Are there any Reformed articles/books addressing Anglicanism?

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by Myson, Feb 22, 2018.

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  1. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    Are there any Reformed articles/books addressing Anglicanism?

    Besides the RPW, confessional standards, and role of the King in the church, where exactly do we disagree? Has anyone actually addressed these disagreements as they have with Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy? I wouldn't say that Anglicanism isn't Protestant and therefore a 4th line of Christianity, only that I've never seen any arguments against their theology and practice, which, in their Reformed circles, aren't all dissimilar from ours... Or am I completely wrong on that part?

    Actually, can someone just teach me more about Episcopal/Anglican theology and practice outside of the BoCP and (rather broad) 39 Articles? Lol I'm pretty ignorant of this stuf. Thanks!
     
  2. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    You've already hit on the primary points of disagreement--what else are you looking for? We shouldn't shrug off those differences either--our ancestors in the faith were martyred in great numbers over them. Anglican Erastianism is a usurpation of the kingship of Christ over His church and their cultic practices over against the RPW is idolatry, a rejection of liberty of conscience, and ultimately a half-way return to Rome. George Gillespie's Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies is a classic on the matter.

    Nevertheless, traditional Anglicanism is Protestant, especially as espoused by the 39 Articles. That said, the church of England began drifting from the 39 Articles relatively early and even in the 17th century had a decidedly Arminian faction within the church that only grew with time. In the 19th century things went a step further with the Oxford movement and since that time a portion of the church has been, for all intents and purposes, Roman Catholic in an Anglican guise.
     
  3. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Some Anglicans are quite similar to Presbyterianism. I'm reminded of this quote by J.I. Packer:

    “My frequent quoting of the Westminster Confession may raise some eyebrows, since I am an Anglican and not a Presbyterian. But since the Confession was intended to amplify the Thirty-nine Articles, and most of its framers were Anglican clergy, and since it is something of a masterpiece, ‘the ripest fruit of Reformation creed-making’ as B. B. Warfield called it, I think I am entitled to value it as a part of my Reformed Anglican heritage, and to use it as a major resource.” -J.I. Packer in his introduction to his Concise Theology

    There are many faithful, continuing Anglicans and Anglican bodies which are varying degrees of closeness to Reformed theology. This includes the Church of England (Continuing), the Sydney Diocese, and historically the Reformed Episcopal Church (though I hear it's broader now). And good examples of men not long ago would be Bishop J.C. Ryle and John Stott. I realize there are issues in the theology of Stott and Packer, but by and large they are great orthodox, Reformed men who have had a great impact on the church. The main difference between the most Reformed of Anglicans as I can tell and Reformed Presbyterians would be around ecclesiology and doctrine of worship, and even on the latter there are better regulated Anglican worship services than Presbyterian worship services. However, within Anglicanism as a whole there is going to be a wide variety of differences on nearly every issue. I'm not sure one needs to be a Theist to be ordained in parts of the Anglican Communion today.

    That said, looking historically, George Gillespie in A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies was responding largely to the Anglican Richard Hooker who was influential in developing more modern Anglican thoughts on worship particularly. For a good treatment of Presbyterian church government that interacts some with episcopal/Anglican church government, see Church of Christ by James Bannerman. For some good thoughts on the development of evangelicalism and how it relates to the Church of England, see Iain Murray's Evangelicalism Divided which dedicates many pages to the subject, including looking at figures like Packer.
     
  4. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    That's helpful. I guess what I'm wondering is, do they have a different law/gospel distinction, different views on the Virgin Mary and praying to Saints? Prayers of the dead? What about their doctrine of baptism? Is it substanitally any different from the Reformed?

    I guess the real difficulty in all of this is, if I understand correctly, Anglicanism is not anywhere close to being a unified system, and that some parishes are English Catholic, and some are Mainline Liberal, etc. I guess, if there are substantive differences between (for example) our doctrine of baptism and theirs, are there any apologetics against it?
     
  5. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Do they view their 39 Articles in same fashion reformed do various Confessions? And do they see water baptism as really saving one into the NC?
     
  6. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    No idea but I'd love input on those questions
     
  7. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    On all of those questions, you will find the full range from agrees with the Roman Catholic Church to agrees with the Westminster Confession of Faith, even if you stick to those in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Some of these doctrines are reflected in the prayer books in case. For example, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, while generally sound and orthodox, introduced prayers for the dead. The 1662 prayer book is quite orthodox. The 1979 prayer book was one impetus towards a lot of Anglican re-alignment in the U.S.


    Don't think about Anglicanism as an identity any more than Presbyterians as an identity. If you tried to think of Presbyterian Church (USA) who are mainline/liberal, Cumberland Presbyterians who are Arminians, Free Presbyterians (Ulster) who are fundamentalist and allow for credo-baptist ministers/congregations, together as one body together with confessional Presbyterians, you wouldn't have much to group together besides a vague sense of church government. And that's about where you would be with Anglicans. Even Anglicans who are part of the Anglican Communion can be quite loosely connected, as many of the more conservative dioceses have very little communion with the more progressive ones. What makes Anglicanism even harder to define is that it doesn't have as strong of a confessional history and identity as Presbyterianism.
     
  8. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    Isn't the Westminster Confession technically theirs though? I thought I remember Packer stating that it was meant to supplement the 39 articles and that most of its writers were Anglican? Or do you mean they simply chose not to adopt it as their standard?
     
  9. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

  10. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

  11. Moses Costigan

    Moses Costigan Puritan Board Freshman

    The 39 Articles is a confessional document (though not a strongly reformed one) but in conservative reformed Anglican circles it doesn't tend to play the same instructive role as the Westminster Confession does in Presbyterian churches or the London Baptist Confession in Reformed Baptist churches. I think is about the structure of the 39 Articles as a document but also an impact of the fact that we lack a regulative principle of worship.

    In terms of views of baptism, there is a massive range of perspectives..... reformed Anglicans definitely don't teach baptismal regeneration but rather viewing baptism as an outward sign and public profession of one's faith in Christ. Perspectives on infant baptism within reformed Anglicanism dominantly view it as a covenant promise by the child's parents.

    Believing Anglo-Catholics (I use the term because many Anglican clergy, here in Australia at least, have fully apostatised to the point where they question Jesus' historical human existence) would have a perspective similar to Rome's.
    The aforementioned apostate liberals would likely state that baptism is one expression of a tradition of welcoming the children into their community.... i don't think they would view it as having any meaning beyond quaint tradition.

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  12. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, you've hit the difficulty in your question. Anglicanism is a structural identification, it is not a theological one. Being "Anglican" probably tells you less about an adherent's theology than any other denomination out there. For all of the theological variety that occurs amongst Papists, United Methodists, Southern Baptists, etc., there's still more commonality than among Anglicans. About the only thing that holds the church together is a commitment to English Erastianism. That being the case, there aren't extensive apologetics against Anglicanism per se. You have to know what flavor your dealing with.
     
  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    For those who might want to delve more deeply into Anglican theology as it is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, this book can hardly be topped:

    The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles by W. H. Griffith Thomas (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1930), lix + 540pp.

    Check Amazon, etc., for used copies. It reappears in print occasionally, including a 1977 reprint for which J. I. Packer wrote a new preface.
     
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  14. catechumen

    catechumen Puritan Board Freshman

    This may be slightly tangential to this thread, though I hope not completely so. Others have talked about the incredible spectrum in Anglicanism; but what about the spectrum even within evangelical Anglicanism. Things look differently depending where you live. From the little I have seen online, it strikes me that American evangelical Anglicans still retain considerable interest in Anglican ecclesiology and liturgy, and if they are Reformed would count only as a minority in a Reformed world dominated by New Calvinists, Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists. The picture is very different here in Australia; not only is there a considerable Anglican legacy from our history as a British dominion, but the dynamism of the Sydney diocese has led to Anglican ascendancy in the broadly 'reformed' movement.

    Yet 'Sydney Anglicanism' is very different to much of what you might think of as Anglican, and in some ways is different to what a J C Ryle would recognise as 'low church' Anglicanism as well. They are strong on putting the bible first, on biblical theology (Graeme Goldsworthy is probably their best known exponent), on fundamental tenets such as election, justification, etc., and are complementarian. However, they are strongly Zwinglian in their sacramentology (to the extent that there have been some who have argued that the sacraments aren't necessary at all), they are often Amyraldian, they tend towards the 'subordinationist' end of the spectrum in recent trinitarian debates, they believe in no concept of the visible church broader than the local congregation, they hold that worship is 'all of life' and that Sunday 'gatherings' are primarily for mutual edification, not worship, and needless to say they believe in no continuing use for the Decalogue. They can also be quite pragmatic in their ministry set ups and attitudes to church planting. In many ways, the closest North American parallel would be the New Calvinists rather than anything traditionally Anglican.

    Given the growing international influence of Sydney Anglicanism, especially through their flagship institution, Moore College, it frustrates me that there have been almost no confessionally Reformed interactions with their distinctives. Whenever I pick up a book on worship or ecclesiology from traditional Presbyterian circles, it almost never deals with the fundamental biblical theological assault that Sydney Anglicans are making on our essential premises. I acknowledge the many fine things that Sydney Anglicans are doing, both I Australia and across the world, but as a confessional Presbyterian myself I would like to see a more robust engagement with some of their more distinctive tenets.
     
  15. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    Thank you for the insightful comments, Ben. Here on my side of the Tasman, they have impacted a number of Anglican churches in Christchurch, and to a smaller degree, in Nelson and Wellington. I note you are a confessional Presbyterian and I agree with your frustration re the tendency to weaken Reformed confessionalism. Here, the Reformed Churches of New Zealand have a full sister church relationship with the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia and the Free Reformed Churches of Australia. They regard them as solid confessional Churches.
     
  16. Moses Costigan

    Moses Costigan Puritan Board Freshman

    You make some great points here in reference to 'Sydney Anglicanism' the one counterpoint that I would make, as a layman within the Sydney diocese, is in regards to Sunday worship services predominantly being about mutual edification of believers rather than worship fit with my experience. Neither implicitly or explicitly is edification of one's brothers and sisters in Christ given preference over worship. Conversely I have found that the opposite is true...... Worship is very dominantly the primary purpose for gathering together on the Lord's Day.

    Your comments re: pragmatism are spot on, and it's also very consistent with the similarities with the New Calvinist movement (eg the Gospel Coalition and Acts 29 Network) particularly in relation to church planting. Also there is also a pretty strong "programmatic' emphasis and limited age integration (which i find particularly challenging as someone of strong "family integrated" convictions).

    There is an emphasis on the broader visible church but you are correct in that the visible body of the local congregation is given greater attention.

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    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
  17. catechumen

    catechumen Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm glad to hear your experience of corporate worship in Sydney Moses; always helpful to hear from some one on the ground. But the reality is I am simply repeating the sorts of arguments I hear in Presbyterian circles from those who are influenced by Moore College. It doesn't mean they are necessarily poor practitioners when it comes to leading public services or preaching, but I am concerned that the theological underpinnings of their views on public worship will reap bitter fruit in the long run.

    Thank you Stephen for your comments. I actually began life in the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia (PCEA), but for most of my adult life I have found my home in the Presbyterian Church of Australia, or Victoria more particularly. There are many Presbyterian churches in my state that at least have sympathies for confessional positions.
     
  18. Moses Costigan

    Moses Costigan Puritan Board Freshman

    I think that your concern is valid re: worship in the long-term. I have been in churches within the diocese where the use of contemporary Christian music has unintentionally but implicitly altered the theological position along Word of Faith lines because of the uncritical consumption of Hillsong worship music.

    I think that the basis for this is not just the absence of any meaningful form of reformed confessionalism (which definitely plays a part) but also the lack of a regulative principle of worship.

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    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
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