How Puritans Shaped Anglicanism

Some will not like reading this, but Alec Ryrie cannot be canceled so readily .

Between the Elizabethan settlement and the English Civil War, the Church of England was unapologetically a Reformed Protestant church. It was also much closer to being a truly national Church than it has ever been since. This has left some awkward legacies to later Anglicanism. The fact that many Puritans were driven into nonconformity after the Restoration has given rise to a wholly unjustified myth among Anglicans: that Puritans had been cuckoos in the Church of England’s nest since the beginning, and so are not truly a part of Anglicanism’s history. The majority of Anglicans are in long-standing denial over their Puritan heritage, reluctant to recognize that these people are part of Anglicanism’s story — and fully so, not on sufferance. Meanwhile, a minority strain within Anglicanism is so enthusiastic to claim England’s Protestant, Puritan Reformation as its heritage that it asserts that Reformation ought to be normative for Anglicanism, not merely a strand within it.

The plain facts are, first, that the Church of England was once a mainstream Reformed Protestant church; and second, that is is not any more. How it, and the English-speaking world more widely, should deal with that mixed heritage is a story of two books.

The Book of Common Prayer is the more complicated of the two. When Thomas Cramner introduced its first two editions in 1549 and 1552, it was an alarmingly radical engine of reform. . . this new English ‘common prayer’ was intended to be a united voice, in which the minister spoke to the people as much as to God and in which the greatest part of worship was instruction. The outwardly traditional elements of the new liturgy were a digestif intended to make two novel features palatable to a largely conservative people: first, the huge slabs of the Bible that comprise the bulk of most of the services; and second, the robustly Protestant theology that is texts taught. . . . But when the Prayer Book was re-imposed by Charles II in 1662, although its text was virtually unchanged from a century earlier, its meaning was reversed. Despite its title, it no longer aspired to national ‘common prayer.’ It was an instrument of division, not of unity. It was designed to smoke out those who wished to remain part of the national church but could not tolerate this half-reformed liturgy. . . .

The second book is of course the English Bible. The English Reformation produced no theologians of European stature, but in Tyndale it did produce a truly great translator. It is a plain fact that he did more than any other individual to shape the modern English language, and that the English Bible he set in motion would become central to English identity for centuries. (The English Reformation, 63-65)

Why Do Anglicans Get a Pass?

Anyone familiar with debates over two-kingdom theology have also encountered the argument that allegedly proves this outlook’s error — namely, that Lutherans were 2k and it led them not to offer any resistance to Nazi Germany. Case closed. But here‘s an example of that logic — more like a claim:

the charge made against Luther is not that he made theological errors that led his followers astray in their private religious lives. On the contrary, the accusation is that Luther’s beliefs and actions led to disastrous historical consequences, not only in the Germany of his time (with the Christian submission to the princes and the slaughter of the peasants), but in the Germany of the twentieth century, when Lutheran Christians failed to resist the rise of Adolf Hitler. These charges are extended to Lutheran communities in South Africa and Chile, for example, which allegedly identified themselves with an unjust status quo on the basis of their Lutheran convictions. Further, so the indictment goes, the Lutheran accommodation to the Communists in East Germany is a confirmation of Troeltsch’s judgment that Lutheranism will comply with any political establishment. It has no social ethic on which to take a stand against worldly powers.

The thing is (maybe only “a” not “the” thing) that bishops and theologians in the Anglican church, especially under Elizabeth, James I, and Charles I (roughly 1570 to 1650) went Lutherans one better. They did not commit the supposed error of separating the church from the state in a way that left minsters without a voice in politics (a prophetic one, of course). Anglican theologians actually argued for the supremacy of the crown over the church and insisted that this was God’s will as revealed both in nature and Scripture. Imagine trying to find an argument for resistance to a selfish and bloated ruler when your queen or king is not merely the head of the church (instead of Christ) but also the divinely appointed guarantee
of order and truth in church and society.

Consider the following summary of Richard Hooker’s views (he was the author of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity and lived between 1554 and 1600):

The political philosophy of Hooker is an integral part of his defense of the Erastian relationship of the Church of England and the Tudor monarchy. He was commissioned to supply the reasonable foundation for the existing establishment. Hooker writes from the standpoint or a conservative impelled by the exigency of the time to justify the status quo. In order to prove that the Puritan contentions were inconsistent with the political structure of England, he was obliged to examine the nature or the State and the sources of authority. He hoped to show that criticism or the Anglican Church and refusal to conform to the Elizabethan Settlement could not be rationally justified. He had concluded in Book III that the Scriptures do not require a particular form of church polity, and thus, demonstrated that the Church of England was not contrary to either the Word of God or to reason. His doctrine that resistance to authority can be vindicated only in the case of immoral law condemns the Puritan position as a denial of the fundamental nature of political obedience.

The motivation for Hooker’s conservative political theories and indeed for the philosophical and theological work as a whole, was an intrinsic fear
that a general acceptance of the doctrine of private revelation would lead to spiritual chaos and civil confusion. Hooker distrusted the extreme individualism of Puritanism, alarmed by the possibility that it might replace the corporate spirit of the English State. For the all-embracing cause of public order, Hooker was willing to submit private interpretation to public reason determined by the law of the legislature. He believed that a rational decision of a Parliament or Convocation was more likely to be in accordance with the will or God than the inspiration of a saintly individual. (pp. 19-20)

Of course, no English monarch measures up on the scales of heinousness crimes to Hitler (though most governments commit unjust actions and hurt innocent people). That is not the point. Nor is this an case of an American who takes democracy for granted taking exception to what looks like an odd form of government. Actually, The Crown portrays monarchy in a way that has this American second-guessing (even more) the powers of POTUS.

The question is why the critics of two-kingdom theology who fault it for an inability to resist tyranny (or its mistaken detection of tyranny) don’t see the much greater dangers that lurked in English bishops who sidled up to English and British monarchs. They did so not only for the sake of administering the church. They also made the case for divine-right monarchy in a way that made dissent sinful.

One Take Away from Royal Wedding

Baptism matters.

The bride, Meghan Markle, we learned, grew up in a Christian home but was never baptized. For shame. What kinds of churches don’t sweat the Great Commission, as in “baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost”?

Q. 94. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Q. 95. To whom is baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized. (Shorter Catechism)

So, a little less than three months ago, in order to belong to the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury baptized Ms. Markle:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, confirmed that he baptized the former “Suits” actress into the Church of England last week. Though he admitted he can’t reveal much about the actual ceremony, which took place at St. James’s Palace in London, he described it as “very special.”

“It was beautiful, sincere and very moving,” Welby told ITV News in a report published Friday. “It was a great privilege.”

Of course, baptism in a state church context means that the sacrament carries more baggage than it should:

Meghan Markle’s baptism, by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is a necessary precondition for her marriage to HRH Prince Harry, younger son of the Prince of Wales and currently fourth in line to the throne of the United Kingdom. Her May marriage will bring her into the Royal Family, and attendance at Church of England services from time to time will be part of her public life — from Christmas Day in a village church in Norfolk to formal gatherings marking national events in Westminster Abbey. Hence the baptism.

But the point stands. To belong to the church means receiving the mark of the church. And access to the Lord’s Supper requires (along with true faith and belonging to a faithful church) being baptized. Heck, even to marry another church member (of a faithful — or gospelly — communion) means needing to be a Christian, which means needing to be baptized.

So none of this Jesus in my heart, be a part of the fellowship, feel the buzz of the Spirit without the rites and ceremonies of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the word preached and read. The Church of England may gum up the ecclesiastical works by tying matters of state to church forms. But they followed the right pattern in this case by requiring baptism for church membership.

When Did Sex Become Orthodoxy?

This is how you know when the Church of England goes over the cliff:

I left the Church of England when, in 2008, it became clear what the inexorable trajectory had become. Wherever it leads, it doesn’t lead to orthodoxy and will always be shipwrecked on the rocks of secular liberalism and cultural Marxism. Secular liberalism rejects the Church’s notion of the complementarity of the sexes – male and female having separate and distinct roles within the economy of salvation – and cultural Marxism would do away entirely with the biblical teaching on marriage and the family. Both liberalism and Marxism reject the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

Aside from the difficulties that Rome is not enduring with debates about marriage, divorce, and homosexuality (not to mention the sex scandal), why is sex such an indicator of sound doctrine? The only reproduction mentioned in the creed is the divine conception of the incarnate Christ.

But if you want to be on the Christian side of the culture wars, avoiding churches that ordain women and that prohibit abortion is apparently the preferred strategy for those who either have never heard of the NAPARC churches or who think evangelicalism is tacky.

Vatican Sporting Scene

While Jason is knee-deep in Eucharist studies and Bryan is trying to wrap his mind around Vatican II, officials in Rome are engaged in various competitions. First, a story about cricket as the new evangelism:

The Holy See has plans to finally beat the Church of England at its own game: not in a theological debate, but on the cricket field. The Vatican has a new cricket club that aims to encourage dialogue between cultures, as well as growing virtue among the athletes, both on and off the field.

“The idea was if we start a cricket club, cricket being so popular in the whole of the East, especially in the Indian subcontinent, we could start a dialogue through cricket,” said Father Theodore Mascarenas.
Father Mascarenas is a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, overseeing the departments for Asia, Africa and Ushuaia (capital city of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina). He is also the new chairman for the Vatican cricket team, called St. Peter’s Cricket Club.

St. Peter’s Cricket Club currently has several different objectives. The first is to organize a tournament among the various colleges in Rome, which, according to a survey done earlier this year, will be able to count on roughly 300 players and supporters from the city.

Eventually, the club hopes to challenge the Church of England to a match and aims in the future to play teams from Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist educational institutions in order to fortify relationships and dialogue with various cultural communities.

Of course, no one would really see much of a contest in theological debates with the Anglicans. What is of interest is the emerging debate between Pope Francis and Archbishop Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

Given that Pope Francis has himself spoken of the need to take a new look at the situation of divorced and remarried, and has convened a Synod of Bishops for 2014 to discuss this and other issues, it’s legitimate to wonder where the church is really headed: substantial change or another dead-end debate.

The archbishop makes several important points:

— He underlines that, in his view, this is not simply a pastoral question but a doctrinal issue that involves the church’s theological understanding of the sacrament of marriage. He states categorically that the Orthodox practice of allowing second or third marriages under certain circumstances “cannot be reconciled with God’s will” – which is interesting, considering that Pope Francis himself has referred to the Orthodox practice without explicitly repudiating or endorsing it.

— Muller pointedly rejects the argument that the individual conscience can be the final arbiter on whether a divorced and civilly remarried Catholic can receive Communion. Again, there seems to be a contrast in tone with Pope Francis’ own recent remarks on the duty to follow one’s conscience.

— In what appears to be a remarkably direct response to Pope Francis’ call for “mercy” as the framework for dealing with divorced and remarried Catholics, Archbishop Muller says that “an objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive.”

Do Jason and the Callers have an opinion about any of this? Would any of this matter to their projection of Rome as savior from error? Perhaps they are playing a different game.

Locating the Source of 2K Objections (aside from theonomy and Neo-Calvinism)

I would prefer not to encourage these guys (don’t worry, discouragement is coming) since the Calvinist International provides a highly dubious reading of Reformed Protestantism. But because the Aquila Report (an equal-opportunity aggregator, they even link to Old Life) gave their views on Hooker, Calvin, and political theology a measure of respectability, some response is in order. For a better and more thoughtful response, continue to keep an eye on Matt Tuininga’s blog (with whom the Internationalists have been carrying on a fairly vigorous debate).

In their own words, here is the heart of the matter:

The matter of the controversy can be briefly summed up. We say that the Kingship of Christ is of universal extent, and in two ways: the first spiritual, invisible, immediate and pertaining to the just, though eschatologically and cosmologically universal; the second temporal, visible, mediate and pertaining to all. We say the original two kingdoms of the Reformers means those two modes, the invisible and the visible, not the ministry and the magistrates, both of which are on the visible side. They say that the church is a politically distinct group of people who have no real investment in the temporal realm, but are temporally governed by ordained leaders representative of God by divine right, and that Christ’s kingship is exclusively over it and not over creation or the commonwealth. We say that the church is primarily invisible, but that its temporal profile is a vast multitude, the corpus christianorum, which in situations where the whole community has not recognized the kingship of Christ, constitutes a voluntary schola, but in situations where the community has formally and representatively recognized Jesus’ Kingship, is basically coterminous with the commonwealth. They call our position “Erastian” or “Zwinglian,” and say that Calvin was up to something fundamentally different.

(I have finally figured out who this “we” is — I do find its repeated use by the Internationalists dumbfounding since when I claim “we” on my wife’s behalf I generally pay for it once the guests leave. It is Wedgeworth (W) and Escalante (E) who seem to have more agreement than most couples.)

This is, by the way, one of the oddest readings of church polity since it would seem to make the visible church a matter indifferent to the spiritual and invisible church. As long as you belong to Christ, it doesn’t matter what the preaching, sacraments, ordination standards, or worship patterns are in your own church. Of course, WE don’t say this, but it is an implication of THEIR view and seems to be how church life played out in the Church of England — a communion that their beloved Richard Hooker defended.

THEY go on to say:

In pointing to Hooker as the better reader of Calvin, and in saying that the idea of a Christian commonwealth is normative, we have been repeatedly, and despite repeated clarifications, misconstrued as “theonomist” or “Erastian” by Dr. Darryl Hart, who seems to think that we wish for an authoritarian State applying the Mosaic penal code, when the opposite is in fact the case. Neither Hooker nor Calvin is our regula fidei, and we are happy to adapt their principles appropriately within the context of the modern order of political freedom- an order which only follows from those Protestant principles. Still, we do claim the history for our side. We share the basic theological principles of the Reformation, and specifically those of Luther, Calvin, and Hooker. We hope our contribution can be the accurate genealogy and specific application of the older principles in the 21st century context.

What we have recovered is what seems to us the classical Protestant doctrine of politics. In particular, we have said that the two kingdoms do *not* directly correspond to the two estates of magistracy and ministerium, but rather, that both magistracy and ministerium are within the temporal kingdom.[4] Our opponents do, however, identify the two estates with the two kingdoms respectively.

What is important to see is that WE claim not to be Erastian and THEY also claim that Hooker is the better interpreter of Calvin than Thomas Cartwright or anyone else who holds to jure divino Presbyterianism. That jure divino view, by the way, was an effort to assert the autonomy of the church from the oversight of the state and to claim for the visible church the real keys of the kingdom and the power of excommunication. One of the reasons that folks like Hooker didn’t want the church to have such autonomy or power was that it might give back to the papacy authority that Anglicans understandably didn’t want the Bishop of Rome to have. A contemporary application for those associated with Federal Vision is that if the church doesn’t have such authority, then Federal Visionaries won’t face church discipline, because the magistrate sure isn’t going to do it.

What gets particularly difficult for WE’s interpretation of Calvin and Hooker — not to mention Calvin’s own discussion of church polity in Book Four or Ursinus Zacharias’ commentary on the keys of the kingdom in his companion volume to the Heidelberg Catechism — is the way THEY invoke W. J. Torrance Kirby, a scholar of Zurich and England’s political theology who teaches at McGill University. In his book, The Zurich Connection and Tudor Political Theology, Kirby would seem to regard Bullinger, Hooker, and WE as Erastian and as different — even hostile — to Calvin.

The influence of Zurich theology is particularly evident in the theory underpinning the political institutions of the Elizabethan Settlement, chief among them the Royal Supremacy, the lynchpin of the constitution. In his defence of the royal headship of the church in the 1570s against the attacks of the disciplinarian puritans Thomas Cartwright and Walter Travers, John Whitgift, then Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, relied closely on the political writings of Vermigli, Bullinger, and two other prominent Zwinglians – Gualter and Wolfang Musculus of Berne. Whigift’s so-called “Erastian” conception of society as a unified “corpus christianum,” where civil and religious authority were understood to be coextensive, takes its name from the Zinglian theologian Thomas Lieber . . . alias “Erastus” of Heidelberg. The controversy between Whitgift and promoters of the Genevan model of reform in England is in many respects a replay of the dispute on the continent between Erastus and Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor in Geneva. Richard Hooker’s celebrated defence of the Elizabethan constitution published toward the end of the century is an elaboration of the same Zwinglian-Erastian political theology. It is worthy of note that Hooker’s patron while at Corpus Christi College in the late 1560s and early ‘70s was John Jewel, Vermigli’s disciple and secretary who had earlier followed his master into exile at Zurich. . . .

The heart and substance of Bullinger’s prophetical office with respect to England was to defend, to interpret , and to promote the Civil Magistrate’s pivotal role as the supreme governing power in the ordering of religion in the realm. . . Strange though it may appear, the institution of the Royal Supremacy with its hypostatic conjunction of supreme civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the Prince, constitutes for Bullinger a vivid exemplar of the unitary character of Christian polity, and also of the distinction and cooperation of magisterial and ministerial power. From the standpoint of Bullinger’s unique covenantal interpretation of history, it is certainly arguable that the Old Testament exemplar is more completely realised under England’s monarchical constitution than under the republican conditions of Bullinger’s own city and canton of Zurich.

In other words, if Kirby is right, contrary to WE, Hooker is not following Calvin but is tracking with the Erastians, Bullinger and Vermigli. At this point, WE’s point about continuity between Calvin and the Church of England would seem to go up incense. Also, THEIR reading of the Reformed tradition, which virtually ignores the important disagreements between Zurich and Geneva, looks like another case of historical cherry picking.

But aside from the historical debates, what the disagreement between WE and Tuininga also reveals is that opposition to the contemporary recovery of 2K is coming not simply from theonomists or neo-Calvinists but from Zwinglians. And what all of these forms of protest share is a high estimate of the state compared to 2k’s assertion of the church’s legitimate access to the keys of the kingdom. Whether it’s a case of not trusting the church, or sensing that circumstances need a solution more effective than word, sacrament, and discipline, the critics of 2k enlarge the kingdom of Christ so that the officers responsible for guns and bombs have power to enforce a Christian community.

I understand the frustration with church power. I wouldn’t want to be disciplined any more than Peter Leithart, and I recognize that church discipline is hardly binding in a society where religion is largely private and personal. What I don’t understand is pining for sixteenth-century England or Geneva. Calling on the magistrate to help with church work, after all, did not work out so well. Don’t these folks ever consider the important connections between established religion and liberal theology? Bullinger and Hooker perhaps could not since they were only a handful of decades into a disrupted Christendom or the rise of the nation-state. But for folks living over four hundred years from Erastianism not to see its faults is stunning.

Two Kingdom Tuesday On Where's Waldo Wednesday

I have encountered what seems to me a strange notion — in several places where Federal Vision Worldviewism has left its mark — that the differences between Reformed and Anglicans are not that great, and that historically speaking it is wrong to distinguish them. Along with this perspective usually comes great regard for Richard Hooker as providing a proper critique of the Puritans’ ecclesiology and a correction to Calvin’s excesses.

But when you consdier the way the Dutch Reformed and the English Anglicans (I know it’s redundant but you need a place and a tradition and the English made the mistake of confusing the two) related in colonial New Netherland (later New York), you may understand why the Reformed churches were not wild about the English or the way they ran their church. The following is an excerpt that should point Reformed Christians away from the Canterbury Trail (high church Calvinism doesn’t need a bishop):

Dutch Calvinists had brought this notion with them to the New World. Writing in 1628, Dominie Jonas Michaelius, the first clergyman in New Netherland, conceded that although “political and ecclesiastical persons can greatly assist each other, nevertheless the matters and offices belinging together must not be mixed but kept separate, in order to prevent all confusion and disorder.” Indeed, quite often throughout the New Netherland period the clergy and the West India Company directors-general found themselves at odds; the most notorious such conflict occurred between Domine Everardus Bogardus and Director-General Willem Kieft, who battled each other so fiercely that they sailed together back to Holland for arbitration only to be shipwrecked and perish off the coast of Wales.

This adversarial relationship of church and state was foreign to Restoration Englishmen, however. Building on the writings of Thomas Erastus, a sixteenth-century political theorist, Anglicans believed that the church should be subject to the powers of the state. Richard Hooker, apologist for the Church of England, wrote that “there is not any restraint or limitation of matter for regal authority and power to be conversant in, but of religion whole, and of whatsoever cause thereto appertaineth, kings may lawfully have charge, they lawfully may therein exercise dominion, and use the temporal sword.” (Randall Balmer, A Perfect Babel of Confusion: Dutch Religion and English Culture in the Middle Colonies, pp. 20-21)

It does seem that most of the Reformed leaning folks today who advocate that magistrates get the true religion and enforce it (good and hard) are largely Erastian, while the 2k position is deeply rooted in those Reformed theologians and pastors that were always opposing Erastus and the magistrates who appealed to him. I guess another option is out there. Theonomy.