few other influences blended in). Photographs of the new church taken after its completion in 1949 resemble textbook illustrations of the "Sarum" style of church decoration” (Alexander).
Likewise, the Prayer Book Catholics shared many values of the Central Churchmen. However, as +Robinson clarifies, the real distinction between them lie in the cult of the saints. The Central Churchmen, in continuity with the historic, Anglican practice, revered the saints and remembered their holy lives but nothing more. Prayer Book Catholics were comfortable with venerating their relics and invoking them in prayer, although neither of which would be part of the public liturgy of the Church, but up to individual piety. This was viewed as Romanizing by the Central Churchmen.
(At this point, I add a tangent on the American experience of Tractarianism. The American Church had an indigenous, High Church movement which was rooted in the Scottish Episcopal Church, which in turn was heavily influenced by the Non-jurors. Tractarianism seemed to have a different effect here, as there historically was not an “Anglo-Papalist” movement in America. Bishop Robinson offers an explanation of the development of Prayer Book Catholicism in America:
“The characteristic Anglo-Catholic approach to ceremonial in the USA, where there is no Ornaments Rubric to point us to the "second year of King Edward the Sixth" has been what I call either "Fortescue and Water" or "Ritual Notes and Water." This approach, adopting and adapting the Tridentine Roman ceremonial in celebrating the Prayer Book services, dates from around 1875 and became popular due to the availability of mass produced items for this style of liturgy. Strangely this led to one of the more visible characteristics of American "Prayer Book Catholicism" - when Roman Usage and the BCP came into conflict, the BCP usually won. That said, there are some widespread additions to the BCP Communion service of which Prayer Catholics are guilty. The most popular of these have been the use of some of the personal prayers of the celebrant, and the addition of the Benedictus, and the Agnus Dei to the Communion office, and less frequently, the use of the Ecce, Agnus Dei before Communion. Also some of the commoner visual elements peculiar to the older Roman Rite - "the big six" on the altar, tabernacles, genuflection, the major elevations, cassocks and cottas for servers have been widely adopted.”)
The next and last post in this series will deal with modern Anglicanism and the practical implications (at least in my mind). There is a reason why I think this is important for modern, American Anglicans but that revelation will have to wait till next time!