Old High Church Tenets

I normally try to write my own articles, but the following essay by M’ Lord Peter Robinson, Presiding Bishop of UECNA,  is an excellent summary of high church principles. Old High Church– or what best approximates it– today exists in few quarters. The only dioceses which appear to promote such tenets generally describe the UECNA (Bp. Robinson), the Reformed Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Mid-America (DMA), and Petite Riviere/New Dublin (of the late-Rev. Dr. Crouse) in Canada.*  Classical High Church has a potential to create a center for Anglicanism in North America, strongly based on 39 articles and prayer book, where evangelicals and anglo-catholics might find coherence.

*note: since this posting, REC and New Dublin have waded into strange waters. It’s Anglican Rose’s opinion that the landscape has changed. Nonetheless, “Old High Church” might be a common ground for otherwise divergent or conflicting tendencies.

Moreover, old High Church was really the King’s religion and is therefore most representative of the Settlement contra Puritan and Recusant adaptations. However, any revival of classical Anglicanism will require a resuscitation of these High Church tenets, so Robinson’s essays indeed are worth their time in study. The article below somewhat reads together with his second one: broad and central.  I have gathered Bp. Robinson’s greater ecumenical vision here

by the Most Rev. Peter Robinson

Thoughts on Central Churchmanship: Theology for Central Churchmen is very much a continuation of the old High Church, or as some folks called it, orthodox, tradition. We begin first and foremost with the idea that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to Salvation and it corrolary – that orthodox Creedal Christianity can be proved from the Bible. Therefore it is not necessary to waste much time here discussing the Being and nature of God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, Atonement, etc., as Central Churchmen are all in full accord with the traditional teaching on these matters. When it comes to what makes Anglicans different, Central Churchmen basically follow the line of development that begins with Jewel, the wanders its way through Hooker to the Caroline Divines, and then on to eighteenth and nineteenth century High Churchmen like Daniel Waterland, William Van Mildert, Harold Browne, Christopher Wordsworth, etc.. Central Churchmen tend to be mildly Arminian in outlook, believe that baptism confers regeneration, and believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. They also hold with a mild form of the doctrine of Apostolic Succession.

English Arminianism is a little different to that of the Dutch. Theologians such as Lancelot Andrewes objected not to the idea of Predestination as such, but to the doctrine of doublePredestination promoted by some Calvinists – for example, Perkins. They argued that this, to borrow Archbishop Laud’s phrase, “made God the most unjust of tyrants” and they saw double predestination as inconsistent with a loving and merciful God. They also regarded Predestination as preached by some of the Puritans as being anti-sacramental, and the Caroline Divines seem to have held with the idea that Christians exist in a state where we are both saved and being saved. This notion also explains the strong sacramentalism of the Caroline High Churchmen, and of their modern successor of the Central stripe.

Baptismal regeneration as a doctrine can be grossly misunderstood, but in the “saved and being saved” context of the old orthodox Anglican theology it makes perfect sense. Central Churchmen hold that in the absence of any positive will to the contrary on the part of the minister or of the person being baptised, Baptism confers regeneration; the child or person receiving baptism is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, and is made a child of Christ. If they continue in the profession and practice of the Christian Faith they will be saved. It is the duty of parents and godparents (and by extension of the whole Church) to ensure that the child or person baptized is brought up in the Faith. The one thing we have to be quite clear about though, is that Baptismal Regeneration is not some “hocus-pocus” that works independently of the faith of the Church and the faith of the individual, but part of the economy of salvation left to us by Christ Himself.

The Real Presence is something that Central Churchmen believe, but tend not to define. Some Central Churchmen would hold to a position similar to the “high receptionism” of Calvin. Others hold to Virtualism that teaches that whilst there is an objective change in the status of the bread and wine, their natural substances remain, but they become in virtue, power and effect, the Body and Blood of Christ. This protects the notion that Christ is really present, but avoids the murky waters of mediaeval philosophy and the concept that the Eucharistic bread and wine, undergoing some sort of change of substance. Central Churchman also tend to fight shy of too strong a conception of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. It has, however, sacrificial aspects. The first is that it is a commemoration (amnesis) of the one perfect sacrifice once offered, and the second, it is our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for Christ’s saving work. The offering of ourselves in Christ’s service is also part of this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

Apostolic succession is a doctrine that has been much over emphasized by some in the Anglican Church. A fact that makes many Central Churchmen a little uncomfortable. That said, there is no denying that Anglican Orders derive from a continuous sequence of ordinations stretching right back to Apostolic times. In some circles there has been far too much made of this physical continuity of hands on heads, and not enough made of the “other” Apostolic Succession – that of doctrine. Most “middle Anglican” wroters on the subject refer to both aspects. They admit that the concept of Apostolic Succession was first and foremost one relating to the need for the Church to continue in “the Apostles’ doctrine and teaching” and the ordination was both a commissioning by the church to administer the sacraments and preach the Word, but also an attestation to a man’s orthodoxy. Thus in the early church Apostolic Succession was a matter of both ordination and maintenance of the faith once delivered. It was only in the High Middle Ages that a certain hardening of the theological arteries took place and Apostolic Succession became more of a matter of hands on head than rightness of doctrine.

Ceremonial and Ritual: In all of the categories above Central Churchmen reflect the old moderate High Church tradition, so I suppose the next issue that has to be addressed is what differentiates Central Churchmen and Prayer Book Catholics. I think the difference really lies in the attitude of Central Churchmen to the cult of the saints. Central Churchmen certainly revere the saints, but they do not venerate their relics nor invoke them in prayer. Both practices are a bridge too far in the direction of Rome for Central Churchmen. Prayer Book Catholics, on the other hand, find it hard to disapprove of either practice, but point out that neither is to be found in the public liturgy of the Church as laid down in the Prayer Book, and are therefore a matter of individual piety. Prayer Book Catholics and Central Churchmen tend to work together easily because they have a common loyalty to the Anglican tradition. There can be significantly more discomfort when Anglo-Papalists and Central Churchmen come into contact with one another, simply because the former are always looking over their shoulder at Rome – either modern Rome, or that of Pius X. However, so deep was the Central Churchmen’s commitment to “the benign and comfortable air of liberty and toleration” that in the twentieth century Anglo-Papalists only got themselves into the doghouse with Central Churchmanship bishops for doing something completely outrageous such as dropping the BCP in favour of the Latin Breviary, Missal, and Ritual. I personally suspect that this tolerance was a calculated policy in that it denied the Anglo-Papalists the glamour of “mild martyrdom” and slowed the growth of practices not to be found in the BCP.

That attitude to the Anglo-Papalists brings to mind another element in the Central Churchmanship ethos – that of continuity. Central Churchmen were generally committed to the BCP and to allowing worship styles to evolve gradually. Whilst the more committed Anglo-Catholics frequently alienated people by changing the usual Matins and Sermon into a non-communicating High Mass, Central Churchmen stuck with the accustomed format adding Communion services in the early morning, and after Matins, then eventually having a Communion service mid-morning oncea month leaving Matins undisturbed the other three Sundays. For much of the twentieth century the usual Central Churchman parish had three services on a Sunday – an early celebration of Holy Communion, Matins and Sermon mid-morning, and Evensong in the early evening. Generally speaking Central Churchmanship parishes adopted the less controversial ideas of the Tractarians in reviving the full use of the BCP. They often had daily Morning and Evening Prayer, and a midweek Communion. The observance of Saints’ Days was a bit hit and miss, but a parish would probably see a celebration of the Eucharist if the parson thought he would have a congregation.

Central Churchmanship as a whole seems to have been only moderately enthusiastic about Prayer Book revision. The proposed English BCP of 1928 garnered wide support from Central Churchmen, but neither the Broad Church Randall Davidson of Canterbury, nor the Prayer Book Catholic Cosmo Lang of York really wanted the 1928 BCP. When their successors, the Central Churchmanship Archbishop Fisher and the High Church Archbishop Garbett put forward A Shorter Prayer Book in 1948, the Communion service was very largely that of 1662, with material from the 1928 being confined to the ante-communion, Morning and Evening Prayer, and the occasional offices. It was only in the 1960s under the influence of the Parish Communion Movement that Central Churchmen moved towards Communion as the main Sunday service and the adoption of a new Eucharistic liturgy. As a rule, Central Churchmen initially alternated BCP Matins with Parish Communion according to the alternative liturgy, before settling on the latter as the usual Sunday service. The early service and Evensong remained BCP until well into the 1980s in most places.

When it came to vestments and ceremonial, Central Churchmen were not innovators. Seasonal altar frontals and two candles usually appeared on the altar late in the 19th century, as did the surplice choir; the stole gradually replaced the tippet at Communion services, baptisms and marriages; whilst bowing to the altar entering and leaving church, and after receiving Communion became widely accepted among lay people, with the clergy bowing perhaps a little more frequently in the course of the liturgy. Fasting Communion and receiving at te early celebration were the norm from about 1890 through to the 1950s, but it was not as rigidly enforced as in Anglo-Catholic circles. Central Churchmen parishes generally chanted Matins and Evensong on Sundays, and settled on the mildly High Church Hymns Ancient and Modern as their favoured hymnal. The Communion service generally remained said, though there was a tendancy to use Merbeck’s setting when it occurred as the main service on Sundays, and on Christmas, Easter and Whitsunday. In short, the Anglican ethos of the mid-twentieth century as reflected in litierature was very much the creation of the Central Churchman.

In a Central Churchmanship parish, church life in its widest sense was important. Most Central Churchmen would have felt they were letting the side down if they did not promote various societies within their parishes. The old favourites, in addition to Sunday Schools, were the Mother’s Union for women, the Church of England Men’s Society for men, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel – for mission work. Many Central Churchmen were also keen on Scouting with troops of both Scouts and Guides being attached to many town parishes. Large parishes often had attached to them a roster of local groups – knitting circles, youth groups, etc. – which although not specifically Church related used the parish plant as their meeting point. This provided an interface between the wider community and the parish church that kept the Church at the centre of village and small town life. It has probably been the case that disappearence or complete secularization of many of these groups that has done most to marginalize Christianity in England.

As I have said before, Central Churchmen stood for historic Christianity in its Anglican guise. They relied on the Bible, the Early Fathers, and the Caroline Divines, along with a hearty dollop of commonsense in doctrinal matters. Worship was according to the BCP, which they generally regarded as the best liturgy in Christendom, but one not incapable of improvement. Ceremonial was deliberately moderate, with the traditional Laudian idea of the beauty of holiness being given moderate rein. The overall ethos was one of orthodoxy, duty and devotion tempered by an abhorance of fanaticism, the usual British reserve, and a fear of appearing Pharasaical.

18 responses to “Old High Church Tenets

  1. Thanks for republishing this great post. While we all have our individual theological emphases and favorite details of Anglican practice, this exposition of the old High Church position does provide a good framework to consider what is the core of classic Anglicanism.


  2. H Lee Poteet

    The Most Reverend Peter Robinson is, to my mind, the single best example of a classical prayer book Anglican. I think the single thing which impresses me most is that he is clearly not ashamed to be Anglican and not a papist. The major problem we have in the Continuum is that we don’t have a “brand.” Worse, we are afraid to even be branded. Yet I think it is clear that simple and complete obedience to the central tradition of the prayer book would be the very best brand possible.

    What we don’t need to be labeled as is “Old Anglo-Papist High Camp” because that implies a lack of seriousness which is what many see when they visit an ACC or APCK.


  3. H Lee Poteet

    I came back to re-read this post because I very strongly believe in what I believe to be the “Mere Anglican” position. A parish or mission in the Continuum that is “Mere Anglican” will automatically use the last orthodox prayer book of their respective country – and use it fully and as intended by the framers. It will obediently and even joyfully embrace the fullness of the prayer book tradition by accepting that the rubrics of the successive prayer books have meant precisely what they have said and no less or no more. That means that in as much as is physically possible the services of the Church will be daily morning and evening prayer augmented the Litany and Holy Communion of those days (especially Sundays) for which the Book of Common Prayer provides propers or suggests by rubric that a celebration is appropriate and to be expected.

    The chancels will look as Anglican churches did before the introduction of the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and the vestments of the clergy and their assistants will be those in use at the same period – because that is what the rubrics of the English prayer book order and what the framers including the convocations of Canterbury and York expected to be done. The ceremonial as well will reflect ancient English usage which in turn reflected the ancient use of both East and West before the divisions. There will, of course, be differences reflecting the wealth of the congregation and the number of people and their talents available to do what is ordered. These questions being settled the emphasis will be placed upon the preaching and teaching of the Apostles’ doctrine as indicated in Acts 2:42 so that the Apostles’ fellowship can actually be lived.

    I know all this seems unnecessarily radical, but it was my intention to get to the root of the matter (humor intended) with the hope that we could then take a step up into being mere Christians and be seen as such all those who call themselves so.


  4. Hello Bp. Poteet,
    Good to hear from you. I don’t think your proposals are radical at all. However, I’m still wrestling with a number of points you’ve mentioned, and maybe in time I’ll have better digested them.

    First, there is a tendency to define Anglicanism ‘only’ by the prayer book. What does this say about other standards, such as the 39 articles, normally accompanying the BCP and regulating England’s reception of the catholic faith? I am uncomfortable with any position the narrows the scope of standards; however, I don’t think this is your position. Second, I’d don’t think the Prayer Book eliminated all medieval ceremony but carried forward a number as known from the Sarum. An example might be the division of confirmation from baptism, or the use of Gallic/Norman elements found in the marriage liturgy. Lastly, I think Anglicans weren’t entirely oblivious to the Reformation, but they were indeed engaged with Lutheran, Roman, and Reformed churches in what constituted a rather frequent, albeit, critical dialogue. Both concord and refutation are thus found within 16th-century standards. Of course, all these churches have staked out fairly specific positions as what they believed equaled primitive faith and practice. Perhaps their real difference is how much room the gave “reliable centuries”. The Anglicans definitely seem are more optimistic than the Reformed regarding the stretch of orthodoxy while in other areas of dogma Lutherans are willing to draw from a rather late period, contrasted to Rome which makes little or no correction.

    Anyway, I’m not in any fundamental disagreement with what you’ve said, but I wanted to note my only doubts w/ finer points. Indeed, the use of the prayer book in the Henrician sense would constitute a revival of Anglican identity as well as a greater appreciating of the royal faith and ceremonial as witnessed 1532-1718.


  5. Charles,
    One has to define Anglicanism by the prayer book because it is the place that the laity most come in contact with it. The use of the Articles generally affected the clergy only. They assented to them to be ordained and at every time they moved to a new benefice. The laity came to the parish church or the cathedral to worship where they experienced the services of Holy Communion, the daily offices and the Litany. The other three big highlights in their life were the services of baptism, weddings, the churching of women and burial. Most of the rest occured in private. Even ordinations and consecrations were not the big public services that they are now. So it was in the context of prayer book worship they they largely experienced Holy Scripture in the form of the canticles, the psalter and the lessons in the offices and communion services. They would hear the Scripture more than read it by themselves and after it had be read to them it would be explained by the sermon.

    As to ceremonial, one was remember that the sixteenth century was one in which ceremonial connected with the Eucharist changed quickly and radically for the Roman See and those portions of the Western Church most dependent upon it. But ceremonial in France and some other places would have been almost as conservative as in England until the ancient diocesean uses were suppressed a couple of centuries later. So the ceremonial in use among those priests and parishes who were essentially churchmen and not trying to replace the Church of England with either congregationalism or Presbyterianism. would essentially be what the priest did when doing the Latin service. That would mean that it would be very medieval with bows but nothing resembling the Vatican rag of genuflections and the like.

    And yes, there was dialogue with continental Christians, but the Church never officially accepted ministers from the Lutheran, Presbyterian or congregational churches. The bishops of the French Church were quite surprised to find English bishop George Bull defending the Catholic faith. They thanked him for it, but did not understand that what he was defending was the settled theology of the Church of England.

    You missed the point, the humor, of my verbal jabs about radical and root. What I meant was that s simple return to doing the prayer book as the framers intended was and is our best chance of being seen as having a real program.


    • Thanks Bp. Lee. As always you are a wealth of information. I dare add the thirty-nine articles were read quarterly under Elizabeth. Though laity did not make direct contact with the articles, they’d indeed encounter them through the prayer book if not sermons. For the time of both Henry and Elizabeth, the book of homilies was given as an exposition of reformed points of the Settlement which curates might read time-to-time or perhaps model sermons upon. While the 39 articles, along with BCP, were required points of clerical subscription, laity who dealt secular instruction or assisted church discipline likewise were asked to give assent, for example, wardens, clerks, scholars, headmasters, and professors.

      Regarding ecumenicalism with non-Anglican protestants, though England only explored membership in the Schmalkaldic League, the Henrician church is notable for rather vigorous talks with Saxony that led to positive alterations and clarifications of period standards. I would say looking back on the exchange there was more agreed than disagreed. furthermore, the Lutheran and Reformed divines were welcomed in England and often assigned prebendaries and deaneries related to the university. So, amazingly they had a hand in instructing scholars/clergy and often published under royal seal.

      However, by 1565 or so, the more fluid period of protestant engagement came to a slow halt mainly because the possibility a free council expired. Much can be blamed upon Trent as relations were always triangulated with Rome in mind. That said, another argument might be made that England’s last spur with Reformed churches occurred upon the accession of James VI. However, I would assign far less positive results. The Stuarts pursued a policy that was ultimately tragic, trying to unify the churches of their three kingdoms based upon the standards of the English church. However, Reformed treatment of worship (RPW) made this impossible.

      Curiously, the Germans encountered similar problems with Calvinists over both sacrament and ceremony. German princes responded in two ways. They either pursued extremely tough laws against dissent, beheading subjects who taught contrary to a substantial and local presence in the sacrament, or they simply tolerated the Reformed much as England finally did after 1689, the model of toleration coming from free cities in the Holy Roman Empire.

      I agree about the continuation of much Salisbury custom. It would be nice if we tabulated common rites and utensils found in Anglo-catholicism today, identifying which ones were Vatican vs. Sarum. You might notice the Prayer Book Society’s altar pictured here: http://pbsusa.org/ Though it’s just a visual to convey a sense of sacrament, the utensils should be more self-consciously medieval? I’m thinking of the book stand. Rarely are pillows used?


  6. Doubting Thomas

    Perhaps an acceptable alternative label to ‘mild Arminianism’ would be classic or historic ‘Semi-Augustinianism’


  7. Hi Doubting Thomas,
    In this article Bishop Robinson doesn’t really explain the term, “mild arminianism”. He says the English rejecting double predestination, but this hardly defines or characterizes an Arminian position. Lutherans also rejected such, and even the Canons of Dort (5pt. calvinism) favored an infralapsarian interpretation. Therefore, I am not sure what Bp. Robinson meant by this, but this also could be due to the same lack of clarity in the English articles. Bishop Robinson discusses Lancelot Andrewes, and perhaps we should start there? This is one reason I suggested the terminology be clarified amongst Jacobean divines who not only set the articles against Puritanism but expressed significant differences with Dort.

    Where +Robinson says, “English Arminianism is a little different to that of the Dutch”, he means that the English doctors felt “free will” required preventing grace to be fully moral. This is in keeping with the 39 Articles which seem to reject conversion and consequent possession of faith without a first grace, “The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith” (#10). I think Augustine would understand the necessary turning coming from baptism, and this allows Bp. Robinson to enter into his second point–namely, that baptism provides a grace whereby men appropriate faith and therefore forgiveness of sins?


  8. Doubting Thomas

    This is in keeping with the 39 Articles which seem to reject conversion and consequent possession of faith without a first grace, “The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith

    Keep in mind that Arminius himself and the Remonstrants believed in prevenient grace as necessary for saving faith as well–they would agree with the Article you mentioned. Also, the Canons of Orange (529), IIRC the specific affirmation was made that prevenient grace was necessary for anyone (adult) to seek baptism.


    • Hi DT, Actually I did not know the Remonstrants retained preventing grace. I thought there was a difference between them and Arminius? If there were two councils distinctive to Anglicanism, I believe it would be Orange and Frankfurt. Orange articulating preventing grace by baptism, and Frankfurt the proper veneration of images.


  9. And, Charles, just how do either of these two Councils become Anglican?


  10. Doubting Thomas

    When was the council of Frankfurt? I am less familiar with that one. Was that during Charlemagne’s time?


    • Hello DT and Bp. Lee, I’m in the middle of a final but will add to this comment by the end of weekend.

      Some background on the 794 AD Council of Frankfurt: At the time, Frankfurt’s verdict pertained to the German Empire rather than Kent. Charlemagne convoked the council after rejecting the confirmation of Nicea II on behalf of the West by Pope Adrian. Nicea II settled the degrees of acceptable veneration for images. Theodulf of Orleans wrote the rebuttal against Rome, aka. the Libri Carolini, which opposed the Pope’s approval on the ground: 1) Frankish Bishops were absent at Nicea II; 2) images should not be adored. Frankfurt consequently outlined what venerations were acceptable, mainly, approving their benefit for edification yet forbidding the giving of candles and incense to icons. While Frankfurt is often dismissed as an unfortunate misunderstanding or mistranslation of the Greek position by Theodulf, it significantly reject iconoclasmosition, i.e, the Eastern belief that images partook in some degree of the nature of the thing they represented. I believe Theodulf’s confutation of the eastern mystical view of images (sic., Theodore the Studite) is fairly important.

      While I know no formal adoption of Frankfurt through Kingdom of Kent (the see of Canterbury was split by Kentish opponents of Merica), it seems the question reopened during the English reformation whereupon Henry VIII apparently adopted the same position as Charlemagne in his 1536 canons. These same prohibitions against decking images then carry explicitly into the 1543 catechism where Cranmer condemns lights, flowers, and incense by images. However, Jewel is more explicit in the Second Book of Homilies where he discusses the importance of Frankfurt. It appears the Church of England ultimately adopted the middle position, reminiscent of Charlemagne, neither forbidding images nor approving their decking in churches.

      With respect to the Augustinian nature of the English Settlement, for now I’ll fall back on Fr. Hart and Well’s exposition on the 39 Articles. But something more specific about Orange very soon!


  11. Jewel, in his sermon against the Peril of Idolatry, says the Council of Frankfort was summoned to counter the Spanish Council at Eliberi which condemn the veneration of images. Jewel says,

    “For much after this sort do the Papists report of the history of the council of Frankfort. Notwithstanding the Book of Carolus Magnus’s own writing, as the title sheweth, which is now put in print and commonly in men’s hands, sheweth the judgment of that Prince, and of the whole council of Frankfort also, to be against images, and against the second council of Nice assembled by Irene for images; and calleth it an arrogant, foolish, and ungodly council; and declareth the assembly of the council of Frankfort to have been directly made and gathered against the Nicene council, and errors of the same. So that it must needs follow, that either there were in one Prince’s time two councils assembled at Frankfort, one contrary to the other– which by no history doth appear– or else that, after their custom, the Popes and Papists have most shamefully corrupted that council, as their manner is to handle, not only councils, but also all histories and writings of the old Doctors, falsifying and corrupting them for the maintenance of their wicked and ungodly purposes; as hath in times of late come to light, and doth in our days more and more continually appear most evidently. Let the forged gift of Constantine, and the notable attempt to falsify the first Nicene council for the Pope’s supremacy, practised by Popes in St. Augustine’s time, be a witness hereof: which practice indeed had then taken effect, had not the diligence and wisdom of St. Augustine, and other learned and godly Bishops in Afric, by their great labor and charges also, resisted and stopped the same.” (p. 142-143, Second Book of Homilies).


  12. A great history on the old high church party at Hackney Hub: The Curious Case of the Old High Church Part I. The following is a quote from the above article describing the Old High position:

    “A High Churchman in the Church of England tended to uphold in some form the doctrine of apostolical succession as a manifestation of his strong commitment to the Church’s catholicity and apostolicity as a branch of the universal church catholic, within which he did not include those reformed bodies which had abandoned episcopacy without any plea of necessity. He believed in the supremacy of Holy Scripture and set varying degrees of value on the testimony of authorised standards such as the Creeds, the Prayer Book and the Catechism. He valued the writings of the early Fathers, but more especially as witnesses and expositors of scriptural truth when a “catholic consent” of them could be established. He upheld in a qualified way the primacy of dogma and laid emphasis on the doctrine of sacramental grace, both in the eucharist and in baptism, while normally eschewing the Roman Catholic principle of ex opere operato. He tended to cultivate a practical spirituality based on good works nourished by sacramental grace and exemplified in acts of self-denial and charity rather than on any subjective conversion experience or unruly pretended manifestations of the Holy Spirit. He stressed the divine rather than popular basis of political allegiance and obligation. His political principles might be classed as invariably Tory though by no means always in a narrowly political party sense, and were characterised by a high view of kingship and monarchical authority. He upheld the importance of a religious establishment but insisted also on the duty of the state as a divinely-ordained rather than merely secular entity, to protect and promote the interests of the church” (Nockles, 25-26).

    Hackney Hub is becoming a decent resource for old high church history. Another wonderful quote from the Hub, this one from Addison on Hobartian Churchmanship:

    “The High Church tradition as exhibited by Hobart reflected an indigenous, Anglican spiritual tradition based on the Anglican formularies and older High Church tradition as practiced by Laud and the Caroline Divines. A High Churchman, “is distinguished by the great stress which he lays on the sacraments, ordinances, and ministrations of the Church” (Hobart), Addison adds this explanation of the High Church tradition, “The High Churchman expresses his loyalty to the Anglican Communion by stressing the Catholic element in it… [by magnifying] the importance of those characteristics which the Church possesses in common with other Catholic Churches – for example, episcopacy conceived as of apostolic descent; a strong emphasis upon the Sacrament of the Eucharist; a relatively elaborate ritual; and in general a tendency to express the corporate side of Christianity and the objective aspect of religion” (89). Addison adds some observations about both parties (as there was no real “broad church” then) reiterating that both believed in the verbal infallibility of the Bible and generally held to Protestant theology, he adds, “The High Churchman was not then greatly concerned with ritual, and he was vigorously anti-Roman” (90). Holmes adds, “A High Churchman in the tradition of Lancelot Andrewes [and] William Laud … Hobart believed the episcopate, the priesthood, the sacraments, and the visible church to be the appointed channels for God’s grace” (61, 62). However, all historians are clear, the High Churchmen of this period were not ritualists and were rigorously anti-Roman. However, they, “emphasized the distinctiveness and superiority of the Episcopal Church – “the church” – over all other denominations” (Holmes, 62), Holmes also adds that High Churchmen of this variety were often called, “Hobartian churchmen,” “old-fashioned high churchmen,” and “evangelical high churchmen.”

    Needless to say, many of us have been motivated by AB Peter Robinson’s Old High Churchman blog, bringing us closer to classical tenets.


  13. But isn’t all this “Old High Churchiness” just thinking about the past – a tiny, irrelevant miniscule minority which counts for nothing today? I was brought up in what I prefer to call “Village Sarum” or “English Catholic” Church of England. But all that is dead and gone, much and all as we would regret its passing. In today’s real world, we should be pressing “The Way” that Christ taught – and using the best means available to us to do that. Miniscule relics of a past age are not the way. That is why I joined the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church the non-American part – and that is why we use the Sarum Liturgy (Use) in English – and we are free to missionise. I daresay I a mere Priest have more people under me in the Orthodox Western Rite world than almost any of the Old High Church bishops. We are part of The Church that Christ actually founded, yet continuing our genuine English t
    heological tradition from the first millennium.


    • Hello Fr. Michael,
      I suppose the same could be said of WR liturgy? If you don’t mind a plug for Anglicanism: I once considered the possibility of WRO under both the ROCOR and Antioch. However, I find it generally self-debasing, rejecting too much history with an artificial 1054 date, and therefore alienated from the long duree of British & North American identity and culture. It simply lops off too much for a healthy and organic english-catholicity to develop without inducing a kind of schizophrenia. As many know, the worst Orthodox zealots are ethnic converts.

      That said, I am far more favorable to St. Tikhon’s Rite rather a modified Sarum canon since the former is truer to the prayer book and thus closer to our Religious Settlement. I also find it ironic that many converts to WRO have been persuaded by the genius of Carolinian and Tractarian divinity, yet the memory and works of these excellent doctors (especially the Augustinian) are then downplayed, suppressed, and sometimes trodden over in favor of official ‘Orthodox’ theologians, often not measuring up to 16th and 17th century brilliance. Anyway, the St.Tikhon groups within WRO offer something fairly constructive, following conscience where necessary, and I pray they are able to keep positive rapport with Traditional Anglicans found in both the Continuing and sometimes Realignment churches, et al..

      Your comments are always welcomed, Fr. Michael, and please don’t take offense. The above is a true observation re: WR’s basic deficiency. Anglicans already have constitutive elements for revival as found in our prayer book, pre-1958 canons, and the book of articles. These keep the best of the medieval in orders like the ornament rubric while including some liturgical flexibility and the use of a hymn book combining songs ancient and modern. We don’t need to ‘invent’ since these instruments have arrived through an unbroken and living chain of development, as witnessed by pew boxes, hall libraries, and homes of many continuing Anglicans. IMO, that’s not the same breach from history that 1054 demands, and we have less distance to go to (re)win hearts.


  14. Pingback: Anglican Comprehensiveness | As the Sun in its Orb & New Goliards

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