This essay was originally written for River Thames (along with Supremacy in the Offices) and, while I normally do not cross-post, this entry is part of a longer series discussing authority in a church where the Crown is absent. It forms a whole together with Reversing Desuetude and Fighting Bishops.
The faldstool in English ceremony was the movable seat otherwise reserved in the chancel as the chair for the visiting Bishop. From the faldstool, an Ordinary passed authority by laying on hands of both confirmed laity and clergy. But the faldstool also doubled as a prayer desk upon pentitential occasions where the bishop rested his arms upon the faldstool’s cushion while kneeling before it. The idea of the bishop’s faldstool representing a throne of authority in the church is embedded the BCP’s litany. From it we learn the peculiar order of authority within the Church of England. Continue reading
"Fighting Bishop" of Cologne, Waldek
The Christian Institution of Man, published in 1537 by His Majesty, King Henry VIII, is a fantastic read. The chapter on “the Sacrament of Orders” is highly recommended, offering a gem on the lawful powers of bishopric– amongst which is found the moderate application of church discipline, historic creation of minor orders, and the use of OT temple ordinances as a model for NT canon law. But especially noteworthy is the larger treatment on the usurpation of Rome against temporal Princes, and how the Pope’s claim to universal power departed from the original limits and nature of the Bishopric itself. The bishopric’s liberties have been treated in an earlier essay, Reversing Desuestude. What follows here is a continuation of Bishop’s right to decide common order in the church.
Note: The Rt. Rev. James Dees (Statesville, NC) left the Episcopal Church over TEC’s escalating “leftism” in 1963 to form the Anglican Orthodox Church. The AOC was one of the earlier Continuing Anglican churches, part of the 1961-65 exodus. As the statement below indicates, Dees has proven himself a modern prophet anticipating later corruptions to faith and order such as recent homosexual blessings. The memory of Dees repeatedly persuades me why I am a Continuing Episcopalian, and how more outspoken men like Dees are needed in the Church today. There a number of other things that might be said, but I hope to save them for comments below. This Statement is a transcript from a now out-of-print and very rare 1962 tract.
the Most Reverend William White
My earlier post explored the implications of “circumstance clause” as found in the 1789 American Prayer Book’s preface. The Reverends White and Smith articulated a majority opinion where ‘circumstance’ meant adopting a classically low church position, favoring the “1689 proposed version” over the 1662 as America’s gold standard after rebellion from Britain. New Englanders held the minority (conservative) view, represented by the Rt. Rev. Seabury, who believed no change necessary other than the minimal omission of state prayers. How far the American Revolution would change Anglicanism was elaborated upon by William White in 1782. White’s Case of Episcopal Churches circulated as a tract asking Anglicans to consider a church organized by Whig rather than Prelatic principles– an American peculiarism if you will. Of particular interest was White’s suggestion that under certain circumstances laymen might ordain clergy if not form an irregular episcopate.
Rev. Dr. William Smith 1785
Thus far Anglican Rose has assumed the English Church a template for the American, but we have yet to consider how far England’s example reaches. The Preface to the American Prayer Book says when the books of each church are compared, ” it will also appear that this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or further than local circumstance require.” The ‘local circumstance’ clause is often understood as alterations in the prayer book by consequence of the Revolution, namely the amending or omission of certain state prayers. But the Preface seems to indicate further possible changes according to “the exigency of times and occasions”, and this leaves quite a large door open.