Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

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Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:03 am

Here's an interesting fact I have only just discovered - mainly of interest to Anglicans. When the 39 Articles of Religion, the doctrine defining foundational document of the Church of England, was drawn up in 1563, the doctrine of universalism was deliberately allowed!

The 39 Articles were based on the 42 Articles written under Cranmer in 1552, during the brief reign of Edward VI which represented the height of Calvinist influence in the English Church. The 42nd of these articles was the one condemning universalism. Here it is:-

All men shall not be saved at the last They also are worthy of condemnation, who endeavor at this time to restore the dangerous opinion, that all men be they never so ungodly, shall at length be saved, when they have suffered pains for their sins a certain time appointed by God's justice.

The 42 Articles never became law, because of the premature death of Edward VI and the reunion of the Church with Rome under his successor Queen Mary I. Following Mary's death the crown passed to her sister Elizabeth I, who again split the Church from Rome. A Convocation was formed under Elizabeth's Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker in order to establish the Articles of Religion. Several of Cranmer's 42 articles were dropped, as Parker backed away from the more extreme Calvinism.

The 42nd Article, the one condemning Universalism, was one of the Articles dropped by Parker, so accepting Universalism as an allowed doctrine. Nothing else in the 39 Articles condemns Universalism.

Although the 39 Articles do not have quite the same status in the Church of England as they once did, they are still influential and revered. Ironically, it tends to be conservative evangelicals who are most keen to affirm the continuing authority of the Articles and of course to reject Universalism which the 39 Articles... er ... deliberately allowed. Hmmm :roll:
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby Dondi » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:24 am

I do not see how a rejection of an anti-universalism Article is an acceptance of universalism. All that happened is that they didn't pass the article. You could have an article against gay marriage fail for whatever reason, perhaps on a technicality, but that doesn't mean the church automatically approves gay marriage.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:14 am

Dondi wrote:I do not see how a rejection of an anti-universalism Article is an acceptance of universalism. All that happened is that they didn't pass the article. You could have an article against gay marriage fail for whatever reason, perhaps on a technicality, but that doesn't mean the church automatically approves gay marriage.


There is a difference, on the other hand, between making room for someone (particularly a teaching authority) to be in communion with a group while holding a theological position, and positively approving of that position. And I don't think Rev was talking about the latter kind of acceptance.

They deliberately made room for allowing universalism, and that's important; and they did so in much the same way the Eastern Orthodoxy (and related eastern trinitarian communions) have done so: they don't dogmatically affirm or deny it as part of the creed for affirming unity with the group.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:21 pm

Thanks Jason, yes that's what I was getting at, Dondi. I think it is significant that the original decision to anathematise universalism was withdrawn when the Articles were enacted under Matthew Parker. My next step will be to find out more about Parker and see if his motive in dropping article 42 is recorded anywhere. I understand he was a friend of Martin Bucer, and both were leaders of a more moderate and ecumenical form of protestantism than that of Calvin and his followers. I think the 39 Articles have also been influential on other confessions and denominations, such as Methodism, Presbyterianism and Lutheranism - but I need to read more about this.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby Luke » Wed Apr 27, 2011 11:27 pm

The Anglican Church has never been brillant at weeding out hertics. But, sorry to be the party pooper, the Anglican hasn't adopted universalism.

1. The Rev Tweedy needs to read Article 8 which says:
The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.

And we all know how the second last line of the Athanasisus creed! Furthermore if that wasn't enough Cranmer in his first book of homilies which as Anglicans we are also oblidged to refer to says:
"The other, as they be ready to believe God's promises, so they should bee as ready to believe the threatenings of God: as well they should believe the law, as the Gospel: as well that there is an hell & everlasting fire, as that there is an heaven, and everlasting joy"

2. Argument by absence is fairly weak; in other-words by Andrew's reasoning all doctrines not specifically spoken to or condemned are condoned?
3. I doubt in removing they intended to adopt Universalism as a consequence. However and this is the most interesting part, there seems to have been a Universalist in play maybe someone powerful who pressured Parker into dropping the article, the question is who was he and why he wielded his power in this way. Interesting, a Universalist using power to try (they failed, see Article 8) to implement Universalistic theology!
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby pilgrim » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:27 am

Luke wrote:The Anglican Church has never been brillant at weeding out hertics. But, sorry to be the party pooper, the Anglican hasn't adopted universalism.

Well, sorry to be the 'party-pooper' pooper but:
Argument by absence is fairly weak; in other-words by Andrew's reasoning all doctrines not specifically spoken to or condemned are condoned?

Dondi's argument is not 'argument by absence' it is clearly argument by an active and conscious deliberate removal of something which was disagreed with.
I doubt in removing they intended to adopt Universalism as a consequence.

A strawman. This is getting as weak and irrational as someones embarrassing blog I was reading recently. All that was being said is the condemnation of universalism was deliberately removed.
However and this is the most interesting part, there seems to have been a Universalist in play maybe someone powerful who pressured Parker into dropping the article, the question is who was he and why he wielded his power in this way. Interesting, a Universalist using power to try (they failed, see Article 8) to implement Universalistic theology!

-and now desperate speculation in the absence of any rational argument.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby Luke » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:55 am

Must of struck a nerve. 8-)

Let's go over this carefully. Dodhi's said:.
I do not see how a rejection of an anti-universalism Article is an acceptance of universalism
Which is perfectly correct! You cannot say the Anglican Church intended to affirm Universalism by taking out that article.

You say "Strawman", so I'll call you the 'artful dodger'. I said:
I doubt in removing they intended to adopt Universalism as a consequence.
Why, did the Anglican Church suddenly adopt Universalism without anyone noticing, what useful historical information can bring to bear on this situation to suggest otherwise?

And while we're on the artful dodging, no comment about Article 8?

Lastly, "desperate", speculation? Does the adjective strengthen your argument? You can only offer ad hominem attack in lieu of an actual argument showing that the absence of this article proves the Anglican Church adopted Universalism. All this missing article situation shows, and it's certainly very interesting, (love to know the backstory) is that this article was removed for some specific historical reason not a wholesale change in theology!
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:04 am

Hi Luke, Thanks for raising some interesting points!

Luke wrote:1. The Rev Tweedy needs to read Article 8 which says:

The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.


And we all know how the second last line of the Athanasisus creed! Furthermore if that wasn't enough Cranmer in his first book of homilies which as Anglicans we are also oblidged to refer to says:

"The other, as they be ready to believe God's promises, so they should bee as ready to believe the threatenings of God: as well they should believe the law, as the Gospel: as well that there is an hell & everlasting fire, as that there is an heaven, and everlasting joy"


I'm certainly not suggesting that Cranmer or the author of the homily or the Ath Creed were universalists. It is fair to point out that those are also foundational documents, but on this thread I'm just interested in the dropping of Article 42.

Luke wrote:2. Argument by absence is fairly weak; in other-words by Andrew's reasoning all doctrines not specifically spoken to or condemned are condoned?


I think you know me better than that Luke! I'm certainly NOT suggesting that "anything goes" unless the Articles specifically exclude it.

Luke wrote:3. I doubt in removing they intended to adopt Universalism as a consequence. However and this is the most interesting part, there seems to have been a Universalist in play maybe someone powerful who pressured Parker into dropping the article, the question is who was he and why he wielded his power in this way. Interesting, a Universalist using power to try (they failed, see Article 8) to implement Universalistic theology!


Like Pilgrim says, I think you are speculating here Luke. It is an interesting theory, that Parker wanted to keep in Article 42, condemning universalism, but a mystery universalist, more powerful than Parker, forced him to keep it in. But who would the Archbishop of Canterbury bow to ?(My tongue in cheek suggestion in support of your theory = the Holy Spirit! 8-) ). Seriously Luke, do you have any evidence for this theory?

The only other person I am aware of who could influence Parker in the way you suggest is Queen Elizabeth herself. And we do know that she exercised some editorial influence over the Articles, mainly to show mercy tolerance to those of her subjects who had Catholic sympathies. I'm not sure if she had a personal view about universalism; perhaps a historian can help us out. Intriguing though! She was certainly a devout Christian woman.

That aside, I think the most likely answer is that Parker himself chose to exclude Article 42, not because he was a universalist but because, like his friend Martin Bucer, he was more tolerant of other viewpoints than people like Augustine and Calvin were. Parker would still firmly stamp out views he saw as dangerous, but unless someone shows me evidence to the contrary it seems universalism was not one of these.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:07 am

Pilgrim, Luke, let's keep it friendly please. No fighting boys!
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby Luke » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:52 am

A gracious response Andrew, and yes I admit the mystery Universalist pressuring Parker is pure speculation.

(Although just to be clear the title of this thread is misleading because it suggests the Church of England adopted Unviersalism in 1563, which it plainly did not.)
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:56 am

Thanks Luke - I don't know if we can change the thread title. I meant accepted in the sense of "allowed" not "adopted"...
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby pilgrim » Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:24 am

Luke wrote: yes I admit the mystery Universalist pressuring Parker is pure speculation.


Well said.
(Although just to be clear the title of this thread is misleading because it suggests the Church of England adopted Unviersalism in 1563, which it plainly did not.)


And perhaps here is the first point of any merit although I see an important distinction between 'adoption' (which to me implies promulgation) and 'acceptance' (which to me implies toleration).

You say "Strawman", so I'll call you the 'artful dodger'.

Pointing out that someone is using a 'strawman' technique in debate is quite valid and not ad-hominem.
Personal name calling is quite a different matter and it behoves us all not to stoop that low.
And while we're on the artful dodging, no comment about Article 8?

A simple polite request and I would be happy to explain.
I am not particularly familiar with the three creeds and I so I cannot say whether this particular point has merit or not. Perhaps you make a valid point. I am ignorant and therefor it is sensible to remain silent. For this you resort to name-calling. However, revdrew has kindly quoted:
"The other, as they be ready to believe God's promises, so they should bee as ready to believe the threatenings of God: as well they should believe the law, as the Gospel: as well that there is an hell & everlasting fire, as that there is an heaven, and everlasting joy"


..and I read nothing here that would exclude universalism.

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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby pilgrim » Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:26 am

revdrew61 wrote:Thanks Luke - I don't know if we can change the thread title. I meant accepted in the sense of "allowed" not "adopted"...

I think that is the general definition of the word.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:11 pm

pilgrim wrote:However, revdrew has kindly quoted:

"The other, as they be ready to believe God's promises, so they should bee as ready to believe the threatenings of God: as well they should believe the law, as the Gospel: as well that there is an hell & everlasting fire, as that there is an heaven, and everlasting joy"


Pilgrim, that was Luke quoting Cranmer's homilies, not me. I agree that nothing in those words strictly exclude evangelical universalism, but I don't think we could argue that the author of this homily or the dubiously named "Athanasian" creed were really sympathetic to universalism. And Luke is correct that Article 8 requires acceptance of the Ath creed...

BUT, it seems clear that the dropping of Article 42 by Archbishop Matthew Parker was a deliberate allowance of universalism. What I am seeking help with now is trying to discover whether it was Parker himself or a higher power (Queen Elizabeth I or the Holy Spirit or whoever!) who forced him to do this. Rather than speculating, I'm hoping a historian might be able to help us out here.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby pilgrim » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:26 pm

Thanks for the clarification - and for the thread itself. I wish you well in your investigation.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby Michael » Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:24 pm

revdrew61 wrote:Here's an interesting fact I have only just discovered - mainly of interest to Anglicans. When the 39 Articles of Religion, the doctrine defining foundational document of the Church of England, was drawn up in 1563, the doctrine of universalism was deliberately allowed!

The 39 Articles were based on the 42 Articles written under Cranmer in 1552, during the brief reign of Edward VI which represented the height of Calvinist influence in the English Church. The 42nd of these articles was the one condemning universalism. Here it is:-

All men shall not be saved at the last They also are worthy of condemnation, who endeavor at this time to restore the dangerous opinion, that all men be they never so ungodly, shall at length be saved, when they have suffered pains for their sins a certain time appointed by God's justice.

The 42 Articles never became law, because of the premature death of Edward VI and the reunion of the Church with Rome under his successor Queen Mary I. Following Mary's death the crown passed to her sister Elizabeth I, who again split the Church from Rome. A Convocation was formed under Elizabeth's Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker in order to establish the Articles of Religion. Several of Cranmer's 42 articles were dropped, as Parker backed away from the more extreme Calvinism.

The 42nd Article, the one condemning Universalism, was one of the Articles dropped by Parker, so accepting Universalism as an allowed doctrine. Nothing else in the 39 Articles condemns Universalism.

Although the 39 Articles do not have quite the same status in the Church of England as they once did, they are still influential and revered. Ironically, it tends to be conservative evangelicals who are most keen to affirm the continuing authority of the Articles and of course to reject Universalism which the 39 Articles... er ... deliberately allowed. Hmmm :roll:

That's very interesting, and I believe Andrew Jukes pointed that out in his book on UR (I forget the name,)

But I don't think it's quite right to say the Queen Elizabeth I "again split the Church from."

I think she was still in communion with Rome when the Pope (under pressure from Spain) excommunicated her (and the English Church.)
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby Luke » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:16 pm

Look Pilgrim, your picture says "No Hate", yet you post rude comments and you're critical of my arguments against the Anglican Church accepting Unviersalism in 1563 but fail to offer a single shred of evidence of anything remotely resembling a cogent argument in the contrary.

By rude comment I mean your snide asides and your delightful comments about someone else's blog, by lack of arguments I mean that you make the charge of "strawman" when I observe there is nothing in Parker dropping the anti-unviersalism article that suggests the Anglicans suddenly decided to accept Universalism, but don't explain why this is a 'strawman fallacy'. Then at first you ignore but then plead ignorance of Article 8, suggesting this is some nobler path of "staying silent."

Yes, it'd be good to know Andrew, what prompted Parker to do this.

The only other person I am aware of who could influence Parker in the way you suggest is Queen Elizabeth herself. And we do know that she exercised some editorial influence over the Articles, mainly to show mercy tolerance to those of her subjects who had Catholic sympathies. I'm not sure if she had a personal view about universalism; perhaps a historian can help us out. Intriguing though! She was certainly a devout Christian woman.


Perhaps a small speculation because I doubt there is any link between devotion and Universalism.
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Re: Church of England Articles accepted Universalism in 1563

Postby pilgrim » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:41 am

Luke wrote:Look Pilgrim, your picture says "No Hate", yet you post rude comments and you're critical of my arguments against the Anglican Church accepting Unviersalism in 1563 but fail to offer a single shred of evidence of anything remotely resembling a cogent argument in the contrary.

By rude comment I mean your snide asides and your delightful comments about someone else's blog, by lack of arguments I mean that you make the charge of "strawman" when I observe there is nothing in Parker dropping the anti-unviersalism article that suggests the Anglicans suddenly decided to accept Universalism, but don't explain why this is a 'strawman fallacy'. Then at first you ignore but then plead ignorance of Article 8, suggesting this is some nobler path of "staying silent."


Calm down. I do not hate you. I have read your posts on this site and others and your desire for Universalism to be untrue is as evident as the chocolate on the face of a child who denies eating the cake. As part of the body of Christ it is essential to stand for truth and integrity. If you think that universalists are to be trampled on by double talk on different sites with no reply, then you are mistaken.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:42 am

Michael wrote:That's very interesting, and I believe Andrew Jukes pointed that out in his book on UR (I forget the name,)

But I don't think it's quite right to say the Queen Elizabeth I "again split the Church from."

I think she was still in communion with Rome when the Pope (under pressure from Spain) excommunicated her (and the English Church.)


Hi Michael, thanks for correcting my history which was never my strong point! Whilst it was of course Elizabeth's Protestant sympathies which led to her excommunication, but yes, technically you are right, it was the excommunication which actually split the English Church from Rome.

Luke wrote:Perhaps a small speculation because I doubt there is any link between devotion and Universalism.


OK Luke! There are devoted Christians who are Universalists and there are devoted Christians who are not. My point is that Elizabeth, compared to some other monarchs, was somebody who had a serious Christian faith and had opinions on theological and pastoral issues. That makes it more likely that she would have intervened on a religious matter than would a king or queen who was less interested in or committed to a faith.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby JasonPratt » Fri Apr 29, 2011 7:01 am

It may be worth noting, perhaps, that in the 1801 revision of the 39 articles, one main revision was to drop reference to the Athanasian Creed in Article 8. Be that as it may.

While it is abundantly clear that the author of the (so-called) AthCreed was a non-universalist and intended to promote one or another kind of non-universalistic doctrine (and also that the historical use of that Creed by the Roman Catholic Church was aimed at least partially against universalistic tendencies in the East, in much the same way as the affirmation of the filioque in the Creed was aimed against Eastern denial that the Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as the Father); it is just as blatantly clear that the non-universalistic statements of the AthCreed are (1) reserved for the introductions and epilogues to the two main halves of the Creed; and (2) are in all cases explicitly tied to the notion that in order to be saved the most important thing is to rightly believe the material in the two main halves.

These are evident facts that are not really disputable. Which Luke and I have been over the ground of before. ;)

The practical point is that if the wrapping statements (as I call them) are insisted upon as being part of the Creed themselves (instead of only referring to the material of the Creed, as the statements themselves actually say in effect!), then acceptance of the Creed necessarily involves acceptance of the idea that in order to be saved from hopeless damnation the first and foremost thing is that a person must believe the content of at least the two main halves (if not also of the wrapping statements).

At the time I asked for any evidence of any other (effectively) creedal statement by a main body of trinitarian Christians, Protestant or otherwise, that also affirmed what the wrapping statements actually teach, namely that to avoid hopeless damnation a person saves themselves by consistently asserting to the doctrinal content of the AthCreed (whatever the extent of that content might be). I myself couldn't recall any such creedal statement myself in use by trinitarian Church bodies today; and such statements are demonstrably absent (as well as overt statements of hopeless damnation at all) from the two prior Great Creeds (Apostles and Nicene).

I gave a couple of examples from various Calvinistic creedal positions--no such statement (of course) could be found. Hopeless damnation, yes (sometimes); saving oneself by holding doctrinal knowledge, no.


Now we come to the Anglican 39 articles; and unless there have been more revisions than mentioned in the 1801 draft, once again there is (of course!) nothing remotely about a person having to hold various doctrines in order to be saved, much less that the most important thing first and foremost to be saved is to hold various doctrines.

So. What does the inclusion of reference to the AthCreed in the first editions of the Articles involve? I can see two options, not themselves mutually exclusive, for consideration.

(1) The drafters intended it as a reference to the trinitarian doctrinal set, and to the Incarnational doctrinal set, and (broadly) to the doctrine of judgment--all of which are represented elsewhere in the Articles, and all of which are represented (in less precise forms) in the other two of the Big Three Creeds mentioned in Article 8.

(2) The drafters intended it as a reference to the doctrine of salvation by persistently holding doctrine (which doctrines being listed in the Creed), but then not only forgot to mention this anywhere else in the Articles but wrote several articles which implicitly countervail this concept (even if not explicitly so).


To me, (1) looks infinitely plausible, while (2) looks infinitely implausible (if not exactly impossible perhaps). A problem with (2) could even explain, perhaps, the removal of reference to the AthCreed in the 1801 version of the draft. I would be curious to see records of official discussion among Anglican scholars at the time on why the reference to the AthCreed was eventually removed.

If the main reason for referring to the AthCreed originally, however, was (1) and not (2), then that would very easily explain why the Archbishop did not think it strange or contradictive to delete an Article denying universalism while keeping an Article referring to something that definitely teaches (one or another kind of) non-universalism: because that portion of the Creed wasn't what they were interested in affirming in regard to Article 8 in the first place.

Which in turn would also explain why they inadvertently thereby included reference to another doctrine, linked inextricably with non-universalism in the AthCreed, which they not only don't affirm elsewhere but practically deny: they weren't even thinking about the "wrapping statement" material when including reference to the AthCreed in Article 8.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby TGB » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:41 am

Very interesting Drew (what do you prefer? Drew? Andrew? Andi? Andrawas? Reverandi?)...

There has to be reason why THIS particular article was deliberately excluded, right? If in fact those who excluded the Article were as committed to a non-universalist eschatology as that reflected in the excluded Article, and if their belief in the Athanasian Creed meant viewing ECT as part of the Creed (and not part of the theology of the curse [which doesn't itself make much sense to me]) and condemning it with equal vigor, then why exclude it? If that's an argument from silence, it's not an entirely bad one. But at best it's only an argument that Anglicans did not want to condemn all manner of universalism, not that they wanted to officially adopt it. But if they believed the Athanasian Creed makes ECT a required belief for good standing, then that's hardly different from the excluded Article (both curse those who deny ECT, right?). Why require with the right hand what the left hand drops? Maybe they were confused. It happens. I don't know. Maybe they're looking at the heart of the Athanasian Creed and not the theology inherent in the curse upon those who don't embrace that Creed.

Hasn't Rowan Williams questioned ECT? A person who is otherwise qualified for ordination with the Anglicans but who openly advocates UR either disqualifies himself on account of UR or not. That should be an easy thing to establish, no? Luke?

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby pilgrim » Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:18 am

TGB wrote:But at best it's only an argument that Anglicans did not want to condemn all manner of universalism, not that they wanted to officially adopt it.

Hi Tom
Yes. That's the strawman I referred to earlier. No-one is saying that the CofE is "adopting" UR, just that they may find it acceptable.
A person who is otherwise qualified for ordination with the Anglicans but who openly advocates UR either disqualifies himself on account of UR or not. That should be an easy thing to establish, no? Luke?
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I am familiar with one ordained Anglican minister who openly preaches UR from his pulpit in a London Parish, so at least in one case, in practical terms, it is found acceptable.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:31 pm

Hi Tom - usually Andrew but experimenting with Drew 8-)

As Jason pointed out, the Ath Creed fell out of favour by 1801. Anyway I'd rather keep this thread off the Ath Creed and the catchall Article 8, if we can. Perhaps that can be moved to another thread if people want to discuss it.

The dropping of Article 42 does seem to be a clear move to allow universalism and to take away the threat of condemnation of universalists, heresy trials etc. This was in the days when they used to execute heretics, rather than just assasinate their character, as happens today. As far as I am aware, this allowance has remained the case ever since. No other statute, law or article has taken away the fact that universalism is an allowed view within the Church of England (I don't know about other Churches within the Anglican Communion). I have no fear of not finding work as an Anglican priest holding a belief in UR. My problem might be finding work as an evangelical Anglican priest. We have a spectrum of churchmanship in the C of E with some of us more reformed than the Reformed, some more Catholic than the Pope and some more liberal than an extremely liberal person. :lol:

I could give up any claim to be evangelical and go work in a liberal parish, under a liberal bishop. Maybe that is how it will pan out for me, but at the moment I believe I am more evangelical than ever: more true to the gospel and the scriptures and more passionate about evangelism and discipleship than before because of my recent discovery of universalism. So I'm not going to give up the "evangelical" label without a fight (unless it becomes so tainted that it becomes simply a synonym for "intolerant"). I share Robin Parry's stated goals of gaining acceptance that evangelical universalism (a) is not a heretical point of view and (b) should be considered an acceptable belief within evangelicalism.

What Church history seems to demonstrate time after time is that tolerant leaders like Matthew Parker and Martin Bucer, who are prepared to accommodate people who see things differently, usually get eclipsed by the hardliners. But it doesn't have to be that way and this is a nonviolent battle worth fighting. I believe we've got the wind behind us!
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:47 pm

The following quote from Martin Bucer is telling:

If you immediately condemn anyone who doesn't quite believe the same as you do as forsaken by Christ's Spirit, and consider anyone to be the enemy of truth who holds something false to be true, who, pray tell, can you still consider a brother? I for one have never met two people who believed exactly the same thing. This holds true in theology as well.

Bucer wrote this in 1530, after trying in vain to mediate between Luther and Zwingli over various differences.

(Source: Greschat, Martin (2004), Martin Bucer: A Reformer and His Times, Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 0-664-22690-6 . Translation from the original Martin Bucer: Ein Reformator und seine Zeit, Verlag C. H. Beck, Munich, 1990.)

Matthew Parker met Bucer at Cambridge University, was influenced by the older man and they became firm friends. Parker preached at Bucer's funeral in 1551.

The link between Parker and Queen Elizabeth I is also interesting. He was chaplain to her mother, Anne Boleyn, who entrusted him with Elizabeth's spiritual care.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby amy » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:06 pm

Revdrew said.. But it doesn't have to be that way and this is a nonviolent battle worth fighting. I believe we've got the wind behind us!


We've got the Spirit wind around us, behind us, and in us! :D We've got Spirit fever!
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:14 pm

Amen sister! :D
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Luke » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:53 am

Pilgrim,

Oh, so I'm an evil traditionalist and your a loving universalist? :roll: Although it could also be that we've simply annoyed at each other, hopefully time will tell. :mrgreen:

Jason,

No, the Athanasian Creed is still part of the Articles (well, as part of article 8), and it was when I was ordained but maybe they've changed things and I'll find out at Synod next month.

Yes we have been over this ground before; the creed is a coherent unit, not a statement that can be broken down into compulsory and non-compulsory parts.


Tom,

The Anglican church is a massive ecclesiological tent, with a big difference between the original 'Cranmeresque' version, and all it's geographic and historical manifestations. Some Dioceses will set strict theological requirements others will be more relaxed. Some Dioceses are very particular about various topics for example infant Baptism was so, with my Diocese, Tasmania, didn't believe you couldn't be ordained.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby pilgrim » Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:59 am

Luke wrote:Pilgrim,
Oh, so I'm an evil traditionalist and your a loving universalist? :roll:

Again, interesting that your mind should think in those terms. Chocolate.
Nothing I've said implies that my conduct is any better than yours, quite the reverse. What I actually said is that I think we are very similar and share many faults.
Although it could also be that we've simply annoyed at each other, hopefully time will tell. :mrgreen:

Most undoubtedly true and I think that such exchanges are, at times, warranted and though painful, can produce good fruit if we allow.
My opinion is that there is very little correlation between what people espouse to believe and how they act. I've met some atheists whose moral walk I can only admire. Pray God if I think hard enough I might even be able to recall some Calvinists. ;)
Please feel free to have the last word, I'll leave this thread to the scholars now that its back on course. May God bless your investigations and may the party continue.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby JasonPratt » Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:35 am

Luke wrote:No, the Athanasian Creed is still part of the Articles (well, as part of article 8), and it was when I was ordained but maybe they've changed things and I'll find out at Synod next month.


Or, maybe it has been reinstated into Article 8 again since 1801? (RevDrew seems to think not...?)

Luke wrote:Yes we have been over this ground before; the creed is a coherent unit, not a statement that can be broken down into compulsory and non-compulsory parts.


So you are saying it is compulsory to believe that, in order to be saved, the most important thing is to consistently hold that wide set of doctrines without deviating from it?

Because I see less than no evidence for that notion (of salvation being primarily earned or achieved by doctrinal assent) in the Articles, or in any other Anglican and/or Calvinistic creedal statement, so far; and plenty of things against it.

If on the other hand you say you (absolutely? somewhat? hesitantly?) do not believe that the most important factor in salvation is to hold a doctrinal set correctly (much moreso a numerously detailed one), or at least acknolwedge that it is not compulsory to believe in salvation by doctrinal assent, then I am hardly the only one between us breaking down the text of the Creed into compulsory and non-compulsory parts (much moreso outright disagreeing with an important and blatant content of the text).

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander in this case. If you insist on holding to all the text of the Creed, then I will also insist you hold to all the text of the Creed. But is that true?--do you actually believe first and foremost in salvation by doctrinal assent?

If so, then you have some ground for complaining that I am picking some doctrines from the Creed to believe (such as the two large halves on trinitarian and Incarnational doctrine) and not picking (for various reasons I have spelled out in detail elsewhere) some others (such as the salvific priority of holding doctrines in order to attain my salvation.)

If not--if you actually agree with me that salvation does not depend first and foremost on our assenting and holding to a set of doctrine--then you cannot coherently complain merely that I am rejecting the material (even if you don't want to call it wrapping statements, although their topical unity with each other compared to the rest of the material is excessively clear) before and between the two main halves: since that is what that material is definitely and decisively about.

(And also about non-universalism, as it happens. But a non-universalist could reject those wrapping statements on the same ground I do--because they're the gnostic heresy imported into and around two statements of orthodox theology!--while still remaining non-universalistic.)
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:49 am

Hello Rev. Drew

(This is my first time on this forum). I’ve had a look your posts in this thread and they jogged my memory. Your thought that universalism was left an open question for Anglicans when the 42nd article was not restored in The Elizabethan Prayer Book are corroborated by M.A. Screech, the very eminent scholar of the Renaissance, in his Laughter at the Foot of the Cross ( Penguin Books, London, 1997 p.p. 313-14). The footnotes to his discussion reference Evan Daniel, The Prayer-Book: It's History, Language and Contents , twenty first edition, 1905, pp. 552-3; Frederick Farrar, Eternal Hope. Five Sermons preached in Westminster Abbey, November and December, 1877, London, 1878; 1892, p. 85; and D.P. Walker, The Decline of Hell , London, 1964, p.38.
I dunno - there may be some useful leads here for your research.

I also remember reading somewhere that the Comfortable Words of the Burial Service in The Book Of Common Prayer were included at the express command of Queen Elizabeth who found the Calvinist Doctrine of reprobation loathsome. This certainly suggests she subscribed to ' a wideness in God's mercy' if not to Universal Reconciliation.

good wishes and blessings
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:38 am

Hi Sobornost and welcome to the forum! I thought I just might be onto something significant here and it is good to have some corroboration from the academic world. I will try to buy or borrow a copy of the Screech book you mention. I am interested in learning more about QE1's influence over the prayer book and her relationship with Matthew Parker; very intriguing...
Funnily enough I bought a copy of Dean Farrar's "Eternal Hope" sermons just recently, prompted by a conversation with one of our Bible study leaders here who had been shocked to learn of his hero Farrar's universalist convictions (this was one of many "own-goals" scored by the writers of "Hell under Fire" eds CW Morgan and RA Peterson).
I look forward to getting to know you and enjoying further conversations! Will you be introducing yourself over in the "Introductions" section?
Cheers, Drew
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby corpselight » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:15 am

i've sent a message on facebook to a vicar i know asking about this, in particular the removal of the Athanasian Creed in 1801...
it'd be a bit odd if the UK and Europe CoE recognised its removal, but the Tasmanian CoE didn't...
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sherman » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:33 am

Previously Luke noted that though article 42 was left out, UR would have been assumed excluded based on Article 8's endorsement of the Athanasian Creed. The following is what the Athanasian Creed affirms concerning judgment:

"For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved."

1st, note that it affirms that salvation is based on Works, which most of Christendom rejects today and instead affirms that salvation is by grace.
2nd note that it affirms "everlasting fire", it doesn't affirm ECT, though many would read such into that. Most UR's affirm "everlasting fire" and recognize that evil works will be burnt up.

Oops, reviewing it again I noticed that at the first he states that "without doubt he shall perish everlastingly". But the context is affirming the Trinity. He is saying that if one does not believe in the Trinity then one shall surely perish everlatingly; the point being that the Trinity is for him the doctrinal dividing line between those he accepts as brothers and those he does not accept as brothers. So though someone loves God and loves people, has faith in Jesus and is a follower of Him, that is not enough, but one must understand the Trinity the way he does else he shall "perish everlastingly".

Frankly, I don't believe that, nor do I see such affirmed in scripture. A person's trust can certainly be in Jesus without assuming to understand clearly Jesus' relationship to the Father. And from an experiential perspective, I know men and women in whom I recognize the Spirit of God, people who passionately love God and love people, people who are devoted followers of Jesus, people from all ends of the spectrum concerning Trinity, Oneness, Binitarians, etc. And I figure, if God accepts them, who am I to reject them and to not call them my brother.

In fact, considering I believe in the brotherhood of humanity and the Fatherhood of God as being Father of everyone whether we realize it or not, I see people and value them as my brothers and sisters though they do not yet know OUR Father! When I pray OUR Father, I mean see that as including all humanity, not just some.

Anyhow, back on point, I don't see the Athanasian Creed as affirming belief in ECT as being necessary for salvation, much less for fellowship. And I disagree with his affirmation that understanding the nature of God as being Trinity is necessary either!
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:20 am

Hi Drew – I’ve done an introduction for myself as you suggested, inspired by your warm welcome. Yes I really do think you are on to something here and I too will try to find out something about Matthew Parker when I can. An old friend who I hope to see over Christmas may have some useful ideas.

The book by Screech – who is/was also an Anglican Priest – is primarily about different views of laughter in the Christian tradition, focussing on the Renaissance. It has a general relevance – but the only bits that are specifically relevant are the couple of pages I cited in my first post. Would you like me to type them up for you and place them on the board? (Might save you the trouble of getting the book, and might be of general interest)
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:21 pm

Hi Dick,
Thanks for the offer, that would be very kind and helpful. It would also save me from being told off by my lovely wife for buying yet another theology/church history book.
Cheers, Drew
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:35 am

Hi Drew -

Well I have a renewed pupose in life now, in preventing the ire of your lovely wife! :) Will type it up over the weekend.

All the best


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Paidion » Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:37 pm

Rev Drew wrote:Thanks Luke - I don't know if we can change the thread title. I meant accepted in the sense of "allowed" not "adopted"...


Yes, Rev Drew, you can change the title. Just go to your original post in this thread and click on "edit". Your first post plus the thread title show up in a form which allows editing.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:08 am

Hi Drew –

I post this quotation from Screech’s books to show that ‘great minds think alike’ and that you have support for your hypothesis about the suppression of the 42nd article from an eminent authority. If anyone wants to check the academic credentials of The Rev Prof Michael Andrew Screech here is the link (he is very distinguished in his field) -
http://www.debretts.com/people/biograph ... ndrew.aspx

Here is the quotation -

‘Some think of the Christian revelation as above all a deposit dutifully guarded by an infallible man, institution, or church. Others see the revelation of the fullness of Christ’s truth as primarily a winding road, leading members of a fallible church – however fitfully – towards a deepening understanding of divine truth, justice and mercy. Christian truth may be at any time revealed – in his own way and in his own choosing – by the risen Christ. Christ is the Logos, the Living Word, the very idea of right-reason. He approaches man and addresses him in ways he can understand. It may all seem very mundane. The Logos does not smother the personality of those whom he chooses to address, but he does expect to elicit a response. One response has been a quiet rejection – despite Fathers and Councils and encyclicals and synods – of the notion of a celestial Belsen where wretches suffer infinite and everlasting torment, partly in order to add to the joy of the elect. When in 1553 the church under Edward VI drew up the Forty-two Articles, the forty second read: All men shall not be saved at length. Edward died almost at once and those articles were immediately abrogated under Queen Mary. The forty second was never restored under Elizabeth. So the church left the universalism of Origen an open question. Origen (the favourite theologian of Erasmus) held that, in the end, all rational creatures will be saved: all mankind, and even all devils. The Church, by never restoring Edward’s forty second article, leaves the door of God’s redeeming power wide open: all of us may be eventually saved. If so there will be no human beings left in hell to laugh at...’ (Laughter at the foot of the Cross – p.313)

Drew –in the light of this I reckon that along with the Bucer connection, an Erasmus connection is also well worth considering – I’ve had a number of thoughts about this. I will post later so as not to overload things now.

Finally –( to all) I have no intention of giving offence to anyone by reproducing this passage from Screech. Aware that a broad Church of Christians uses this site I think I should make a couple of points about background context -

1. However it may seem, Screech’s point about the ‘celestial Belsen’ and the joy and the laughter felt by the elect at the torments of the damned is not a low jibe aimed at believers in ETC (especially not at those who see ECT as the tragic but necessary outcome, for some, of the gift of freewill). Rather Screech is referring to the tradition of righteous gloating that one of the supreme joys of the elect in Paradise will be the privilege of a sort of ringside view of the torture of damned whom they can laugh to scorn as Elijah did the Priests of Baal. (This is first found - I think - in the writings of Tertullian and repeated by many of the medieval Doctors of the Church and the Reformers. I note in mitigation of Tertullian that he suffered cruelly under Pagan persecution and lost loved ones – then, so did Origen who was Tertullian’s near contemporary; but Origen had a merciful imagination).

2. I’m not sure how much Screech’s view of ‘continuous revelation’ will appeal to some people on this site, although I have no problem with it. For example I do think that belief in ECT today means something very different than it did for Tertullian and his successors. I would argue that the Christian Revelation can be seen – at least in one important sense – as being clarified by the historical process. At the time when the prospects of scoffing at the damned seemed unexceptional, people were used to watching punishments meted out to condemned criminals. Heretics and traitors/rebels against the sovereign majesty of Christian princes were punished in symbolic spectacle with exceptional cruelty (as the Roman pagans had done before in the arena). These punishments were designed to be a first instalment of damnation to dispirit the condemned. However, one of the fruits of the Christian tradition at its best has been that some Christians have seen in the faces of the condemned –whether guilty or innocent – the face of their Lord, cruelly tortured in front of a baying mob. A good example is Father Friedrich von Spee of Wurzburg who spoke out against the witch hunts for this reason when they were at their height. He was very influential in changing hearts and minds about the persecution. The Christian dynamic of which Spee is representative has been a major factor in the gradual – but far from complete – rejection of torture and cruel and unusual punishments, at least in principle (principle tragically lags behind fact ). This, I think, has changed forever the imaginative scope for picturing ECT in good conscience; hence those that believe in ECT these days often think in terms of separation from God and isolation in self will instead of in terms of torture – which is all to the good in my view.

Peace to All –

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:15 am

Dick, Thanks for your post which is extremely helpful and encouraging. Perhaps some of the voices from church history which have been tragically neglected will be heard afresh as a result of this present move of the Holy Spirit.I look forward to your next instalment with great anticipation! Drew
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:59 am

Thanks Drew - so glad the post was helpful. I'll do the next post a.s.a.p. (but I've got hard boiled eyes at the moment - have done quite a lot on the computer recently). What I'll do is I’ll write something about what I see as the scope of the issues relevant to this enquiry. Then you can tell me what you'd like to hear more about and about your own ideas. I'll have to flesh out details in later posts to make everything comprehensible to anybody following the thread (I mustn’t assume specialist knowledge). We can do this gradually; it should be both useful and good fun.

On a light note – in researches on Matthew Parker done since our first correspondence I have heard that the origin of the phrase 'nosey Parker' has been linked to the great man. For instance -

The most usual origin of the phrase suggested is the late (the very late) Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century. He was a reforming cleric, noted for sending out detailed enquiries and instructions relating to the conduct of his diocese. Like many reformers, he was regarded as a busybody - (alternatively others suggest that since he was regarded as an assiduous scholar of the History of the English Church – the nosy referred to a sort of academic inquisitiveness).

However, the huge flaw in this suggestion is that the term nosey Parker isn’t recorded until 1907. The term ‘nosey’ for someone inquisitive, figuratively always sticking their nose into other people’s affairs, is a little older, but even that only dates back to the 1880s. Before then, anyone called nosey was just somebody with a big nose, like the Duke of Wellington, who had the nickname Old Nosey.


Shame it doesn’t appear to be true – I rather tickled by the suggestion.

All good wishes

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:56 pm

OK Drew – here we go

First I should say that I am not a bona fide academic with research credentials to my name. I’m a sort of’ jack of all trades, master of none’ Arts/Humanities teacher who has worked in Higher Education (although I currently work in Community Education). I do have a good knowledge of secondary sources relating to this issue – hence you sparked my interest - and I know the rules of the game about sifting evidence and exercising due caution (I hope). So I think I can start the ball rolling about your fascinating hypothesis. I need to do a few posts over several weeks – between one and two a week to cover the ground that I see as relevant, and not overload things.

I will endeavour to provide enough background detail to include everyone in the discussion. I will try not to be stodgy or long winded. Always get back to me to add to or question anything I have said. In the end to really clarify issues we will need the help of an expert in the field. Perhaps we could eventually contact Morwena Ludlow via Robin Parry? But here goes (any experts in field reading this –please feel free to wade in).

At the moment, my view of the abrogation of the forty second article is that although the original intention and context was not to open the door for UR (see below) – the logic of the abrogation along with other elements of the Elizabethan Settlement has in fact opened the door.

To talk this through I suggest writing the following posts:

A post about the ‘Elizabethan Settlement and how the 39 Articles, rather than being statements of orthodox purity to exclude people can best be seen in their original context as statements of compromise to encourage Christians of different persuasions to worship together in one Church and thus prevent the country from descending into sectarianism and religious war.

A post about the influence of the Dutch scholar Erasmus on all of the stages of the English Reformation – and particularly on the Elizabethan Settlement -with his emphasis on striving for peace and church unity(compromise) and his scepticism about the ability of fallible human beings to arrive at clear knowledge about ‘ultimate things’/eschatology. I will include a note about Erasmus’ love of Origen (which I believe is rooted in other factors than Origen’s speculation about ‘ultimate things’). I will also include a note about Matthew Parker as a Christian Humanist scholar in the mould of Erasmus.

A post about what I see currently as the real concern of the Elizabethan Reformers in abrogating the 42nd article. That is - a concern about an epidemic of religious despair produced by the crude Calvinism of some English Puritans. The contrary danger of the religious presumption of salvation was obviously a minor issue at the time compared with the Calvinist threat; the Family of Love, and the Grindletonians – sects among the common people - who taught disbelief in Hell – must have seemed inconsequential (however, see next).

A post about the little I know of Elizabeth’s influence on the Prayer Book and her personal religiosity. I do note that for all of her insistence on giving religious comfort to her people in 1585 she felt it necessary to denounce those who said ‘there was no hell but a torment of conscience’ in Parliament.

A post about the Service for the Burial of the Dead in the Book of Common Prayer. Part of Elizabethan compromise was to include words about predestination alongside words of comforting assurance for all in this service. The reason for this was the need to compromise – and Puritan divines did not like this instance of compromise one jot. However, the unintentional logic behind incorporating passages about both election and wide assurance in this service is one of UR. Likewise Richard Hooker, the theorist of the Elizabethan Settlement ,although I’m sure not a universalist as such, wrote many passage of rich comfort for those tempted to despair and showed such a wide charity about whom he hoped might be saved that his logic again, in my view, tends creating a climate in which belief UR becomes an acceptable option.

A post about Geroge Rust, the first prominent Anglican Universalists – Bishop of Dromore in Ireland -inspired by the Cambridge Platonists (who were in turn inspired by both Erasmus and Origen). I can, if you wish, include a note about the Athanasian Creed with this – if the indeed the Athanasian Creed had acted as a barrier to Anglican universalism, by the latter half of the seventeenth century its authority and status had taken a dent. Christian Humanist scholarship had demonstrated conclusively that it was not written by Athanasius (the real Athanasius was a supporter of Origen), it was not originally written in Greek but in Latin, and that it dates from at least 100 years after its ascribed date.

Let me know what you think of my proposal – and we’ll take it slowly.

All good wishes

Dick
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:51 am

Hope the previous post wasn't too overwhelming. I think historical evidence and context is important here - the discussion thus far has been more abstract doctrinal rather than historical - and I was trying to break things down into subject areas I see as important, so I could give each some careful thought to each with the help of your feedback and input.

I don't yet have a settled view on your question - but I do believe the Spirit can/has used fallible human beings - with their compromises and expediency -as well as clear sighted 'Merciful Doctors' of the Church to reveal to us the Greater Hope in its fullness. And it is very striking that the suppression of article 42 actually does open the door for universalism.

With history we just need to sort out what is impossible from what is possible, what is probable, and what is certain given the evidence we have regarding your question. And we need a view on what questions to ask the 'experts'.

If it would be better to correspond through private message on this forum and post findings later, that's good by me too.

Blessings :D
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:08 am

Hi Dick,

Your proposal seems an extremely sensible way of going about things and, judging by the numbers viewing this thread to date, I'd say it is worth keeping open for everybody to listen in and contribute, rather than corresponding privately. Do you think it would be best to keep the whole thing on this thread or run a different thread for each of your topics?

Looking forward to getting deeper into this topic. Thanks for taking the initiative.

Cheers, Drew
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:56 pm

HI Drew -

That's good. I see now from the number of views of this thread that it has indeed been a 'hot topic' since you started it. I don't know what to say about starting separate threads - let's keep it on here for the moment as my first post will be about the articles and the Elizabethan Settlement - and I'll post it sometime mid-week. Promise to be careful and cautious (I was already jumping the gun a bit in my notes to the proposals)

All the best


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:51 am

Hi Drew –

Greetings for Advent. :)

On reflection I feel unhappy that I’ve suggested relegating the question of the ‘damnatory clauses’ of the Athanasian Creed to a footnote at the end of a process (it seems very arrogant of me). Discussion about this has taken up a lot of this thread to date so I think I should give some pointers/outline some resources for weighing the historical context now (and then go on to tackle the Elizabethan Settlement etc.). Have almost finished my notes on this – which I hope clarify some issues that have already been debated here. Will post on Saturday.

I reckon it would be good for you to begin a separate thread on ‘The Athanasian Creed – the damnatory clauses and UR’ - as you've suggested for our sub-topics . This is an important issue not only to Anglican Universalists but also to all Orthodox Trinitarian Christian Universalists (and to Unitarian Universalists – possibly for slightly different reasons). I can place my post on the new thread and then leave the discussion for others to get on with. I guess the discussion could branch out into a consideration of how Trinitarian Christians from other traditions/denominations deal with the damnatory clauses.

By the way, here is a website I found that supports your 'abrogation hypothesis' - sounds impressive ;)

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report ... mpid=56264

Whatever we finally decide it is beginning to seem to me absolutely incredible that the 42nd Article was abrogated given the times/circumstances – and I can well understand if anyone wants to see this as providential.

All the best

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Matt Wiley » Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:06 pm

This sounds like a pretty cool discussion. :)
The gospel is about our pain, and His love.

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:31 am

Hi Dick,

I have started a new thread for the Athanasian Creed discussion. For your information, any member can start new threads just by going to the relevant section on the Board Index and clicking "new topic".

Sobornost wrote:By the way, here is a website I found that supports your 'abrogation hypothesis' - sounds impressive ;)

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report ... mpid=56264

this looks interesting.
The document you linked to is
'May 1648: An Ordinance for the punishing of Blasphemies and Heresies, with the several penalties therein expressed.', Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660 (1911), pp. 1133-1136. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report ... mpid=56264 Date accessed: 02 December 2011

A first group of offenses categorised as heresies and blasphemies carries the death penalty. The list does not include UR as far as I can see:
[2 May, 1648.]

An Enumeration of several errors.;The maintaining and publishing of these with obstinacy shall be felony.

For the preventing of the growth and spreading of Heresie and Blasphemy, Be it Ordained by the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament Assembled, That all such persons as shall from and after the date of this present Ordinance, willingly by Preaching, Teaching, Printing, or Writing, Maintain and publish that there is no God, or that God is not present in all places, doth not know and foreknow all things, or that he is not Almighty, that he is not perfectly Holy, or that he is not Eternal, or that the Father is not God, the Son is not God, or that the Holy Ghost is not God, or that they Three are not one Eternal God: Or that shall in like manner maintain and publish, that Christ is not God equal with the Father, or, shall deny the Manhood of Christ, or that the Godhead and Manhood of Christ are several Natures, or that the Humanity of Christ is pure and unspotted of all sin; or that shall maintain and publish, as aforesaid, That Christ did not die, nor rise from the Dead, nor is ascended into Heaven bodily, or that shall deny his death is meritorious in the behalf of Believers; or that shall maintain and publish as aforesaid, That Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, or that the Holy Scripture (viz.) of the Old Testament, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ester, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zecharia, Malachi: Of the New Testament, The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, Pauls Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians the first, Corinthians the second, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians the first, Thessalonians the second, to Timothy the first, to Timothy the second, to Titus, to Philemon, the Epistles to the Hebrews, the Epistle of James, the first and second Epistles of Peter, the first, second, and third Epistles of John, the Epistle of Jude, the Revelation of John, is not the Word of God, or that the Bodies of men shall not rise again after they are dead, or that there is no day of Judgment after death; all such maintaining and publishing of such Error or Errors with obstinacy therein, shall by vertue hereof be adjudged Felony, and all such persons upon complaint and proof made of the same in any of the cases aforesaid, before any two of the next Justices of the Peace for that place or County, by the Oaths of two Witnesses (which said Justices of Peace in such cases shall hereby have power to administer) or confession of the party, the said party so accused shall be by the said Justices of the Peace committed to prison without Bail or Mainprise, until the next Goal delivery to be holden for that place or County, and the Witnesses likewise shall be bound over by the said Justices unto the said Goal delivery to give in their evidence; And at the said Goal delivery the party shall be indicted for Felonious Publishing and maintaining such Errour, and in case the Indictment be found, and the Party upon his Trial shall not abjure his said Errour and defence and maintenance of the same, he shall suffer the pains of death, as in case of Felony without benefit of Clergy.

... the death penalty applies unless the offender recants:
In case of Recantation how such shall be dealt with.

But in case he shall recant or renounce and abjure his said errour or errours, and the maintenance and publishing of the same, he shall nevertheless remain in prison untill he shall finde two sureties, being Subsidy men, that shall be bound with him before two or more Justices of the Peace or Goal delivery, that he shall not thenceforth publish or maintain as aforesaid the said errour or errours any more: And the said Justices shall have power hereby to take Bayl in such cases.

Second offence after renouncing.

And be it further Ordained, That in case any person formerly indicted for publishing and maintaining of such erroneous Opinion or Opinions, as aforesaid, and renouncing and abjuring the same, shall nevertheless again publish and maintain his said former errour or errours, as aforesaid, and the same proved as aforesaid, the said party so offending shall be committed to Prison as formerly, and at the next Goal Delivery shall be indicted as aforesaid. And in case the Indictment be then found upon the Trial, and it shall appear that formerly the party was convicted of the same errour, and publishing and maintaining thereof, and renounced and abjured the same, the Offendor shall suffer death as in case of Felony, without benefit of Clergy.

A further list of errors INCLUDING UR as well as belief that people have free will to believe in God, is not described as blasphemy or heresy and carries a lower penalty.
Other Errors; How such shall be dealt with.

Be it further Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That all and every person or persons that shall publish or maintain as aforesaid any of the several errours hereafter ensuing, viz. That all men shall be saved, or that man by Nature hath free will to turn to God, or that God may be worshipped in or by Pictures or Images, or that the soul of any man after death goeth neither to Heaven or Hell, but to Purgatory, or that the soul of man dieth or sleepeth when the body is dead, or that Revelations or the workings of the Spirit are a rule of Faith or Christian life, though diverse from or contrary to the written Word of God: or that man is bound to believe no more than by his reason he can comprehend; or that the Moral Law of God contained in the ten Commandments is no rule of Christian life; or that a believer need not repent or pray for pardon of sins; or that the two Sacraments of Baptism and the Lords Supper are not Ordinances commanded by the Word of God, or that the baptizing of Infants is unlawfull, or such Baptism is void, and that such persons ought to be baptized again, and in pursuance thereof shall baptize any person formerly baptized; or that the observation of the Lords day as it is enjoyned by the Ordinances and Laws of this Realm, is not according, or is contrary to the word of God, or that it is not lawfull to joyn in publique prayer or family prayer, or to teach children to pray, or that the Churches of England are no true Churches, nor their Ministers and Ordinances true Ministers and Ordinances, or that the Church Government by Presbytery is Antichristian or unlawfull, or that Magistracy or the power of the Civil Magistrate by Law established in England is unlawfull, or that all use of Arms though for the publique defence (and be the cause never so just) is unlawfull, and in case the Party accused of such publishing and maintaining of any of the said errours shall be thereof convicted to have published and maintained the same as aforesaid, by the Testimony of two or more witnesses upon Oath or confession of the said party before two of the next Justices of the Peace for the said place or County, whereof one to be of the Quorum (who are hereby required and Authorized to send for Witnesses and examine upon Oath in such cases in the presence of the party) The party so convicted shall be ordered by the said Justices to renounce his said Errors in the publique Congregation of the same Parish from whence the complaint doth come, or where the offence was committed, and in case he refuseth or neglecteth to perform the same, at or upon the day, time, and place appointed by the said Justices then he shall be committed to prison by the said Justices until he shall finde two sufficient Sureties before two Justices of Peace for the said place or County (whereof one shall be of the Quorum) that he shall not publish or maintain the said errour or errours any more.

- Basically the offender just has to recant or go to prison until he agrees to stop preaching this view.

Have I read this right Dick? Is that what you were pointing out? Again it would be interesting to know who was driving this. It was during the Civil War led by Cromwell and co against King Charles I (Roman Catholic).
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:08 pm

Hi Drew -

Have been otheriwse engaged but am back in harness now (and I've had an opporutnity to think about matters more deeply). Will post tomorrow.

All the best

Dick

ANd thanks for starting thread on the A. Creed
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:18 pm

Cheers Dick, I'm looking forward to your post :)
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:38 am

Hi Drew –

Nice to have time to chat again. :D :D

The odd thing about the history site that I referred you to is that when I first accessed it on 24 November 2011 it contained both the text of ‘An Ordinance for the punishing of Blasphemies and Heresies’, and contextual information (presumably written by C.H. Firth, R.S. Rait, the 1911 editors ‘Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660’). The contextual stuff seems to have been withdrawn and I’m sorry for any confusion. Fortunately I copied it when I first looked at the site.

It says that -

In England the Protestants, in drawing up their Forty-two Articles of Religion, in 1552, condemned Universalism. Ten years later, when the convocation revised the doctrines of the Church, the number of articles was reduced to thirty-nine, omitting, among others, the one condemning Universalism. Since that time Universalism has not been a forbidden doctrine in the Church of England...

So this is what I meant by confirmation of the ‘abrogation hypothesis’ (and by the way I’ve found a number of examples of the ‘abrogation hypothesis’ as expressed by Anglican clergymen since the seventeenth century; I’ll post them just before Christmas to cheer you).

Firth and Rait go on to explain that

The Presbyterian Parliament of 1648, which temporarily overthrew Episcopacy, passed a law against all heresies (that is, the Ordinance of May 1648), punishing the persistent holders of some with death, and of others with imprisonment. "That all men shall be saved" was among the heresies punishable in the latter manner. This law was not long operative, for the Independents, headed by Cromwell, soon overthrew the law-makers. Gerard Willstanley published a work in advocacy of Universalism only a few days after the passage of the law, which was soon followed by similar works from his pen. William Earbury fearlessly preached Universalism. Richard Coppin was active in its advocacy, publishing largely in its exposition and defense, and was several times tried for his offence.

So the context here is the Rump Parliament after the overthrow of Charles I in the Civil War/English Revolution. Charles I had been a sort of High Church Anglican of the Armenian tendency and one of the many causes of the Civil War was his attempt to impose the letter of the 39 Articles on Calvinist Anglicans, rather than being content to allow them to conform to the spirit of the Articles (of course, part of his concern in doing this was to limit their power).The Rump Parliament was composed of powerful Calvinists. What is interesting in this source is the evidence that the Rump felt the need to forbid the teaching of Universalism, whereas the Anglican Church had not done so – it shows that the Calvinists had a far greater concern to police/control the beliefs of the common people than the Anglican Divines of the Elizabethan Settlement; and I think in their need to proscribe universalism they were more in line with the policy of the other continental state/magisterial Protestant Churches (see following section). However, this attempt at censorship was short lived. As stated above Cromwell, the head of the Army, backed the Independents, a substantial force in the Army, to overthrow the law in the cause of Christian Liberty (the ‘Independents’ is the name for those parties and sects who believed that religion should not be controlled by the state, but should be a matter of voluntary association by Believers – their beliefs were in some ways parallel to those of the continental Anabaptists but not all were directly influenced by continental Anabaptism). This gave a number of Universalists the liberty to express their faith during the period of the Commonwealth. This experiment with religious liberty – way in advance of Anglican toleration - was exceptional at the time.

D.P. Walker and ‘The Decline of Hell’

I’ve just read D.P. Walker’s The Decline of Hell,(University of Chicago Press, 1964). This is the classic authority on changing views of hell in the seventeenth century (with a nod to the sixteenth century); I have found it enormously useful and relevant to our discussion. I think I need to outline the scope of this for you –

Walker argues that the beginnings of the decline in the belief in Hell in the seventeenth century, were part of a gradual and glacially slow revolution in sentiment (some of which can be seen in embryonic form in the sixteenth century – but only in a marginal and exceptional way – and much of which only becomes clear in the late nineteenth century). He gives several examples of this ‘shift’ but most important for our purposes are -

• A dawning awareness that the savage punishments formerly meted out to criminals (including traitors and heretics), and to the insane and the young (different in degree if not in kind from the punishments of criminals) were not in keeping with Christian charity.
• A gradual acceptance of religious tolerance and pluralism by Church and Society. Religious persecution had formerly been justified on grounds of the need to protect believers from the spread of false teaching and in this way to prevent their corruption and damnation. However, after a century of savage religious wars, sectarian violence, and persecution and with the idea of toleration becoming increasingly attractive, believers of all sects and parties became less happy to consign those who did not share their religious views to the flames and/or to damnation, even in imagination.

Certainly this shift has influenced the Anglican Church – but not explicitly at first. We need to remember that Anglicanism is a form of Magisterial Protestantism – its original purpose was to replace the Catholic Church’s monopoly of religion with the State’s monopoly of (Protestant) religion enforced by the magistrates. As it was developed in the Elizabethan Settlement it was far more tolerant than most contemporary continental forms of Magisterial Protestantism. However, there were limits to tolerance and conformity was enforced by a network of spies, the torture chamber, and by persecution on the pretext of preventing schism and anarchy in the State. However, the seventeenth century sees a shift in Anglicanism as it gradually comes to operate in a more pluralistic framework.

He argues compellingly that for any Magisterial Protestant church, allowing universalism would have been madness in the sixteenth century and for much of the seventeenth. He gives multiple examples from writings of the sixteenth and seventeenth century Protestantism to assert that the authorities of Magisterial Protestantism(s) believed that if the common people stopped believing in the threat of Hell – either through adopting annihilationism or UR -there would be nothing to prevent them succumbing to all manner of wickedness and sedition. Civil society would crumble into anarchy and perdition.

He also shows that by the end of the seventeenth century some Anglican churchmen and scholars – especially those associated with the Cambridge Platonist movement –began to argue for universalism. However, their writings were published posthumously and/or pseudonymously – for fear of the personal consequences, and/or for fear of encouraging wickedness in the common people. Indeed these authors went to great length to specify the appalling and prolonged physical suffering awaiting the damned – even if this fate was not everlasting

Finally , he argues that the sects in seventeenth century England that openly preached universalism did so precisely because they believed that this world was passing away and that Christ was about to come and reign with his Saints. Therefore they were not concerned with questions of maintaining the civil order. Although these sects were short-lived and ‘eccentric’ – not least because millenarians with mass appeal are usually rather vindictive in their expectations - Walker argues that they had a big influence on the ‘Decline of Hell’.

Back to the Elizabethans

In the light of Walker’s thesis, I would suggest that when the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion were established, if there were any men with UR sympathies in the Convocation which formulated them these would have been Christian Humanist scholars with a knowledge of Patristic literature and, therefore, of Origen and/or knowledge of the Greek New Testament and the ambiguous meaning of terms such as ‘aionos’. (Such men may also have thought that ‘perish everlastingly’ in the Athanasian Creed means ‘age long perishing’ in the original Greek). I understand that Matthew Parker was indeed a Humanist scholar with knowledge of Erasmus’ edition of the Greek New Testament and, unusually for an English Reformers, a scholar of Patristic literature; so he fits the bill. If secret Universalist sympathies were behind the abrogation of the 42nd Article the intention behind this may have been to secretly include any clergy who also had secret Universalistic sympathies. However, it would not have been to allow the teaching of Universalism to the laity. This may be a wild idea, but it is worth thinking about further before dismissing.

Regarding the ambiguous meaning of ‘aionos’ in New Testament Greek, D.P. Walker that Thomas Burnett (c.1635–1715), an Anglican Theologian connected with the Cambridge Platonists and ‘others’ – presumably other associates of the Cambridge Platonists - argued ‘with some success, that the word used for eternal in Matthew XXV and other crucial texts, need not mean more than age-long...”(‘Decline of Hell’, p.7). Burnett is writing more the a hundred years after the Convocation met to establish the39 Articles – but this does not mean that the issue was unknown earlier.

Final note for further consideration

Even if the evidence for secret Origenism in the Elizabethan Church hierarchy proves to be thin, I still think that the abrogation of the 42nd article by a Magisterial Protestant Church at this time seems nothing short of miraculous for reasons given above and others. It seems mind blowing considering the wildly exaggerated fear of the Anabaptists in Elizabethan England, who suffered severe state persecution (two were burnt as heretics even though the law for the burning of heretics had been repealed). The Anabaptists, like the later English Independents, taught (and still teach) that Church membership should be voluntary for believers and no business of state coercion – a seditious doctrine to Magisterial Protestants. At this time they were greatly feared – largely, and unfairly, because of the association of all Anabaptists with those who notoriously took control of Munster from 1553 – 1555. They also had a reputation –probably undeserved – for teaching Universal salvation; and this makes the suppression of the 42nd article curious because it could easily have been construed as condoning the Anabaptists (and this was certainly not the intention).

Also, to my knowledge, all of the Confessional documents for continental Magisterial Churches at this time contain clauses explicitly affirming eternal damnation. For example Article 17 of the Lutheran Confession of Augsburg (1530) affirms that ‘in the consummation of the world (at the last day), Christ shall appear to judge, and shall raise up all the dead, and shall give unto the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys; but ungodly men and the devils shall he condemn unto endless torments’. The Confession then goes on to explicitly ‘condemn the Anabaptists who think that to condemned men and the devils shall be an end of torments’. It seems very odd indeed that the Elizabethan Church should risk offending Lutherans by not explicitly condemning Universalism associated with Anabaptism when Article 29 of the Book of Common Prayer’s 39 Articles– ‘Of the Wicked Which Eat Not The Body of Christ’ –was at first omitted from the Prayer Book, very probably to ease diplomatic negotiations with the Lutheran Princes of Germany (because the Lutheran sacramental teaching states that both the good and the wicked do indeed receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacramental elements, the former to their benefit, the latter to their condemnation). The omission may well have been due to the personal intervention of the Queen, and the Article was not restored until 1571.This is all very curious, and food for thought for another time).

Thanks for your patience - that's rathe ra lot of information I've spewed out.... :D

All very good wishes


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