Category Archives: Erastianism

Our Chapel’s Hermeneutic

de Bibliotheca de Annapolis

Perhaps it’s well-known that Anglicans suffer an acute identity crisis. Once modern higher criticism– with its advanced social agenda– is questioned, we’re often left to ponder the war-weary and topsy-turvy landscape left behind by Victorian Party strife. However inimical to one another these factions might have been, they seem to often mutual in their abuse or dismissal of the Georgian Church. Such joint-criticism usually amounts to the 18th-century Era being characteristically sluggish, superficial, worldly, and excessively whiggish. However, the 18th-century– called by some historians the peak of the Church of England’s “Long Reformation”– was likely ‘torpid’ for very good reasons; namely, it was a relatively stable and triumphant period for the Established Church. And, if the stagnant nature of the Georgian Church is true, why not ground one’s hermeneutic upon the Divinity which advanced this relative dominance? This post will briefly discuss something of the historical framework our blog, Anglican Rose, has been slowly moving toward as well as our other related projects.    Continue reading

Degrees of Benevolence


the Good Samaritan

Modern liberals have basically run amok with the Christian notion of Love, turning it into a radical leveling or egalitarian creed disconnected from other salutary virtues such as Duty or Justice. The older Protestant view better joined these categories. I’ve discussed this subject in relation to John Wesley’s recommended ‘circles of reproof‘ with the second-half of the same essay touching wider Anglican divinity. Not long thereafter I came across the same in Bishop Gilbert Burnet’s Exposition of the Church Catechism, and it appears to be quite a familiar notion in England’s Long Reformation as to what it means to ‘love thy neighbor’. Below are relevant extracts from Burnet’s Exposition coupled with his late-contemporary, the Rev. Dr. White Kennett, on Christian charity.  Continue reading

Prayers Abroad

Prayers at Sea (1717 engraving)

The Forms of Prayer given at the back of the 1662 BCP contain an echo of Anglican polity before Lambeth. They belong a time where the Kingdom of Great Britain had spread her branches far across the globe by merchant and colonial enterprise. With Navy crews and Company plantations naturally followed the rites of the English Church, which the Diocese of London regulated, keeping common order and uniting prayers of scattered communities. The Prayers for Use at Sea  hearken back to this era, evidencing the old jurisdiction before revolution.

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The Crown’s Style

King Henry VIII and Emperor Maximilian

The English Crown’s title, “King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c.”, somewhat summed Anglican polity before the rise of the Quadrilateral and Lambeth Communion. Lambeth was a devolutionary answer to the crisis of Empire that resulted in creating a number of equally independent churches. Before Lambeth, Anglican churches weren’t based on popular sovereignty but royal Supremacy. This resulted in a communion with degrees and hierarchies– some nearer, some further– in the Church of England. And, because Anglican colonial government likewise centered on establishment, the style marked proximity to an ecclesiastical center. When Lambeth formed in 1887, it’s national character rejected the original regiment based on supremacy (1). Continue reading


Bishop Ridley of London 1550

Among the Oxford Martyrs burnt at the stake by Queen Mary on Oct. 16th 1555 was the Anglo-Lutheran divine, Nicholas Ridley. As Bishop of London under Edward VI, Ridley signed the patent of succession against Mary for Lady Jane Gray’s enthronement, sealing his fate with the subsequent fall of the Seymour House. But less known than his martyrdom, was Ridley’s ardent defense of Church law against John Hooper’s vestment controversy. Ridley’s defense against private opinion in areas of ritual established the general argument used by Prayer Book apologies. Continue reading

The Royal Issue

Queen Sophia

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

Necessary Doctrine and Erudition

Bishop John Stokesley

The 1543 English catechism, known as the King’s Book, officially titled A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man, often is described as reversing the England’s move toward Protestantism. However, earlier formularies, be it the 1537 Bishop’s catechism or Ten Articles, have no fundamental disagreement with Henry’s alleged Romanism. This is more apparent when Protestant confessions are understood as possessing two ‘sorts of laws’ (as Hooker might say)—those dealing with church order vs. doctrine. The King’s book, like the Ten Articles which it is based upon, maintains this necessary difference, and, while it remains stubborn against certain Protestant views (namely, the Mass), it is consistent with the development of earlier English thought. Hopefully, a study on Necessary Doctrine will not only show the early date of English Confessionalism, but also how Protestant/Evangelical ideas were fundamental to Henrican ceremony.
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Institution of Ministers

christchurchparishNicely, the 1928 Office of Institution, included as part of the Ordinal, conveniently contains a section which delineates our standards of faith. We might call these standards, “the Books of the Church”. Together they sum Anglican Faith, Order, and Worship. Churches that use the 1928 prayer book might want to re-examine the same Institution Office, an office first known to the American version (1).
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The King’s Allegiance

guy fawkes

Powder Traitors

When Anglican standards were traded for indiscriminate ecumenicalism (a long process), the Reformation suffered a tremendous blow. On one side, it allowed Anabaptist and Presbyterian ideas to seep into Anglicana’s Evangelical wing. On the other, Anglo-Papism eventually replaced the historic High Church party. The twentieth century victory of Anglo-Papism prepared the way for today’s Personal Ordinariates, which threatens chewing off some Anglo-Catholics from the conservative rump. Retaining ideas behind Supremacy might counter   future invasions like the Ordinariate.  Continue reading

Oath of the King’s Supremacy

Bp. Gardiner

Bp. Gardiner

The Ordinal, published in 1553, was not included in the Act of Uniformity until 1571. Inside, amongst the many prayers and collects of the Ordinal, are the Litany and the King’s Oath, giving insight into Cranmer’s theology of Royal Supremacy. The Oath and Litany illuminate England’s Erastian system– its multiple centers of authority as covenanted nation and the depth of power claimed by the King.

Regarding Supremacy doctrine, Cranmer was not Henry’s sole architect. Between Henry VIII and Edward VI, several reputable divines argued for the King’s prerogatives in the Church. Bp. Stephen Gardiner in 1535 published On True Obedience, “He is the prince of his whole people, not of a part of it, and he governs them in things, not in some only; and as the people constitute the Church in England, so he must needs be the supreme head of the Church as he is the supreme head of the people”.  Likewise, in writing Henry’s Visitation Articles, Thomas Crumwell described the Crown’s ecclesiastical powers, “to exercise, provide, and exert all and all manner of jurisdiction, authority, or power ecclesiastical, which belongs to him as supreme head”.  William Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man forms another opus elaborating Erastian power in order to extirpate the Pope. Sir Edward Coke, England’s legendary 17th century jurist, charted the Crown’s historical claims for supreme rule in the Church from William I to Henry II.  Continue reading