Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blast from the Past: The Curious Case of the Old High Churchmen (Part Two)

Here's some more unedited stuff from 2010...

Evangelicals and Low Churchmen
One of the results of the Oxford Movement was the popular association of evangelicalism with low churchmanship. However, before that point, evangelicals and low churchmen were not mutually exclusive terms. I find it important to give more background on the evangelicals than in the last post, because they become very important in the years of the Oxford Movement.

First, evangelicals were a relatively new movement at the beginning of the Oxford Movement in the Church of England. The Evangelical Movement had begun earlier in t he 18th century with Wesley and others preaching the necessity of individual conversion and an evident change of life after conversion. Evangelicals shared with the later Tractarians, a concern with the inner, spiritual life of the average churchman. This was not found in low churchmanship or in old high churchmanship. This deficit has been one of the reasons why the Old High Churchmen are no longer an organized element of modern Anglicanism. “I venture to suggest one possible solution to this. In my younger days, the theological battle waxed sore over the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. The High Churchmen made it the basis of every sermon, just as the old Evangelicals did the atonement. With the High Churchmen baptismal regeneration was the core and apparent consummation of the Gospel system. It led many to this: that they practically omitted the need of conversion. They largely rejected the necessity of being convicted of sin, and the work of the Spirit, and of salvation by Christ's cross and passion, and of a conscious acceptance by Him. Indeed, in cases, they rejected it as Methodism. I remember being taken to task for preaching it. But baptism, without a vitalized union with Christ, could not save men. Consequently their own spiritual life and perceptions declined. In the developments that succeeded, they easily fell under the influence of the new rationalizing, easy-going, and popular Broad Church system.” The author presents a compelling argument for the downfall of the High Churchmen in my book.

Evangelicals loathed the “dryness” of the low churchmen. However, the term “evangelical” did not designate a separate church party as we think of it today, per se, but rather a designation of theological emphasis which could be adapted to either of the “established” church parties. “In the early part of the nineteenth century, some Evangelical clergy were high Churchmen and some even so proclaimed themselves. The terms ‘Evangelical’ and ‘high-Church’ were not mutually exclusive, as were ‘Evangelical’ and ‘low Church’.” In this aspect, the Evangelicals actually shared a core conviction with the nascent Tractarians, that being, the concern for the inner, spiritual life. At first, evangelicals and Tractarians were often allies such as their opposition to the non-orthodox Regius Professor at Oxford. One author argues that evangelicals and Tractarians were, at the beginning, only divided in emphasis. The evangelicals were focused on justification and the Tractarians on sanctification.

However, as history has proven, this alliance between Evangelicals and Tractarians did not last long. The Tractarians continued in their pursuit of catholicity by studying the patristic authors and eventually began to look to Rome. Evangelicals had already begun to suspect Romanizing tendencies in the nascent movement, but their suspicions were confirmed in 1840 with the publication of the infamous, Tract 90, by Newman, which sought to harmonize Tridentine teaching with the Articles of Religion. You can imagine the effect of Newman’s conversion to Rome in 1845 which formally connected Tractarianism with Romanizing tendencies in the minds of the common churchman.

The Hackney Phalanx and High Churchmanship in the early 19th Century
The Tractarians loved to characterize the “long eighteenth century” as a period of more than an hundred years of spiritual dryness with the Church plagued by deism and enlightenment philosophy. While every rumor has a nugget of truth to it, these claims were not entirely accurate in describing the spiritual life of the 18th century in the Church o f England. For one, there was the immensely spiritual, Evangelical Movement affecting both dissenters and churchmen. Beyond that, there were several high church movements which affected both the established Church and the disestablished Church in Scotland. The Non-jurors, for example, flourished during this time in Scotland. They were not well received by churchmen in the established Church but they found a home in the Episcopal Church of Scotland. The established Church was not without an high church influence during these years, however compelling the case for it is made by Tractarians.

There was a renaissance of high churchmanship during the latter part of the 18th century, due to the fact that the Non-juror schism was beginning to wane, as their causes for schism disappeared. Jacobitism (the political side of the Non-juror schism) largely ended in 1788 when Charles Edward Stuart died in exile. His brother was not recognized as a valid heir because he was a cardinal in the Roman Church. The Scottish Episcopal Church recognized the claims of the House of Hanover and George III as the rightful King of England. Most Non-jurors followed suit and many reconciled with the established Church of England. The healing of the Non-juror schism made it more fashionable to be an High Churchman again, as it had lost its association with Jacobitism, which was not popular with establishment churchmen. This influx of Non-juror doctrine, especially that of the Usagers, might have had an influence on the downfall of the High Churchmen, according to my hypothesis, which I will present in further detail later.

At this point, I want to explore an aspect of high churchmanship which I haven’t so far. For research in this post, I’ve been reading a book online, The development of English theology in the nineteenth century, 1800-1860, written by Vernon Faithfull Storr. As we have explored and confirmed, during this period of time in the Church of England, there was not the three-party system we have today of high, broad, and low, but rather, a two-party system of low and high, with evangelicals as a new movement which affected both parties. Storr describes a further division within the High Church party, which, in accordance with Nockles in The Oxford Movement in Context, the High Churchmen preferred to be titled “Orthodox,” and from this point, I will use that term to refer to them, partially to honor their desire to be called such, and partially to provide a distinction between later Tractarians, who call themselves high churchmen as well.

Within the Orthodox party, there two subdivisions which Storr describes (Nockles also follows this distinction). There were “Church and State” Orthodox churchmen who praised the Establishment and the Settlement. This group emphasized the good in the established Church and the benefits that flowed from it. The other group of churchmen did not despise the tie with the State but viewed the Church as an entirely spiritual organization, independent from the State in matters of doctrine or spiritual authority.  This again is a matter of emphasis, High Churchmen agreed on the essentials of the faith and their distinctive against Evangelicals and Latitutdinarians. These two groups stood in continuity with the Caroline Divines and the Non-jurors (to an extent) in that they were, “content with the Prayer Book as affording a middle position between Romanism on the one side and continental Protestantism on the other” (Storr, 80). Unlike the Caroline Divines, who had maintained a strong friendship with the Reformed churches of the Continent, the 18th century Orthodox emphasized the episcopacy more, essentially adopting the view that the episcopacy was of the esse of the Church rather than the bene esse. However, like earlier High Churchmen, they were not concerned with ritual as the later Ritualists would be and their sacramentalism was, “on the whole, sober and restrained” (Storr).

The Orthodox churchmen before the eve of the Oxford Movement were highly dependent on the State (which might have been another reason for their downfall). The separatist, Non-juror, movement is well documented in history, while the establishment Orthodox movements do not get much attention. There were two main movements before the Oxford Movement. The least known were the Hutchinsonians, who followed the anti-Newtonian scientific philosophy of John Hutchinson, thereby meriting their name. The other was an informal group of clergy and laity known as the Hackney Phalanx, geographically centered in the village of Hackney (now a suburb of London) and the larger metropolis of London. The most well known bishops who supported the cause were Van Mildert of Durham, Herbert Marsh of Peterborough, and the retired Horsley of Rochester, in addition to these bishops, there were many priests and laymen who were supportive of the aims of the Phalanx. The Phalanx was a group of churchmen who sought to promote a revival of Church discipline and the construction of new parish churches, in addition to promoting High Church values in Universities, the wider Church, and Parliament in England. They succeeded in getting the Million Act passed in Parliament. This act allotted one million pounds to the construction of new parish churches throughout the nation. The Hackney Phalanx was the last non-Tractarian manifestation of Orthodox churchmanship which blended well the two subdivisions of the party, that being “Church and State” enthusiasts and those who valued more the spiritual dimension of the Church. The Hackney Phalanx was unique in that it emphasized the spiritual dimension of the Church over the political aspects of the Church/State relationship. It was probably this emphasis which influenced the Oxford fathers most. In fact, one of the Hackney Phalanx, Charles Lloyd, was the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. Some of his most notable students included, John Henry Newman; Edward Pusey; and Hurrell Froude, which we know as the leaders of the Oxford Movement. After reading a post from The Continuum blog, Lloyd would be an important influence on the young Tractarians, teaching them things such as, “was but a reflection of mediaeval and primitive devotion, still embodied in its Latin form in the Roman service books,” he also held the position that prayers for the departed were not contrary to Scripture. Lloyd combined many ideas from the Non-jurors and Caroline Divines and acts as a direct link between the Phalanx and the Tractarians.

At this point, I am going to spend some time detailing the views of an important man in the transition from old High churchmanship to Tractarianism. He is important for his views on justification and the Eucharist as well as his self-designation as holding a different view from the “Tory churchmen.” Alexander Knox, an Irish cleric who lived from 1757-1831, is our primary link between the Orthodox and Oxford Movement. He is most notable for his views on justification and the Church of Rome; Knox was supportive of the emancipation of Catholics. Knox’s views on justification were not accepted by the Evangelicals at all, in fact, many Evangelical writes would equate Knox’s teaching with that of Trent. Later on, during the heat of the Oxford Movement, Evangelical writers would accuse the Oxford fathers of teaching Knox’s doctrine of justification, which would equate them with Tridentine Catholicism. Knox writes of justification, saying, “In St Paul’s sense, to be justified is not simply to be accounted righteous; but also and in the first instance to be made righteous by the implantation of a radical principle of righteousness” (Toon, 152). In addition to these controversial writings on justification, Knox also wrote on baptism, the Eucharist, and even a collection of letters, “Letters on the Re-Union of the Churches of England and Rome.” In addition to his attack on forensic justification, Alexander Knox also distinguished himself from “Tory churchmen,” saying, “I am a churchman in grain – not a Tory churchman, for that is a disease in the church, not its constitutional turn” (Nockles, 102). He also began to leave the earlier receptionist/virtualist views of the eucharist and espouse something between them and the later sacramental union theories of the Tractarians. He was willing to say that the elements are, “permanent representatives of His incarnate Person” (Storr, 89). Furthermore, Knox adds, “But the express designation of the Holy Eucharist by our Lord Himself as His own virtual body and blood, and St Paul’s appeal to the receive belief of the Church that the blessed cup was the communion of the blood of Christ, and that the broken bread was the communion of the body of Christ, established beyond question that the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is to serve as the external and visible medium through which the disciples of Christ in all ages are to expect, through the co-operation of the Eternal Spirit, the divinely vivifying influences of His incarnate Person, and the ineffable virtues of His crucifixion and death.” In addition to these unique views on justification and the eucharist, he also shared earlier Orthodox emphasis on apostolic succession, invalidity of the sacraments from non-episcopal ministers, the desire for Church unity, and the loathing of private interpretation. Knox really is the “missing link” between the Orthodox and Tractarians.

Historical Causes of the Oxford Movement
After that brief tangent on evangelicalism in the Church of England, it is now time to review the causes of the Oxford Movement and its course in English history.

For a long time the Church of England had enjoyed a special relationship with the Parliament, maybe even viewing it as a lay synod of the Church. However, in the early 19th century, Parliament passed and repealed some laws which jeopardized the Church of England’s monopoly on Parliament. In 1828, Parliament repealed the Test and Corporation Acts. The Corporation Act, “excluded from membership of town corporations all those who were not prepared to take the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England,” and the Test Act, “imposed the same test upon holders of civil or military office.” Therefore, with the repeal of these acts, Parliament was thus open to dissenters and not just churchmen. Likewise, the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, opened Parliament to Roman Catholics.

However, the final straw for the fathers of the Oxford Movement was the 1832 Reform Act, which sought to reduce the number of bishoprics in the Church of Ireland by ten. This prompted the infamous, John Keble’s Assize sermon, “National Apostasy,” in 1833. The Church Society summarizes the main points of the Movement as such: 1) Apostolic succession by the laying on of hands; 2) That it was sacrilege for non-Church bodies to lay hands on the Church; 3) The assertion that the Church of England is part of the Catholic Church and entirely separate from the state; 4) A strong opposition to the emerging liberalism; 5) A focus on personal holiness. As you can see, these are not new or original themes in the life of the Church of England but were specifically related to the controversies of the 19th century. The movement was centered at Oxford, giving it one of its more popular names. However, it came to be known as Tractarianism. In September of 1833, the Oxford divines began publishing a series of tracts to further their aims throughout the Church, which merited them the name “Tractarianism.”

During the early years of the movement, the Tractarians did not openly express any detachment from the Reformation. However, one of the “Oxford four,” Hurrell Froude died and his “theological remains” were published in 1838. These remains clearly showed his antipathy to the Reformers and his affinity for medieval Catholicism. This revelation triggered a rebuttal from Evangelicals which began a long (and present) conflict between Evangelicals and Tractarians. The tip of the iceberg was the publication of Tract 90 in 1841, which sought to reconcile the Articles of Religion with the teachings of the Council of Trent, simply anathema to Evangelicals. The response from Evangelicals is predictable and to be expected, however, the question we ask seeks to discover how the Orthodox responded. The Church Society article, “The Oxford Movement” provides a concise statement about the reaction of the Orthodox:

“At the time ‘High Church’ referred to those who had a high regard for the Church and its ways including establishment and its Protestantism. Thus High Churchmen were split in their response to the new movement. Some warmed to what was said about the nature and dignity of the Church whilst others saw that it would lead to disestablishment and indeed to some Roman practices at least. The impact of the movement was such that the old distinction of ‘high church’ was largely lost and the term came to be associated with the Tractarians. The authorities in Oxford also distanced themselves from the Tracts and from any association of the name with the university.”

Tractarian and Orthodox Views

At this point, it is important to accentuate the differences between Orthodox churchmen and the nascent Tractarians. We have already seen where they had essential agreement, that being in the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, apostolic succession and an esse view of the episcopacy, and their distrust of private interpretation. However, beyond this, the differences accumulate faster than any similarities. First, the Orthodox were firmly Protestant. The earlier churchmen identified even more with the Reformed churches in Europe, Richard Hooker offering a good summary of Anglican feeling towards non-episcopal churches:

“Although I see that certain reformed churches, the Scottish especially and French, have not that which best agreeth with the sacred Scripture, I mean government that is by Bishops, inasmuch as both those churches are fallen under a different kind of regiment; which to remedy it is for the one altogether too late, and too soon for the other during their present affliction and trouble: this their defect and imperfection I had rather lament in such case than exagitate,considering that men oftentimes without any fault of their own may be driven to want that kind of polity or regiment which is best, and to content themselves with that, which either the irremediable error of former times, or the necessity of the present hath cast upon them.”

The Caroline Divine, John Cosin, saying, ““I never refused to join with the Protestants either here or anywhere else, in all things wherein they join with the Church of England.” John Sharp, an 18th century High Churchman said of a churchman, ““if he were abroad, he would willingly communicate with the Protestant churches where he should happen to be.” Likewise Archbishop Ussher, “which I do love and honour as true members of the Church Universal, I do profess that with like affection I should receive the Blessed Sacrament at the hands of the Dutch ministers if I were in Holland, as I should do at the hands of the French ministers if I were in Charenton.” All of this to prove that all churchmen before the Oxford Movement viewed themselves as Protestants, whether they were High Churchmen, Low Churchmen or Evangelicals, they were Protestant. This is one of the key differences between the Orthodox and Tractarians. It is also important to note that the Orthodox saw no contradiction in terms when they referred to themselves as Protestants and catholics. At the time, they understood that the Roman Church did not have a valid claim to catholicity and that Protestantism was not opposite to catholicism. Nockles sums up the core tenets of Orthodox churchmanship, they, “upheld in some form the doctrine of apostolical succession as a manifestation of [their] strong attachment to the Church's catholicity and apostolicity as a branch of the universal church catholic, … . [They] believed in the supremacy of Holy Scripture and set varying degrees of value on the testimony of authorised standards such as the Creeds, the Prayer Book and the Catechism. [They] valued the writings of the early Fathers, but more especially as witnesses and expositors of scriptural truth when a 'catholic consent' of them could be established. [They] upheld in a qualified way the primacy of dogma and laid emphasis on the doctrine of sacramental grace, both in the eucharist and in baptism, … . [They] tended to cultivate a practical spirituality based on good works nourished by sacramental grace and exemplified in acts of self-denial and charity rather than on any subjective conversion experienced or unruly pretended manifestations of the Holy Spirit.” How did the Tractarians differ in substance from the Orthodox? “High Churchmen took as their standard of catholicity the Anglican formularies supported by scripture and antiquity; Tractarians used the appeal to antiquity to correct and supplement the Anglican formularies.”

One of the most important distinctions in theology from the Orthodox and the Tractarians is in the doctrine of the eucharist. The Orthodox held to one of two theories concerning Christ’s presence in the sacrament, either that of receptionism (Calvin’s doctrine) or virtualism (that of the Non-jurors, see The Unbloody Sacrifice). The key similarity in these two viewpoints and what clearly distinguishes them from Tractarian ideas is that both of these doctrines deny that Christ is present in the elements. Both follow a Reformed Christology saying that since Christ has ascended to heaven and that is where his natural body is. Both theories offer a solution to the problem of Christ being in heaven but present in the sacrament. Receptionism says that the Spirit ascends our hearts to heaven and feeds us with the body and blood of Christ through faith. Virtualism says the power and effect of Christ’s body and blood, but not the body and blood descend to the elements. The Tractarians take this another step and are willing to say that the spiritual body and blood of Christ are present in the elements. Pusey states, “In the communion there is a true, real, actual, though spiritual (or rather the more real because spiritual), communication of the body and blood of Christ to the believer through the holy elements; that there is a true, real, spiritual presence of Christ at the Holy Supper, more real than if we could with Thomas feel Him with our hands, or thrust our hands into His side; that this is bestowed upon faith, and received by faith, as is every other spiritual gift, but that our faith is but a receiver of God’s real, mysterious, precious gift; that faith opens our eyes to see what is really there, and our hearts to receive it; but that it is there independently of our faith.” (Pusey, 1839: 128, in Stone, 1909: II, 534). In contrast, William Goode provides a good summary of the dominant receptionist position, “The doctrine … maintained in the formularies of the Church of England and, speaking generally, by all her great divines … is that, though the act of consecration makes the bread and wine sacred symbols or Sacraments of the body and blood of Christ, in the participation of which by the faithful there is vouchsafed a real spiritual presence to the soul of the body and blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed received and spiritually eaten and drunk to the soul’s health, yet that the presence of the body and blood of Christ is not communicated to (though in the case of the faithful connected with the participation of) the bread and wine, and His body and blood are not given to, or partaken of by, the faithless. In short, it is a real presence to the receiver and not to the elements.” (Goode, 1856: I, 29-30). Willilam Beveridge, Bishop of St. Asaph agrees with Goode, ““Scripture and fathers holding forth so clearly that whosoever worthily receives the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper doth certainly partake of the body and blood of Christ.” (Beveridge, The Theological Works, edn. Bliss, 1843-1848: VII, 470). At the same time he denies that, “the bread and wine which is used in the Sacrament is the very body that was crucified on the cross and that the wine after consecration the very blood that gushed out of His pierced side.” (Beveridge, The Theological Works, edn. Bliss, 1843-1848: VII, 470). John Johnson, author of the Non-juror and virtualist work, The Unblood Sacrifice, states of the Eucharistic presence, “Though the Eucharistical elements are not the substantial Body and Blood; nay, they are the figurative and representative symbols of them; yet they are somewhat more too; they are the mysterious Body and Blood of our ever-blessed Redeemer. By the mysterious Body and Blood … I mean neither substantial nor yet merely figurative, but the middle between these extreme, viz. the Bread and Wine made the Body and Blood of Christ by the secret power of the Spirit; and apprehended to be so, not by our senses, but by our faith, directed and influenced by the same Holy Spirit; and made the Body and Blood in such a manner as human reason cannot perfectly comprehend.” (Johnson, The Unbloody Sacrifice, in The Theological Works, edn. Parker, 1847: I, 323).

However, the Tractarian movement was not the end of the upheaval of the 19th century in the Church of England, for in its earliest stage it was only a theological movement which did not affect the average churchman. However, the Church would soon face the destructive power of the Cambridge Camden Society (renamed the Ecclesiological Society in 1845) which was founded in 1839 and intended to revive medieval ceremonial and ritual in the Church of England.

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