Is Anglicanism Reformed?

The very title of this post will give some folks the vapours, as they have been brought up in the Post-Tractarian World in which, if Anglicanism is seen as Reformed at all, it is with a small ‘r’ that is immediately followed by the word Catholic. No one on the Reformed side of Anglicanism would actually disagree with this, but they would define Reformed in more stringent terms than merely knocking a few mediaeval barnacles off the ark of salvation.

The argument that Anglicanism belongs to the Reformed family of Churches starts with the nature of the English Reformation itself. Unlike many of the German principalities, England had a slow reformation – lasting from approximately 1533 to 1604, though the main phase ended in 1571 with the publication of the final version of the Articles of Religion. However, before we run off with the idea that the Articles had fundamentally changed their character, it has to be remembered that the 1563 version of the Articles was also in the Reformed camp, as were the Forty-two Articles of 1553 that preceded them. You would have to go back to the unpublished Thirteen Articles of 1537/8 before you found a Lutheran statement of faith produced by English Churchmen, and even then it is very hesitant, being the product of Thomas Cromwell’s pro-German policy in the run-up to the Cleves marriage.

If one looks at the two main confessional documents of the English Reformation, the (39) Articles of Religion, and the Book of Common Prayer, a series of propositions emerge that definitely put the Church of England into that strand of the Augustinian Theological tradition which we call “Protestantism” and furthermore, to put it into the subset known as “Reformed.” So let us spend some time looking at these formularies in turn.

The Articles
The 39 Articles have a fairly extensive pre-history in that Cranmer had been working on a confession for the English Church on-and-off since 1536. However, a factor one has to contend with is that Cranmer himself evolved theologically throughout his adult life from a humanist Catholic, to a ‘Lutheran’ to someone who held a theological position that may be labeled ‘Reformed.’ The question when looking at statements of faith, sermons, and other documents that come from his pen is ‘when?’ Cranmer was cautious in his public pronouncements avoiding make controversial statements until he thought he had the full support of those in authority over him. It seems likely that Cranmer moved from the Lutheran to the Reformed camp sometime before 1545, but as late as 1548, in response to the need for a reformation catechism, he allowed the publication of the Catechism of Justus Jonas, a Lutheran work. However, the 1549 BCP show the influence of Bucer and Melanchthon so that, even though the format is very conservative, the doctrinal passages, such as the exhortations in the Mass, already show the influence of the Rhenish Reformers. Cranmer certainly seems to have openly favored the Philippist/Reformed camp during Edward VI’s reign. With Peter Martyr, Martin Bucer, Fagius, and Jan Laski all active in England together with native Reformed sympathizers such as Nicholas Ridley, John Hooper, Rowland Taylor, Hugh Latimer, Miles Coverdale, and Cranmer himself, the Edwardine Church took on a markedly Reformed hew. This move certainly left its mark on the Forty-two Articles of 1553. The 39 Articles of 1563/71 differ little from the 42 Articles of 1552 except for a slight softening of the wording of certain articles, and the removal of certain references that had lost their topicality by 1563. In principle, the Articles of 1563 are best described as being concerned firstly in establishing the broad catholicity of the English Church (Articles 1-8); its acceptance of Augustinian theology (Articles 9-18); its Protestant critique of Rome (Articles 19 to 24); its acceptance of the Reformed variant of the Augustinian theology of the Sacraments and Ministry (Articles 25-33); and finally with the particular concerns of the English/Anglican Church in terms of the relationship of Scripture and Tradition, and Church and State (Articles 34-39). In many respects it is the influence of Bucer, Bullinger, and Melanchthon which is strongest, rather than that of Luther or Calvin. I would basically describe the Articles of Religion as being ‘moderate Reformed’ meaning that they have a positive and dynamic understanding of the sacraments, which aims to maintain the positive aspects of sacramental teaching without getting bogged down in scholastic speculation. It is actually in its teaching about the Lord’s Supper that the Articles show their moderate Reformed pedigree most clearly in that they affirm the ‘Real, Spiritual Presence’ or ‘Virtualism’ of Bucer, Calvin, and Melanchthon, rather than the more subjective views of say Bullinger, or the realist version of Sacramental Union with its dependency on the concepts of communication idiomata, and ubiquity, a beloved of Lutheran Orthodoxy, though it is perhaps closer to the latter in intent. In other respects, such as their position on Justification, Election, and the Authority of the Church the Articles walk a line between the Reformed and Lutheran positions in the hopes of building a Protestant Consensus. In most respects, though, the Articles of Religion line up theologically with their Reformed contemporaries, the Belgic Confession, and the Second Helvetian Confession. However, their spirit is alien to the Rationalist theology of the eighteenth century as they require the reader to engage positively with concepts such as Predestination to Life, Baptismal Regeneration, and the Spiritual, Real Presence, which were common in the later sixteenth century, but were nonsense to the Rationalist and Latitudinarians. Modernists find their high view of Scripture difficult to take, whilst Anglo-Catholics find them insufferably Protestant and either try and explain them away (Tract XC), or more honestly, simply apply a razorblade to them.

The Book of Common Prayer
If, theologically, the Church of England was more-or-less at one with the German strain in the Reformed tradition, she showed a good deal of independence in her liturgy. One suspects that the Puritans were correct in their assessment that if Bloody Mary had not come along Cranmer would have made further changes, but God in His providence ordained otherwise, and what the Puritans ‘got stuck with’ was a modified version of Cranmer’s second BCP of 1552 which suited Elizabeth I’s purpose of creating a Protestant National Church. Before I get into the details I think we do need to dispose of some myths.

The first of these is that the 1549 BCP still ‘catholic’ whilst the 1552 is ‘protestant.’ On the face of it this would seem to be true, but it has to be remembered that the Exhortations were an integral part of the Liturgy as conceived by Cranmer, and therefore the 1549 already contains the ‘True Presence’ Eucharistic theology which the mature Cranmer had embraced at some point prior to 1549. Cranmer also abolished the Gregorian Canon, the Offertory and the major Elevations that were seen as the underpinnings of Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass by the Reformers. In a very real sense the 1549 is a Protestant liturgy that tries to hide the fact, whilst the 1552 makes its Reformed and reforming credentials much more apparent.

In the last 30 years a consensus has emerged that the old story that Elizabeth I would have preferred the 1549 BCP to be reintroduced in 1559 has largely been disposed of. The minor changes in the 1559 were intended to reconcile ‘Lutherans’ and cultural conservatives (to import a modern concept) to the Settlement. Thus the Queen and Council agreed to a temporary retention of Mass vestments and much of the old paraphernalia of worship to reconcile conservative laymen to the Settlement. In the end, Elizabeth was perhaps forced to move faster than she intended, and the net effect of the policy decisions of 1558-1565 was to create the two worship traditions within Anglicanism – the Court tradition, which governed worship in the Chapel Royal, the Cathedrals and Collegiate Church, and a more obviously Reformed parish church tradition. These two traditions were to coexist for the next 300 years until major elements of “Cathedral” worship were imported into the Parish Churches in the mid-Victorian period.

The 1552, 1559 and 1662 BCPs both blend Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed elements. Much traditional material was retained for the old service books even though it was often reworked, so for example, the Breviary was abridged and reworked into Morning and Evening Prayer, whilst the traditional Latin Litany was reworked, along the lines of Luther’s Litany into the version we have in the BCP today. Cranmer was very often the ‘filter’ through which continental ideas were incorporated into English practice, and in particular he seems to have drawn on a variety of Lutheran and moderate Reformed texts. Most folks are familiar with the idea that Cranmer and his Committee used the ‘Simple and Religious Consultation’ drawn up for Archbishop Herman von Weid by Martin Bucer and Philip Melanchthon as one of his major sources for the 1549, and I also believe it is well-known that both Martin Bucer, and Peter Martyr Vermigli offered critiques of the 1549 which did much to guide the 1552 revision. However, Cranmer did not allow his own sense of what was ‘proper’ to be overwhelmed by his advisors, and at least so far as Morning and Evening Prayer were concerned apart from the addition of a penitential introduction the conservative tone remained. The Baptismal Office received some adjustments such as the omission of chrism and the Chrisom (christening robe) but the most radical changes were to the Communion Service.

The 1549 had preserved much of the old structure of the Mass, the only significant omissions being the Gradual, the Offertory prayers, and the old Canon. This relatively traditional service had inserted into it the 1548 Order of Communion immediately before the reception of the sacrament. This consisted of an Exhortation, General Confession, Absolution, Comfortable Words, and that masterpiece of Cranmer’s, the Prayer of Humble Access. The Order of Communion had contained most of the Reforming material in the 1549 Communion Service, but in 1552 a far more radical approach was taken with Cranmer and his associates taking the traditional material and blending it to produce a new service similar in shape to the sort of Reformed Liturgy that Bucer had produced in Strasburg in the 1530s and early 1540s with features of Bucer’s Reformed service, such as the Decalogue, now appearing in the English BCP. I will examine the relationship between the Liturgical work of Cranmer and that of Bucer in a future post, but for the time being I will be content with the following observations.

The Traditional Fore-Mass is considerably rearranged. Instead of the Collect for Purity, Introit, Kyrie and Gloria, we now have the Collect for Purity, the Decalogue with an expanded Kyrie as the response to each Commandment. The traditional Collects, Epistles and Gospels are largely retained as they had been in 1549, the Creed and Sermon follow in their accustomed place, and then after the collection of alms, the Prayer for the Church Militant occurs, reflecting both the custom of the Mozarabic Rite, and, closer to hand, the practice of the Reformed Church in Strasburg. On most Sundays the service could conclude at this point with one or more collects and the blessing. As the people were unaccustomed to frequent communion, and the rule was now ‘no Mass without Communicants’ this meant that weekly celebration of the Eucharist soon became the exception rather than the rule. As a result it became necessary to give warning of when there would be a Communion, and two exhortations are provided for this purpose, one of which originally appeared in 1549.

When the Lord’s Supper was celebrated the next item was an exhortation to self-examination and worthy Communion. This fencing of the Table was typical of Reformed practice, though Cranmer’s exhortation owes as much to Lutheran sources as to Reformed. Then comes the Invitation and General Confession followed by the Absolution and Comfortable Words. Cranmer makes one of his rare literary slips here reversing Bucer’s order by putting the Absolution first. The Preface survives, as was common in Lutheranism, as does the Sanctus. Then follows the Prayer of Humble Access, which in this position becomes very obviously a prayer for worthy participation in the mystery, rather than one directed towards worthy reception of the elements. The Eucharistic Prayer then follows, and consists of little more than a brief statement of why the church does this, and the Words of Institution. In 1552 and 1559 there were no manual acts. Communion followed by the Lord’s Prayer then follows. The Eucharistic Prayer is completed by either the Prayer of Oblation or the Prayer of Thanksgiving, then the Gloria in Excelsis is said, and lastly the priest dismisses the congregation with a blessing. One thing that is truly notable about Cranmer’s Eucharistic rite is that it places communion in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer to further reinforce the idea that it is first and foremost a communion service, and to emphasize that the real presence is not localized in the bread and wine, but is actualized through faithful participation in the mystery. It was actually a bit of a masterstroke when the 1549 and 1559 words of administration were combined in 1559, as its balance of realist and symbolist language neatly expresses the Bucerian understanding of the Eucharist that Cranmer had embraced in the 1540s.

It can be seen from this that the principal reason that Anglo-Catholics of all stripes have done their best to either abrogate, or remodel and reinterpret the Eucharistic rite Cranmer left the Church is that its view of the Eucharist falls into the Reformed type. Structurally it shares similarities with the Dutch and German Reformed liturgies, which are just too obvious to deny; however, these similarities are obscured by the removal of traditional elements such as the Preface and Sanctus from continental forms.

I have not yet sufficiently researched the Baptismal Office, but my preliminary investigations have shown that the sort of very positive language that one sees in the Prayer Book concerning baptismal regeneration is anything but foreign to mid-16th century Reformed theology. Bucer, Bullinger, Calvin, and Vermigli all had a high view of baptism – perhaps so high as to surprise their 21st century followers if they were to investigate the matter. However, I shall have to leave this aside for a future article.

It may be seen from the above notes that the two main forms we have inherited from the Reformation period, the Articles of Religion, and the Book of Common Prayer agree theologically with the German-Swiss and Rhenish Reformed traditions, though they are to some degree at odds with the Scottish tradition. In the main the differences between the late sixteenth century Church of England, and the Reformed Churches of Zurich, Basle, the Rhine Palatinate, etc., were of governance and custom not theology. Therefore, all attempts to “unprotestantize” the Anglican tradition are by definition unhistorical in their basis.

This article originally appeared at The Old High Churchman. Reprinted with permission.

Peter D. Robinson

The Most Rev. Peter D. Robinson is the Presiding Bishop of the United Episcopal Church. He also serves as ordinary of the Missionary Diocese of the East and vicar of Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Waynesboro, Virginia.

'Is Anglicanism Reformed?' have 17 comments

  1. February 14, 2020 @ 10:12 am Robert Placer

    The Church of England and hence the Anglican Communion of Churches occupies a unique position with respect to the Reformation combining elements of Lutheran and Reformed Theologies. As Bishop Peter Robinson shows us we must begin with an accurate assessment of English Reformation History and the Elizabethan Settlement which was attempt to hold a national Protestant Church together avoiding the extremes from recusants or Roman Catholics opposing reforms and the puritans seeking a pure Genevan model of Reformation. What is clear from Bishop Robinson’s historical review is that reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church is impossible after the Council of Trent which is still the official doctrine of the Roman Church. The Council of Trent anathematised the Gospel.


  2. February 14, 2020 @ 1:00 pm Ben Jefferies

    I think as a matter of historical accuracy Bishop Robinson hides the reality of the case with understatement when he writes, “The 39 Articles of 1563/71 differ little from the 42 Articles of 1552 except for a slight softening of the wording of certain articles”. The crucible of disagreement between Anglo-Catholics and the Reformed is the Sacraments.

    Here is what Article 29 of the Reformed 42-Articles states in its midst about Holy Communion:
    “Forasmuch as the truth of man’s nature requires that the body of one and the self-same man cannot be at one time in diverse places, but must needs be in some one certain place, the body of Christ cannot be present at one time in many and diverse places. Because (as Holy Scripture does teach) Christ was taken up into heaven, and there shall continue unto the end of the world, a faithful man ought not, either to believe or openly to confess the real and bodily presence (as they term it) of Christ’s flesh and blood in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.”

    This ENTIRE section was excised in the 39-Articles that ARE our formularies. This is patently more than “a slight softening of the wording of certain articles.” The doctrine expressed in the 42 Articles — the single location of Christ in heaven — is the central idea of Calvin’s reasoning about the Eucharist in Institutes IV.17 etc, and it was totally removed by Abp. Parker and his associates in 1563/1571. This removal liberates loyal Anglicans from being forced to take the Calvinist interpretation, which in the very least suggests that the Elizabethan settlement is commodious of Biblical Anglo-Catholicism (such as maintained by EB Pusey, not JH Newman), but further suggests that the Bucer/Calvin school (on the Eucharist, they are of a piece) is not *the* doctrine of Anglicanism.

    This notion is further affirmed by the removal of the Black Rubric, etc etc.

    And the thesis bears out across the spectrum, contrary to good Bp. Robinson’s assertions about the affinity between Anglican and Continental confessions: E.g. The “highest” of the Reformed Confessions — the Belgic — explicitly denies that Christ is received by the mouth in Communion, and the absence of such a denial in the 39 articles is glaring. Not that Anglicans MUST take the Anglo-Catholic view, but simply that they are not REQUIRED to take the Reformed view.


    • February 18, 2020 @ 4:53 pm Mike Milmine

      //“the absence of such a denial in the 39 Articles is glaring”//.

      Except it isn’t absent: The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. **And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith**.

      As the next article makes clear, we do not receive Christ psychically, visibly or orally, for the mean whereby Christ is eaten is faith. I’m not aware of any serious scholars who deny that articles 28 and 29 are decisively Reformed statements on the Supper.


      • February 18, 2020 @ 4:55 pm Mike Milmine

        *physically, visibly or orally


      • February 19, 2020 @ 10:24 am Ben Jefferies

        The only way in which our receiving of the Body of Christ allows us to be partakers of Christ (Art. 29) is if we receive without unconfessed wickedness and with lively faith. Totally agree. In a strict and technical sense, this does not rule out that the wicked also RECEIVE the Body of Christ, even though they do not EAT it (which is John 6 language). As Art. 28 implies when it asserts that the Body of Christ IS given…
        Art. 29 references the doctrine of St. Augustine as rationale (“as Saint Augustine saith”), so it is instructive to examine Augustine’s teaching, and he writes very plainly in nearly a dozen places that the wicked do receive Christ, but unto judgment and not unto salvation — that they are not partakers in Salvation. E.g.
        “The good, together with the bad, eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ, but with a great distinction, for these are clad in the wedding garment, and those are not…” (Ad Donatus)
        “The Lord allows Judas to receive among the innocent disciples what the faithful know to be our Ransom” (Epistle 43)
        to give two examples.

        “heavenly and spiritual manner” is absolutely correct. It is no PHYSICAL eating (to use your word) — I completely agree. It is a spiritual eating. Our soul (which, by the Spirit, is made spiritual), being nourished by the spiritual body (the soma pneumatikos of 1 Cor 15) of Christ, as it is sacramentally united to the Bread and Wine, in a heavenly manner, not a localized physical manner.

        It is true that Reformed scholars see the affinity between the 39A and Reformed thought. But E.B. Pusey’s scholarly merit is beyond shade, and he certainly thought otherwise.


        • February 19, 2020 @ 1:19 pm Mike Milmine

          Thanks for your response, Ben. Article 29 speaks in precisely the opposite terms to how you speak: the wicked *do* EAT but do not PARTAKE. They eat the sign or sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, but do not partake of him; in other words, they receive the sign but not the thing signified.

          The body of Christ is not only received but also *given* (Art 28) after a heavenly and spiritual manner. That is hugely significant since the way in Christ he is received (spiritually) parallels the way in which he given (spiritually). Where you err is in imagining that the spiritual body of Christ is somehow united to the elements so that wherever the consecrated elements are given there is Christ, spiritually. But this is what Counter-Reformation Thomists used to argue, and not what loyal Churchmen believed. Take Jeremy Taylor, for example:

          ‘By ‘spiritually’ they mean ‘present after the manner of a spirit’; by ‘spiritually’ we mean’ present to our spirits only’. That is, so as Christ is not present to any other sense but that of faith, or spiritual susception… we by the ‘real spiritual presence’ of Christ do understand Christ to be present as the Spirit of God is present in the hearts of the faithful, by blessing and grace.’

          Contrast this with Cardinal Bellarmine, who sounds a lot more like you:

          ‘Christ is not present in the sacrament either after that manner which is natural to corporeal things, or that wherein his own body subsists in heaven, but according to the manner and existence proper to spirits whole and entire, in each part of the host.’

          Christ is not present in the elements as a spirit is present; rather he is present to and in the faithful soul, and *this* is what the Articles mean when they say that Christ is given, taken and eaten in the Supper.

          As for scholars, can you point me to a reputable modern scholar, of the calibre say of Diarmaid MacCulloch, who thinks that Articles 28 and 29 are patient of a Tractarian interpretation? The consensus that these are Reformed statements is overwhelming (hence their politically-motivated omission from publication until 1571).


          • February 19, 2020 @ 4:40 pm Ben Jefferies

            Dear Mike —

            It’s interesting you mention Bellarmine, because our own Andrewes was happy to admit precisely this in his ‘Answer to Cardinal Bellarmine’:

            The Cardinal [Bellarmine] is not unless willingly ignorant that Christ hath said ‘This is My Body’ not ‘This is not My Body in this mode’ Now about the object we are both agreed: ALL THE CONTROVERSY IS ABOUT THE MODE. …The Presence, I say, we believe, and that no less true than yourselves. Of the mode of the Presence we define nothing rashly nor I add do we curiously enquire.

            I.e. that to Andrewes’ view, Bellarmine and Anglican Eucharistic theology can be reconciled, as long as Bellarmine doesn’t insist on the technicality of transsubstantiation.

            Andrewes is in a minority school (along with Overall, Ken, and a few other — see this catena:


            Which, is a different interpretation than Taylor and the other English Receptionists, but seemingly not less valid, nor less harmonious with the 39-Articles (to which Andrewes et al were also sworn), nor less scholarly (has there ever been a better scholar than Andrewes?)

            Also, I understand that Taylor sometimes speaks thus as you have quoted, but other times in a more realist key, but I am happy to grant that a Reformed meaning of ‘spiritually received’ has been the dominant one in Anglican history prior to the Oxford movement. My only contention is that the 39-A themselves don’t FORCE this view. Would you be willing to cede that? If so, great. If not — how do you account for Andrewes, Overall, Ken, etc? It would seem that the 39-A leave such room on the face of it, otherwise how could these men have spoken as they did?

            I am not well aprised on modern scholarship, so I have nothing to produce there, alas. Part of the problem — and this is a portion of my own personal project — is that I think tractarianism of the Biblical-catholic/andrewes variety got swallowed up by its successor which was little else than unprincipled crypto papism. And therefore Pusey himself has not received an honest hearing, and his views are lumped with “the tractarians” and dismissed as being out of step with the 39-A…

            Re Art. 29 — All agree that they AT LEAST eat the sign. I am, as you surmised, contending that Art. 29 doesn’t strictly prohibit the idea that they also eat the signified body, but do not partake of its saving efficacy.
            I am not convinced of Calvin’s Arguments that the Fathers (like Augustine) just sloppily refer to the sign and the thing signified interchangeably, rather, I think the Aug. quotes above (and the others like them) demand a heftier interpretation: that he really was saying that the wicked do receive the Body, not just the thing that is a sign of the body. Of course, for Augustine, pre-Nominalism, this distinction also would perhaps not have made much sense, but acknowledging that tips us toward a platonic-koinonia Realism, not away from it…

        • February 19, 2020 @ 2:27 pm Mike Milmine

          As a follow-up comment, I can’t resist pointing out that Augustine (following Scripture and the other Fathers) regularly names the thing signified by the sign – as indeed do the Reformed. Properly speaking, Augustine is referring in your quotes to the *sacrament* of the body and blood, rather than the thing itself. That is, if we want to hold Augustine as a venerable doctor who doesn’t mindlessly contradict himself! If you look at his sermons on John 6, from which the Articles quote, it is clear that those devoid of lively receive the sign but NOT the thing signified. And they receive the thing signified neither physically *nor* spiritually – i.e they in nowise receive it. For example:

          ‘“He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him”. This it is, therefore, for a man to eat that meat and to drink that drink, to dwell in Christ, and to have Christ dwelling in him. Consequently, he that dwells not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells not, doubtless neither eats His flesh [spiritually] nor drinks His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather does he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to come to the sacraments of Christ.’

          The condemnation of the wicked comes from eating the sign, not from eating the spiritual flesh and blood of Christ. As Augustine says in numerous other places, Christ is present to faith alone.


          • February 19, 2020 @ 4:45 pm Ben Jefferies

            We barked up opposite sides of the same tree! I wrote my previous comment before seeing this second one.
            My understanding of Aug. on John 6 is that he is using the phrasing from John with the signification it there carries: That “eat his flesh” is both to Jesus:John:Augustine a total synonym for “be partakers of Christ”, i.e. be saved by him, through the instrument of the sacrament, and through the receiving hand of Faith.
            “eat his body” is NOT a synonym for “eat his flesh” (the John 6 language). A subtle distinction, but one the Fathers, upon my reading, carefully observe in most cases. It’s interesting that there IS the verbal distinction between John 6 and the words of institution…

          • February 19, 2020 @ 5:27 pm Mike Milmine

            Dear Ben,

            Thanks for your response. I’m not convinced that your argument re Andrewes does what you want it to because most Churchmen of the era used that sort of language. Indeed, Taylor himself says precisely this about Bellarmine, before pointing out that what the Cardinal means by spiritual eating is integrally tied to Transubstantiation and thus very different to what the Church of England means ( Transubstantiation is not *only* rejected because of its metaphysical over-precision, but also because of its ‘location’ (as much as Rome rejects the characterisation) of Christ wherever the element is. Whether physical or spiritual, Christ is said by Rome to be where the element is. But for our Churchmen, Christ is present in the soul by faith and not in the elements.

            I don’t accept that the Article allows you to say that the wicked eat the signified body, since the words themselves and the reference in Augustine specifically deny that possibility. One has to engage in Newmanesque sophistry to say otherwise.

            I very much appreciate what you say about early anglo-catholicism and crypto-papalism, and I wish you Godspeed in that. I would say, however, that even Pusey contradicts Andrewes and later Caroline divines on key matters. The idea that anglo-catholicism is some kind of continuation of these old Anglican divines really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, unless one looks at it in the most superficial of terms. Indeed, there is much in Newman’s correspondence that recognises the futility of looking back to the Carolines, for they were Protestant through and through, and by and large staunchly Reformed on the Supper.

            If you’re not into modern scholarship on this can I recommend Frederick Meyrick’s ‘Old Anglicanism and Modern Ritualism’. Written in 1901, he shows persuasively that the old Anglicans often claimed by ritualists were utterly opposed to the theology and practices taken up by the Oxford Movement.

            Finally, on Augustine – you have to conclude that he contradicts himself, since he clearly says in John 6 sermons that the faithless don’t receive Christ spiritually but only chew on the sign. I’d much rather read him in the way that Calvin, Hooker, Taylor, Cosin etc. do – as unselfconsciously calling the sign by the thing – than to assume he misspoke here. Worse still, to assume that his passing, unselfconscious comments are somehow more indicative of his view than the lengthier and more considered treatment in John 6. This way of reading Augustine obviously doesn’t originate with Calvin, since the Medievals and even Augustine himself regularly speak at length about the distinction between the sign and the thing signified. In fact, his whole theology and hermeneutic is founded on his semiotics.

          • February 19, 2020 @ 5:47 pm Mike Milmine

            I typed mine before reading your response too! Sometimes happens when comments require moderation…

            I’m sorry to say that I find that reading of Augustine strained to the extreme. So to eat Christ’s flesh is distinguished from eating his body, and to drink is blood is distinguished from…? Because the wicked neither eat his flesh nor drink his blood per Augustine, and it would strange to me for Augustine to distinguish between drinking Christ’s blood and drinking Christ’s blood.

            As for the catena with Andrewes, what do you have in mind? I don’t see a single reference in his section (and admittedly the authors try hard by taking quotes out of context) that claims that Christ is present in the elements, nor that the wicked receive the body and blood of Christ.

          • February 20, 2020 @ 2:30 pm Ben Jefferies

            Lastly, there are some Caroline figures who I just can’t pin down. Cosin for instance. If all Reformed Anglicans (such as yourself) could utter words like Cosin’s in echo — then I could embrace your school with open arms. But I find as a matter of fact that the view of Communion is often much lower. Check out P.97-99 in this one (Cosin):

          • February 20, 2020 @ 2:58 pm Mike Milmine

            I did my undergraduate dissertation on Cosin’s eucharistic theology. Great stuff, but completely and self- consciously within the Reformed mainstream. I would certainly recommend reading his History of Popish Transubstatiation as a demonstration of that, but also Perkins, Beza, Vermigli, Du Moulin and others to see just how rich, biblical and patristic Reformed sacramental theology is (and how the Carolines are particular voices in that school).

          • February 20, 2020 @ 4:25 pm Ben Jefferies

            Hey MIke — I’d love to read your disseration — could you upload it to GoogleDrive or some other file-share and paste the link to this thread? and/or email me? My email is my name, with my middle initial p, all separated by dots, and at so ben.p.jef*********** (explained cryptically, because of bots). In your paper — do you grapple with the “high” language as excerpted in that link I sent? because that would be super helpful for me too.

            Also, do you think there’s anything worth considering in my observation that the 39-A have so many less denials than other Reformed statements, that they intended for the opinions of Andrewes-Overall-Pusey to be accepted even if not “mainstream”?

  3. February 14, 2020 @ 5:09 pm Preston Hill

    Remarkable. I couldn’t agree more: Calvin’s Eucharistic theology is certainly in line with this assessment, and is much more Catholic than most might suppose. Anglicanism certainly is Reformed, and it helps to understand the fact that Reformed theology itself is far more nuanced and more Catholic than has been considered in modern opinion. Thanks so much for a fabulously illuminating article, especially the deep historical analysis.


  4. February 24, 2020 @ 8:03 am Rev. Dennis Washburn

    Great article by Bishop Robinson! Obviously, one can debate some historical or theological details (as the long string of comments shows), but such debates should not obscure the important and soundly Anglican contribution that the article makes.


  5. February 22, 2022 @ 9:32 pm Wesley Mcgranor

    What a bunch of deconstruction and revisionism wrapped in some academics dissertation of theoretical apostolic succession.


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