Theses

The following are several theses I wish to develop (much is imperfect), providing a framework for compiling  the so-called Albion Papers. Our use of class meetings, love feasts, and covenant services connects certain theological and historical subjects to current-day Christian practice and Restoration. Also, at the bottom, is a short elaboration on three heads deemed important when neatly summing Anglican identity; e.g., “Protestant”, “Reformed”, “United”.  The catholic side (including the late-Henrician Reformation), which renewed the national principle, I’ve gleamed here  at Anglican Rose.  

  • Where there is no monarchy, the National Church idea is the residue of Royal Supremacy carried over from the Magisterial Reformation from England into Free Republics like the USA.
  • In the United States, the National Church would largely compose itself of historical Dissent, and its organization would necessarily follow a voluntary principle.
  • Anglicanism is likely the single confessional faith stemming from the English Reformation capable of comprehending the widest portion of historical Dissent. Hence, only Anglicanism offers a viable scheme for the national church midst a Free Church or non-conforming majority.
  • Protestant Episcopalianism was uniquely suited for the American environment and circumstances. It was ecumenical and capable of incorporating low churchmen through an older high church or primitive-apostolic theology. In this respect, Methodism, which is a keyway to many revivalistic sects, has a special relationship to Protestant Episcopalianism. Large portions from each are essentially interchangeable.
  • The 1785 Book of Common Prayer’s Preface stands as a commentary to both the current America Preface as well as to the said project above. The Longer Preface is indispensable, and any Prayer Book in America neglectful of it, as well as its principles, is impaired.
  • The American Revival (of the 1740’s), inaugurated by Whitefield’s tour of New England in 1738, substantially softened American Calvinism bringing Dissent, even Edwardsianism, in greater harmony with the main of 18th c. Anglican thought. This was a major accomplishment for transAtlatnic Protestantcy.
  • Protestant Episcopalianism in the USA was conceived between the two Great Awakenings, and it laid out a means for sufficient union wherever a Free Church or unlimited Toleration had become dominant.
  • Contrary to casual observation, the American Revolution did not Democratize the church. The Hierarchical principle remained even among the Dissenting churches where elders have as much potency as the Pope. In other words, ecclesiology is really moot when not strongly based on a general priesthood.
  • The principle of Elitism initially shifted, among the secular, from the King to, say, colonial Governor, county Judge, or district Warden. So, the American civil magistrate was essentially ‘modular’, or swappable, with a principle of monarchy.
  • There isn’t necessarily a contradiction between Elitism and Community. Communities create Elites, yet Elites also create communities. This is important when looking for a Patriot King or ‘One Mighty and Strong’ representing a peculiar people.
  • By and large, the bid to unite Protestants on broad theology failed– not so much by bad theology but ‘bad philanthropy’.
  • Early liberal theology grew out of the dilemma of Anglo-Empires providing a convenient way to adopt “natives”, often times overestimating the value of common grace. This may have been accidental, but, in some cases, it was not. Yet, even here it was still containable.
  • “Anglo-Saxonism”, having its roots in Protestant Succession, represents an apex of development and cooperation among churches. It is a compound term including not only national origin but the concepts of “constitution” and traditions, namely, “Protestant”. This process saw a gradual warming to Anglican-based liturgy and recovery of certain universal doctrine. See “United” below
  • The reconstruction of a common Protestantism will emerge from the slow, grinding implosion of liberal and illiberal projects. Men will begin to contemplate the future through the lens of their past, finding common roots in heroes– a yearning for genuine leaders.
  • In the states, this ‘traditionalism’ might connect Dissent to English church origins without sacrificing the American experience. There is such as thing as “American circumstance”, and its positive good in declaring our peculiar history and ideals.
  • The above will require a self-conscious ecclesia (i.e., religious community or kingdom movement), informed by Dissenting history yet increasingly defined as “Protestant” and “Episcopalian”, perhaps utilizing from time to time, or even accommodating itself to the Articles of 1801, the Quad, and/or American BCP– a rebirth of republican episcopacy or organic religion.
  • The role of King may turn out pivotal in the unfolding of events. However, there is a good chance this King– “one mighty & strong”– will be very different from what we expect, perhaps not even Gentile yet a brother indeed.
  • There is also an ill-defined body of legend as well as popular miracles which simmers beneath an otherwise formalistic faith that we mustn’t dismiss– folk piety counts.
  • Physical Zions will be needed, cities of refuge, even old filibustering. If an empire of Benevolence is to be Restored, we will need many little Zions in our quiver, even nearby Jackson County MO.

The following was published at Anglican Rose 2/2013 (Mr. Peter Robinson, D.D. has since elaborated upon the ‘Reformed’ article with greater precision).

Protestant: In England, Protestantism was known by the Three Articles of 1584, i.e., the Prayer Book, 39-Articles, and Supremacy. In order to unify non-conformists alongside the Anglican church, Parliamentary Acts broadened legal bounds, giving non-Anglicans some liberty with baptism and episcopacy. A Protestant national church remained an important outcome of 1688 revolution, seeking what the King’s Book earlier described, “every Christian man ought to honor, give credence, and to follow the particular church of that region so ordered wherein he is born or inhabiteth”. Later, British-descended countries retained a weakened Erastian concept by codifying certain cultural advantages among Protestants. In the USA, the ‘reduced-Anglicanism’ of the Wesleyans nigh became the national faith. Though Methodist reforms never went so far to become an entire legal Establishment, Protestant Episcopalians were willing to negotiate a national church at an early date, starting in 1785, by adopting latitudinarian proposals for the liturgy. The Quad was a genuine climax of this early sensibility.

Reformed: As a blood relative to various Christian Rulers in Denmark and Germany, the British Crown enshrined the earliest Evangelical consensus within the Church of England, namely, the Altered-Augsburg of 1541. But, upon the passing of first-generation Reformers, continental Lutherans and Calvinists were unable to maintain a doctrinal center. This left England– and for a time some German states– the last bearers of Protestant charity. The foremost concern of early Divines was returning the Church to its Ancient Order. Humanist impulse initially dampened rigid scholastic thinking, facilitating a certain confessional harmony among Continental and English doctors. But, the eventual rejection of the religious framework partly owing to Luther’s death undermined future hopes for a Protestant League. The “Reformed Church of England” is not only understood by Cranmer’s work and the peculiar confessions and collegiality of this era but also purposeful seals of Royal marriage.

United: Under the Imperial system, the “United Church existed by reason of issued Law. As Empire eroded into Commonwealth, colonial Anglicanism began to reorganize itself along synodical and republican lines. In response to this realignment, Canterbury convened colonial and missionary Anglicans in 1867, beginning decennial gatherings at Lambeth. In 1908 Lambeth Bishops described the 1662 BCP as their primary “bond of union”. But, an increasing number of Anglican Free Churches– facing challenges of non-establishment and religious pluralism– favored liturgical flexibility and variety. In the USA these ideas reached concrete form by way of the American BCP, and by the late-1920’s most Anglicans embraced the example of Protestant Episcopalians. If the proposed English book passed parliament, a standard BCP might have emerged to settle the Conference. So, “United” implies Lambeth activities & Encyclicals before 1930, especially those preparatory to BCP revision, suggestive of pan-Angloism.

One thought on “Theses

  1. There is a great deal of thought provoking material here. Thanks for putting this up. I think you are correct that the Anglo-Saxonism of the 19th century and even since the Reformation contained the idea of being Protestant within it. Anglo-Saxonism is the missing ethnic soul of the American people I believe. It was the countervailing force against out of control egalitarianism and cosmopolitanism. Anglo-Saxonism needs to be resurrected in some form if any American ethnic defense is to be made. Otherwise most likely the historic American people will continue to dissolve.

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