The Royal Issue

Queen Sophia

Britain’s Erastian system, namely the King as Head, is found throughout the BCP’s liturgy– the litany, ordinal, the communion intercessions, and the daily offices. During the 16th to 19th centuries an Oath of Allegiance was added to subscription standards. Thus, the Crown’s headship became an article of faith and a marker of genuine high churchmanship. Supremacy had expelled the jurisdiction of the Roman Papacy while the 1701 Settlement Act ensured the Crown’s successors– the Governors of England’s Church– remained Protestant. Royal headship thus directed the Church of England’s relations, especially those of marriage and godparentage, toward other Protestant states, proving to be a greater factor in protestant unionism than quarrelsome conferences amongst divinity.

The natural ties between English and Palatinate churches developed legally after the Glorious Revolution. The 1701 Settlement Act tied national faith and royal progeny together. The aim of the Act was to prevent the Stuart royals, most of who were Roman Catholics, from gaining the throne. The disinheritance of the Stuarts was in keeping with the idea that children who reject their’s father’s faith abandon all paternal title– both spiritual and temporal. Queen Anne’s inability to issue heirs forced England to passover remaining the Stuarts in favor of the house of Hanover– aka., James I’s granddaughter and Anne’s first cousin– Queen Sophia, electress of Hanover and daughter of the Palatinate.

The Church of England’s liturgy pointed to this particular arrangement seven decades prior to the Settlement Act itself.  James I inserted state prayers, borrowing intercessions for the royal progeny from the litany for Morning and Evening offices.  From 1613 (the marriage of Elizabeth, sister of Charles I, to Frederick V) until 1643 (the Interregnum), the state prayer(s) read of the Offices, “That it may please thee to bless and preserve our gracious Queen Anne, Frederick the Prince Elector Palatine, the Lady Elizabeth his wife with all their royal issue”. Thus, for thirty years before the civil war, Frederick V (and consequently the House of Hanover) were part of daily  common prayer. From the perspective of Laud’s generation (and those living in the 17th century), any later switch from Stuart to Hanover, would have not been totally shocking. The intercessions naturally included nobles who most likely stood in line to inherit the Crown.

Princely Toleration:
The Restoration added James II with Lady Elizabeth (Frederick’s wife) to the state prayer(s). Overtime their progeny was compacted into the genaral phrase ‘royal issue’.  The roll-call of princes within the state prayer(s) is especially fascinating when the significance of ‘Realm’  and ecclesiastical jurisdiction is considered.  What emerges between the various territorial princes is a snap-shot of ‘protestant commonwealth’. For instance, in the 1701 Settlement, where Hanover is identified as presumptive heir, the realms which  James I ruled in 1606 are also listed, presuming each (Bohemia, Denmark, Scotland, England, France, and Ireland) to have a national church:

“That the most Excellent Princess Sophia Electress and Dutchess Dowager of Hannover Daughter of the most Excellent Princess Elizabeth late Queen of Bohemia Daughter of our late Sovereign Lord King James the First of happy Memory be and is hereby declared to be the next in Succession in the Protestant Line to the Imperiall Crown and Dignity of the forsaid Realms of England France and Ireland with the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging after His Majesty and the Princess Anne of Denmark and in Default of Issue of the said Princess Anne and of His Majesty respectively”.

By the end of the 18th century the Stuarts, especially James I’s  granddaughter, Mary II, not only ruled diverse realms but also churches.  These churches, though differing in some articles and canons,  possessed common features. Though Ireland was officially Anglican, it’s episcopate had adopted 104 Articles of Religion on a calvinist basis. The same was true in Scotland which possessed a reduced episcopate 1580-1690 (not counting the interregnum).  The royal ‘commonwealth’ added Hanover and a number of smaller German states upon George I’s consecration. With the addition of Hanoverian lands, the Crown incoroporated Lutheran churches, and like the English, the  Lutheran church in central Germany retained its bishopric.  If a reduced episcopacy had been continued in Scotland after 1690 (and radical calvinist biblicism not won the day), one might imagine a broad comprehension of somewhat similar protestant-episcopal churches under the British Crown– a proto-quadrilateral perhaps?

Protestant Principle
The life of Frederick V was marked by his bid to give leadership to Germany’s Protestant Union.  In England, King James I married his daughter, Elizabeth, to Frederick to countervail Catholic Spain. Frederick ruled from Heidelberg, himself was a ‘high calvinist’. The Palatinate lands confessed Articles of Religion which blended Lutheranism and Calvinism, aka. the Heidelberg confession, which some consider the most ‘catholic’ of reformed confessions. In Germany, areas which conjoined both Lutheran and Calvinist churches tended to produce Philipist (Variata) confessions. England’s Articles of Faith strongly resembled Philipist articles. Unfortunately, Frederick’s bid to assume the Crown of Bohemia garnered little support from Lutheran Princes who wished to keep their peace with the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand. Frederick believed a Protestant King in Bohemia would excite other princes to join and revive the Protestant Union. As it was, none did, and Frederick lost his lands in a bloody Thirty-Year War to Ferdinand’s prince elector in Bavaria, Maximilian.

Frederick and Elizabeth lived the rest of their lives in exile, and as a consequence their  ‘royal issue’ were raised in Protestant lands. Sophia grew up in the Netherlands while her brothers lived in England. Upon the English Civil War, the Palatines split– Charles-Louis (the oldest) siding with the Presbyterian (Long) Parliament while his brothers, Rupert and Maurice, sympatized with King Charles.   Upon Cromwell’s removal of the Presbyterian parliament, Charles-Louis returned to Palatine lands, and after the Peace of Westphalia was concluded, his ancestral estate was given back to him. Sophia also received a likewise endowment, i.e., Hanover. The significance of the Westphalia Treaty was not only repatriating household lands to Palatine Royals, but more incredibly a permanent affirmation of the protestant/provinicial principle, “the faith of the prince is the faith of the realm”, as first expressed by German Princes in 1529 at Speyer.

When discussing Anglican ‘protestantism’, there too often is an itch to compare Anglicanism with Reformed confessions. While this may have a use, the etymological sense of the term is missed. The original context of the word “protestant” was first used in 1529 to describe the demands of German Princes before the Emperor. In Speyer, the Princes claimed four things: 1. the liberty of the King to reform the provincial church through the convocation of clergy; 2. A right to reform the Mass, a harbinger for Common Prayer, basically serving “both kinds” of sacrament to the people; 3. A pledge to harshly suppress Anabaptism and other fanaticism; 4.To wait for a free general council with the Bishop of Rome and other Germans to resolve doctrinal differences. The Council of Trent proved to protestants a free council was not coming. After 1545 protestants therefore attempt to iron out differences by regional synods. These end in failure, partly due to war, also due to insurmountable opinions on sacrament. What’s ironic was how marriage, patronage, and protection between Princes nearly aligned Protestant Europe through the English house. Within this network divines and treatises circulated. This was perhaps the closest the Church of England would get to a substantive ecumenicism, and if the rights to the Crown had continued, Frederick’s dream of a northern protestant union might bore fruition.

The above demonstrates Protestantism’s  conservative and catholic nature– desiring an ‘orderly reformation’, re-establishing proper provincial and lay authority in the church, but also doing this without isolation, keeping an eye upon correcting Rome. The scandal Reformed Catholics face today is allowing both Anabaptists and Rome to tar the name Protestant, so we loose sight of its magisterial origins and possibilities.

20 responses to “The Royal Issue

  1. Regarding the term Protestant!
    When I was at school we were taught that this term was not used in any theological way, but simply to express Anglican refusal to countenance the Bishop of Rome’s interference in English politics. A reference to the Bull or fatwa delivered against Eliza in 1570! During Orange’s reign he asked the Anglican Convocation to use the term more in an effort to encourage the Dutch Calvinist Church towards a more friendly relationship with the Anglicans. Inspite of William’s 10.000 Army of occupation, Convocation refused saying that it was not a word used in official Anglican Formularies!
    No matter from which side we look at the Calvinist or Lutheran Monarchs we gained after the so called Glorious Reformation, they accelerated the Church in a downward slide in to the waste years of the Hannoverian Slough of Despond. We only have to look at the Bangor Controversy to appreciate the disaster!
    Only Eliza, and the early Stuarts provided any form of help or protection to the Church in England after them ,until the return of the Non Jurors. The later monarchs simply used the Church as a Dep’t of State!

    For favour of Publication


  2. Hello High Churchman,

    My problem with assigning the Hanoverians complete guilt for the demise of the CofE was the Georgian reign, unlike earlier ones, was uncontested by dissent. Also, anglicanism reached an unprecedent stability and apex in both doctrine and life in the same period. With respect to Bangor, amidst all the pamphleteering, there were middle-road views on Divine right vs. constitutionalism more attractive than either absolutism or jacobinism. Also, don’t forget in 1760 George III put curbed the radicalism of the Whigs, placing the Tories back in power. It’s really with this later party of anti-democratic Tories I identify with. Nonethelss, whigs made a worthy contribution regarding the supremacy of law which even the King ought to adhere. Consequently, I tend to look at later dates, like 1829, or those from whence the state was ’emancipated’ from its more Anglican mores as being really detrimental. That said, this post was not written as a defense of Hanover– the laxity of whom is not defensible– but identifying certain currents in the history and definition of Supremacy which might have relevance today. I think one legacy of protestantism is the national church idea and confessional parley which Anglicanism was partly predicated upon. The Quadrilateral, despite Huntington’s liberalism, is an example of something more contemporary.

    How do you think the Non-Jurors changed or impacted the relation of church and state? Do you mean preparing the way for Anglicanism as a ‘free church’?


  3. The Early English Non Jurors refused to take the oath to William on a principle of good manners! They were refused permission to officiate,reasonably enough; it was the matter of intrusion of claimants in to Catholic Sees over the rights of the sitting or existing claimants that is the issue. The Convocation was weakened by this loss of the principled High Church section and the intruded bishops were re-enforced over the years by creatures such as Hoadly and others who were simply the creatures of Government in one form or another!
    The point of England being uncontested by Dissent, is only partial. Dissent was there , but in Hannoverian times it became either atheist or agnostic! My own family were Calvinists from the North West and over two hundred years moved from classical Presbyterianism in to Unitarianism! The lack of leadership from the top caused a failure in both teaching and belief amongst Anglicans and indeed Christians in general that we have never mastered! To some extent the return of the Non Jurors infused some knowledge and strength in to the the Established Church, but the damage was done. We have never been able to achieve that confidence in our beliefs, or religion that is necessary to regain our place!


    • Dear HC,

      Indeed, the Hanoverian period had it’s torpid side which certainly had consequences. But sometimes stability and consensus is mistaken for torpidity. I am in hesitant agreement with you. I am skeptical of some of the claims by conventional historians. The Church was closely tied to the fortunes of the Tory Party, and Toryism experienced both ups and downs throughout the Georgian period. Even William III favored Tories against Whigs at the beginning of his reign. Unitarianism is often exaggerated. There were orthodox currents, like the Hackney phalanx, as well. So, it’s a subject I’d like to come back to better informed. Bishop Peter Robinson (UECNA) wrote a series of articles about pre-tractarian churchmanship, much of it dealing with late Georgian divines, to give a ’rounded’ perspective.
      Beyond Port and Prejudice
      A Benign and Comfortable Air

      Lord Peter also has a series on Central Churchmanship. Center Church mostly came from what settled during the Hanoverian. But I cannot disagree, generally, with what you say, HC. The Tudors and early Stuarts were exceptional, possessing theologically sharp, if not minds of genius. Hanoverians were largely disinterested in comparison. Frederick V was a man of conviction much like his brother-in-law, Charles I. Sadly, their progeny with the exception of Anne and George III were not the same caliber. This was an exceptional generation of protestant Prince-Divines, and it is sad to see what remains of it today in Windsor….. *God Save the Prince of Wales*


      • Regarding the piety of the Crown, the influence of tutors and relatives while royal issue dwelt in exile is very interesting. James II and Queen Anne were raised in France by Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I. During the Laudian period, Henrietta was known as an active Roman Catholic and exponent of recusancy within the court. Charles I had expelled her Romanist retinue from England, allowing her a chaplain(s) and their privy conspiracies. It was enough to prevent an Anglican consecration for Henrietta. When James II converted to Romanism in 1673 while living in France under Henrietta’s tutelage, Charles II convinced his daughters, Mary and Anne, to return to England, fall under proper Anglican instruction, and wed orthodox protestant princes. This was not altogether different from what Phillip III of Spain demanded of Charles I when he solicited the Infantada, i.e., he convert to Catholicism and live in Spain for a year. Between Protestant royals a kind of confessional convergence is seen. William III’s mother was Mary, making King Bill also grandson of Charles I. But to inherit the stadholder title, William was raised a ‘dutchman’, tutored at the Hague by Contra-Romanstrant (i.e., articles of Dort) Cornelis Trigland, Charles II being his advocate. Similar to Frederick V (his cousin), he was raised a calvinist of sorts, although Daniel Tilenus, Frederick’s tutor, was an ‘arminianist’. Sophia, Frederick’s daughter, likewise was raised in the Hague and instructed by similar Variata influences. The link between ‘realm’ and ‘faith’ seem to recur, forming a pattern of “northern catholicism” through marriage and household alignments.

        Yet the influence of Romanist spouses like Henrietta had profound effect upon Stuart fortunes in England, provoking a ban on candidates who married RC’s, as found in the 1701 Act,

        “That all and every Person and Persons who shall or may take or inherit the said Crown by vertue of the Limitation of this present Act and is are or shall be reconciled to or shall hold Communion with the See or Church of Rome or shall profess the Popish Religion or shall marry a Papist shall be subject to such Incapacities as in such Case or Cases are by the said recited Act provided enacted and established”.

        Looking at the 18th-century this influence and memory of the French and Spanish courts in England seem to be a backdrop of anti-papist sentiment. Again, as the Oath and Articles warn, “foreign jurisdictions” against the liberties and true religion of the Crown. ?


  4. I think it is difficult to pinpoint a moment in history to blame for the decline of Anglicanism. Of course, the Glorious Revolution, perhaps politically justified, allowed the cancerous tumor of Comprehension to gain a foot hold within the Church. And, yes, Burke and the Whigs increased the cancer of indifferentism with the enactment of the Toleration Acts and the Repeal of the Test Acts. But it was not until the 20th Century that rank secularism became commonplace within the English Church herself!

    In any event, the days of Christian Princes, or even Christian parliaments have passed, which is why the English National Catholicism so admirable under Tudors and Stuarts was so admirably denounced by Keble and the Oxford Movement, which itself has been feloniously high-jacked by Romanizers. Indeed, in today’s climate, the substance of classical Anglicanism can only be healthy when independent of both Parliament and Pope.


    • Hi Death and HC,

      Boy… I had to re-edit the post. The english was so bad! I really appreciate your patience with what I write. Sometimes I throw together but never without the intent to later touch it up or overhaul.

      After re-reading Keble’s National Apostasy and Catholic Subscription, I don’t think Keble rejected Erastianism per se but the “climate” which prevailed against Apostolic teaching as Keble defends in Tract 86. After lamenting the laxity and idolatry of the age, Keble then discusses various alternatives to the Erastian order until England is ‘restored’. Two alternatives which stand out in my mind are flying-bishops and lay-communions as these ecclesiastic relations have become almost the ‘norm’ for continuing Anglicanism. Unlike run-of-the-mill American ecclesiology, Keble has no problem drawing conclusions from OT church-state relations, but his questions are more directed on how the church may continue (for a time) in its faithfulness under a Saul, than the absolute abolition of all civil authority in matters ecclesiastic.

      This is at least what I get from reading his two classic essays. It is not easy to translate the English system to the American. But I believe the American “church settlement” made establishment an option which states could either continue from Britain or undo. The reason disestablishment prevailed was what the Methodist revival accomplished vis-a-vis the stagnancy and sluggishness of the old protestant churches. I don’t think Erastianism is necessary for faith by any means. Certainly it is ‘adiaphora’. Nonetheless, there are many degrees of “kind” in establishment church history, some better than others. While I’d grant some merit to ‘free church’ principles, a establishmentarian practice providing the catholic church greater peace and orthodoxy which the revivalism has not. By opening the church to laity, I believe reformers were inaugurating middle course between two extremes. However, this is far from where we are today.

      My own views are totally friendly to colonial Virginia’s vestry-system and what might be done on a local and state level within strict American constitutionalism. Here are more general and colorful links on Virginia’s colonial vestries some might enjoy carousing:
      Anglicanism in America
      Religion in 1771


      • deathbredon

        Excellent points. I agree about that we are waiting for a restoration. Though, I suspect that QEII is sufficiently faithful to constitute a Christian Princes in the sense intended by the Articles of Religion and broader Protestant principles, her Parlaiment, which shackles her, most certainly is not. Hence, we are effectively in a state of Interregnum for purposes of classical Anglican polity.

        In the interim, exceptional provision must be made to meet the exigencies. This is why, IMHO, I am extremely reluctant to cast aspersions on any of the Anglicans operating extramurally to the Lambeth Communion. Moreover, this is why I see traditional high-church Methodists as close brethren and similar Lutherans perhaps as step-brothers. Strange times make for strange bedfellows.


      • I like the terminology, “We are effectively in a state of Interregnum for purposes of classical Anglican polity”. I never thought of it like that, but your comparison to the 17th century diaspora is appropos. I recall Benjamin Guyer’s article on St. Charles and how many Anglicans entered recusancy by worshiping in private homes such as Ferrar’s chapel at Little Gidding. Others emigrated overseas. There is an ironic parallel.

        I have no problem with strategic retreat, but I think we should keep our sights upon the episcopal thrones liberals stole with the mind to win back someday. I believe Keble was likewise proposing a temporary but necessary action when he discussed lay communion and flying bishops as a means to endure until intercessions and faithfulness won back the land. One thing I hoped to touch upon in this post was the related polities of Lutherans to Anglicans. The intermarriage, military pacts, and godparenting of royal progeny brought protestantism closest to a northern catholicism. Though it might be a bit fanciful, I see the Quadrilateral as being a progenitor of these Caroline and Georgian blood and diplomatic ties. I was really surprised by Huntington’s argument for episcopacy as a ecumenical lever in ‘low church’ America. He was right, and probably still is today. The comments of Jewel on Lutherans is also interesting where he considers the English Church closer to the German than the Roman.


  5. highchurchman

    All these things deduced by Charles and Death Bredon have a part in the decline of our Church and I firmly believe at no time is ,’Rome,’ in any mode our friend. Yet, never-the-less if we look at the attitude of Calvinism from Eliza’s accession, the Church was in a struggle. Eliza, bought the Calvinist nobility and gentry off and the Clerics were limited by the choices presented to them . If the Tudor’s or the First Stuart went,as it were,’ what was the choice? ‘Simples’, as the advert says! It was Continental Romanist Royalty! Charles the First was unlucky in that the Roman fear was dowsed to some extent, the fear of Roman Catholic candidates was watered down in the early 17th, Century. This caused the Calvinist dominated parliament to turn their venom against the Church in England. Note, Charles settled his political quarrel in 1639/40 and acceded to the Parliament’s demands. It was then the real aim of the protestants showed itself with a remarkable effort to abolish the ancient church and all their prayer books. When the Church people realised their plight and petitioned parliament to put the laws in practice,they were cast in to prison and public discussion was prohibited. Their were laws put into parliament , a bishop was kicked to death outside the House of Lords and the Queen threatened . Charles himself had to leave London. These were the preliminaries of the war of religion! From the King’s first proclamation at York/Selby the emphasis was on saving the Church! It was repeated again all down Charles’s route from York, to Warrington and finally Nottingham. Charles didn’t have a Royalist Party of any size, he was driven by the Church party to fulfill his oath to protect the Church. The High Church or Laudian party were the ones who rallied around the slogan Church and King! This was the slogan suggested by the Countess of Derby, a calvinist princess who converted to the Anglican [Catholic] Church! It wasn’t Royalism. They lost of course and they had to pay for their loyalty to the Anglican Church wwith lives and riches! The point is that the War of Religion didn’t end in 1660, the Church was returned, but it was being brought back by the membership, rather than Parliament. Two attempts to bar James ii and sundry plots resulted in a protestant coup in 1688 in many ways this ending perverted the Reformation in England.Our problems today relate to the concerted attack on our values over the years..
    – Show quoted text –


    • Hi HC,

      I sympathize with the Countess of Derby. I went through a similar epiphany coming from Presbyterianism. The combination of radical iconoclasm plus christian resistance proved explosive. However, ecclesiology is still important, and the difference between Presbyterians and Congregationalists paved the way for the Treaty of Breda and finally the Restoration. If I was to say anything good about Presbyterians, they at least doggedly held to the national church idea whereas congregationalists were dogmatic about pluralism. I guess we could pass the buck around. I tend to peg the defects in continental Reformation with Zwingli’s early comprehension of Anabaptists. Iconoclasm and resistance is not Protestantism, at least in the strict Magisterial sense. Rather, it is the root of Radical-peasant biblicism.


      • Hi, Charles

        Outstanding post and excellent commentary.
        The erastian principles outlined here are utterly foreign to the culture and mindset of American Evangelicalism.

        Many are the reasons, but I would opine that a deficient, or (in many cases) an absent ecclesiolgy is chief among them; a lamentable consequence of that “radical- peasant-biblicism” you described, which long-ago became a hallmark of popular Evangelicalism in the USA.

        Not everything within Evangelicalism is bad, naturally, but, considering its influence on Anglican theology and churchmanship over the past 30 years (its charismatic incarnation, in particular), should this be cause for concern, when it comes to restoring a classical Anglican polity amongst Anglicans?

        As for the “recusancy” of 17th-century churchmen, (i.e. those who chose to worship in homes, or in private chapels), how far did this go? I am familiar with Nicholas Ferrar and his family at Little Gidding. Ferrar, of course, had been ordained deacon in the CoE; but that would not qualify him to officiate at a service of the Holy Communion. I have read that eminent high-churchmen, such as William Laud, visited Little Gidding from time-to-time. Are their any records indicating that he presided at Eucharists there?



  6. Dear Mark,

    This is a great question, and you have to wonder with respect to ecclesiology just how far ‘in extremis’ rationale may permit canonical breaches? If Methodism held a ‘line’, it might have been the means to restore the ‘church’ to the American people. However, Wesley was willing to jettison his principles and hopes by allowing an American bishopric consecrated by presybtery after the Revolution. I have to wonder if Wesley remained consistent, even at this point, with his ‘high church’ convictions. I think Wesley exemplifies the ‘high churchmanship’ of the Caroline rather than non-jurors, defined not by a return to the mystery of ‘sacramentalism’ so much as a robust understanding of Anglican doctrine, altering ceremonies that were not divine right. Nonetheless, looking at the Sunday Service, it is surprising how patient the Wesleyians were given the growth and size of their church. Wesley indeed restrained unruly elements of revival for a long time– something that would not be done today! My guess is Ferrar likely exemplified a similar restraint, and if there were no consecrated reserves to serve his household, I bet he was left to commune quarterly or whenever it could be had, given the circumstances during the Interregnum. That’s my guess. Nonetheless, I am always surprised by the conservatism and respecting of church order which belongs to the period.


    • Quarterly communion, I would imagine, was the best that churchmen, loyal to Church and King, could hope for, during the Interregnum-unless you were lucky enough to have a cleric in your employ, who was also a priest, such as Jeremy Taylor; who enjoyed the patronage of Lord and Lady Carberry, during his seclusion at Golden Grove.

      In Wesley’s case, the in extremis rationale hardly justified his decision to create an American bishopric via presbyteral consecration. That is not so much a criticism of the great man as a note of puzzlement. Wesley’s churchmanship, formed by a deep aquaintance with the Eastern Fathers, and the spirituality of non-jurors like William Law, admitted a lineal sucession of authority from the Apostles, in all lawfully consecrated bishops. I think you are correct in identifying Wesley as a man whose principles were more Caroline than Non-juror; emphasizing, for instance, a concern for the transmission and continuation of order and Divinely-ordained authority in the Church, rather than a mystical sacramentalism. And that might go some way in explaining his compromise; but it has its own problems as well.

      Caroline churchmanship regarded Episcopacy as de jure divino and considered non-episcopal ordinations defective. Its ablest exponents, it is true, did not consider the ministrations of non-episcopally ordained clergymen invalid (otherwise, one is at a loss to explain John Cosin choosing to worship with Huegenot congregations during his exile). But from the perspective of dutifully submitting to the will of God in the ordering His Church, the non-episcopal Protestants were seen as having transgressed a law from on high, and for which they were liable to give an account.

      Of course, the exigencies of that time may have left Wesley no other alternative. But it leaves me wondering if his decision played a role in the readiness of 19th-century Evangelicals, like Bp. Cummins, to depart from Catholic and Anglican precedent. In some cases, the decisions made “in extremis” have an unforeseen permanence.


      • deathbredon


        I too have been puzzled about Wesley’s decision, and have only read and thought a little bit about it. But I do know that the Bishop of London, whose duty it was to pastor the faithful in the Colonies was severely lax in his duties. This probably motivated Wesley to agree to the American “bishoprics,” which I suspect he only viewed as a temporary expedient due to the exigencies of the case.

        Would that the Methods had been of like mind, and had returned to the regular episcopal fold after the consecrations of Seabury and White. In any event, the omission of such regularization is why I regard traditional, high-church Wesleyan Methodists as irregular Anglicans, who in many cases are much more orthodox in there Anglicanism than the Liberal hierarchy in the “official” Lambeth Communion.


  7. In his 1916 book, The History of the American Episcopal Church, McConnel places the blame on Ashbury and Coke for the separation of American from English methodism. Evidently the two superintendents Wesley sent did not hold the same high church principles, and, against Wesley’s adjurations and anathemas, the oversea society formed its own bishopric. My guess is Wesley must have viewed Coke and Ashbury as ‘archpriests’, not true Episcopals. In light of the American revolution, Wesley finally acknowledge American branch as ‘independent’. What else could he do? Id’ like to know when Ashbury was sent, was he invested with the powers to ordain priests or only better organize the church? What kind of superintendent was he originally before he assumed the disorder?


  8. I knew this was more explicitly stated somewhere! Part of the rationale for the Crown’s Supremacy was Britain already being an Empire, King Henry VIII an Emperor. This claim was important because he had no superior unlike the German prince-electors. Also, his rule of diverse realms made more than one national church a possibility, and it made sense some Germans appealed to Henry for diplomatic and religious covering. At one point Henry was asked to lead the Lutheran princes. Here is a quotation from the Restraint of Appeals Act 1533 which defined Supremacy,

    “Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles, it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Spirituality and Temporalty, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience: he being also institute and furnished, by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God, with plenary, whole, and entire power, pre-eminence, authority, …”

    More on the British Emperor


  9. Pingback: To An Unknown God » Inclusive Confessional Documents

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