This ninth post in the series "Anglican Myths" begins to expose myths on the "other side" of Anglicanism. In former posts in this series, the thrust of energy has been directed at "Anglo- Catholicism" in its varying forms. I do not think that Tractarians are the sole possessors of myths in contemporary Anglicanism.
The term "Anglo-Reformed" is a rather new term (from what I can tell). It implies a conservative, "Evangelical" identity (depending on how you define that term) and what was known as "Low Churchmanship". This group is generally set on the 1662 BCP or at least saying that publicly. It is a small group in the American continent. Obviously there are varying shades of this type of churchmanship, as there are on the "Catholic" side. Generally speaking, and I might get this wrong, please correct if so, Anglo-Reformed are five-point Calvinists, Low Churchmen, in the sense of either adopting the classical Anglican ceremonial system and vesture (I would agree with them that this is right and proper) or ditching classical ceremonialism for "pop religion", which, granted, is more of an issue in Britain than the Americas. There can be "conforming" Anglo-Reformed, meaning those who are communicants of one of the Churches of the Anglican Communion or "non-conforming" Anglo-Reformed who "sojourn" in Baptist or Presbyterian churches. I don't intend to comment on the pros and cons of these ideas.
Now, I wish to present what I understand English Reformed Christianity to be. English Reformed Christianity is, quite simply, the Church of England. It is "Reformed" for two reasons. First, it is a reformation of the late medieval Church in England, in this sense it did not begin a new church or sect, as later Dissenters did. In the second sense, it generally followed the Swiss Reformation rather than the German (although with initial Lutheran influence). This is mostly ascertained through the doctrines of the Church of England, as found in the Articles of Religion and Prayer Book, which generally follow Swiss patterns over German, especially in sacramental theology. It is important to remember that "five-point Calvinism" is a 17th century development and not naturally descriptive of all Reformed Christianity. Secondly, it is important to remember that genuine Reformed Christianity adopts a "bene esse" approach to church polity, meaning that each national Church has the right to order itself appropriately. That is to say, neither the English Church, with bishops, or the Church of Geneva, with presbyters, "unchurched" each other for having the "wrong" government. Divine Right Presbyterianism/Episcopalianism came much later. It is also important to remember that the retention of bishops is not a solely English (or Reformed) practice. The Churches in Hungary and Poland both retained bishops and are both Calvinistically Reformed. The Church of Sweden also retained bishops as a Lutheran church. This is not to de-value English episcopacy but to show that most Reformation Christians have viewed church polity as a matter of adiaphora. To clear up matters, what I understand English Reformed Christianity or Anglicanism to be is this: the national, episcopal Church of England. This Church is a non-ritualistic, liturgical Church of the Reformed tradition, adopting Reformed sacramentology, a normative approach to worship, retaining episcopacy, and generally predestinarian but not officially "five-point Calvinist". To define further, much has been made of 'Anglican comprehensiveness" in the past century. I agree that there is a certain degree of comprehensiveness to our formularies but this is not a universal comprehensiveness but a Protestant comprehensiveness, meaning it comprehends varying shades of Magisterial Protestant belief, excluding Anabaptists.
Anglo-Reformed types ironically err in similar ways to Anglo-Catholics, not by erring in doctrine but in agreeing with Anglo-Catholics that the English Church and her daughters is not a Protestant and Reformed Church. How so? Anglo-Reformed types harp on the fact that Anglicanism is Reformed but what they understand "Reformed" to mean and what English Reformed Christianity (=Anglicanism) is are two radically different things. Because they do not actually accept English Reformed theology, they subscribe to the myth that Anglicanism is not Protestant and Reformed by passively agreeing with the Tractarian assertion. Another way of viewing this problem is to say that Anglo-Reformed types do not necessarily (although sometimes) err doctrinally, meaning, they generally accept what the Articles of Religion teach, although going beyond what they teach in some respects. However, I would say that Anglo-Reformed generally err prescriptively, meaning they admire and desire the forms of liturgy proposed by Geneva and consequently prescribe these forms on English Reformed Christianity as some "test" of genuine Reformed Christianity and consequently give strength to Tractarian criticisms of English Protestantism.
Essentially, both sides misunderstand respectively what "Reformed" is and what "Catholic" is and, consequently, gravely misunderstand what Anglicanism is. Anglo-Catholics err in linking Catholicism with recusancy, Romanism, or Easternism, and not linking it to the primitive doctrine of the early Church as proclaimed by the Reformers and enshrined in our Formularies. Anglo-Reformed err in limiting Reformed Christianity to only one shade, that of Geneva, and prescribing this form on Anglicanism.