Christmas Day Articles

Rt. Rev. DD. Nicholas Heath, second legate at Wittenberg

The ‘Christmas Day’ Articles were authored by Philip Melancthon, advising German Princes (the Elector of Saxony and Landgrave of Hesse) how they were to approach Henry VIII as possible leader of the Smalkaldic League. The Fourteen points contained therein outlined rules of engagement that eventually led to the Wittenberg Concord. It was upon the Wittenberg Concord that the Henrician Ten Articles (1536) were likewise framed. While the Wittenberg Concord detailed points of agreement between Anglican and Lutheran doctors, areas of impasse– later outlined in the six articles— left an insufficient basis for membership in the League. The outcome was an indeterminate prorogue of discussion, remaining true even after Edward VI’s sacramentarian reforms. Yet the Ten Articles go unrecognized as direct descendant several altered-Augsburg Confessions, prototypical to the Protestant media via amongst common amongst royals in Northern Europe. Likewise neglected is Henry’s brief overture as the supreme head of Protestantcy, providing an example that James I and related Palatine princes emulated– suggesting the British throne as a last court of Protestant appeal.

The Christmas Day Articles:
Written December 25, 1535, the Christmas Day Articlesset terms for Anglo-Lutheran unity. The Christmas Day articles exemplified northern catholic conciliar efforts, though biased on the German side. The Christmas Articles may be summarized as having three parts– 1) the Augsburg Confession as common symbol of peace; 2) setting restrictions on unilateral talks with Rome as well as non-League churches; 3) providing certain logistics of military procurement. For this essay, the third section is least interesting while the second simply forbade independent engagements with non-Lutherans. However, the first section– subscribing the Augsburg– is highly pertinent.

The Christmas articles began with some political shuttle board. In rather bold language, the Articles side-stepped Henry VIII’s greater status, especially divine right claims, as “Emperor in England, Wales, and France”. Nor was any flattery spent upon Henry’s renowned theological literacy. The German princes wanted to avoid implications respecting England’s greater dignity. A letter from Cromwell to the Germans admits, “The King, knowing himself to be the learnedest prince in Europe, thought it became not him to submit to them, but them to submit to him”. Therefore, Henry felt the burden of compromise ought to be upon the German legates, leaving the Lutherans to amend the Augsburg to please English prejudice, “something first, in your [the Lutheran] Confession and Apology be modified by private conferences and friendly discussions between learned men”. Neither Henry nor Cromwell were ready to give the Augsburg the esteemed place Melanchthon would have it. Articles I, II dealt with the Augsburg as theological starting point, permitting amendment by multilateral talks. While article VIII stuck to a confederate model, cautious of England’s supremacy or claims to divine right, they read:

“I. That the Most Serene King promote the Gospel of Christ, and the pure doctrine of faith according to the mode in which the Princes and confederated states confessed it in the diet of Augsburg, and defended it according to the published apology, unless perhaps some things meanwhile justly seem to require change or correction from the Word of God by the common consent of the Most Serene King, and the princes themselves.

II. Also, that the Most Serene King, together with the Princes and States confederated, defend and maintain the doctrine of the gospel mentioned, and ceremonies harmonizing with the gospel in future council.

VIII. Also, that neither the aforesaid Most Serene King, nor the aforesaid Most Illustrious Princes or States confederated, ever will recognize, maintain or defend that the primacy or monarch be held today or ever hereafter as de jure divino…” ( p.63-66).

The Ten Articles:
The disputations in Wittenberg carried until late-March. Disagreements revolved around Henry’s divorce with Catherine, but also abuses in the English Mass, clerical celibacy, and, whether the English King should continue other questionable ceremonies. Dubious practices named were the decking of images, masses for purgatory, and invoking saints. Upon the return of English delegates, copies of the Wittenberg Concord and Lutheran Repititio (an elaboration on the former), arrived in England, and Henry established the Ten Articles as a first rejoinder.

The Articles, like Henry’s longer Catechisms, were divided into two parts– one portion belonging to doctrine, the other to ceremony. The part given to explain Faith generally followed the Wittenberg and Augsburg Apologies, yet adding a Henrician emphasis upon good works as evidence of living faith. Agreeing with the Augsburg, Penance is counted as a third sacrament for the remission of sin after baptism. However, unlike Henry’s vocal defense of seven sacraments in 1522, the Ten Articles were purposefully silent on the efficacy of the lesser sacraments. It‘s notable that Protestants at this early period of Reformation were open to either Penance or Holy Orders as a third sacrament. This restraint on sacramental enumeration continued into the 1540′s. Veneration of images and saints, however, were outright banned, at an early date, 1538. But the English defended private mass and concomitance of the elements, and for this reason the Lutherans found the Ten Articles deficient. Nonetheless, delegates expected remaining differences to be ironed out in the future.

Although John Frederick the Elector was anxious to receive the Ten Articles before the summer of 1536, they did not arrive in Germany until late-November. Henry’s tardiness was due to an unfortunate monk revolt in Yorkshire. Once the Articles arrived, Melanchthon said nothing flattering, “[they]were put together with the greatest confusion”.  But a decade later, Melanchthon would write the Leipzig Interim that was arguably more Romish than the Ten Articles. Aside from the continued use of the Mass, the Ten Articles agreed with the Wittenberg.  Where the two confessions differed was upon limits of adiaphora in ceremony. The Ten Articles retained some questionable ceremonies for the sake of ‘charitable concord’ whereas the Wittenberg and Augsburg purge the Papist Mass. The Preface explains the division between salvific and edifying rites, retaining some for the sake a political order:

“…have not only in our own person many times taken great pain, study labour and travails, but also have caused our bishops, and other the most discreet and best learned men of our clergy of this our whole realm, to be assembled in our convocation, for the full debatement and quiet deliberation and disputations, had of and upon the premises, finally they have concluded and greed upon the said matters, as well those which be commanded of God, and necessary for our salvation, as also the other touching honest ceremonies, and good and politic order, as is aforesaid; which their determination, debatement, and agreement, forasmuch as we think to have proceeded of a good, right, and true judgment, an to be agreeable to the laws and ordinances of God, and much profitable for the establishment of that charitable concord and unity in our church of England” (p. 4, Oxford).

Among the Henrician Bishops to serve as legates in Germany for the Crown was the Rev. Nicholas Heath. Heath’s churchmanship likely characterized the period, 1535-1545. In 1535 Dr. Nicholas Heath was the king’s chaplain. Sent to Saxony along with Henry’s representatives, Foxe and Barnes, Heath was sympathetic to the “New Learning” but placed brakes on Barnes and Foxe’s tendency to hastily agree with Lutheran particulars. This caution resulted in a half-way or altered form of the Augsburg later known as the Ten Articles. According to Pusey’s study on the Anglo-Lutheran continental conferences, Melanchthon held Heath in high regard for his relative conservativism while accusing that Fox “believed too much” (p. 134, The Real Presence). Nonetheless, the Ten Articles mostly agreed with Melanchthon’s Apology (1531) and Loci (1535) though it parted on sometimes contentious aspects of ceremony. However, other Evangelical princes besides Henry had also taken conservative paths in ceremony. German Princes in Bradenburg and Brunswick signed the Augsburg while keeping stubbornness with ‘old faith’, so the equivocations by England shouldn’t be taken as an abject rebuff. Moreover, ceremony was indifferent given rites were reinfused with correct theology.  Holy Week, Creeping the Cross, Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, the Easter Sepulchre and other rites gained a lifeline given deference to “right use”. In the 1537 book, Cranmer explained,

“If men will indifferently read these late declarations, they shall well perceive that purgatory, pilgrimages, praying to saints, images, holy bread, holy water, holy days, merits, works, ceremony, and such other, be not restored to their late accustomed abuses; but shall evidently perceive that the word of God hath gotten the upper hand of them all, and hath set them in their right use and estimation”. (p. 178, Tjernagel)

Despite disagreement on catholic ritual, the Wittenberg paved an important theological precedent for Cranmer’s Ten, if not later, Forty-Two Articles.  Two points deserve stress: First, the Ten Articles occurred during official dialogue with German counterparts, affirming the core of the Wittenberg conferences. This critical dialogue was not abandoned in 1538 but continued intermittently until 1547 against the backdrop of Trent. Bishop Gibson was wrong to dismiss the influence of Trent[i]. Proto-Tridentine sessions were well-established; particularly, the Diet of Ratisbon and related Leipzig Interim (between 1541 and 1548 respectively) had well-broadcasted the Roman-side, so the theological positions staked out against the Reformation was easily known before the publication of Henry’s 1543 catechism.

Second, the tenor of Anglo-German dialogue in the 1540’s was between Vienna (Erasmus) and Wittenberg (Melanchthon) humanists. The synthesis of reformed-minded Roman Catholics and moderate Lutherans constituted a continental ‘third way’, embodied in works like the Regensberg Book, Leipzig Interim, and Witzel’s Reforms. Historians usually overlook this period of convergence by which the Ten Articles drew. Anglican distinctives from that time include the necessary evidence of works for lively faith, an occasional enumeration of three or four sacraments rather than merely two, and recognizable ceremonial continuity to the medieval.

Among the Henrician Bishops to serve as legates in Germany for the Crown was the Rev. Nicholas Heath. Heath’s churchmanship likely characterized the period, 1535-1545. In 1535 Dr. Nicholas Heath was the king’s chaplain. Sent to Saxony along with Henry’s representatives, Foxe and Barnes, Heath was sympathetic to the “New Learning” but hindered Barnes and Foxe’s tendency agree with Lutheran particulars. This caution resulted in a half-way or conservative form of the Augsburg later known as the Ten Articles. According to Pusey’s study on the Anglo-Lutheran continental conferences, Melanchthon held Heath in high regard despite Heath’s relative conservatism; though, Melanchthon chidded that Fox “believed too much”. Nonetheless, the Ten Articles mostly agreed with Melanchthon’s Apology (1531) and Loci (1535), parting sometimes on more contentious aspects of ceremony.

However, Evangelicals Royals prior to Henry had also taken conservative paths. German Princes in Bradenburg and Brunswick signed the Augsburg while remaining stubborn in ceremonies commonly associated with ‘old faith’. So, Henry’s equivocations weren’t an automatic rebuff. Moreover, English divinity was prepared to retain medieval ceremony given rites were re-infused with correct theology. Thus, Holy Week, Creeping the Cross, Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, the Easter Sepulchre won a lifeline by “right use” principles, explained in the 1537 English catechism,

“If men will indifferently read these late declarations, they shall well perceive that purgatory, pilgrimages, praying to saints, images, holy bread, holy water, holy days, merits, works, ceremony, and such other, be not restored to their late accustomed abuses; but shall evidently perceive that the word of God hath gotten the upper hand of them all, and hath set them in their right use and estimation” (Tjernagel, 178)

Six Articles:

Despite England’s difference with Saxony, the Reformation proceeded apace.  Cranmer’s 1537 Bishop’s Book along with Cromwell’s 1538 church Injunctions drew Henry closer to the Saxon Elector. These reforms extirpated some outstanding disagreements with Lutherans two years prior. For instance, candles and incense before images were banned. An explicit Purgatory was rejected. By 1539 the largest monasteries were dissolved.

However, in April of 1539 Henry issued the notorious Six Articles. The Six Articles were not the rollback some assume but a concise statement about outstanding differences with Lutherans dating back to 1535. The Articles drew a theological line which Henry expected German accommodation. The Articles are usually thought as an apology for Transubstantiation or the Roman Mass. They retained concomitance in the elements, clerical celibacy, and private eucharist. Though the first article contends a complete annihilation of bread and wine after consecration, the terminology of transubstantiation is missing. This has been noted by McEntegart:

“This question was answered in the negative: only the substance of Christ remained in the sacrament after consecration. This response, though it failed to include the substance of the bread and wine with Christ’s body and blood in the eucharist, as Lutheran teaching demanded, avoided an explicit endorsement of transubstantiation and hence could be acceptable to all parties.”(McEntegart, 159)

Surely, Henry had reasons for Six Articles. The early 1540′s marked turning point for the Lutheran movement in both England and Germany since the Emperor was willing to accommodate the Evangelical cause to rally the Empire against France. Furthermore, Catholics and Evangelicals were finding common ground against growing iconoclasm, identified with Calvinism. As with later Stuarts, Henry identified iconoclasm with democracy; consequently, Henry, together with German princes, often adopted high church views that hedged authority by ceremonial against the iconoclastic ‘leveling’ forces. Schofield has speculated upon Henry’s motives for drawing the six, suggesting:

“The second factor was the King’s aim to establish his own national church, independent of both Rome and Wittenberg, based on scripture and the fathers as Henry interpreted them. He did not seek some vague middle ground; he saw himself as a Christian prince and head of the church like Constantine and Justinian, and looked to the doctrine and dogmas of their times.” (Schofield, 125)

Henry saw no abuse in promulgating six articles since his methods were humanist.While Henry perhaps went too far on certain questions, e.g., calling evangelical counsels the ‘law of God’, precedence was had in other areas. Evangelicals were sometimes receptive to carnal interpretations of the Real Presence in order to fence off Zwinglians. Furthermore, Cranmer would dull the significance of Henry’s six articles in his compilation of the 1543 King’s Catechism. Here, Cranmer tries to dismiss the mode of sacrament in favor of worthy reception,

“Wherefore in this most high mystery no man ought to reason overfar, nor go about to compass the will and work of God by his weak sense and imagination: but we must without further searching give firm assent and credence unto Christ’s almighty word, by the which heaven and earth were made, and not trouble our wits in laboring to comprehend the power and might of God, but rather (steadfastly giving faith to his word) apply our whole will and affection to attain the fruit and profit of this most holy sacrament towards our salvation, according to the intent of Christ’s institution” (Various, 263)

 Thus, the six articles not only answered German complaints lodged earlier with the Ten Articles, but they also voiced an emerging conservatism in England’s church, perhaps a cue taken from other conservative Evangelical Germans who anticipated the advantage of Charles V as with a coming Papal Council in Trent. Nonetheless, they belong to the theology of the Reformation, providing a “core” of doctrine that would continue into the Elizabethan Settlement until a better convergence with Philipist-Lutheranism could happen.

Conclusion: More can be said about the Lutheran negotiations, 1535-44. But please note: Rapprochement with Germans was both privileged and restrained. A primary difference was the sacral monarchy which the Germans did not want to acknowledge for fear it would led to headship not only in the English Church but all of “Northern Catholicism”. The differences expressed between Anglicans vs. Lutherans slowly closed by the end of the 1540′s (with Cranmer’s first prayer book), and these were not always doctrinal but dealt with the “right-use” of certain medieval rubrics finally determined by the Word of God and good of civil peace. The result was a media via between Ratisbon and Wittenberg, demonstrating the old English mind for conservatism and reluctance to break from past forms. That conservatism is one leg of comprehension which the Articles and Prayer Book managed to incorporate.

Anglicans ought to be encouraged to study the Henrician Formularies, 1536-1543, as laying the basis for Edward and Elizabeth’s final version of the Settlement. A hardcopy can be purchased at Amazon through the same Henry VIII link.

  • Jacobs, Henry Eyster. The Lutheran Movement in England During the Reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. Philedelphia, 1890.
  •  McEntegart, Rory. Henry VIII, The League of Schmalkalden, and the English Reformation (Boydell Press, 2002)
  • Pusey, EB. The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Oxford, 1858.
  • Schofield, John. Philip Melanchthon and the English Reformation (Ashgate Publishing, 2006),
  • Tjernagel, Neelak Serawlook. Henry VIII and the Lutherans. Concordia, 1965.
  • Various. Formularies of Faith put Forth by Authority During the Reigns of Henry VIII. Oxford, 1825.

5 responses to “Christmas Day Articles

  1. While this posting only scratched the surface of Anglo-German relations, Lutheran influence remained formative and largely institutional despite popular Calvinist movements. Elsewhere I’ve been asked to prove the Lutheran content of the Book of Articles, namely, the positive influence of Bishop Edmund Guest especially upon articles 28 and 29 which are normally understood as calvinist. While calvinism was the dominant interpretation among classical English divinity, the Elizabethan revision deserves certain notice, particularly how moderate Lutheran views were comprehended. It remains the thesis of this author the articles on the Supper, composed under the chair of Guest, were a Phillipist, or moderate Lutheran, rather than Calvinist inspiration, so that questions of substantial presence are open to some opinion. Stricter Lutheran clergy, such as Cheyney, were likely disappointed with Guest’s broad terminology. Nor was the language very endearing for those persuaded by Calvin or Bullinger. Provided below are quotes to further assist this understanding:

    ‘Liturgy having been fixed in 1559, the doctrine of the Elizabethan Church was fixed at the Convocation of 1563. The Thirty-Nine Articles were now drawn up, with the nature of our Lord’s eucharistic presence being defined in Articles XXVIII and XXIX. The most obvious interpretation of the latter is that it denies that unbelievers partaking of the Holy Supper receive the sacred body and blood. This article was the cause of great distress to Bishop Richard Cheyney, who was much disapproved of by his brother bishops on account of his Lutheran propensities, nor did it sit well with Bishop Edmund Guest. Now Elizabeth herself is credited with having authored the following rhyming verses: “He was the Word that spake it: He took the bread and brake it: And what that Word did make it, I do believe and take it.” After Convocation drew up the Articles, the queen gave her imprimatur by issuing them in the guise of a royal proclamation. In fact, only thirty-eight articles received Elizabeth’s nihil obstat, Article XXIX [from the 42 articles] being simply omitted. In 1571, though, when the Articles were set forth in their definitive and enduring form, Article XXIX reappeared [titled: ‘Of the Wicked which eat not the Body’]. Bishop Cheyney realised what this meant, refused to ratify the article, and was promptly excommunicated.

    The interpretation properly given to Article XXVIII is of crucial importance in the context of the recent agreements. The Christological section found in the parallel article of 1552 is quietly dropped, a decision which, when taken in tandem with the removal of the Black Rubric from the liturgy, may be taken as pointing in a hopeful direction. As in 1552, the revised version of 1563 and 1571 alludes near its outset to I Cor. 10:16: “to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.” … The second paragraph of Article XXVIII contains an unmistakable rejection of transubstantiation, which is denounced as not only unscriptural but also incongruous with the Augustinian definition of a sacrament. And that nagging subjective strain recurs in the third paragraph, whose wording seems explicitly to exclude the manducotio oralis. “The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the means whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.” Admittedly, the first sentence of the third paragraph could be construed to express the dogma of the Real Presence. At all events, its author, Bishop Guest, did precisely this in 1566. Upon Bishop Cheyney’s complaint that the statement that the body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten “only after an heavenly and spiritual manner” tended to exclude the Real Presence, Guest replied that his controverted adverb “did not exclude ye presence of Christis body fro the Sacrament but onely ye grossnes and sensebleness in the receavinge thereof.”‘ Even so, the repeated stress on the faith of the communicant as the organ which receives the sacred Body and blood would justify one’s placing Article XXVIII in the mainstream of Reformed thinking. We may, of course, doubt whether the sharp demarcation between Lutheran and Reformed theology would have appeared so clear-cut to those who took part in the Convocation of 1563. The teaching of the Invariata had not yet been underscored by the final decision of Article VII of the Formula of Concord, and many observers of the contemporary German scene may have been expecting the Philippists to emerge victorious within Lutheranism.’ (p. 10-11. Stevenshon, John. ‘Wittenberg and Canterbury’. Concordia Theological Quarterly. V. 48, July 1984)

    It’s probable the entreaty with Germans was assumed upon the substance of the Variata since the Articles well-preceded the Formula. Not surprisingly article 28 was framed in the same comprehensive language as the altered Augusta. Again, Guest is credited for the authorship, reassuring Cheyney and Cecil by letter in 1566. According to Hardwick, Guest chaired the revision, was moderate in his Lutheranism, and directly responsible drafting changes from the 42 articles (History of the Thirty-Nine, p. 128), “yet while the romish doctrine of the eucharist was thus rejected, a new paragraph was added, on the motion of bishop Guest, to vindicate the truth from opposite perversions; for this paragraph declares that ‘the body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Lord’s Supper,’ though ‘only after an heavenly and spiritual manner’”.

    Another author, Edgar Gibson, likewise attributes these changes to article 29 (from the earlier 42 articles) to Guest, it being written in terms broad enough to assuage stricter men like Cheyney:

    “In the Article, when it was republished a few years later (1563), the third paragraph, denying the ‘real and bodily presence (as they term it) of Christ’s flesh and blood’, was also deleted, and in its place was inserted our present third paragraph, asserting in careful and accurate language that ‘the body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper only after a heavenly and spiritual manner; and the mean whereby the body is received and eaten in the Supper is faith’. The author of this paragraph was Edmund Guest, Bishop of Rochester, who says in a letter to Cecil that is still preserved, that it was of ‘mine own penning’, and that it was not intended to ‘exclude the Presence of Christ’s body from the Sacrament, but only the grossness and sensibleness of the receiving thereof’”. (The Thirty-Nine Articles v.2, p. 646)

    However, Guest’s moderation evidently disgruntled both sides of the Lutheran-Reformed (or German-Swiss) divide:

    “Predictably, the most intriguing articles are numbers 28 and 29 on the Eucharist. One of the Reformed’s main arguments against Luther was that because Christ has ascended into heaven, there can be no real, substantial or corporal presence in the sacrament. This statement duly appeared in the Forty-Two articles…Despite this clear Episcopal endorsement, however, the statement that Christ’s ascension rules out His presence in the Sacrament was pointedly excluded from the Thirty-Nine articles. Thus the central plan of Reformed theology had disappeared, despite a largely Reformed clergy…Bishop Cheyney, one of the few clerics with decidedly Lutheran views on the Eucharist, wanted and apparently received an assurance that the article did not mean a real absence. A fellow cleric, Edmund Guest, wrote to Cecil explaining that the article ‘did not exclude the presence of Christ’s body from the sacrament, but only the grossness and sensibleness in receiving thereof’ [see above]…Back in the 1520’s, Luther faced up to Zwingli’s claim that Christ’s ascension means no real presence. Luther called this argument the ‘fearful sword of Goliath’, because he realized that if it was true, it would be the death sentence for any real presence. Melanchthon agreed with him. So axing this doctrine from the English Articles was a devastating blow for Elizabeth’s Calvinist-minded clergy, and well they knew it. Humphrey and Sampson complained bitterly that the article which, in Edward’s reign, ‘expressly assaulted and carried away the real presence in the Eucharist, and contained a most clear explanation of the truth, is now set forth among us mutilated and maimed.’ This (in a letter to Bullinger) comes last in a list of 13 woes about imperfections in the English church, covering various items including vestments, making the sign of the cross at baptisms and allowing women to baptize in private…” (p. 197-198, Schofield, John. Philip Melanchthon and the English Reformation, St. Andrews Press. 2006)

    This is where the question of the real presence stood in 1563. The language expressed was comprehensive, like the altered Augusta, settling upon a ‘real, spiritual presence’. However, in 1571 Parker introduced a new article that at least excluded capernatic eating. evidently Guest was opposed to such, hoping to either continue with the omission of the proposed article or slightly amend the earlier one (the 28th). Gibson says:

    “So much is practically confessed by Bishop Guest, the author of the clause, in a remarkable letter addressed to Cecil in 1571. Guest was very anxious that Article 29, ‘Impii non manducant’, which had been withdrawn before publication in 1563 should not now be restored, or receive any sanction ‘because it is quite contrary to the Scripture and the Fathers’; and in order to make the twenty-eighth article harmonize with the view that the wicked do partake of the body, though not fruitfully, he suggested that the word ‘profitably’ should be inserted, and that the words should run, ‘the mean whereby the body of Christ is profitably received and eaten in the Supper is faith’. The article was, however, left untouched, and the twenty-ninth was, against his wish, inserted; and, if the words of the Articles are to be taken in their plain and grammatical sense, the whole paragraph would seem to indicate, 1. That the presence is there independent of us, and thus that it is offered to all; but 2. That the faithful, and the faithful only, are able to receive it.” P. 661-2

    To sum, Guest was of the opinion the 28th article was comprehensive enough to satisfy men like Cheyney. However, the later inclusion of the 1571 article makes things more complicated. While this author was never troubled by reading the 29th in terms of ‘profitability’ or worthy receiving, evidently this is a strained reading, proven by the contortions of catholic divines like Pusey, G.F. Hodge, and Edgar Gibson. However, the article appeals to Augustine who seems to contextualize it.

    Often terminology is dense and the precise terms, such as “only” versus “profitable”, become critical. There can also be plenty of strawman arguments, especially around the notion of ‘ubiquity’. I’ve found Lutheran definitions of terms like “spiritual”, “local”, “natural”, and “carnal” to be helpful, and they can be read either here or gleamed from the solid declaration of Concord. Sketching the differences between receptionism, viritualism, and consubstantion also helps. In this vein, Bicknell’s explanation of ‘receptionism’ provides a useful critique. Bicknell seems to contrast this with the ‘real presence’, giving a definition to the latter which is not calvinist but a lot closer to the Lutherans. I would say Bicknell is comparing, therefore, ‘receptionism’ (or nominalism) to ‘realism’:

    “The receptionist view: On this theory the bread and wine in the Holy Communion are merely tokens not channels of the inward grace that it given. They are like the water in baptism, outward signs ordained in order to assist faith, but brought into no vital relation to the divine realities that they represent. The devout communicant does indeed by an act of faith receive the body and blood of Christ at the moment that he receives the bread and wine, but in no real sense by means of them. Thus Christ is present only in the hearts of the faithful recipients. His coming is connected not with the consecration of the elements but with the reception. This view was taught by Calvin: it was the necessary corollary of his doctrine of grace. If grace is given only to the few elect, it clearly cannot be possible for all to receive it who receive the bread and wine. So its reception must be essentially independent of the visible elements. The theory has been largely held in the Church of England and was expounded at length by Waterland. It represents one side of the teaching of S. Augustine and can be supported by isolated sentences of other Fathers. It is perfectly tenable by loyal members of the Church of England. There is nothing in the Prayer Book that definitely contradicts it. Quite rightly the Church of England excludes only a Zwinglian view of the Sacrament– a view, that is, which is not only inadequate, but positively denies a part of the truth.
    (b) Real Presence. On this view we hold that we receive through the bread and wine the Body and Blood of Christ, becausse in answer to the prayers of His Church and in fulfilment of His own promise, He has brought the elements into a mysterious union with Himself. He has, as it were, taken them up into the fulness of His ascended life and made them the vehicle of imparting that life to His members. Thus He is in a real sense present not only in the devout communicant but in the consecrated elements. Of the manner of this union we affirm nothing. The Presence is spiritual, not material.” (Exposition, p. 391-2)

    Bicknell goes on to defend the objectivity of the sacrament through the incarnation, “the incarnation was an event discerned by faith but in no way produced by faith”, finally dismissing the logical obstacle of Christ’s fleshly body assumed in heaven by marginalizing the necessity of spatial physics. Of course, Bicknell is anglo-catholic, so he represents one voice in a studied departure from English receptionalism.

    I believe whatever Lutheran comprehension was smuggled into the Settlement by Guest or the Queen Elizabeth rapidly gave way to Calvinist sacramentology. Article 29 took care of most traditional explanations. Meanwhile, within the spectrum of reformation BCP’s, the 1549 and 1662 were more comprehensive. Eighteenth-century Scottish liturgics eventually used English oblation prayers, appearing first in the 1637 BCP, as a springboard for consubstantialism. The oblation prayers were, again, recognized as dervived from the 1549 book. Thus, we see a certain relationship between the more robust viritualism encouraged by Carolinians with the later “consubstantialism”, or something very akin, of the Scottish Episcopalians. A modest Lutheranism unfortunately failed to make its way back into the English Settlement, not returning in force until Tractarianism’s influence. In this respect, Pusey’s Real Presence paved the way for a popularization not only of a conjoined substance but likewise some Scottish liturgics, previously mentioned. America also had its own native tractarian influence, also owing to the Scottish Office. Nor should the stymied attempts noted above– of Guest and Cheyney– for an Evangelical widening of the Articles be forgotten. But most important were the moderate Lutherans during the Henrician period– men like Barlow, Ridley and Latimer– who imprinted a Phillipist, or comprehensive sacramentology, that Laud restored the basis of through the restoration of the oblation prayer(s).

    Furthermore, talks with Germans were not a one-shot matter. Upon the passing of Queen Anne, question of Protestant/Hanoveran succession renewed discussion. A lively debate stemmed from Pufendorf’s 1695 work, The Divine Feudal Law, which examined possible comprehension between Lutherans and Calvinists from a confessional viewpoint. Pufendorf adopts something like Melanchthon’s mediating position, emphasizing what the two systems have in common, namely, ‘right use’ of the Sacrament,

    “Concerning which controversy, it may be observed, that so far as it is about the manner of the Presence it is more curious than useful, provided there be a consent only concerning the Substance of the Sacrament, and the end and use of it. For the Manner both in naturals and morals lies often times hid, and is unknown; and for all that there may be no less profit and advantage from the right use of them. And, further, this is to be taken for granted, that the substance of the sacrament, and what is therein exhibited and received, does not depend upon the persuasion and credulity, or belief of the men that use it, but upon the disposition and appointment of him that Institutes it…From whence it follows, that they who receive this Sacrament whole, and according to the Institution of Christ, do receive the same thing as to the Substance, and neither more nor less, although they think diversly concerning that which is invisible.” p. 134-5.

    Nonetheless, Pufendorf is critical of receptionist views of the Zwinglian or low-Calvinist kind:

    “On the other hand the Reformed, that they may cast away that simple sense of the Words, and seek a figurative interpretation of them, have used reasonings taken from the testimony of the senses, and from the nature of bodies, both because Christ is ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, and upon that account is no longer present on earth; and also because tis contrary to due reverence to say, that the most Holy Body and Blood are received by the unworthy and the wicked. For as that cavil, that if the body of Christ were present in the supper, it must have been long since eaten up; it is so silly as is not worthy to have any regard in a discourse of divinity. From whence they believe that in this sacrament there is nothing else received by the mouth of our body, but the bread and wine: But the worthy receivers, and the faithful, lifting up their thoughts by faith into the heavens where Christ is, do in a spiritual manner eat of him in this sacred ceremony, and so are made partakers of the benefits purchased by him. But since the sense of this interpretation reaches no further than this, that in the use of the sacred supper the saviour is called to mind by an act of faith; it does not appear what occasion, or need there was for that Sacrament, since the faithful might in every place, and at all times call to mind the Savior…Yet we must not believe the bread and wine naked symbol, but a communication, or mean by which we come into participation of the body and blood of Christ, as St. Paul speaks, 1 Cor 10:16. But of what sort that communion, or communication is whether physical or moral, may be very well gathered from that very place of St. Paul. By a physical communion, or participation, must be understood the conjunction of two bodies, as of water and wine, of meal and sugar: but by a moral one is meant, such as when anything partakes of the Virtue and Efficacy of the other, and in that respect is accounted the same with another, or connected with it” p. 137-8

    Where differences occur, the Philipist falls back to ‘mystery’, usually avoiding certain specifics of modus. However, for the Philipist, a substantial presence indeed exists together with the elements, conjoined, though not separate from sacramental action (“at” vs. “in”, “do” vs. “is”). In this respect, the Presence might be identified within the Bread, but only in so far the Bread continues as a proper part of the action. In other words, though the Presence can never exist “at” the bread alone, it has presence there given to right administration of the Sacrament, e.g., the instituted course of blessing-distribution-reception. When the body is given over to purposes other than what is instituted, it’s no longer a sacrament.

    I hope the 39 articles and the mixed theology of the 1549 bcp are better known by the foresaid middle position. Johnson appears to say something of the same re: Lutheran-Calvinist opinion, quoted from Lewis’s reply to Brett:

    “yet (if we may give any credit to Mr. Johnson [author of Unbloody Sacrifice] the Doctrine of Calvin, Beza, and their followers, was much the same with the Lutherans; and Calvin himself, subscribed the Augustan Confession [Variata]. ‘What is given in the Eucharist, and received from the Hands of the Minister, they affirmed to be mere typical, symbolical Bread and Wine, and that the unbelieving, or unworthy Communicant received no more than bare Types and Shadows: But then they added, That the faithful and worthy Communicant, received the very Natural Body and Blood of Christ, by an act of faith; and they further asserted, That this Natural Body and Blood might be received not only at the Holy Communion, but in any other acts of Religion [*see note below]. And though they allowed that the Natural Body and Blood were received at the Sacrament; yet they denied that they were received in the Sacrament, that is, in the Bread and Wine, but that they were communicated in a divine unintelligible manner to the Faithful only.‘ Anyone may observe from hence, that the difference between the Lutherans and Calvinists is not so great in this Matter of the Sacrament as to occasion such dreadful Animosities as the Doctor [Brett] tells us there are between them; and tis certain, the difference (whatever it is) is chiefly about the predestinarian points, and the External government of the Church, (neither of which concerns us) and not this of the sacrament, though the Doctor was not so fair as to won it, for a very plain reason.

    “But how well so ever these Notions may agree together, I own they both differ from the Notion received by most Divines of the Church of England, notwithstanding which, a Man many very well hold either, and yet continue in the Communion of it; for (whatever others have done) our Church has not nicely defined or declared for any particular Modus of the Presence of Christ’s Body in the Sacrament. We are, indeed, instructed by the Church, that Christ’s Body and blood are verily and indeed taken and received by the Faithful in the Lord’s Supper, but whether Substantially, or in Power and Efficacy only, is not so expressly determined; and yet if the Church hand in so many Words declared against, and condemned the Lutheran doctrine (as it has the Papists) a private Man may still continue in that Opinion, and our communion too, so long as he is not obliged to any practice, subscription or assent, contrary to his own Judgment.” (p. 26-28, A Second Review)


  2. man, wow, this is some serious white trash fantasy bullshit. and the fetishism with royalty and Anglican empire takes it beyond insane racist revisionism into effeminate altar boy whining. it would be sad if it weren’t so evil.


    • hello John, Not sure why you chose this particular post re: early anglo-german relations, but I’m actually flattered by your disapproval. Meanwhile, check out the Christian Episcopal Church in Canada . Would a revanchist politics have more cultural traction in the commonwealth? XnEC’s description seems to suggest something of an ethnic or national church, not unlike Russian or Greek Orthodoxy, and I contend the formation of ethnic churches has a normative basis with respect to catholic history– the dilemma between national and universal typically being a false one. Anyway the description below is not unusual for Anglican ‘traditionalists’ who sometimes are willing to explain Anglicanism as both an ethnic and ecclesiastical (locally adapted) instance of catholic faith,

      “We are the Christian Episcopal Church of Canada. In our Constitution and our Canons, our Church is described as being a “national Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Anglican tradition”. And that is exactly what we are.

      We are a Canadian Church. Since the social, cultural, and political foundations of Canada are British, most of our people are British in their ethnicity, being that either their forebears or they themselves have come from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. And because the Church of England was at one time the legally established and official Church in many parts of Canada and the British Empire, and has been established in this country since the first recorded ministration of the Holy Eucharist according to the Book of Common Prayer took place at Frobisher Bay in 1578, there are many of us who are also of Native and Metis descent. Likewise, since the years following the First World War saw many new immigrants coming to Canada from Europe and other parts of the world outside the old British Empire, many of our members are also of European, Asian, and African descent as well. And as our British heritage well mixed with racial and ethnic diversity makes up the Canadian mosaic today, so the membership of our Church is also basically British, but also mixed and diverse.

      We are a Catholic and Apostolic Church. This means that we are a living and integral part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We profess, believe, and uphold the One Faith given to us by Our Lord and His Apostles within the One Church which is the Body of Christ and the whole company of baptised Christian faithful – the Faith set forth for us in the Bible, the Creeds, and the Definitions of the undisputed Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church. The Faith believed and the Religion practised by us is the Faith and Religion of the Apostles and the early Christians, and which was held and practised by the whole Church until the great divisions began with the Great Schism. Whatever was professed, believed, held and practised by the undivided Church from the beginning is what we in the Christian Episcopal Church of Canada profess, believe, hold and practise today.

      And we are an Anglican Church. That is to say, we are a Church which has descended and which has derived its identity from the Church of England. The Church of England was first established by Saint Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, in 597. Later, at the Synod of Whitby held in 664, the Church of England was united with the ancient British Church which had been brought to the Roman Province of Britain in Apostolic times and had been established until the Anglo-Saxon invasions had driven the British Christians out of their own country and into Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and Ireland. The Church of England, or what in Latin is described as the Ecclesia Anglicana or Anglican Church, is and always has been the national Church of the English people. In 1570, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First, the ancient Anglican Church became separated from the Church of Rome. During the years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the Bible and the Services of the Church were translated into the English language, the Clergy were allowed to marry, the Cup of the Lord at the Holy Communion was returned to the people, and superstitious abuses and idolatry were banished from the Church. The Anglican Church was duly reformed and purified, and was restored to the Faith and Religion of the early Catholic and Apostolic Church, and was established by law as the state Church in 1662., etc..”


  3. An interesting comment by Thomas Brett against Baron Puffendorf’s alleged commonalities between the Church of England and German Lutherans as it might pertain to ceremony. While Brett felt union an impossibility due to difference in mode of presence and the necessity of episcopacy, the extent 18th century German ceremony was indeed’high’ is fascinating:

    “The Reformed, says he [Puffendorf], object against the Lutherans some relics of the Popish rites not sufficiently purged away. Into the number of which, they put the Exorcisim retained in Baptism, the private Confession, and what is wont to accompany it, the sacred Penny, the round wafers used in the Lord’s Supper, which hardly retain the nature of Bread, altars also, and candles, and many images retained in their Churches, and among others, that of our Savior hanging on the Cross, the particular garments of ministers, the bending the knee, and uncovering the head at the mention of the Name of Jesus; the superfluous Festival Days, the exorbitant Use of Music, and other things of the like nature. Those who have been so very severe upon the Church of England, for symbolizing with the Church of Rome in a few of the most unexceptionable of these Ceremonies, and who once threw down her Altars, and turned her Churches into stables, because they ha been polluted with such superstitious Rites; who persecuted, plundered, and barbarously treated all her Bishops, ans such Presbyters as adhered to them, and have since reviled them as Baal’s Priests, on account of a few of these ceremonies; may perhaps be inclined to judge hardly of the Lutherans, who have still retained so many more of these Rites. But I desire them to consider, that notwithstanding this multitude of ceremonies, the Lutherans are as great enemies to the Pope, and the Church of Rome, as they can be; and though they have retained so many Popish rites, are nevertheless strict and rigid Presbyterians, and have as little agreement with the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, as the most zealous calvinists. However, we of the Church of England may hope and pray, and use all lawful endeavors, by fair means and persuasions, to draw dissenters of all sorts into the communion of the Established Church, by setting before them the error of their ways. ” p. 28-29, A Review (1714)


  4. I owe something of a retraction regarding the certain ‘contortions’ of tractarians like EB Pusey. While it is true Pusey was apologetic in respect of later recusant ritual, Pusey’s book, The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, gives a surprisingly attentive history to Anglo-German relations, their consummate impact upon the 39 articles, engaging Settlement standards rather thoroughly, while tackling articles one-by-one, relying upon letters from “Lutheran and semi-papist” men like Guest and Parker who compiled the final language. The opinion of the Puritans against Guest and Parker, evidently, were low:

    “Yet we know that there were then, as now, two parties in teh Church, of the one of which Archbishop Parker himself, Bishop Guest, and Bishop Chesney were representatives, who were termed by their opponents ‘Lutherans or semi-papists’. The other was the extreme reforming party, who had been exiles at Geneva. Some of these were so discontented with the state of things, of which they formed a part, that they retained their sees, only to exclude those whom they accounted ‘Lutherans or semi-papists’. Even Grindall, who became Archbishop, and Bishop Horn so speak. They professed to Bullinger, that they retained their Episcopates, to hinder ‘a papistical or Lutheran-papistical ministry’, ie., of those of whom Archbishop Parker was the representative.” p. 186

    Pusey then clarifies the alterations to the 1562 articles as conducted by Parker. While Burnet suggests these changes happened well after the 1563 convocation, Pusey claims Burnet wrong, and, instead, the modifications were effected between sittings of the lower and upper house (p. 190), between the 12th and 20th in January 1563. Parker’s red lead pen marked the 1552 articles, showing something of the thought process which occurred, especially with those articles pertaining to sacrament. Starting with article 25, Pusey notes Parker’s ambivalence over Penance as a gospel sacrament as well as the wider convocation’s disagreement on a corporeal presence:

    “The part of the re-cast xxviii. Article, which condemned the doctrine of the Real Presence, was not only crossed out, transversely, but was underlined throughout…The underlining was, in this copy, no mark of omission. Passages were erased without being underlined, and underlined without being erased. In article xxv, the clause ‘quomodo nec poenitentia’, was underlined, but retained. For it appears in the English edition of 1563, ‘In which sort, neither is penance.’ The underlining, as well as the erasures, being made as Parker made them, it is probable, that he first underlined the words, as objecting to them, and afterwards, with the concurrence of the Synod, finally erased them…[meanwhile] The condemnation, not of the ‘real presence’ only, but of the corporeal presence also, was thus formally proposed to the Synod of 1562; and that condemnation of both was distinctly rejected by it.”

    Pusey describes the work of Parker and Guest as a partial restoration of the Lutheran articles as such were corrected by Bishops Heath and Fox. However, Heath and Fox delineate something of a conservative divergence from Lutheranism, often favoring the side of tradition. While Pusey admits their rapport, he also describes the 39 articles as essentially a catholic correction to the Augsburg, and this is mostly apparent around the power and virtue of the Sacrament:

    “The statement [in art. 25] itself is an enlargement and correction of the Article in the Confession of Augsburg, both strengthening its language as to the efficacy of the Sacraments, and correcting it, where it laid down a wrong and inadequate object of them…The Confession of Augsburg was erroneous, in that it made the quickening of faith the object of Sacraments. This was the special error of the Lutheran system. They made a man’s own faith, it’s increase or confirmation, not union with Christ or increase of that union, the end of sacraments…Our article states, as the chief object of the Sacraments, that ‘God by them worketh invisibly in us’, and subjoins the mentionof the confirmation of our faith, as a subordinate object…”pp. 195-6.

    Pusey continues fleshing out corrections to the Augsburg by Fox and Heath, going on to Article 26 he says,

    “The words, as they stood in the confession of Augsburg, countenanced the belief, universal among Calvinists and the Zwinglians, that the Word of God and the Sacraments operate in the same way on the soul…Our Article reverses the Lutheran statement, inserting the mention of the ‘word’ where the Lutheran omits it, and omitting it, where the Lutheran inserts it…in order to bring out the doctrine, that the Sacraments especially owe their efficacy to the ‘institution of Christ’; whereas, countrariwise, the Zwinglians and Calvinists believed that the Word and Sacraments had their effect in one and the same way, by kindling faith; the ‘Word’, by hearing; the Sacraments, by sight.” p. 197-8.

    Perhaps the Augsburg attempted to comprehend, by degree, Protestant opinion? I somewhat doubt the Augsburg limited the sacrament to a stirring of faith. However, this restriction seems a more common ailment among Swiss, of which:

    “The Calvinist belief was, that Christ was no otherwise present in the Holy Eucharist, than He was to the Patriarchs or holy men, before He came in the Flesh; that He was no otherwise present in the Sacrament, than out of the Sacrament; that Sacramental and non-Sacramental Communion were one and the same act; and that Sacraments had no other office than to kindle faith.” p. 209-10.

    Regarding another difference with Calvinists vs. England’s confession:

    “Now, as already pointed out, the words ‘given’ and ‘taken’ are correlatives, and mean more than ‘received’. No one who meant to speak of ‘reception’ only, would have used the words ‘given and taken’. Nor does any Zwinglian or Calvinist confession so use them… The words ‘given and taken’ occur repeatedly in the Concord of Wittenberg, and appear there, from the context itself, to be sued of man ‘giving and receiving’. p. 201

    Pusey then grapples article 28. After zeroing in on the use of St. Augustine, “a statement about our Lord’s Nature, so directed, and supported out of St. Augustine, was substituted for the general declaration in the former article, as to the properties of human bodies [sic. ubiquity]… ” p. 191, Pusey then summons a letter by Guest to Lord Burleigh, dated 1566, regarding the use of the term, “only”, given in the footnote p. 203:

    “I suppose you have heard how the Bishop of Glocester [i.e., Cheney] found himself grieved with ye placing of this adverb ‘only’ in this cause it did take away ye presence of Christ’s body in ye sacrament; and privately noted me to take his part therein, and yeasterday in my absence more plainly touched me for the same. Whereas between him and me I told him plainly, that this word only in ye foresaid article did not exclude the presence of Christ’s Body from the Sacrament, but only the grossness and sensibleness in the receiving thereof. For I said unto him, though he took Christ’s body in his hand, received it with his mouth, and that corporally, naturally, and really, substantially, and carnally, as ye doctors do write, yet did he not, for all that, see it, feel it, smell it, nor taste it. And therefore I told him I would speak against him herein, and ye rather by cause ye article was of my own penning. And yet I would not, for all that, deny thereby anything that I had spoken for the Presence. And this was the sum of our talk.
    And this that I said is so true by all sorts of men, that even D. Harding writeth the same, as it appeareth most evidently by his words reported in ye Bishop of Salisbury’s [Jewel’s} book paginna 228, which be these: ‘then we may say, it in the sacrament his very body is present, yes, really, that is to say, indeed, substantially; by which words is meant that his very body, his very flesh, and his very human nature, is there, not after corporal, carnal, or natural wise, but invisibly, unspeakably, supernaturally, spiritually, divinely, and by way unto him only known.”

    An entire chapter is devoted to Article 29, and of the wicked partaking, Pusey explains a second letter addressed to Lord Burleigh, this time by Parker, who aimed to avoid disagreement, truncating Augustine on manduction [which seems to boil down to the question of Judas]:

    “But now, over and above, we know that the framer of the Article meant to express no more. It appears from a letter of AB Parker to Lord Burleigh, that Lord Burleigh had raised a question as to the meaning of the passage of St. Augustine, quoted in the Article. Abp. Parker’s answer is still preserved in his own letter. ‘Sir, I have considered what your honor said to me this morning concerning S. Augustine’s authority in the Article, in the first original agreed upon, and I am still advisedly in mine opinion, concerning so much wherefore they be alleged in the Article.’ But the very expression of the Archbishop implies, that the words might have been alleged for more. No one, in writing English, would say of certain words, ‘concerning so much, wherefore they be alleged in the Article’, unless there were something more, for which they could have been alleged, and were not. Now there are only two points, for which the words could be alleged. 1. the denial that the wicked partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. 2. The denial that they are partakers of Christ. That, for which St. Augustine’s authority is alleged in the Article, does, in the grammatical and idiomatic and Scriptural meaning of the words, stop short of a further point. And Abp. Parker, by saying, that the alleged that authority, only ‘for so much’, says in fact, that he did stop short of alleging it for more. So then, we have clearly Abp. Parker’s own authority, for taking the words ‘are not partakers of Christ’, in their natural and scriptural sense, and not stretching them to any other meaning, which lies beyond, and which, if intended to be conveyed, ought, of course, to have been conveyed in plain, definite English. And in this his judgment as to S. Augustine, I doubt not that Abp. Paker was right; and that, learned as he was, he saw that St. Augustine denied so much only, that the wicked are ‘partakers of Christ’. For St. Augustine himself does often unmistakeably assert, that the wicked do eat the Body and Blood of Christ; that they eat the very same as the good (259)… Yet S. Augustine’s statements that the wicked do receive the Body of Christ, are very distinct…’The Lord Himself endureth Judas, a devil, a theif, and His betrayer: He allows him to receive, among the innocent disciples, What the faithful know to be our Ransom…It was not then, as some think, who read negligently, that Judas received Christ’s Body. For it is to be understood that the Lord had already distributed the Sacrament of His Body and Blood to them all, among whom was Judas also, as St. Luke most evidently relates, etc. [many other quotes from Austin,pp.262-4]”


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