Saturday, July 27, 2013

On Speaking in Unknown Tongues

This will be a “first” for this blog, venturing beyond perhaps what could be called my “comfort zone” in topics that I feel prepared to discuss. However, the issue of speaking in unknown languages (or tongues as the Authorized Version would say) is somewhat of an issue in my personal sphere of interaction. We know that speaking in tongues is Scriptural for it is mentioned in many places (for a brief example: Mark xvi, 17; Acts xix, 6; x, 44-46), however, there are many issues in determining what that means and if it is still to be practiced today. I intend to do two things with this piece. First, I would like to offer my opinion on the matter of speaking in tongues, what I understand that to mean, and the nature of its practice today. Secondly, I wish to critique the manner in which I have seen what is often termed “glossolalia” practiced today. The issue of understanding the language of prayer is a crucial one for us as Anglicans. I will presume many things to be true, which I personally do not believe to be the case.

I don’t intend to discuss the issue of glossolalia versus xenoglossia in this post, although, I will offer my opinion briefly. I think the issue of the precise nature of “speaking in tongues” as contained in Scripture is defined in Acts ii, 4-11. I will post the text for ease of discussion:

Acts ii, 4-11
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
The portion that I have underlined is the central idea of the text. In it, we see the multitudes of nations, represented by the Jews assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. The disciples were speaking either Aramaic or Greek (whichever was more natural to them, obviously) and the crowd heard the Gospel presented each in his own language. For some reason, modern proponents of glossolalia do not see this as more extraordinary than babbling strange syllables. I think xenoglossia is more miraculous an occurrence than glossolalia. However, this is really besides the point and only a brief description of my point of view on the matter.

While on the matter, I would fall probably within the “moderate cessationist” category on the subject. The extraordinary gifts were given to the apostles to proclaim the Gospel before the Scriptures were completed. This is how I would interpret this part of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians:
I Corinthians xiii, 8-108 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
These gifts were to help spread the Gospel by demonstrating the work of the Spirit in the early Church. I think that the Spirit demonstrates these gifts in places today where the Gospel has not been heard before in the same manner (perhaps before the Scriptures can be translated into the native language of those people). I personally think glossolalia distracts people from the Word of God and I’m not truly convinced that it is even an acceptable interpretation of what “speaking in tongues” is. The Book of Homilies offers an interesting perspective on the matter:
“For, if prayer be that devotion of the mind which enforceth the heart to lift up itself to God, how should it be said that that person prayeth that understandeth not the words that his tongue speaketh in prayer? Yea, how can it be said that he speaketh?” (“Of Common Prayer and Sacraments”).
It must be stated that the immediate context for that period would have been the issue of praying in Latin instead of a language understood by the pray-er. However, I think the underlying principles are equally applicable. Prayer is the lifting up of our minds unto God. If we do not understand the words which we utter, how can we truly be said to be praying?

I found that Irenaeus tends to agree with xenoglossia:
In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God. (Irenaeus, c. 180)
And that glossolalia was condemned by Eusebius:
He became possessed of a spirit, and suddenly began to rave in a kind of ecstatic trance, and to babble in a jargon, prophesying in a manner contrary to the custom of the Church which had been handed down by tradition from the earliest times. (Eusebius, d.c. 339)
Augustine also agrees with xenoglossia:
In the earliest times, "the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues", which they had not learned, "as the Spirit gave them utterance". These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away. In the laying on of hands now, that persons may receive the Holy Ghost, do we look that they should speak with tongues? Or when he laid the hand on infants, did each one of you look to see whether they would speak with tongues, and, when he saw that they did not speak with tongues, was any of you so strong-minded as to say, These have not received the Holy Ghost; for, had they received, they would speak with tongues as was the case in those times? If then the witness of the presence of the Holy Ghost be not given through these miracles, by what is it given, by what does one get to know that he has received the Holy Ghost? Let him question his own heart. If he love his brother, the Spirit of God dwelleth in him. (Augustine of Hippo, 354–430)
I did not research thoroughly the interpretation of tongues in the early Church, perhaps a reader can point to more sources.

Whatever the exact meaning of speaking in tongues is and if that is even a possibility today is beyond the question for this post. I am going to presume that cessationism is not true (although I do not actually believe this as stated above). The second issue that I intend to discuss in this piece is the practice of glossolalia, which I believe to be abused frequently at the sake of Common Prayer and against the teachings of Scripture.

Firstly, the Articles of Religion must be consulted, for Article XXIV has some important remarks on this subject:
 XXIV. Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the people understandeth.
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the Primitive Church to have public Prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understanded of the people.
This can be proved from God’s Word. Firstly, speaking in tongues is mentioned in conjunction with the interpretation of tongues in Scripture, for example:
I Corinthians xii, 3-4, 10-11
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
The only portion of Scripture that could be used to support glossolalia (in my opinion) is Paul’s treatment of tongues and prophecy in I Corinthians xiv. The context of this passage is immediately after Paul’s famous “love chapter” that has been referenced earlier in this piece. In fact, the first verse of the chapter exhorts readers to “Follow after charity” in addition to desiring the spiritual gifts. Paul seems to value prophecy of more importance than tongues because those who prophesy build up the entire body of the church, while the one who speaks in tongues only exhorts himself and speaks only to God, unless there is an interpretation of his tongues. Paul relates this to the principle of Common Prayer by referencing a battle trumpet, if it plays sounds that no one recognizes, what purpose is it? In our public life together, the language of prayer must be one that everyone can understand. It must be an exhortation to all to turn to God in Christ alone for salvation. “Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me” (v.11). The purpose of Common Prayer is that we all give a common assent, “Amen”, but, how can we do this if we do not understand that which is said? As Paul says, “Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” (v. 16).

Luckily, Paul gives us some suggestions on how to proceed forward with the speaking of tongues in public worship. First, the person who speaks in tongues should pray for interpretation (v. 13). However, if there is no interpretation given, then the person should only speak in tongues privately and silently. This falls back on the purpose of the giving of the gifts, as Paul states:
22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
This brings us back to the main point that we were given gifts, that is to proclaim the Gospel. The gift of tongues was not given as some sort of private ecstasy for Christian believers but as a means of preaching the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. To misuse the gift is to be a bad steward of God’s good blessings. I doubt anyone would want to misuse God’s blessings given to his Bride.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Go to Rehab: A Response to "Young Evangelicals Are Getting High"

You have probably read the article floating around the Internet, titled, "Young Evangelicals Are Getting High" (which can be read here). I have some serious criticisms to offer against this piece. Perhaps this results from my somewhat cantankerous nature or perhaps because I was one of these "high" evangelicals, at one point. This article does do a good job of pointing out that there is an underlying problem with "mainstream" evangelicalism but, unfortunately, the article doesn't really address that issue. Following suit with the author of the original piece, I don't recommend young evangelicals get high, but if they have, they should go to rehab.

First, considering the underlying problem of contemporary evangelicalism, which I referenced above, the author offers a thought on what this problem is:
The kids who leave evangelical Protestantism are looking for something the world can’t give them. The world can give them hotter jeans, better coffee, bands, speakers, and book clubs than a congregation can. What it can’t give them is theology; membership in a group that transcends time, place and race; a historic rootedness; something greater than themselves; ordained men who will be spiritual leaders and not merely listeners and buddies and story-tellers. What the kids leaving generic evangelicalism seem to want is something the world can never give them–a holy Father who demands reverence, a Saviour who requires careful worship, and a Spirit who must be obeyed. They are looking for true, deep, intellectually robust spirituality in their parents’ churches and not finding it.
Now, drinking coffee in church is most assuredly a problem, of sorts, and the things the author lists as positive to the "liturgical" tradition(s) are certainly good things. For instance, who can argue against a church that offers a sense of "historic rootedness"? In our postmodern world, it's nice to connect with something that's older than you are. I think these things are all good reasons for reconsidering the nature of contemporary evangelicalism. And if these folks are finding some sort of fulfillment in Anglicanism or Lutheranism, good for them.

However, I don't think the author really comes anywhere close to the actual problem plaguing contemporary evangelicalism (and Protestantism in general). The real problem, in my view (and based off personal experience), is the complete lack of any ecclesiology in most of contemporary evangelicalism. When you go about asking contemporary evangelicals, what is the Church? They might say the "stage" where the pastor talks or something ridiculous like that. The lack of a coherent ecclesiology (and perhaps a misunderstanding of traditional, Protestant doctrines, such as sola scriptura), send young evangelicals on a quest to find something which will answer these sorts of questions. After all, you have to have a reason to listen to your minister other than he has really cool jeans. The question isn't really one of liturgics but one of ecclesiological substance. Most evangelicals have no idea what the Church is. Luckily for us Anglicans, it's spelled out, quite clearly, in Article XIX what the Church is. In my own summary, the (visible) Church is the congregation of faithful men where the Gospel is preached and the Sacraments administered rightly. The word "congregation" causes some confusion as it seems to imply congregationalism. However, the word was used in a broader context in the sixteenth century than now. The word implies the whole gathering of Christians, universally, as the "congregation of Christ". Evangelicals are never taught this definition of the Church in such precision, sometimes they are exposed to some watered down version but the full substance of the matter needs to be presented. Likewise, it needs to be reinforced that the Reformation was not an exercise of relinquishing the Church's authority. The Church has authority in matters of faith and ceremony but it is limited by the Word of God (contrary to the Roman system), meaning it cannot declare something contrary to the Scriptures to be truth or necessary for salvation. This limited authority of the Church is important, a concept which is equally not taught in evangelical circles. These are the issues which need to be dealt with in my mind not how much our worship lines up with scholars' conjectures about early church worship (why does our worship need to look like the early church anyway? It was a different context then...).

Other than missing the mark on the underlying problem, the author also makes some common, yet not inexcusable mistakes. The first is the lumping together of disparate theological systems. Roman Catholicism and "Anglicanism/Lutheranism" (as referred to in the article) are different religions. They teach different things regarding how man is saved. This might be more of a comment on the simplemindedness of the common man but the failure to grasp these essential differences is crucial. Secondly, Anglicanism and Lutheranism are historically very different theological systems, albeit related in some ways. This is really preaching to the choir but Lutheranism teaches that Christ is present in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine while Anglicanism does not, teaching instead that Christ is received by faith. Although these are not monumental differences, they are important. The author then juxtaposes Anglicanism and Lutheranism with those congregations that teach "robust, historic Protestant theology" as if the former didn't (well, most Anglicans don't believe Anglicanism anyway, so they might be on to something there...). The Reformed and Presbyterian Churches are liturgical too (at least historically), but I suppose they aren't flashy enough for the author of "Young Evangelicals Are Getting High", I guess Presbyterianism is comparable to tobacco in this "high" analogy, not quite illegal, less appealing to youngsters.

Anyway, it's good we're seeing an influx of evangelicals in our pews but I really question their motivation for being here and likewise that the gap in their theology has sufficiently been addressed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Three Years Of Blogging and a Repost

Two events somewhat naturally coalesced in the life of this blog, that being the anniversary of three years of writing and the arrival at two hundred posts. I delayed the commemoration of the former till the latter came closer. Now that we have come to that point, I wanted to thank all of the readers of this blog for three years of conversation. Many amazing things have happened due to the presence of this blog on the wild and wacky pages of the Internet. 

When I started this blog the essential questions I was asking were the same as the ones that I ask now. The manner in which I address them has changed slightly and perhaps some of the conclusions I have reached are slightly different, yet, the essential problem remains the same as it was three years ago. In honor of the spirit of continuity, I post below one of the first pieces I released on The Hackney Hub.

A bit of background information, for those who cherish such, I had registered this blog under another name ("Soli Deo Gloria", hence the old URL) before changing the name. I was curious about the nature of the pre-Tractarian Church of England at that time, which led to the research that created this blog. One of the early pieces that defined the scope of the blog was "The Curious Case of the Old High Churchmen" (which has since been revised to "The English High Church Tradition", lamentably still not ready for public consumption, in my opinion). It was around that time that I became aware of a group of churchmen writing just prior to and contemporaneously with the Oxford Movement, known as the Hackney Phalanx, from which the name of this blog is derived.

Here's to three more years...

The eternal question for Anglicans seems to be a question of identity. Who are we as Anglicans? It seems as if this question is not going away anytime soon, due to competing varieties of Anglicanism on the North American continent, in particular. There are four distinct Anglican identities available for the religious consumer on the American religious market. There is the "official" Episcopal Church, aka Affirming Catholicism with Broad to High Ceremonial, Conservatives not welcome. There is the Continuum, or those Anglicans who left the Episcopal Church in 1976 due to the ordination of women to all three of the historic orders and the publication of the new Prayer Book, which they felt was not authentic to Anglicanism. Next there is the Anglican Church in North America, which is the conservative version of the Episcopal Church. Anglo-Catholicism + Broad to High Ceremonial, a few charismatics and convergentists to make it diverse. Lastly, there is the Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is mostly like the ACNA but has more (what the British would call) open evangelicals, i.e. Arminians. 
In my last post, I looked at the idea of churchmanship throughout the centuries. However, modern Anglicanism does not reflect historic churchmanship because of one crucial event in the life of Anglicanism. That movement? The Oxford Movement forever changed the landscape of Anglicanism because it widened the possibilites for Anglican identity. How so? Well, before the Movement, Anglicans were firmly convinced that they were Protestant Christians. Sure, in the beginning there were Catholic dissenters who did not agree with the Henrician and Edwardinian reforms but by the time of the Restoration in 1660, Anglicanism was thoroughly Protestant, albeit, in a different manner than Continental Protestantism. Anglicanism was a Protestantism defined by the Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal, and the Articles of Religion. The classifications of "high church" and "low church" have changed meanings over time, in different contexts, but overall they have to do with the level of ceremony that a person or parish desires in the celebration of the liturgy. The Protestant concept of adiaphora comes into play here, because according to the Reformers, ceremonial was a matter of adiaphora or "indifferent matters" which did not affect one's salvation. What did the Oxford Movement do to nullify this common identity that Anglicans had before? I would argue that the infamous Tract 90 destroyed the confidence in the Articles, although it was not received by the English at the time of its publication. It gave Anglo-Catholics a plausible interpretation of the Articles and some talking points which over time were used to convert others to their line of thinking. It had more disasterous effects in the United States, where there was no Evangelical party to counterract the staunch Anglo-Catholicism of the Tracts. The Reformed Episcopal Church was the Evangelical party in the Episcopal Church, but when it departed in 1873, all that was left in the PECUSA was the Anglo-Catholics and Broad Churchmen, which led to the chaos we experience today in TEC. 
What do we need then? We need a renewal of classical and confessional Anglicanism in North America. We need High and Low Churchmen, united by the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal, and the Articles of Religion to stand up and proclaim the Gospel. We need a revival of true Anglicanism in America. Transubstantiation, Benediction, Rosaries, and Requiem Masses are not part of historic or Classical Anglicanism. We are a Gospel people, united by a Gospel Prayer Book. Let us join in prayer together for the revival of biblical, confessional Anglicanism in America.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Anglicans and the "Validity" of other Protestant Ministers

"Anglicans and Apostolic Succession" has sparked some interesting discussions in various arenas for me. I thought it decent and proper to offer further clarifications regarding my thoughts on these subjects, for interested parties, it could be thought of as "somewhat of a sequel". This entry continues discussing similar topics as found in the previous post, perhaps from different angles than the first one.

In the first piece, I spoke of tactile apostolic succession and how that differs from doctrinal apostolic succession and subsequently distinguished between historical succession (= lists of consecrations) and apostolic succession (maintaining catholic faith). First, to speak to some of the implications of this line of thinking, it tends to open up the question of the validity of ministers in a way that subscribers to the tactile theory do not consider.

Firstly, the language of "valid" or "invalid" ministers is really alien language from classical Anglicanism. The reason is that it is tied too closely with Romanism (and the East), meaning it lacks certain biblical warrant off which we base our theology. The validity of our sacraments is not tied to the actions of our ministers but to the faith of the recipients of the sacraments. We have valid sacraments if we receive them worthily, that is in faith. This is all taken from the Articles of Religion, for instance, see Article XXVIII "Of the Lord's Supper", wherein is stated, "And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith." In other Articles, for instance, XXVI, "Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacrament," we learn that the Sacraments are "valid" of Christ's ordinance and institution and not tied to the minister. Christ ministers to his people in the sacraments and he is never invalid.

Secondly, there is a classification of ministers which we find in the formularies, that being one of "lawfulness". This is found in Article XXIII "Of Ministering in the Congregation". This relates to the Reformational understanding of authority as vested in the national church. Hence, in this article, congregationalism is condemned because it does not allow for those in proper authority to determine the lawfulness of the ordination of a minister, i.e. his qualifications. The lawful authority spoken of in the article is the Crown in England, noting that the bishops are Crown ministers in England. This ties into the Reformation distinction of national churches. Many people (wrongly) assume that the Protestant Reformation produced denominations, they were a product of the Act of Toleration in 1689, which causes problems for many of these questions when we arrive in New World settings where denominationalism is the norm. This is most assuredly not the case. The Protestant Reformation resulted from the reform of national churches by their own mechanisms. These national churches were reformed by their own means, taking into account the contexts in which they found themselves, often leading to some different realities after reformation. The remarkable thing is the doctrinal consensus achieved among them (apostolic succession) with one substantial difference between the Magisterial Reformers (Lutherans and Reformed, the Anabaptists were equally condemned by both), that being the nature of Christ's presence in the Sacrament, Lutherans holding to consubstantiation (or whatever they're calling it nowadays) and the Reformed "suprasubstantiation" (to use Horton's term, most commonly called receptionism). This wasn't a minor issue for the Lutheran and Reformed communities, albeit there were several attempts to reconcile these differences (Council of Tonneins, for instance), however, it is important to note that the Lutherans hold to the "highest" of all Reformation theologies of eucharistic presence, believing Christ's body and blood to actually be present in the elements, a point denied by the other Reformed Churches and the British Isles.

Another key difference which arose was that of the regulative vs. normative principle. This in itself is a huge topic but it played out mostly between England and the other Reformed Churches. (I must admit that I am not well-versed in this aspect of Reformation studies so one will need to consult other materials to verify these statements.) The language of "lawfulness" stems from the normative principle, which states that ecclesiastical norms and practices can be maintained, unless they contradict the teaching of Scripture. Hence the maintenance of bishops and the church calendar in England. The regulative principle essentially states that only practices which are in line with Scripture can be continued within the Church. This is seen in the various Continental approaches to the reforms of the liturgy (and granted, there is an American extremism seen in a lot of Reformed circles this side of the pond).

Church polity was a matter of adiaphora or things non-essential, to the Magisterial Reformers (divine right episcopalianism and presbyterianism would come later). Most of the Continent tended to abandon episcopacy, out of necessity, with a few exceptions, that being the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches, as well as the Polish and Hungarian Reformed Churches. And we know that the context in England allowed for the continuation of the episcopacy there. It is important to note that the Established Church of Scotland (not the Non-juring body) was both episcopalian and presbyterian at various points in its history.

To return to the question of validity, the only sense in which I would talk of validity of ministers is in relation to their teaching but this in itself does not affect the validity of the sacraments, which are of Christ, not of the minister. In the Anglican Churches, we have required that our ministers accept episcopal ordination since the 1662 Prayer Book, which is a good custom, but it is only the custom for our churches, not necessarily for those of others and we have no right going about telling them that it should be so. The requirement of episcopal ordination ties back to Article XXIII and the lawfulness of our ministry. The bishops are ministers of the Crown in England, and thus lawful judges of the qualifications of ministers and capability of serving the Church. In other realms, the lawful judge is likely some other individual or body.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Anglicans and Apostolic Succession

There exists a weird notion out there that (tactile) apostolic succession is part of the normative experience of Anglicanism. I must say that apostolic succession is a vital part of the historic faith of Anglicanism, but it is not typically understood in the fashion that many of these neo-evangelicals understand it today. I added in parentheses in the previous sentence the word "tactile" which is key to understand the complaint I am expressing. The "tactile succession" refers to the practice of having previously consecrated bishops consecrate new bishops, typically three bishops in number will consecrate a new bishop. This is often associated with Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox doctrine because it is in this succession that they believe bishops to derive their authority and sacerdotal powers. However, the tactile succession does not have to be tied to Romanist or Byzantine doctrine, as it is practiced in Anglicanism innocently without such association. However, it is not a necessary part of what it means to be an Anglican (for those doubters, one should consult with Archbishop Laud who deemed Lutheran [appointed] superintendents as valid bishops as well as royally "consecrated" [=appointed] Scottish bishops as valid). To distinguish non-Romanist tactile succession from a sacerdotalist understanding, I tend to employ the term historical succession, rather than "apostolic" for the former term conveys that which we wish to express in this act. The historical succession is a visible reminder that we are passing down the apostolic faith through the teaching and preaching of the bishop (the real apostolic succession). It gives us a sense of heritage and continuity to see bishops consecrated by their elders in the faith. In this sense, the historical succession is important to our experience as Anglicans. Yet, it is not equally emphasized in Anglican church parties, it was emphasized more by the Caroline Divines than the typical Church of England man at the time. As I had mentioned earlier, even the Caroline Divines did not regard the historical succession as integral to the faith, considering it was not absolutely necessary. 

The Reformers noted many disparities between the (then) contemporary practice of episcopacy and the nature of the apostles in the New Testament. They had many criticisms directed at the pope (which will be mentioned briefly later). First, they noted (as later scholars would) that the polity of the church in the New Testament was fluid and that it was impossible to identify a pattern of church governance which matched completely with the practice of the NT Church. For this reason Anglicans have typically espoused the bene esse position, or that no form of church governance is absolutely necessary for the existence of the church, because of this "problem" in scholarship. If one cannot identify with relative certainty the polity of the NT, it becomes rather difficult to enforce a particular option among many. Consequently, many Reformers attacked the prelacy of the Church at the time. This refers to the practice of monarchical episcopacy or the practice of assigning a bishop a diocese with a see. They noted the itinerant nature of the apostles' ministry in comparison with the princely rule of the contemporary bishops. Of course, this is not to say in condemnation of prelacy, for the Church of England maintained prelacy. However, one daughter Church attempted to disavow it (unsuccessfully, considering modern results), that being the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. PECUSA did not have dioceses until the 1830s and did not have cathedrals until the 1880s.

To get to the heart of the matter, apostolic succession doesn't refer to the consecration of bishops but the preaching of the Gospel. We can know that we are Catholic because we "profess sound, solid, and pure doctrine" (Whitaker), not because we maintain a neat list of consecrated bishops. As Whitaker explains in other places, "[W]e regard not the external succession of places or persons, but the internal one of faith and doctrine" (Whitaker to Bellarmine). The Reformers were concerned with a maintenance of Catholic doctrine, which had been abandoned by Rome, not the lists of consecrations, which Rome had dutifully kept. It is in this pure preaching of the Gospel that we can avoid false doctrine, as John Jewel stated, "'Succession,' you say, 'is the chief way for any Christian man to avoid antichrist.' I grant you, if you mean the succession of doctrine" (John Jewel to Thomas Harding). Dean Philpot of Winchester states in his answer to a question related to the (perceived) lack of succession in the English Church:
I deny, my lord, that succession of bishops is an infallible point to know the church by; for there may be a succession of bishops known in a place, and yet there be no church, as at Antioch and Jerusalem, and in other places where the apostles abode as well as at Rome. But if you put to the succession of bishops succession of doctrine withal (as St. Augustine doth), I will grant it to be a good proof for the catholic church; but a local succession is nothing available. (Philpot)
The guarantee of the church is not rested upon lists of successors, which is principally bound up in faith of men. Rather, the apostolic succession which we profess is the holy and pure Gospel of Christ, that catholic faith which we profess in the Athanasian Creed, that faith which saves us from eternal damnation and separation from Christ. This is the apostolic succession which is crucial for the existence of the church and the foundation of Anglicanism.

I mentioned the pope earlier, while I did not intend this to revolve around the papacy, the Reformers did have criticisms of the papacy, especially in relation to its assertion that it was the successor of Peter. Here follows an excerpt from Jewel's Apology, treating on the pretended nature of the papacy as the successor of the Apostle Peter:

"[W]hereas some use to make so great a vaunt that the pope only is Peter's successor, as though thereby he carried the Holy Ghost in his bosom and cannot err; this is but a matter of nothing and a very trifling tale. God's grace is promised to a good mind and to one that feareth God, not unto sees and successions
"Yet notwithstanding, because we will grant somewhat to succession, tell us: Hath the pope alone succeeded Peter? and wherein, I pray you? In what religion? in what office? in what piece of his life hath he succeeded him? What one thing (tell me) had Peter ever like unto the pope, or the pope like unto Peter?
"Except peradventure they will say thus: That Peter when he was at Rome never taught the gospel, never fed the flock, took away the keys of the kingdom of heaven, hid the treasures of his Lord, sat him down only in his castle in St. John Lateran, and pointed out with his finger all the places of purgatory and kinds of punishments, committing some poor souls to be tormented and some others again suddenly releasing thence at his own pleasure, taking money for so doing; or that he gave order to say private masses in every corner; or that he mumbled up the holy service with a low voice and in an unknown language; or that he hanged up the sacrament in every temple and on every altar and carried the same about before him, whitersoever he went, upon an ambling jennet, with lights and bells; or chalices, churches, and altars; or that he sold jubilees, graces, liberties, advowsons, preventions, first fruits, palls, the wearing of palls, bulls, indulgences, and pardons; or that he called himself by the name of the head of the church, the highest bishop, bishop of bishops, alone most holy; or that by usurping he took upon himself the right and authority over other folks' churches; or that he exempted himself from the power of any civil government; or that he maintained wars and set princes together at variance; or that he, sitting in his chair; with his triple crown full of labels, with sumptuous and Persian-like gorgeousness, with his royal scepter, with his diadem of gold, and glittering with stones, was carried about, not upon a palfrey, but upon the shoulders of noblemen.
"These things, no doubt, Peter did at Rome in times past and left them in charge to his successors, as you would say, from hand to hand; for these things be nowadays done at Rome by the popes, and be so done as though nothing else out to be done.
"Or contrawise, peradventure they had rather say thus: That the pope doth now all the same things which we know Peter did many a day ago; that is, that he runneth up and down unto every country to preach the gospel, not only openly abroad but also privately from house to house; that he is diligent and applieth that business in season and out of season, in due time and out of due time, that he doth the part of an evangelist;...that he doth not feed his own self but his flock; that he doth not entangle sovereignty over the Lord's people; that he seeketh not to have other men minister to him, but himself rather to minister unto others; that he taketh all bishops as his fellows and equals.
"...Unless therefore the popes do the like nowadays as Peter did the things aforesaid, there is no cause at all why they should glory so of Peter's name of his succession." (Jewel)