This article continues in the "American High Church Tradition" series. In this article, I attempt to construct a history of American High Churchmanship from around the time of the beginning of the Oxford Movement to the year 1900. These dates were chosen to reflect the change in the character of the Protestant Episcopal Church from a solidly Protestant (and Catholic) body to a Church overrun by Anglo-Catholicism and Liberalism.
See also: The American High Church Tradition (Part One, 1607-1833)
General Trends in the Episcopal Church in the 19th Century before the Civil War
In 1824, an elderly Bishop traveled throughout Europe and eventually landed in England. There he became acquainted with a young deacon named John Henry Newman. The young Newman was so impressed by this Bishop and of the Church where he served that wrote, “We have the proof that the Church, of which we are is not the mere creation of the State, but has an independent life, with a kind of her own, and fruit after her own kind” (1). The Church he wrote about was the American Church and the Bishop was John Henry Hobart, the notable Bishop of New York. Bishop Hobart stood at the front of a High Church revival in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. Bishop Hobart was a truly pastoral bishop and a pioneer in the Church. He confirmed thousands of people and ordained priests and deacons for his growing diocese. He was intrinsically opposed to Episcopalian support for the American Bible Society and instead formed the New York Bible and Common Prayer Book Society as well as the Protestant Episcopal Theological Society to spread Christian knowledge in the context of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Hobart also saw the revival of the surplice which had been nearly abandoned in America in favor of the academic gown. Oak Communion tables and some stone altars came into the chancels of many Episcopal churches. It is important to stress the stark contrast from services in this time period from later 19th century services though. Addison writes,
“The arrangement and the conduct of t he services differed from modern practice more extensively than did the actual text of the Prayer Book… The morning service generally included not only Morning Prayer but also the Litany and the Ante-Communion… The minister wore a long surplice without a cassock and usually without a scarf or stole. For the sermon he put off the surplice and donned a black gown…. At the altar Churchmen today of whatever type would note an unfamiliar bareness. The priest celebrating Holy Communion wore no vestments but the surplice and generally stood at t he north end of the holy table… [T]here were no flowers or candles or cross, at the most a linen cloth; and the elements were ordinary bread and unmixed wine. The Eucharist was seldom administered more than once a month. Though High Churchmen often observed the holy days, weekday services were more likely to of an Evangelical flavor” (117).
An interesting sermon from St. Mark’s Church in LeRoy, NY, in 1832, reveals the neglect of the surplice by American clergy. In the preface, the rector states, “The Surplice having hitherto never been used in the Church in Le Roy, on account, as was supposed, of prejudices which were entertained by some respecting it, and the present Rector having intimated a wish that it might be introduced, the congregation very promptly procured one” (2). The Rector then goes on to convince the congregation of the rational for using the surplice. It is also noteworthy to remind the reader that at this time, in the Protestant Episcopal Church, hymns were not generally sung during services but rather metrical psalms only (with the exception of a few authorized hymns). Evangelicals in the Church tended to want to sing only Scriptural verses set to meter and High Churchmen distrusted hymns out of a fear for “enthusiasm” as hymnody seemed to provoke among the Methodists.
Due to several factors, the centralized organization of the Church became more important in the 19th century than it had in earlier centuries. Part of this was a reaction against the individualism of the Great Awakening in America. Bishop Hobart stands as the last great High Church giant before the arrival of the Oxford Movement. Good, bad or indifferent, though, American soil was ripe for Tractarianism. The American situation would prove a different experience entirely from our English cousins. The reader will remember the events which led up to the Movement. A combination of exhausted energy of the Hackney Phalanx and the breakdown of the Church/State relationship with the inclusion of Dissenters and Romans in Parliament caused the spark of the Reform Act of 1833. From 1689-1833, the Church of England had existed peacefully and had been given time to breathe after the strife of the 1600’s. However, a spirit of latitudinarianism plagued the Established Church, to the point that even Christological heresy was tolerated in some quarters (sounds familiar, no?). The early 18th century saw the Nonjuror schism begin, develop, and decline while as the 1700’s moved on, the Evangelical movement began to blossom and grow. The Methodists left the Church of England during this time and in the latter part of the 18th and early 19th centuries, a High Church revival was underway led, first by the Hutchinsonians, and later by the Hackney Phalanx, seeking general church reforms.
It was in this world where the Oxford Movement began. It’s effect in England was different from America. In England it was crucial for reviving parish worship; the moderate Tractarianism of the early 1830’s simply wished for worship in the Church of England to reflect the rubrics of the Prayer Book. The Tractarians, in conjunction with early Evangelicals, emphasized weekly Communion, the observance of holy days, and the public recitation of the Offices daily. In England, a revival of the doctrines of baptismal regeneration and apostolic succession helped the Church to realize its vocation in the world. However, as the Movement grew, it tended to view the Reformation in suspicion, and therefore parted ways with traditional, Anglican churchmanship. The advent of Ritualism and the conversion of Newman confirmed many Evangelicals’ suspicions about the Romewardizing of the Tractarians. Likewise, in England, a reaction against the State Church fueled the fire of Tractarianism and aided its dispersal. However, in America, there was no Established Church. Likewise, the doctrines of apostolic succession and baptismal regeneration were perpetuated by the active High Church movement here. Worship was not up to the standards of the BCP but overall there was less need for the Movement in the United States.
The High Church party in the United States had several influential bishops in place during the span of the Oxford Movement. Besides Hobart, who had died in 1830, but whose theology guided the High Church bishops who followed, there were several other bishops such as Doane, Whittingham, Hopkins, Otey, and Kemper (Addison 156). The Tracts were obviously objectionable to Evangelicals but the interest here is how High Churchmen reacted to them. Several years after the Tracts had been printed, the two High Church publications of the Protestant Episcopal Church, The Churchman and The Banner of the Cross, reflecting Hobartian principles, gave them a cautious stamp of approval. The early Tracts taught the meaning of apostolic succession, the nature of the Eucharist, the sin of schism, and the authority of the Fathers, which were not objectionable to High Churchmen. The Tracts ignited party strife again in the Episcopal Church. By 1839, Bishop Moore of Virginia wrote that the Church was, “threatened [by] a revival of the worst evils of the Romish system” (Addison 156). Bishop McIlvaine of Ohio published a book against Tractarian doctrine; meanwhile The Churchman advocated their republication. McConnell adds an interesting observation about the reception of the Tracts in America. First, he classifies American churchmanship into three categories: “Evangelical;” “Laudian, non-juring, Seabury type;” and “American Churchmen.” Their reception respectively was as such: rejection, cautious welcome, and indifference. McConnell’s observation about what he terms “American Churchmen” is fascinating. Essentially it was the Latitudinarian party but influenced by American ideology (365, 366). Such was the general reaction among Churchmen towards the Tracts until the publication of Tract 90.
Tract 90 was the turning point for the Oxford Movement where it became markedly Romanist in thought, or at least certain quarters of it. Many Protestant Episcopal bishops were not wavered in their support of the Tracts, bishops such as Bishop Brownell of Connecticut, Bishop DeLancey of Western New York and Bishop Onderdonk supported them. After the publication of Tract 90, however, many High Churchmen began to oppose the Tractarian Movement. Most notable of these was Bishop John Henry Hopkins of Vermont. In fact, most Tractarians were shocked at the opposition by the old High Church party. “Advanced High Churchmen…asserted that the greatest enemy of true Catholicism was not the Low or Broad Church, but the old High Church party… Thus the Tracts, or rather the outcry against the Tracts drove Hopkins for a time into the arms of the Evangelicals... From 1840 on, we find in the American Church not one, but two High Church movements; the one native, conservative, centering largely in the East, with the General Seminary as its nursery; the other imported, advanced, finding its strongest support in Nashotah and the mid-Western dioceses” (Addison 162). Addison notes the divergence existed because the older High Churchmen believed just as strongly in the doctrines of apostolic succession and in their view of the Church. However, they were anti-Roman and kept matters simple in ceremony. Other High Churchmen were moderate in their approach to Tractarianism, most notably Bishop Jackson Kemper, who admired some aspects of Tractarianism but disapproved of the Roman tendencies. However, what divided the older High Churchmen and Anglo-Catholics, in essence, was their attitude to the Reformation, Addison writes,
“The latter, like their seventeenth-century models, did not wince at the appellation “Protestant”; they heartily commended the Reformation; and they believed that the Episcopal Church in the United States was so nearly perfect that it could hardly be improved upon. But the younger converts of Newman and Pusey were inclined to be apologetic about the deplorable condition of a Church which had so nearly forgotten its Catholic heritage. For them the Reformation was a de-formation; and the ancient Church of Rome, instead of being a target for their abuse, began to expert upon them an uneasy fascination” (158).
By 1844, the effects of the Movement were felt over the nation. There was an investigation into the practices of the General Seminary in New York about alleged Roman practices there. The investigation focused on Eucharistic doctrine, attitude towards the Reformation, and allowance of Roman practices such as the invocation of saints, etc. A House of Bishops committee declared that, “Resolved, that the Bishops as Visitors, having visited the Seminary and inspected the same, do not find, in any of its interior arrangements, any evidence that superstitious or Romish practices are allowed or encouraged” (Addison, 159). In the minds of many Protestant laymen, the conversions of Episcopal clergy to Rome, confirmed their suspicions of the Anglo-Catholic movement and its alleged relationship to Rome (McConnell, 339).
The General Convention never released any strong condemnations of the Romanist tendencies in Tractarian rhetoric. They released this statement in 1844,
“Resolved, that the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies consider the Liturgy, Offices, and Articles of the Church sufficient exponents of her sense of the essential doctrines of Holy Scripture; and that the canons of the Church afford ample means of discipline and correction for all ho depart from her standards, and further, that the General Convention is not a suitable tribunal for the trial and censure of, and that the Church is not responsible for, the errors of individuals, whether they are members of this Church or otherwise” (Addison 160).
However, pastoral letters from the House of Bishops reveal that the bishops held stronger opinions against the doctrines, at least as a united body,
“The articles of our Church afford us stable ground on which to stand in guarding you from these errors of the Church of Rome. Take these articles in the sense of their framers and as set forth and investigated by the most distinguished divines, and there can be no mistake. These articles thus interpreted, we hold in great reverence, and entreat you to consider them in the same light, listening to no interpretation that will draw you from the Protestant faith. Besides the articles, we commend to your serious consideration the Homilies of our Church; and next to these the pastoral letters unanimously adopted by this House of Bishops, and set forth to the whole Church. Examine these pastoral letters and you will see how decidedly they condemn all leaning to papal Rome on the one hand, and Antinomian errors on the other. How they warned you against the over-valuation of the Fathers, so as to rank with the Holy Scriptures as a joint rule of faith, and at the same time how they freely admit their authority as evidence in matters of fact when determining what are the books of Holy Scripture, and what were the primitive worship of the Church. Nothing can be more decided than the testimony of disapprobation borne by these pastoral letters against the Romish doctrine of purgatory, the invocation of saints, the supremacy of the Pope, and the idolatries involved in the doctrine ofTransubstantiation” (3). In reaction to the conversion of several Episcopal clergy to Rome, the Bishops wrote in 1853,
“We earnestly hope that the record of this deposition may conclude the list of apostates to the Romish Communion. For several years past, our branch of the Church of Christ, as well as our parent Church of England, has been harassed by the advocacy of doctrines, and of ceremonial observances, leading in the same direction… The principles of sound churchmanship have no inherent tendency to Romanism, or to the opposite extreme. As they are deduced from the Holy Scriptures, and exhibited in the Articles, Liturgy and Prayer Book, they stand in happy equilibrium. It is only when one doctrine or office is magnified at the expense of the rest, that the equilibrium is destroyed. The tendencies to error and to extremes, lie in part in the different constitutions of men; in the diversities of their tempers, education and prejudices, and not in the system of Christianity itself. Some men rest upon the doctrinal soundness of their religion; others on its practical developments. Some are disposed greatly to magnify the efficacy of the Sacraments; others have been equally inclined to depreciate their efficacy. The only remedy for all these extremes is to receive and hold the doctrines of Scripture, and their summary in the Prayer Book, in due proportion, and not to magnify one doctrine or precept at the expense of another… they solemnly bind themselves to "conform to the doctrine and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church." They thus engage to refrain from any private and individual interpretation, for the Church which exacts the subscription, is the lawful interpreter of the sense in which it is to be taken.” (4).
Bishop Hopkins and High Church Opposition to the Tracts
John Henry Hopkins was born in 1792 in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1801 to the Pittsburgh area. He entered the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church and served at Trinity Church in Pittsburgh from 1824 to 1830. The next year he accepted the rectorship at Trinity Church in Boston and subsequently was elected Bishop of Vermont. Bishop Hopkins was elected the eighth Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and served from January 13, 1865 to January 9, 1868.
Earlier in his life, Hopkins wrote a letter to the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Episcopal Church, expressing his concerns about Tractarianism. It is titled, “Novelties which Disturb Our Peace.” In these letters, Hopkins details four main concerns he has with Tractarian doctrines. He lists these concerns as such,
“The first subject which I shall present is that of Lay Baptism, inasmuch as the novel practice of re-baptizing those who have received baptism at the hands of our non-episcopal brethren, is openly defended, and is on the increase…. Another novelty which I regret to see, is the systematic refusal of the term Church, to the various orthodox communities of our non-episcopal brethren, on the alleged ground, that since Episcopacy is manifestly of divine institution, there can be no Church where there are no bishops… A third novelty to which I cannot assent, is the view of the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, as set forth in the Oxford Tracts, and presented in the late sermon of the Rev, Dr. Puse-y. In connexion with, this stands the general scope of what is called the sacramental theology, and the theory of priestly power… A fourth novelty, which has produced a more serious fermentation than all the rest, in consequence of the recent ordination of Mr. Carey, is the theological notion that the tenets of the Council of Trent may be reconciled to sound Catholic (or orthodox and primitive) doctrine. And along with this, I am compelled to classify the apparent favour exhibited towards the extraordinary assault of a Transatlantic periodical, the British Critic, upon the cardinal doctrine of Justification by faith, and the Protestant character of the Church of England” (Hopkins, Letter 1, 6).
In Bishop Hopkin’s sentiments, we feel the distress of other concerned High Churchmen. Central to the High Church tradition was deriving catholicity from Protestantism, meaning that High Churchmen saw themselves as Catholic because they were Protestant. The Tractarians came along and forced the decision on High Churchmen to choose which they were which caused internal self-destruction among older High Churchmen, for the only answer to them was “both.”
Bishop Hopkins begins his long discourse with the subject of lay baptism and the related subject of non-episcopal baptism. This had been an issue in the 18th century among High Churchmen in the Church of England. Most notably, Dodwell, the Nonjuring bishop, had spoken out against non-episcopal baptisms, declaring them invalid. Roger Lawrence, a Dissenter who submitted to rebaptism under Dodwell, and later became a Nonjuring clergy, continued in Dodwell’s defense of the invalidity of non-episcopal baptism and required rebaptism. This had political implications in 18th century England, when William occupied James II’s throne (remember that Nonjurors were deprived of their sees for refusing to take the oath to William), because James II was a baptized Roman Catholic and William a Dutch Protestant, and according to Dodwell’s interpretation, foreign Protestants could be classified as “catechumens” at best (Every 128-131). Closely tied to this notion is the debate over the nature of bishops and their necessity. Hopkins quotes Tertullian in defense of lay baptism, which is tied to this discussion because the High Churchmen who opposed non-episcopal baptism are basing it on the claim that other Protestant ministers are just laymen because they were not ordained by bishops,
“’The chief priest…the bishop, has power to give Baptism, and next to him, the presbyters and deacons ; but not without the authority of the bishop, on account of the honour of the Church; which being guarded, peace is preserved. For otherwise, it is lawful for laymen to administer it; since that which is rightfully received, may be rightfully given.’ Elsewhere the same author asserts the inherent priesthood of the laity, in general terms, and extends it to both the sacraments ; he saith that wherever there are three, even although they be laymen, there is the Church; and assigns as a reason, that every one lives by his own faith” (Hopkins, Tertullian quoted, Letter 1, 23).
Closely related to this issue is the question of non-episcopal Protestants, are they true Churches? The Church of England never formulated a detailed response to this question but has historically required episcopal ordination for all ministers serving her since at least the Restoration (before it was still the policy but there are some instances of foreign ministers “sneaking in” so to speak). Cranmer and the English Reformers acknowledged their brethren on the Continent but lamented that they had given up episcopacy. In England, the problem of Dissent added additional complexities to the answer. The eventual answer was never “officially” declared but a majority of High Churchmen accepted it as a valid response, including the Laudians. It essentially declared that episcopacy was the norm and means of apostolic ministry but in the instance that foreign churches had to depart from episcopacy in order to be reformed, the Church of England would accept their ministrations as valid in their churches. Many attempts were made throughout the 18th century to acquire bishops for foreign churches, especially Lutherans, but these never succeeded. The result was that in the mid 18th century, some High Churchmen questioned the validity of Lutheran and other foreign orders (Every 114, 131). In America, there seems to have been latitude in opinion on this matter. Bishop Hobart was known for his opposition to the American Bible Society and subsequently founding the New York Bible and Common Prayer Book Society. Bishop Hopkins adopted the Laudian position and seems to extend that to most other Protestants in America.
Bishop Hopkins begins by stating his understanding of the issue, “I understand the doctrine of the Church, episcopacy is not of its essence, but only of its order. Secondly, those portions of Christendom which retain the fundamental verities of the Christian faith, are entitled, for the faith's sake, to be called Churches, although they have lost the apostolic order of the ministry” (Hopkins, Letter 2, 6). He further quotes Bishop Burnet’s commentary on the Articles of Religion for further support, stating that the Articles, “acknowledge the foreign Churches so constituted, to be true Churches as to all the essentials of a Church, though they had been at first irregularly formed, and continued still to be in an imperfect state” (Burnet quoted in Hopkins, Letter 2, 10). Hopkins’s strong words are provoked by the new Tractarian denial of the Reformation and consequently all other Protestant ministrations and orders. Hopkins can see through what this means for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and speaks out,
“Here, then, I behold the opinion which fairly presents the views of our mother Church on the 'true character of those reformed Churches which had unhappily been obliged, as they honestly supposed, to dispense with the apostolic order of episcopacy. It was a defect, a defect to be sorely lamented, but yet it did not destroy them as Churches- The title of Churches was plainly and constantly applied to them not only by Hooker, but by all the English Episcopalians of that and long subsequent times. And although the comprehensive definition of the essential elements of the Church, allowed Hooker to embrace the Church of Rome along with the reformed Churches of France and Scotland, within the great circle of the Church universal, yet there can be no question in any unprejudiced mind as to the sentiment entertained concerning their comparative affinity to the primitive Apostolic system” (Hopkins, Letter 2, 16).
Hopkins next focuses on the Eucharist in his letters. (A side note, here, but the term “Lord’s Supper” is a very Anglican term indeed and should be embraced by all Anglicans, as we see this High Church Bishop frequently using it.) Hopkins defines the teaching of the Church on the Supper,
“The fourth view [he has just described transubstantiation, consubstantiation, and memorialism] of the Eucharist is that which I have received as the doctrine of our mother Church and of our own. According to this interpretation, the elements of bread and wine, by virtue of the act of Consecration, become the holy SYMBOLS of the Body and Blood of our cru-fied Lord, being appointed to bear this emblematic character by his own express commandment, in solemn remembrance of his Cross and Passion for .the redemption of mankind. Thus far, we hold the same view with Zuinglius [Zwingli]. But in the more important question of the inward and spiritual grace received in the Sacrament, we go incomparably farther; believing that in the due reception of the representative Body and Blood, the faithful Communicant is made, by the Holy Spirit, a partaker, verily and indeed, of the Body and Blood of Christ, after a heavenly and Spiritual manner, so as to become mystically one with his Divine Lord, and to strengthen the bands of that glorious incorporation more and more, with each repetition of the Holy Communion; provided he approach with genuine repentance, lively faith, and fervent charity, and thus "come holy and clean to the heavenly feast, in the marriage garment required by God in Holy Scripture” (Hopkins, Letter 3, 8).
Hopkins next outlines the differences between Tractarian and Anglican teaching on the Supper. This is crucial, for, many of the abuses of the Roman Church have crept up in our churches due to a lack of proper teaching about the Sacrament. Hopkins words are ever more important in our times.
“On a fair and candid comparison, therefore, of the doctrine of the Church, with the doctrine of our Tractarian brethren, I think it manifest that the Church confines the idea of the Real Presence of the Body, and Blood of. Christ to the faithful receiver of the Sacrament, while our Tractarian brethren place that Real Presence in the Sacrament itself, that is, in the consecrated elements, on the Communion Table, or Altar. That when the Article declares that the Body of Christ is given, taken and eaten, in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner, the Church teaches us to believe that this divine benefit is communicated by Christ himself to the faithful soul, while our Tractarian friends hold that it is already 'in an ineffable manner' united to the consecrated Bread, and is thus given to the communicant by the hands of the minister. That when the Catechism declares the Body and Blood to be verity and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper” the Church expresses the grace bestowed by the Redeemer, through his Holy Spirit, on the worthy partaker, while our Tractarian brethren would maintain that this verily and indeed refers to the consecrated Symbols in the paten and the chalice that in some ineffable manner, but yet real and true, the glorified Saviour, Body, Soul, and Divinity, are included in the bread and wine, by virtue of the act of consecration, handled, broken, poured forth, and finally given to the Communicant by the priest, so that the Lord does not fulfill his gracious promise of entering into the faithful heart, except by first, verily and indeed, uniting himself to these elements, in order that the priest may perform the act which brings the soul into a living union with its Saviour” (Hopkins, Letter 3, 45).
Tied up in the Tractarian view is the notion of a priestly power to “confect” the body and blood, a thought absent from Anglican theology and the Ordinal itself.
However, Hopkins main concern lies with the infamous Tract 90, the tract where Newman tried to harmonize the teachings of the Council of Trent with the Articles of Religion,
“The chief of these, however, is the theological notion, that the tenets of the Council of Trent may be reconciled to Catholic, or in other words, to primitive and orthodox doctrine… A few observations upon the system of Rome compared with Tractarianism, the general scope of the sacramental theology, the theory of priestly power, and the strange attempt made of late to beat down the doctrine of justification by faith, and un-protestantize the Church of England, will bring these Letters to a close, and relieve ray own mind, at least, of what I have long felt to be a most painful and oppressive duty” (Hopkins, Letter 4, 4)
Hopkins goes on to list through the Articles, where Tridentine doctrine is in contrast with the teaching of the Articles and Scripture,
“The 1 1th Article asserts the cardinal doctrine of Justification by Faith, or, as the Church of England expresses it, By faith only, to which the Council of Trent stands strongly opposed, confounding justification with sanctification, making our Baptism the instrumental cause of our first justification, our good, works the instrumental cause of its subsequent increase, and our inherent righteousness the ground of our final acceptance. So serious and important is the difference here, that the Tractarian divines have made the most determined and persevering attacks upon the doctrine of our Church, not hesitating to brand it as the " Lutheran heresy" and even placing it below heathenism itself”…The 26th Article denies that five put of the Seven Roman Sacraments ought to be accounted as such; in which list, that most important subject of Penance occurs, and the doctrine of Rome concerning it is said to have "grown out of a corrupt following of the Apostles" It is quite incomprehensible to my mind how any one can, approve the decrees of Trent upon the Sacrament of Penance^ and at the same time approve the doctrine of our Church, for if ever there was a set of plain contrarieties, they may be found here. Indeed this Article alone contains more than twelve propositions, in which the two Churches are not to be reconciled by any fair process of reasoning”… The 31st Article rejects the sacrifice of propitiatory masses, "in which it was said that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain and guilt," as being a "blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit." That this doctrine was not, as the Tractarian theologians would persuade themselves, the vulgar error of Romanists, but the doctrine of that corrupt- Church herself, is manifest from the whole body of her divines for ages before the Reformation, and the Council of Trent was so far from reforming it, that they expressly confirmed the whole” (Hopkins, Letter 4, 15, 18).
Hopkins rightly points to the doctrine of justification by faith alone as a key difference between the Protestant Episcopal Church and Rome. In 1841, the Protestant Episcopal bishops issued a pastoral letter explaining the Church’s doctrine of justification. Some excerpts from it reveal the teaching of the Church, first of man’s sin and the mercy of God, “The scriptures teach us that, man is naturally in a fallen, sinful state, from which God, in his merciful goodness, sent his Son to redeem us. By the sacrifice of himself, he made expiation for our sins: by rising from the dead, he has raised our hopes to life immortal; and through faith in him, as "the way, the truth, and the life;" as our advocate with the Father, and "the end of the law for righteousness to those who believe," we are authorized to look for pardon and acceptance,” the bishops also clear up the contrast between faith and works, “We are truly said to be justified by faith and to be saved by faith, because, as the Apostles shew, our faith it is which renders our works pleasing to God; because, indeed, it is by faith only that we can truly do what God requires, and be conformed to his will. The works required of Christians shew, not our merits, but our belief in Him, who is truly meritorious, and our hope and trust in the word and promises of God; they should be intended to manifest not that salvation is of us, but that we seek for and accept it as the free gift of God. By faith, we receive Christ as "the Lord our Righteousness." It is a belief in what God has revealed, a trust in what he has promised, and a lively sense that all the glory of our salvation is his alone. It is "not of works, lest any man should boast." But so far is this faith from excluding the necessity of repentance and hope and charity and good living, that it is what produces them. It is the good tree, which, as our Lord says, brings forth good fruit; and the wisdom of God in requiring it, as the principle of our justification, is evident. It is thus required not because faith is the greatest of all Christian virtues or graces;--charity is greater than faith. What gives to faith its exalted rank in the religion of Christ is its truth. It sees no merit but in Jesus Christ: it humbles the sinner, exalts the Saviour, and gives all glory to God; and also, through his grace, it enables the Christian to "walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (8).
And finally, what I would call Bishop Hopkins “battle cry,”
“The Church is a Protestant Church, emphatically and distinctly such, because her duty to PROTEST against error, is, in the natural things, inseparable from the right of REFORM. Is he ready to repeat her protest, to defend its duty, and to demonstrate its truth? The Church is a Catholic Church, that is, a branch of the ancient, Universal Church of Christ, in contradistinction from all heresies and schisms. Is he thoroughly persuaded of this fact, and ready to assert, against "all gainsayers, but chiefly and preeminently against that corrupt system which would fain be called the only Catholic Church, the purity and faithful consistency of her doctrines ? If not, let him be put back awhile until he learns to understand the office which the Church expects of him. He may have piety, he may have learning, he may have all high moral and intellectual capacities, he may be sound in the essentials of his individual faith so far as concerns his own salvation. But all this he might be, without any of the distinctive principles which can alone authorize us to clothe him with the commission of the ministry. Our power to give him this commission is a solemn trust, delegated to us on certain specified conditions. And if those conditions, or any of them, be manifestly wanting, we have, strictly speaking, no legal right to ordain” (Hopkins).
Likewise, Hopkins is clear as to where the doctrine of the Church comes from, this from his address, “On the Toleration among our Ministry of the Doctrines of the Church of Rome,”
“The DOCTRINES here mentioned are contained not only in our liturgy and offices, but they are precisely and specifically set forth in the "ARTICLES OF RELIGION, as established by the bishops, the clergy, and the laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in convention, on the twelfth day of September, A.D. 1801." With few and trifling exceptions, these are the same with the Thirty-nine Articles of our Mother Church of England, which every clergyman in that Church is obliged to subscribe, so that in both Churches the Articles are necessarily held to be the great exponents of the doctrines which the clergy are "solemnly engaged" to maintain” (9).
Hopkins then accuses Tractarians of breaking their ordination oaths by not teaching against Romanist teachings but rather by embracing them. He writes,
“Here, then, we find that every priest is under a solemn vow, always to teach and minister the doctrine of Christ as our Church hath received it, and to banish and drive away from the people all that our Church condemns as erroneous and strange. The written engagement demanded by our Constitution is thus seen to be only a brief condensation of a duty, much more fully set forth in the ordination service itself, under every circumstance which could add weight to a promise made in the presence of the Church, in the sight of God, and with a measure of awful responsibility before the tribunal of Christ far beyond any other. For the ordained minister goes forth among his fellow-men as the commissioned ambassador of the Almighty King of kings, and tenfold must be the condemnation which awaits him if he violates his sacred trust, or deals deceitfully and falsely with the immortal souls committed to his care” (9).
I think Bishop Hopkins clearly saw the issue at stake, simply the soul of the Church was up for grabs. Lamentably, not many listened to him as we shall see, his line of thought was nearly extinct by 1900. After that point in history, the following graceful explanation of the Reformation would not depart from the lips of an Episcopal clergyman,
“Thus, while Episcopacy was secured by the Ordinal, which placed it on the true ground of Apostolic authority, the Articles were framed so as to avoid any censure upon the ministry of the foreign Churches which had no Bishops. So the right of declaring absolution was preserved to the priesthood, but its form was accommodated to the evangelical doctrine which confines the act of forgiveness to the power of God. The use of ministerial garments was continued in the linen surplice which succeeded the ancient Jewish ephod, but all the pomp of the Romish vestments was abolished, and the preacher was left free to wear the black dress which was common to all the reformed. The liturgical mode of service was prescribed; but besides its thorough purification from every trace of superstitious error, it was set forth in English, and put into the evangelic form of Common Prayer, instead of the Romish scheme of priestly intercession. The consecration of places as well as persons was retained; but this also was cleansed from superstitious abuses, and the laity were brought in to guard its administration. The rite of confirmation was continued, but it was reduced to its Scriptural form of the laying on of hands, the preface to it was drawn up in accordance with the theory of Calvin, and it was displaced from its Romish position as one of the sacraments. Baptism and the Holy Eucharist were invested with their primitive and solemn signification, but the Articles confined the efficacy of the latter to those alone who rightly received it, while all the figments of Roman error were utterly taken away. The authority of the Church was asserted, but it was limited to its true spiritual functions; and the temporal sword, so long usurped by the Roman Pontiff, was committed to the earthly government where it rightly belonged. The altars were suffered to remain in the Cathedrals, but the rubrics avoided the use of the word, and spake only of the Lord's table. The order of morning and evening prayer, with a calendar of lessons, was arranged for every day throughout the year, but only one Church in each diocese* was obliged to use the whole, and the rest were required to observe but little more than the Sunday services. The ancient festivals and fasts were retained, but the saints were reduced to the list of Scripture, all invocation of them was utterly condemned, and it was discretionary with each parish whether any of those holy-days should be actually observed, or passed by with indifference. Add to all this the large introduction of the Bible into the liturgy, the article which carefully limits the doctrines of saving faith to the Holy Scriptures alone, and the establishment of the Canon excluding the Apocrypha, while, nevertheless, certain chapters from the Apocrypha were allowed to remain in the Calendar, to be read as a Homily might be, "for example of life and instruction of manners," and the result will be sufficiently obvious, that our wise reformers took the Apostles for their guide, and prepared the truly primitive system of the Church with the express design of comprehending two parties, whose general habits of mind and religious sympathies were widely different. The same indulgent spirit was displayed in the language of the 17th Article, where the mysterious subject of Predestination was so handled, that neither the Calvinist of that age, nor the Arminian of a later period, could find any serious difficulty in his way” (10).
William Augustus Muhlenberg, the “Evangelical Catholic”
William Augustus Muhlenberg, although not technically a High Churchman, he presents an interesting aspect of the Protestant Episcopal Church’s reaction to Tractarianism. He worked as an educator for most of his life, however, in 1843, in his late forties; he set sail with a few friends to vacation in England. There, he encountered the Oxford fathers themselves. Dr. Pusey said of him, “Dr. Muhlenberg was the most interesting visitor we ever had from the other side” (Addison 166). Muhlenberg was not a Tractarian nor an High Churchman, according to his own self-definition, but he would return to the United States and take up work as a parish priest in the Church of the Holy Communion in New York, which he founded in 1844 (5). The church offered daily Morning and Evening Prayer and weekly Communion, which was novelty at the time. For the remainder of his life, Muhlenberg was dedicated to many projects involving his parish and the church. Unrelated to our concerns is his founding of a hospital, he felt that New York needed a new hospital and presumed it should be a Church hospital, which was incorporated in 1850. He launched a theological journal in 1851, titled, The Evangelical Catholic. “Catholic he claimed to be because h held to the historic Church with its creed and sacraments and ministry and type of worship; Evangelical, because the Scriptures were the sole ultimate rule of faith and practice. He advocated great freedom of thought within the faith of Christ” (Dr. Harwood quoted in Addison, 168). The journal was only in publication for two years but it reflected Muhlenberg’s desire for union in Protestant Christendom. One more significant accomplishment of Muhlenberg was his establishment of the “Sisterhood of the Holy Communion,” a society which aroused suspicion from Evangelicals. However, to Muhlenberg’s defense, the Sisterhood required no vows and “resembled an order of deaconesses,” according to Addison. Muhlenberg writes,
“Nothing, then, is to be feared from a truly Protestant Sisterhood. When it degenerates it will come to an end. It depends for its continuance, wholly upon the continuance of the zeal which called it into being. The uniting principle among its members, is their common affection for the object which has brought them together, and which by giving intenseness to their mutual affection as [vi/vii] Sisters in Christ, tends to strengthen and confirm their social existence; but there is no constraint from without on the part of the Church, nor any from within in the form of religious vows, or promises to one another, to insure their perpetuity as a body, or to interfere with their freedom of conscience as individuals” (7).
They are noted for their work in charity and hospitals. However, Muhlenberg’s most noted contribution to the Church was his “Memorial” which was presented to General Convention on October 18, 1853. The Memorial reflected Muhlenberg’s concern for unity in Protestant Christendom. His proposed solution was a relaxed subscription to the formularies for ordination by Protestant bishops. The Memorial was somewhat revolutionary for the day. According to McConnell it sought several goals: to emancipate the Episcopacy, it made the Liturgy flexible, and sought to revive the diaconate (348-350). The intent was good and well, to establish a united Protestant Church in the United States, bound together by a common faith and a common episcopate, however, an unintended consequence of the Memorial was a weakening of the authority of Anglican formularies in the Episcopal Church.
“In addition to the prospect of the immediate good which would thus be opened, an important step would be taken towards the effecting of a Church unity in the Protestant Christendom of our land. To become a central bond of union among Christians, who, though differing in name, yet hold to the one Faith, the one Lord, and the one Baptism, and who need only such a bond to be drawn together in closer and more primitive fellowship, is here believed to be the peculiar province and high privilege of your venerable body as a College of CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC BISHOPS as such.
“This leads your petitioners to declare the ultimate design of their memorial—which is to submit the practicability, under your auspices, of some ecclesiastical system, broader and more comprehensive than that which you now administer, surrounding and including the Protestant Episcopal Church as it now is, leaving that Church untouched, identical with that Church in all its great principles, yet providing for as much freedom in opinion, discipline, and worship, as is compatible with the essential faith and order of the Gospel. To define and act upon such a system, it is believed, must sooner or later be the work of an American Catholic Episcopate” (6). Although Muhlenberg’s proposals were voted down at the General Convention, the spirit of unity in the Memorial showed impact in the Church, especially in relation with the Swedish Lutherans. There were several resolutions making the Prayer Book services shorter. “[H]ad the Memorial prevailed, we should have been spared the two worst misfortunes which have since befallen us. The conscientious men of the ritualistic type, instead of defying laws for chasubles and candles, would have thrown their devotion into the noble work; and the conscientious men who have only added another Reformed Episcopal fragment to the atoms floating in the Christian space would have remained content with just freedom” (Dr. Washburn quoted in McConnell, 355).
Trends in the Episcopal Church after the Civil War
The latter half of the 19th century was a time of immense struggle and strife for the Protestant Episcopal Church. First, emerging from the Civil War, work of reuniting the Church was underway. Second, the Ritualist school was gaining ground and changing the face of the Church in all quarters. Third, Darwin’s theory of evolution was being discussed in universities around the country. Fourth, Bishop Cummins and his followers had split from the national Church which foreshadowed the extinction of Evangelical Anglicanism in the Episcopal Church.
Ritualism had begun in England under the name of the Camden Cambridge Ecclesiological Society and eventually spread to the United States. The Oxford Fathers had not been interested in ceremonial or ritual, “The writers of the Tracts… always deprecated any innovation in the way of conducting the service, anything of ritualism, or especially any revival of disused vestments” (Pusey as quoted in Addison, 206). However, the doctrines taught at Oxford soon needed a ceremonial representation for the Prayer Book is inadequate to confect a “Catholic” Eucharist or transfer sacerdotal powers to a sacrificing priest. The surplice and tippet would not be sufficient for a sacrificing priest either. Out they must go and in the Mass vestments came. The relatively simple Sunday morning service was infused with the Missal (in England) and dressed up in a manner it had never been done before.
To modern ears, the controversy surrounding Ritualism sounds particularly quaint. However, when we think about the movement and controversy, we have to get out of our mind the notion that this was a fight over the color of stoles or number of candles, it was a battle for the soul of the Church.
“What was at issue in the Ritual Controversy? At bottom it was a local phase of that division which is as old as the history of Religion between the Prophet and the Priest. The Sons of Levi and the Sons of the Prophets have ever had a different thought concerning God’s ways with men… For more than two centuries the Protestant doctrine of “Justification by Faith alone” had remained unchallenged in the Church of England. Even the Non-jurors, and the American Churchman of the Seabury and Hobart type, had affirmed it as strenuously as had the Evangelicals. Their reverence for the Sacraments and for the Church’s ways was due rather to their love of order and prescription than to any belief t hat salvation was attained through sacrosanct observances” (McConnell, 383).
One must also remember that the movement took on different shapes in England and the United States. We will not focus on the intricacies of the debates in the Church of England but only to comment on a few points. One important distinction between the movement in the two countries had to do with the Established Church. Most of the actions taken by the Ritualists in England were illegal according to former Acts of Parliament (many established in the time of Elizabeth I!). Consequently, many Ritualists in England were put in jail because they had broken the law. Their illegal actions were taken by their supporters and mangled into some hagiography to give the Ritualists some other reputation than that of lawbreakers. Not only did Ritualists in England breakers of temporal law but they also broke ecclesiastical law and defied the orders of their bishops. (To review their transgressions against the law, one can view the documents contained here: http://anglicanhistory.org/pwra/index.html). The Ritualists in America were at least only guilty of ecclesiastical lawbreaking and could not be idolized for their actions. They did, however, continue in the same disrespect for the Episcopal office for which they claimed to uphold as necessary for the existence of the Church. One would think that someone who thinks bishops are necessary for the Christian Church to exist would listen to those bishops. But not so with Ritualists, they defied the bishops whenever possible.
Around the US, several parishes were formed and became the centers of Anglo-Catholicism in this country. One such church was the Church of the Advent of 1844. Bishop Eastburn of Massachusetts would not celebrate there because of the flowers on the altar! Other Anglo-Catholic centers spring up across the nation such as, St. Stephen’s, Mt. Calvary in Baltimore, St. Mark’s in Philadelphia, St. Mary the Virgin’s in New York. Likewise Nashotah House seminary began to have non-communicating Mass and encourage auricular confession. Professor Sparrow of Virginia says, “Ritualism seems to be spreading, sweeping over the Church” (quoted in Addison, 207).
The question arises over the response of the Bishops. In 1866, they released a statement in condemnation of Ritualism, stating that ceremonies and rites not allowed by rubric in the Prayer Book are not lawful for the Episcopal Church. By name they mention, “the use of incense, the burning of lights, and reverence to the Holy Table or to the elements,” (McConnell, 389). A committee of Bishops was commissioned in 1868 to investigate the matter further. They listed the following aberrations from the liturgical standards of the Episcopal Church: “the use of incense; a crucifix…; carrying a cross in procession…; the use of ornamental lights on the altar; the elevation of the elements of the Holy Communion; the mixed chalice; ablution of the priest’s hands…; bowings; crossings; genuflections; reverences; bowing down before or kissing the Holy Table; [and the] celebration of the Holy Communion by bishop or priest alone” (391). The Committee also sought to enforce the vestments allowed by ecclesiastical law. There was a weak statement against Ritualism, issued by General Convention in the later 1860’s, “This Convention hereby expresses its decided condemnation of all ceremonies, observances, and practices which are fitted to express a doctrine foreign to the authorized standards of the Church” (394). The Bishops Pastoral Letter of 1871 contains much stronger language in opposition to Ritualism, “We counsel you to bear in mind, that, while, on the other hand, we must not suffer ourselves to deny any real good, by reason of mere popular outcries against ritual forms, so, on the other hand, we are never to allow professions of self-denying labor and service, to blind us to the actual dangers of any movement in the Church. What is known as "Ritualism" is mainly a question of taste, temperament, and constitution, until it becomes the expression of doctrine” (11). The Bishops go on to condemn Eucharistic Adoration and they offer a clarification on the practice of auricular confession while then condemning the worship of saints.
“The doctrine which chiefly attempts, as yet, to express itself by ritual, in questionable and dangerous ways, is connected with the Holy Eucharist. That doctrine is, emphatically, a novelty in theology. What is known as "Eucharistical Adoration" is undoubtedly inculcated and encouraged by that ritual of posture, lately introduced among us, which finds no warrant in our "Office for the Administration of the Holy Communion… She permits, and offers to her children, the opening of their griefs in private, to some minister of GOD'S Word. But she does not make this the first resort; she does not provide for its frequent recurrence or uniform practice; she does not impose it by ecclesiastical ordinance; she does not hold or declare it necessary for the forgiveness of sins, or for the attainment of high degrees of spiritual advancement; nor does she connect with it blessings which can be secured only by its observance. She simply offers and commends this privilege to those of her children who cannot quiet their own consciences, by self-examination, immediate confession to GOD, with faith in Christ, repentance, and restitution…Another point of danger is a tendency toward saint-worship, and especially its culmination in the worship of the Blessed Virgin. The annals of our race, under the covenant dispensations as well asbeyond their limits, show that there is nothing to which our fallen nature is more fearfully inclined, than the worship of the creature rather than the Creator. And this propensity to evil has always found its most attractive development in a sensuous disposition to deify and adore the tenderness and love of womanhood. The error of which we speak has arisen chiefly from this propensity of our nature, and it has found its apology in a perverted view of the veneration due to her whom "all generations" are to "call blessed.”
This was one of the last Episcopal condemnations of Ritualism to come from the Church. In 1874, a canon was passed which sought to provide one final check against Ritualism in the Episcopal Church. It sought to establish ecclesiastical courts to hear trials against Ritualist clergy. The Convention of 1874 also refused to consent to the consecration of George F. Seymour as Bishop of Illinois because he was an “advanced” Anglo-Catholic. However, the canon was eventually overturned and Seymour quickly became bishop of Springfield within a few years.
The Reformed Episcopal Church
In February 1871, a prominent Evangelical clergyman was brought to trial for amending the Office of Baptism to remove the language of “regeneration” which occurs in the liturgy. The purpose of this article is not to debate the rightness of doing such but it is curious that the actions of this Evangelical caused an ecclesiastical trial while the aberrations from Common Prayer as practiced by Ritualists were not tried by ecclesiastical courts. Charles E. Cheney, rector of Christ Church in Chicago, was a well known and well-liked Evangelical. He was first suspended from public ministry and later tried again and deposed. Many other Evangelical clergy wrote him letters of support. Low Churchmen had contended the use of regeneration language in the Baptismal service for some time, which provoked a mild statement from the Bishops in 1871, which sought to hold the Church together,
"We, the subscribers, Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, being asked, in order to the quieting of the consciences of sundry members of the said Church, to declare, our conviction as to the meaning of the word ' regenera'e,' in the Offices for the Ministration of Baptism of Infants, do declare, that, in our opinion, the word ' regenerate is not there so used as to determine that a moral change in the subject of Baptism is wrought in the Sacrament."
Unfortunately, between the Conventions of 1871 and 1874, the Church was split. After news of Cheney’s deposition spread, the idea of secession became more of a reality in the minds of many Evangelicals, seeing what they believed to be open discrimination against their views. Dr. Sparrow says, “If he [Cheney] is condemned we shall have another Episcopal Church in these United States. We have the Romish, the Moravian, the Greek, the Swedish, and the Protestant Episcopal. Why not the ‘Reformed Episcopal’?” (McConnell, 399).
George D. Cummins was consecrated as Assistant Bishop of Kentucky in 1866. He was an avid critic of Ritualism and the direction of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Within his own diocese, he was dismayed by the tolerance of Ritualism by the diocesan, Benjamin Bosworth Smith (late Presiding Bishop). A list of grievances fueled the flame of schism for Cummins, one of which was the deposition of Cheney but the final straw occurred in 1873 in New York City. In October of that year, he had gone to attend the Evangelical Alliance meeting in New York and while there, participated in a service of the Lord’s Supper in a Presbyterian Church. The English Bishop of Zanzibar had been visiting the States and heard of the incident and personally wrote to the Bishop of New York, Horatio Potter, among other bishops and clergy who wrote in condemnation of Cummins. Bishop Potter never took any formal action against Cummins though (Addison 211, 212). In November of 1873, he met in New York City with a small group of like-minded clergy and laity and formed the Reformed Episcopal Church, adopting the Proposed Prayer Book of 1785 as the model liturgy for the new Church. Cummins was deposed in June of 1874 and later consecrated Cheney as a bishop in the new body. However, the group which founded the Church was small and received little support from Evangelicals within the Church. They issued a strongly worded Declaration of Principles which reveals the age in which the Church was founded. However, their concerns were valid and unfortunately no one in the Episcopal Church listened. I will depart from the thrust of this piece to document, briefly, the fate of Evangelicalism in the Episcopal Church after the departure of Cummins and the other founders of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Roger Steer documents the general trend among Evangelicals who stayed in the Episcopal Church in his book, “Church on Fire,” by looking at one parish which serves as a microcosm for the whole movement. He looks at St. George’s in New York, which had a strong evangelical rector who retired in 1878, his successor was theologically sound but weak in his application of theology; he retired after only a few years of ministry. His successor, William Rainsford, was a supporter of the social gospel movement and a known Liberal. However, he was able to maintain the appearance of Evangelicalism, i.e. cassock and surplice, simple service, preaching, etc. But year by year, he slowly abandoned Evangelicalism in favor of Broad Church Liberalism as did most Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church.
A New Prayer Book and a New Face for the Church
After the departure of the Reformed Episcopal Church, it seems that all parties in the Church were ready for peace. The Church had seemed to at least allow some ritualistic expression in public worship, so, although High Churchmen opposed the theology and innovation of Ritualism, they followed the Church and allowed its existence as part of the comprehensiveness of the national church. While Catholic ritual and theology ascended in the Church during this time, the Church also began to think and implement the revision of the Prayer Book. While the topic is not something with which we shall dwell for much time, it is of some interest. It is important to note the attitudes of the clergy and laity to the Prayer Book. It had come to be regarded as a changeless document, something sacrosanct. However, the length of services and strictness of the rubrics prompted the desire to revise it. A Committee was formed at General Convention in 1877 to look into the matter, which was composed of bishops, priests, and laymen. In 1883, the Commission reported on the matter but only presented minimal changes and the Convention rejected the revision because it seemed so trivial. Finally, a revised Prayer Book was accepted by Convention in 1892, McConnell describes some of the changes. For instance, a Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the Feast of the Transfiguration were added, The Penitential Office was added, some canticles were restored, some collects and versicles restored, most notably the Magnificat and Nunc Dimmittis, but the most important aspect was the easing of rubrics and change of attitude towards worship as less of uniform rites but as something which should be an encouragement to the congregation present (409).
With less opposition, Ritualism spread rampantly throughout the Church and had influenced almost all corners of her by 1900. Two organizations were founded to promote Catholic doctrine and ritual. First in 1878, the Living Church was established and later, in 1887, the “The Clerical Union for the Maintenance and Defense of Catholic Principles,” or the “Catholic Club” sought to spread Catholic doctrine and protect the Church from liberalism. Likewise it promoted Eucharistic worship and began to introduce new forms of service into the Church, such as the Benediction service and to advocate the invocation of saints. Around this time the first cathedrals are constructed for Protestant Episcopal worship. Among the earliest cathedrals are in Albany, Chicago, Minnesota, Iowa, and in Garden City, Long Island. In 1892, the stones were laid for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and in 1907 in Washington.
Another important development in this period of history is the reintroduction of monasticism in Anglicanism, which had not existed since the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII (Little Gidding exempted). The first monastic community for men was founded in 1865, called Society of St. John the Evangelist. A young, Charles C. Grafton traveled to England and with two other priests began the order at Oxford. Grafton returned to the US in 1872 to be rector at St. Clement’s in Philadelphia. Eventually an American branch of the Order was established. James O.S. Huntington founded the Order of the Holy Cross in 1884 by taking vows in front of the Bishop of New York. The Order did not attract members at first but gradually more and more joined its ranks. (Besides Muhlenberg’s project, which was wholly different) The first order of nuns in the US was founded in New York in 1865, the Sisterhood of Saint Mary (now called the Community of Saint Mary and a convent at Greenwich, NY) and received by Bishop Potter.
After having defeated Protestantism in the Episcopal Church and reestablishing Catholic ritual, doctrine, and ceremony, as well as the reestablishment of monasteries, Anglo-Catholics looked to the task of Church unity. They had their mind set on two forces: Rome and Constantinople. Relations have always been sour between us and the former but the Anglo-Catholics were able to establish a warm friendship with the Orthodox. Ever a constant dream of advanced High Churchmen, unity with the Orthodox has never occurred because the Orthodox do not accept the validity of our Reformation and never will. This can be seen in an interesting document where the Orthodox bishops reflect on the 1892 American Prayer Book (12). They express concerns about the intent to confect the Eucharist as the body and blood of Christ and as a sacrifice for the living and the dead, concerns about the Ordinal, Baptism, etc.
After the proclamation of the doctrine of papal infallibility in 1870, there was a ripple in the Roman Church which led to the Old Catholic schism in the Netherlands. Episcopal Bishops were quick to meet with these leaders (and eventually were recognized as having valid orders by old Catholic bishops). Likewise, in Mexico there was an indigenous revolution against the Roman Church and a body known as the Church of Jesus in Mexico was constituted. Mexican priests sent a letter to Bishop Hopkins in 1866, requesting consecration of an elected presbyter as Bishop of the Church. Hopkins replied and said that it was canonically impossible at the time and would have to wait. A Commission was established in 1874 to investigate the matter and in 1879, a bishop was consecrated for the body, after intense debate about the canonicity of the action, since there was already an Episcopate established in Mexico (that of Rome).
Having shed the Church of her Protestant identity, Anglo-Catholics sought to destroy the two oldest friendships to the Protestant Episcopal Church, that with the Swedish Church and the Moravian Church. The Protestant Episcopal Church had long recognized the orders of these two Churches. In fact, during colonial times, Swedish bishops were authorized to confirm in place of the Bishop of London. Likewise, Swedish clergy were received without reordination. However, since Anglo-Catholics had robbed the Church of her Protestantism, they now felt the need to erase the sheer memory of earlier times. Commissions were set up to investigate the validity of the orders of both Churches respectively (McConnell, 421). The new Church did not disregard unity with other Protestants entirely though, for it is during this time that we see the infamous, “Quadrilateral” which is supposed to be the basis of Anglican identity, notably without reference to the Prayer Book or the Articles or even confirmation. Likely an Anglican document with nothing Anglican in it, one would think. Here is the text of the resolution:
We, Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in Council
assembled as Bishops in the Church of God, do hereby solemnly declare to all whom it may
concern, and especially to our fellow-Christians of the different Communions in this land,
who, in their several spheres, have contended for the religion of Christ:
1. Our earnest desire that the Savior's prayer, "That we all may be one," may, in its
deepest and truest sense, be speedily fulfilled;
2. That we believe that all who have been duly baptized with water, in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, are members of the Holy Catholic Church.
3. That in all things of human ordering or human choice, relating to modes of worship
and discipline, or to traditional customs, this Church is ready in the spirit of love and
humility to forego all preferences of her own;
4. That this Church does not seek to absorb other Communions, but rather, co-operating
with them on the basis of a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the
wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which is the chief of Christian
graces and the visible manifestation of Christ to the world.
But furthermore, we do hereby affirm that the Christian unity . . .can be restored only by
the return of all Christian communions to the principles of unity exemplified by the
undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence; which principles we believe
to be the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and his
Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and therefore incapable of compromise
or surrender by those who have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the
common and equal benefit of all men.
As inherent parts of this sacred deposit, and therefore as essential to the restoration of unity
among the divided branches of Christendom, we account the following, to wit:
1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the revealed Word of God.
2. The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith.
3. The two Sacraments,--Baptism and the Supper of the Lord,--ministered with
unfailing use of Christ's words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the
varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.
Furthermore, Deeply grieved by the sad divisions which affect the Christian Church in
our own land, we hereby declare our desire and readiness, so soon as there shall be any
authorized response to this Declaration, to enter into brotherly conference with all or any
Christian Bodies seeking the restoration of the organic unity of the Church, with a view to
the earnest study of the conditions under which so priceless a blessing might happily be
brought to pass (13).
Unfortunately, the reception was not what the Bishops had expected.
Our story ends on November 18, 1900, in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, for the consecration of R.H. Weller as the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. The diocesan bishop was Charles C. Grafton, the notorious Anglo-Catholic and Ritualist. Bishop Grafton had invited Bishop St. Tikhon, the Orthodox bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Isles, as well as Bishop Kozlowski of the Polish National Catholic Church to attend the consecration. A famous photo was taken at the event with the bishops vested in cope and miter, the first occurrence in a photograph in the history of the Episcopal Church. This event is significant for it signals the death of confessional Anglicanism in the Episcopal Church both indigenous High Churchmanship and conservative Evangelicalism had been surpassed by Anglo-Catholicism and Broad Church Liberalism respectively.
History of the American Episcopal Church. S.D. McConnell
The Episcopal Church in the United States: 1789-1931. James Thayer Addison