Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:53 am

Hi Dick, Thank you for such a well-researched and thought provoking contribution. Lots for me to chew on and ideas to pursue further. I particularly liked this:
Sobornost wrote: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 this:
Sobornost wrote: 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.

Thanks again, you are a star!
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:04 pm

Thanks Drew -

I'm glad and relieved you liked it - I see that other people are reading it too, so I can stop being too anxious about coming across as a pompous bore.

I’ve just found out something very interesting from a very reliable source (an article by Eamon Duffy - a noted historian of the English Reformation). It seems that Elizabeth I tolerated members of the 'Family of Love' amongst her personal servants. The 'Family of Love' held gentle mystical beliefs which seem to have included some sort of notion of universal salvation . They were a secret society of mutual support and were prepared to conform to the rites and governance of the Anglican Church – so they posed no threat to civil order (although they became one of the objects of religious panic in the 1580s). Now that is a thing worth ‘a pondering’ - but won't jump to any rash conclusions: on the back burner for now.

Will post mid-week (I hope) with some bits and bobs - but wont' do another major post before the New Year.

All the best


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:52 pm

I had a pang of conscience today about a possible faux pas. I mentioned the ‘Family of Love’ fleetingly in my last post because a discovery had excited me - and one that I can only share with virtual friends – (my nearest and dearest aren’t much interested in this discussion). I’ve since paused for thought about what I said – not least because I am posting on an Evangelical Universalist thread. So I thought I should say a little more about the Family of Love etc., to avoid confusion.

First there is no connection between the sixteenth century ‘Family of Love’ and the rebranded version of The Children of God (the very unpleasant and heterodox fundamentalist cult which some of you may have experience of).

Second – as far as the sixteenth century version is concerned the sources of evidence are fragmentary so it is difficult to say for certain who the Family of Love were and what they believed. Once upon a time when Marxist history was popular ,the Family of Love were viewed as a sort of underground resistance religious movement of the common people, numbered in their thousands who were universalists and took the idea of freedom from the law as a licence for free love. Marxist historians lauded Universalism, not because they believed it to be true – they were generally atheists - but because they saw it as an example of the common people throwing off the shackles of the oppressive ideology of their rulers (there’s may be a grain of truth in this– but it’s not the full story).

Recent research, based on careful sifting of the evidence, has suggested a very different picture. Rather than there being thousands of ‘Familists’ in Elizabethan England there were probably only a couple of hundred. Far from being a sect of rebels, they were actually anxious to conform to the National Church. Far from being a populist movement, many Familists were members of the gentry. Indeed, some were numbered amongst the household of the Queen and her members of her Yeoman of the Guard (all of whom would have come from gentry stock). The charge of moral licence made by their persecutors is actually difficult to substantiate and may well have been the product of hysteria. Their tradition of secrecy had its roots in the continental Famalism where secrecy had to be maintained to avoid persecution ,as in the English persecutions under Mary. (Continental Famalism was generally composed of intellectuals and included big stars like the painter Peter Brueghel the Elder). All in all it seems that the Family of Love were probably more like a premature version of the Society of Friends than the organisation as envisaged by Marxists.

One thing we do know about the Familist’s beliefs is that they allegorized heaven and hell saying that these were states of the soul rather than physical places. This does not necessarily amount to universalism but – because it takes away the focus on the severe and retributive justice of God - it is a step along the way.

That Elizabeth tolerated Familists in her household is interesting regarding the history of Anglican universalism. It doesn’t suggest to me a sort of ‘Da Vinci Code’ conspiracy theory whereby the suppression of the 42nd article was due to infiltration of Familists in the Convocations of Bishops– that would be very wild and very crazy to argue. However, it may suggest something about a double standard –that universalism was not so alarming/heretical to the Elizabethan powers as long as it was confined as an opinion to the gentry and intellectuals (and kept secret). Elizabeth addressed parliament in the 1580s to reject the idea that ‘hell was only torment of conscience’ – which sounds pretty much the Familist doctrine – and this was said when the widespread scare about Familism was at its height and perhaps she felt a political need to distance herself at this point.

This is a side issue in a wider discussion – but I raise it in order to put it aside for the moment by allaying any possible fears I may have raised. One of these days I will ask somebody who knows all about Familism what they think.

All good wishes


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:07 pm

That's pretty much what I read about the "Familists" too. Thanks for clarifying anyway :)
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:37 pm

Drew
I can well understand if you are cheesed off with me. I can only say –

If I seem to be taking over – that’s a fair point. At the moment I am a carer with time a certain amount of time on my hands because I can only do part time work in Community Education because I have to be around for emergencies etc. Most of the time these days I’m an English Literature teacher in further education – but I can’t do this at the moment and the nearest I get to historical studies is doing reminiscence work with dementia patients (very rewarding - but do miss some intellectual stimulation too). Also your question about the 42nd article dovetails in to a lot of issues I struggled with and read about when I was a recently ‘recovering fundie’ – as they say here. So this is stimulating to me and kind of therapeutic too. Also my time is precarious – any time soon I may have no time – caring pattern varies greatly -so I wanted to set things down now while the going is reasonably good.

I had offered to do a private dialogue with you, and we decided against it. The reason for the post on the ‘Familists’ was to keep anyone else informed who reads this post . (It’s hard to point to a specific site for people to read – a lot of the information I’m getting –without the resources of a University Library to hand - is from bits and bobs of Google Books. And readers/viewers have to get some sort of grasp of the background to this issue, if they are to have any hope of understanding it – a lot of it is pretty obscure). Also you can appreciate my concern about the Children Of God - not with you but with someone else who might read my post. I’ve only just read this stuff on Familism too. The last time I’d thought about them properly was about twenty years ago when the Marxist view prevailed. The only academic I have any contact with these days happens to be something of an expert on English religious sects of the period – so when I can see him again that’s one expert opinion I can ask for (but we’ll have to look elsewhere for expert opinions on other points)
In addition I’m aware of how measly an Anglican stipend is – and therefore I’ve summarised stuff from Screech and D.P, Walker for you. You’ve also haven’t currently got time on your hands.

So I’ve done a synopsis of D.P. Walker for you,. His book may be the standard authority but it is open to question and nuance. I’ve seen a review online concerning his idea of religious toleration and the decline of hell operating in tandem; the reviewer argues that although Walker was basically correct, the early advocates of tolerance saws divine vengeance waiting for the persecutors; so the Decline is in need of nuance. What is exciting to me about the Familist stuff is that it seems to suggest another point of nuance needed of the Decline. Walker argues that it was impossible to think of Universalism as an allowable option if you were a sixteenth century Magisterial Protestant. However, it seems that Elizabeth’s toleration of the Famalists in her circle suggests that it wasn’t impossible within the framework of the Elizabethan Settlement as long as it was done with secrecy and confined to the gentry.

I append my other bits of stuff that I was going to send you before Christmas.


The Abrogation of the 42nd

I have reflected on the context and meaning of the suppression of the 42nd Article a little more. The entry on the 39 Articles in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (p.1622) tells me that “Subscription to the 39 Articles has never been required of any but the clergy and until the nineteenth century, members of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. From 1865 the clergy were only required to affirm... them as agreeable to the Word of God and undertake not to teach in contradiction of them... Since 1975 they have been required simply to Articles as one of the historic formularies of the C of E which bear witness to the faith revealed in the scripture and set forth in the catholic creeds”.
It strikes me from all of this that through the centuries of the C of E’s existence, those who have been primarily concerned with pondering the meaning and implications of the Articles have been clergy and scholars. All will have been educated to some degree in the history of the Anglican Church and thus most will have know of the abrogation of the Forty Second Article from Edward IV’s Prayer Book . Yes, the 39 Articles do not positively allow the teaching of universal salvation but knowledge of the abrogation/suppression of the 42nd Article condemning universalism must have caused many Anglican clergy through the ages to pause for thought. And Drew, it is such an notable, striking thing to an Anglican who has embraced Universalism that I’m not surprised that others have arrived at the same conclusions as you in the past, and independent of each other (it’s almost a sort of ‘cloud of witness’)

First example I’ve found is that the abrogation of the 42nd Article was used by George Rust, formerly Dean of Conor and later Bishop of Dromore, and a younger associate of the Cambridge Platonists, in A Letter of Resolution Concerning Origen and the chief of his opinions’ (published under a pseudonym in 1661)

I would fain know why she (i.e. The Church of England) who in her 39 Articles does so punctually (i.e. exactly) follow the Articles agreed upon in King Edward’s Days, or with little variation, should wholly omit that Article which condemns the Restorers (i.e. the exponents) of this opinion, if she had thought it ought to be condemned’ (quoted in The Decline p.23) D.P. Walker The Decline of Hell, University of Chicago Press, 1964

Second example is Andrew Jukes from The Second Death and the Restitution of All Things, 1867. I’ve seen some conflicting versions of his story but the consensus appears to be that he was ordained in the Church of England but was suspended and left over disagreement with the authorities about Infant Baptism. He went on to found an independent church and was friendly with Darby of the Plymouth Brethren (decidedly not a Universalist) and Samuel Cox the Baptist Universalist. When he published ‘Restitution’ he lost a lot of his congregation in protest and eventually came back to the Church of England as an Anglo Catholic – although he never took holy orders again. In Restitution he wrote -

It ought not to be forgotten also, that our English Church , having in her original Forty-two Articles had a Forty-first, declaring of “Millenarians,” that they “cast themselves headlong into a Jewish dotage,” and a Forty-second, asserting, that “All men shall not be saved at length,” within a very few years, in Elizabeth 's reign, struck out both these Articles. Surely this is not without its significance. The Creeds, which are received both by East and West, not only make no mention whatever of endless punishment, but in their declaration of “the forgiveness of sins” seem to teach a very different doctrine.

The other examples are Screech and, of course, your good self. I think Farrar may well have arrived at the same conclusion as you– and I don’t for a moment think that he was your inspiration (nor do I think Dukes knew of Rust, or Farrar necessarily knew of Dukes). You’d certainly not read Farrar’s sermons when you started the thread and you are good bloke too – and I hope you’ve never thought I’d implied that you had read them (perhaps I'm being paranoid).

Errors in my past posts

I’ve made a lot of slips and errors in my posts – not including typos - and I end with my naughty list. In previous posts -
I have coupled the Family of Love with the Grindletonians; but the latter originated after Elizabeth’s reign and, therefore, are not strictly relevant.

I have said that I seemed to remember that Elizabeth had some influence on the inclusion of ‘comfortable words’ in the Prayer Book. I haven’t been able to find any confirmation of this. Indeed, I must have remembered wrongly because ‘comfortable words’ are already included in Cramner’s Prayer Book

I have referred to Richard Hooker as the ‘theorist’ of the Elizabethan Settlement, implying he had some input into this. However, it is more accurate to call him the ‘apologist’ for the Elizabethan Settlement – he was published in the 1590’s and his apology is for something that has already existed for some time.

I have said that I thought the real reason for suppressing the 42nd article was to guard against an epidemic of spiritual despair (assertion made after initial optimism over your idea had taken a knock from reading Christopher Hill – the Marxist historian I referred to indirectly in my last post). I no longer think it is central; the issue only becomes hugely important in the 1580’s when the Calvinists within the Anglican Church became ideological about predestination and assurance. However, Anglican traditions of compassion for the spiritually depressed plus the paradoxes in the BOCP Funeral Service do provide additional support for Anglican Universalism along with the abrogation of the 42d Article. And - as you know, my optimism about your idea has returned refreshed.

I have suggested that Gerhard Jan Voss in 1642).was the first to question the authorship of the Athanasian Creed. I now know that Joachim Camerarius was the first in 1547. He was a German Classical scholar consulted by the Reformers when they were composing the Ausburg confession. He expressed his ideas on the Creed in Greek, but the storm was such that he had to omit these from the Latin edition of his work in 1593. In 1569, John Jewell, Anglican Bishop of Salisbury spoke guardedly in support of Camerarius’ ideas. The first Anglican to express doubts about the uses of the damnatory clauses, as far as I know, was Jeremy Taylor in ‘A Discourse of the Liberty of Prophesying’ (1646). He wrote that: 'It seems very hard to put uncharitableness into a creed, and so to make it become an article of faith’.

There were also some things I have written about the Civil War that were so brief as to be misleading – I’ve looked things up to gain the proper context.

I have referred to the powerful Calvinist party within the Long Parliament during the Civil War simply as ‘Calvinists’. ‘Presbyterians’ is the better term. Some of the Independents had Calvinist views on Predestination – and two of the Universalists from this period, Sterry and White, were effectively Calvinist Universalists. However, the party in Parliament as well as being theologically Calvinist also wanted to introduce the Presbyterian system of Church Government in the National Church doing away with the power of bishops appointed by the Crown and imposing the hierarchical system of government by Councils of the Elect favoured in Geneva (and arguably replacing one authoritarian system with another more intrusive and authoritarian one).In this they were heirs of the Calvinist Anglicans of the Elizabethan Settlement who seem to have bought in to the Settlement in the hope that a partially reformed Church would one day be fully reformed. The issue of ‘Christian Liberty’ that eventually had them ejected from Parliament was not religious censorship – they had already lost this battle – but rather their willingness to cut a deal with the King rather than supporting his execution as a Tyrant. After the restoration of the Monarchy – with the realisation that the Church was never going to be fully reformed many English Calvinists had a profound and painful rethink and developed a largely tolerant and socially progressive faith.

I have suggested that the ‘Independents’ were somehow linked to the Anabaptist tradition. This is misleading. Independents primarily refers to Dissenters who were non-sectarian/happy to be part of the national church but what more powers for congregations – e.g. to hire and fire ministers instead of having these chosen by Bishops. They became the Congregationalists after the Restoration. However the Independents did support the rights/freedoms of the sects/sectaries – Baptists, Quakers, Levellers, Diggers – who arguably can be linked to the Anabaptists.

I have given the Anglican Armenians too much of an easy ride. They were Armenian in their view of salvation; they developed a high church form of liturgical worship (offensive to the Presbyterians); but most offensive to the Presbyterians – and understandably so – they developed an oppressive theology and policy of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ with Royal approval/input.

Happy Christmas Drew. Really didn’t mean to cheese you off. I could post in the New Year – I was thinking a couple of big ones and two or three small ones up to Easter before we formulate questions for experts - but could stop now if it’s getting a drag, or communicate in a different way so we can slow down and you can do some research or whatever.

Cheers and Blessings adn Merry Christmas

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:13 pm

Hi Dick,

You certainly haven't "cheesed me off" in any way at all, and I'm really sorry if I gave you that impression. I have been longing for a historian to join in our discussions, especially someone with knowledge of the reformation era. You are a gentleman, a scholar and a breath of fresh air and, although few people here may feel sufficiently qualified to comment on the information you are posting, the rising number of readers of the thread shows your efforts are well appreciated. I am, as you guessed, quite busy in the run-up to Christmas of course. But I am reading and printing all your posts and making space for some deeper study in the New Year.

By the way, I was fortunate to be given some books by a clergy widow recently, including Bishop T.V. Short's "Sketch of the History of the Church of England" (1882). I've only dipped into it so far, but have already picked up a few gems, including the following description of our friend Archbishop Parker:

Parker, the first metropolitan of this reign, was in many respects calculated to shine with splendour in the situation in which he was placed: he was liberal and ever ready to advance the interests of learning or of talent; he was himself learned and studious, but his peculiar qualification seems to have been a desire and faculty of systematizing and improving every establishment to which he belonged, a talent which was extremely required at this period; but perhaps he was not well calculated to hold that even balance between contending errors, which the difficulties of the time placed more immediately in his hands.


He certainly seems to have improved the CofE in ridding it of Article 42, if nothing else!

Happy Christmas to you and those you care for. Love and prayers from me, Drew
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:37 pm

Thanks Drew - bless you.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:37 am

That's a lovely quotation you've posted - and how fortunate that the book has come into your hands. I reckon Matthew Parker is a man after your own heart Drew - and good for you. Also Parker was happily married, as you are happily married. Elizabeth for some reason, although a Protestant, was still a private believer in celibate clergy (especially Bishops). She rated Parker so much that she forgave him his marriage (that was big of her!).

I don't know whether you know this but Parker left his entire library of 600 plus manuscripts to Caius College Cambridge where they still reside with additions, and the Parker Library is in the process of being put online. So any expert opinion we may seek about Parker could first be addressed to the current Parker Librarian

Will continue to produce stuff after Christmas and you can catch up on reading it ‘as and when’. There is no rush to get expert opinions - or anything else.

Love to you and your wife - and don't work too hard over Christmas (I know that’s a ‘busman’s holiday’ for a Rev.)

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:52 am

Hi –

While I’m still thinking through ‘the big stuff’ about the suppression of the 42nd Article I can do some quick post to deal with related issues. This post is about the service for the Burial of the Dead in the Book of Common Prayer. Eamon Duffy writes of the reception of this service in Elizabethan England -

“...It was in many ways a starkly reformed service, speaking much of predestination, “beseeching thee, that it may please thee to accomplish the number of thy elect”. Yet it required the minister to declare of everyone he buried that they died “in sure and certain hope” of salvation. Were all the dead elect? The godly answered with an emphatic no, and godly ministers were increasingly unwilling to read over the bodies of drunkards, adulterers, or the merely mediocre words of hope and rejoicing for their deliverance, words that asserted and assumed their salvation. As Richard Baxter put it, “It is confusion perilous to the living that we assume that all we bury be of one sort, viz., elect and saved: when contrarily, we see multitudes die without any signs of repentance as rational charity can judge sincere.” (R. Baxter, Reliquiae Baxterianae, 1696, part II, p. 315). .Yet James Pilkington, Elizabethan Bishop of Durham, commenting on the rights of the dead, declared that the comely using of these in God’s church is a great comfort to all Christians, and the want of them a token of God’s wrath and plague.” (The Works of James Pilkington, ed. J. Schofield, Parker Society, 1842, pp. 317-18). This was the view of the average English parishioner too, and they would permit no predestinarain scruples on the part of ministers to abbreviate or truncate those rites. Insistence on the due performance of this and the other rites of passage became a frequent bone of contention between traditionally minded parishioners and Protestant clergy.” (E. Duffy, The Stripping of Altars; Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, p. 590 London, 1992)

‘Duffys book argues controversially that the common people of England did not initially see the Reformation as liberation. Indeed, they were very reluctant to relinquish the old religion of England with its rites and ceremonies although with the second generation of people brought up in Reformation England the old religion of the country did in fact die out. A Catholic historian, he has managed to get the backs up of both Protestant historians of the Reformation and Anglo Catholic historians – if he’s that challenging he can’t be all bad.

I think the passage I have quoted above can be considered apart from the more controversial thesis of the book. The passage suggests to me that the logic of the Prayer Book service – at least the poetic logic – is actually Universalist: everyone who is buried has sure and certain hope of salvation, and everyone who is buried is therefore numbered among God’s elect (I’ve read the service carefully and I agree with Duffy on this). I presume this ‘logic’ originates from a moderate Evangelical concern to remain on the sidelines about exactly who will be numbered among the elect. However, along with the abrogation of the 42nd article it seems another historical factor that makes the Anglican tradition open to Universalism.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:06 am

I note that the Service for the Burial of the Dead comes from Cranmer’s 1552 version of the Prayer Book. The Elizabethan prayer book of 1559 contained some minor revisions – including the revisions of Cranmer’s 42 articles – but none, that I know of, to the Burial Service. I am not claiming that Cranmer was a Universalist – far from it. I am merely claiming that because of the indiscriminate assurance the service provides it has a Universalist ‘poetic logic’ (when people are gathered at a funeral service they are affected at a powerful emotional level rather than a rational/doctrinal one.
Apologies for typo in previous post – ‘right’ = ‘rite’

All the best

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:38 am

Hi Dick,
Thanks, interesting stuff. I agree there is a universalist "poetic logic" to the burial service - as in all the modern funeral services I'm aware of. Perhaps this is because it is in stark pastoral situations that the absurdity of the hell doctrine is most obvious :) . Of Duffy's thesis:
Sobornost wrote:‘Duffys book argues controversially that the common people of England did not initially see the Reformation as liberation. Indeed, they were very reluctant to relinquish the old religion of England with its rites and ceremonies although with the second generation of people brought up in Reformation England the old religion of the country did in fact die out. A Catholic historian, he has managed to get the backs up of both Protestant historians of the Reformation and Anglo Catholic historians – if he’s that challenging he can’t be all bad.

I think he's more or less right. Although I think the "old religion" never went away altogether. It certainly came back pretty easily with the 19thC Oxford Movement and the rise of Anglo Catholicism. The CofE has always been a broad church.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:22 am

Couldn't agree more :)
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby JasonPratt » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:25 am

I don't usually put on my big pointy hat, but if RevDrew hasn't reassured you enough Sobor, allow me as one of the Big Three admins to reassure you that I am 100% in favor of your posting so far. :D

I very much appreciate the careful, sober and self-critical historical analysis you've been offering in this thread, on an obscure topic, and I strenuously doubt any of the other ad/mods (among whom is Drew, nowadays) have or would have a problem with it either.

Thank you for all the work, and feel free to continue as you get the time. I assure you, if we think there's a problem we'll let you know. :mrgreen:
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:58 am

Thanks Jason -

Good to hear from you: D . That's very kind of you. I feel most reassured by you and by Drew. Will continue to post as and when I get time - and will continue to be self critical .

I read the thread on the Athanasian Creed - to which you are the main contributor - too late :( You've really explained all the critical issues with wonderful clarity - I've been stumbling trying to understand these of late myself because I keep bumping into them during research on Drew's topic. And I needn't have bothered!

I only note that you've said at some point on the 42nd Article thread that you wish you could have been a fly on the wall when the Episcopalian's dropped the Nicene and Athanasian creeds from their 1801 prayer book. I did stumble across the reasons for this, quite by accident, and will do a post when I have a moment - if you'd like that.

A very merry Christmas to you -

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby JasonPratt » Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:44 am

Yes, very much interested, thanks! :D
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:06 am

Hi Drew and hi Jason -

I haven't forgotten about my entirely self imposed promise to you both. I've done more research on both issues - the suppression of the 42nd Article, and the non-inclusion of the Athanasian creed in the Episcopalian prayer book of 1801 (and another interesting topic regarding when, in the 1860's, the Athanasian creed was use to charge an Anglican clergyman who had written tentatively in defence of Universalism with heresy (he was found guilty but acquitted on appeal).

In fact I've done all my research and am just taking respite to ponder - I've learnt some very interesting stuff which has given me new slants on some things.

Also - it was a bit weird joining this site and posting without knowing my way round it or getting to know people first; so just want to concentrate on this for a couple of weeks longer (then I'll feel less self conscious and needy when I start posting my informal research - and I'll only do this in small bits).

Finally this is the first time I've ever been a posting person - having to learn the etiquette and the language of emoticons etc - and I may be an egghead but am slightly dyslexic so have to acclimatise myself.

A very good site you have here - you should be proud of yourselves.



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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:24 am

In the meantime - any specific questions, please ask. :)
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby AllanS » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:44 pm

Some brilliant stuff in this thread. Keep it coming. :)
Warning! Amateur at work. Usual disclaimers apply. Author accepts no responsibility for injuries sustained while reading this post.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:12 pm

Thanks for all your work on this, Dick. I'm looking forward to hearing what you've discovered!
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:51 am

Och well - I'd better get my act togther then :)
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:36 am

Hi Drew – and all readers of this thread (I'm amazed at your perseverance! :lol: ). I think I’m ready to set things down now – this is not an exact work of scholarship so there is no need for me to be scrupulous with referencing etc. – because I’d take forever to write it up and none of you would read it anyway!!! So I’ll keep things fairly informal - you are my audience , no one else is! However I think I can now sketch out my conclusions about the abrogation of the 42nd article from the fairly diligent research I have done; I think you can trust me about 95% of the time now (although I’m open to correction on matters of detail). I no longer think we require getting other academics, real academics, involved – for reasons that I will describe later. For those reading this thread for the first time – and with the staying power produced by a genuine interest in the subject matter – I refer you to an earlier post I made summarising the arguments of D.P. Walker in ‘The Decline of Hell’ as essential background reading; it’s very useful for you to grasp the meaning and the consequences of ‘magisterial Protestantism’ for example.
To begin I want to summarise the views of Anglican Clergymen in the past about the importance of the abrogation of the 42nd article for the Universalist cause (I’ve added to my earlier posts, but the stuff that I reproduce here it’s worth reading again to pick up the thread of a dormant argument)

The Abrogation of the 42nd

I have reflected on the context and meaning of the suppression of the 42nd Article a little more. The entry on the 39 Articles in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (p.1622) tells me that “Subscription to the 39 Articles has never been required of any but the clergy and until the nineteenth century, members of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. From 1865 the clergy were only required to affirm... them as agreeable to the Word of God and undertake not to teach in contradiction of them... Since 1975 they have been required simply to Articles as one of the historic formularies of the C of E which bear witness to the faith revealed in the scripture and set forth in the catholic creeds”.

It strikes me from all of this that through the centuries of the C of E’s existence, those who have been primarily concerned with pondering the meaning and implications of the Articles have been clergy and scholars. All will have been educated to some degree in the history of the Anglican Church and thus most will have know of the abrogation of the Forty Second Article from Edward IV’s Prayer Book. Yes, the 39 Articles do not positively allow the teaching of Universal Salvation but knowledge of the abrogation/suppression of the 42nd Article condemning universalism must have caused many Anglican clergy through the ages to pause for thought. And Drew, it is such an notable, striking thing to an Anglican who has embraced Universalism that I’m not surprised that others have arrived at the same conclusions as you in the past, and independent of each other (it’s almost a sort of ‘cloud of witness’)

First example I’ve found is from George Rust, formerly Dean of Conor and later Bishop of Dromore, and a younger associate of the Cambridge Platonists, in A Letter of Resolution Concerning Origen and the chief of his opinions’ (published under a pseudonym in 1661)

I would fain know why she (i.e. The Church of England) who in her 39 Articles does so punctually (i.e. exactly) follow the Articles agreed upon in King Edward’s Days, or with little variation, should wholly omit that Article which condemns the Restorers (i.e. the exponents) of this opinion, if she had thought it ought to be condemned’

Second example is Andrew Jukes from The Second Death and the Restitution of All Things, 1867. I’ve seen some conflicting versions of his story but the consensus appears to be that he was ordained in the Church of England but was suspended and left over disagreement with the authorities about Infant Baptism. He went on to found an independent church and was friendly with Darby of the Plymouth Brethren (decidedly not a Universalist) and Samuel Cox the Baptist Universalist. When he published ‘Restitution’ he lost a lot of his congregation in protest and eventually came back to the Church of England as an Anglo Catholic – although he never took holy orders again. In Restitution he wrote -

It ought not to be forgotten also, that our English Church , having in her original Forty-two Articles had a Forty-first, declaring of “Millenarians,” that they “cast themselves headlong into a Jewish dotage,” and a Forty-second, asserting, that “All men shall not be saved at length,” within a very few years, in Elizabeth 's reign, struck out both these Articles. Surely this is not without its significance. The Creeds, which are received both by East and West, not only make no mention whatever of endless punishment, but in their declaration of “the forgiveness of sins” seem to teach a very different doctrine.

Third example is Frederic William Farrar from 'Eternal Hope: Five Sermons Preached in Westminster Abbey. November and December, 1877'. Farrar was Dean of Westminster Abbey and although other Anglicans before him had expounded on the theme of Hopeful Universalism – notably Tillotson who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the late seventeenth century in a Christmas Day sermon preached to Queen Mary, the wife of William III –Farrar was the first to preach a hopeful (but not certain) Universalism to a wider public, and his sermons were published and sold out in five editions rapidly. He wrote/preached that –

For ten years indeed (1552 -1561) a Forty Second Article condemned Universalism; but for Universalism (that is ‘certain’ Universalism) I have not pleaded, and, more-over, even that Article was struck out with the consent of the Bishops and Clergy of both Houses and Provinces. TO say that it was struck out because the Anabaptists were no longer prominent is simply an unsupported conjecture. The conjecture may be true, but even if so I look on the elimination of the Article as distinctly overruled by a watchful Providence; since it is the province of the Church to decide only in matters of faith, and no church has a right to legislate in those matters of opinion on which wise and holy men have, in all ages, been content to differ, seeing that we have no indisputable voice of Revelation to guide our conclusions respecting them.
Fourth and last is the Rev. Professor Michael Screech – Anglican Priest and notable scholar of the Renaissance – writing in his ’Laughter at the Foot of the Cross’

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...’

I note here the references; to Origen for whom Christ perceived in his fullness is Logos /Wisdom – i.e. that which will hold all things together in balance in the fullness of time; to Erasmus, the Christian Humanist and Catholic reformer who revered Origen above Augustine, and was a profound influence – at least in his rhetoric of moderation – on the English Reformers; and to the horrendous idea derived from Tertullian, that Farrar rightly termed the ‘damnable doctrine’, that the elect in heaven would enjoy great voyeuristic pleasure from watching and scoffing at the torments of the damned (Screech goes on to point out the sheer wickedness of the logical conclusion of Augustinian fundamentalists in all sections of the Church on this socre – that since un-baptised/unsaved babies are damned, the elect can also look forward to laughing at their torments. Finally Screech suggests that Fredric William Farrar should be remembered as a 'Merciful Doctor' of the Church.

All the best (and thanks for your patience)

Dick
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:52 am

So let’s start the rolling – you will note that in some arrears I have substantially revised my opinions since earlier posts due to my recent studies. I must say, in the light of recent scholarly research in to primary sources, that some of the conclusions drawn by the Marxist historian Christopher Hill in the nineteen sixties and nineteen seventies – especially in his essay on Universalism in ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ - now seem very dated. I note this because Louise Hickman cites him as a reliable source in ‘The World Turned Upside Down’; but it appears to me that he was often driven more by Marxist theory than attention to the evidence. Anyway, it’s a side issue – but his essay certainly did lead me up the garden path initially and I may have cause to refer to it later. (No offence is intended to Louise Hickman – studies in the secret history of universalism are still in their infancy which is why we all need to keep talking to each other)
The political context of the Thirty Nine Articles

With the death of the Catholic Queen Mary I (‘Bloody Mary’) her Protestant sister Elizabeth ascended the throne, lauded as the ‘new Deborah’ just as her little Protestant brother Edward who had ruled before Mary had been lauded as the ‘new Josiah’. Elizabeth was in a difficult situation and was not fully confident of her position until late in her reign after the defeat o the Spanish Armada when she finally became ‘Gloriana Virginia,’ the Virgin Queen beloved by her people. At first she had to play different parties off against each other in order to survive, and also take care not to offend continental Princes of various religious sympathies so as to keep open the prospect of a marriage match and build defensive alliances on the basis of this guessing game. She also had to cope with religious pluralism and the need to prevent the sectarian violence that was all too common on the Continent.

'Bloody' Mary had revived English Catholicism with persecuting zeal, but there was a lot of support for Mary, especially in the North of England, which had not waned – and Elisabeth was aware of this. It seems that Elizabeth – although she was not bothered about people having Catholic sensibilities in terms of liturgy and worship - hoped that old style Catholicism would die out within a generation; but she was too canny to force the issue

Under Edward the English Reformation had been chiefly influenced by the Lutheran tradition and by Christian Humanism (Elizabeth’s tutor Roger Ascham was a Christina Humanist and when she was young she had translated work by Erasmus from English into Latin); and it was with this broad tradition of moderate Protestantism that Elizabeth identified. However, during the persecutions of Mary, many English Protestants had fled to Geneva and returned as Calvinists. And they returned with the hope and zeal for complete Reform of the Church. Elizabeth had no time for them and made a habit of offending them by swearing ‘By God’s Soul!’ in their company. Of course they wanted the Church of England to be governed by elected committees of Elders independent of the monarch, which was anathema to Elizabeth who appointed her own bishops to govern the Church. Loathe them she might – but she also had to keep them on board.

In the 1530’s a group of millenarian Anabaptist had taken over Munster on the continent. For two years, from (1533-1535) it had been governed by their ‘Messianic King’ John of Leydon (a sort of David Koresh - of Waco fame - figure). He had imposed both communism and polygamy on the people and ruled with great cruelty, especially towards women who would not comply with polygamy, or who were found guilty of adultery. Whether it is appropriate to call these people Anabaptists is debatable; they had nothing in common with the mainstream Scriptural and Spiritual Anabaptist traditions – but perhaps mainstream Anabaptists learnt from the Munster example of the dangers of confusing the Kingdom of God with the Kingdoms of Men. The Messianic Kingdom of Munster was ended with enormous and revolting cruelty by a Catholic army that had found common cause with the Lutherans. The aftershock of Munster created fear in a generation of Magisterial Protestants, and persuaded them to sully all Anabaptists with the memory of the Messianic Kingdom. It seems that by Elizabeth’s time this fear was on the wane (indeed there is little evidence of their being many Anabaptists in England during her reign – more of this later),. Certainly the Anabaptist threat no longer seemed apriority with all of the other juggling that needed to be done to accommodate people in one Church of England.

This is the political situation in which the 39 articles were formulated and it is to these articles that I will address myself next.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby 1Cor1522 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:58 am

I must say I am absolutely loving all this information!

As a result of this thread, I have also been looking into the Anglican (Episcopalian) church and while talking with many Episcopalian clergy on the subject, I have discovered that UR is something that is perfectly acceptable today to hold and MANY members/clergy have been believers in UR over the centuries. I have no references to establish that, I am strictly going by what I was told by some various clergy. Mind you, not all believe it and take UR as heresy. However from what I can tell (don't quote me on this), UR as heresy is not something that is outright taught and is left open to the individual believer.

Sorry if this is repeating anything already said or obvious but again, thanks to this thread, I have learned quite allot!

Thank you. :D
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:07 pm

Two very helpful posts there Dick, thanks very much for piecing all this together. Its helpful to know why the anabaptists were seen as such a threat. Interested in your emphasis on Elizabeth I as a canny politician. Her faith was important to her to though, I think, and Matthew Parker (Bucer's protegé?) a strong influence on her from her. Anyway, waiting for your next instalment with baited breath!
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:21 pm

What a lovely and encouraging response :D . I’ve been meaning to nail this one for some time. God willing – I’ll do it all this week with a few instalments each day. And keep up the encouragement and/or questions please to support me in this – and I’ll buy you all a beer one day!

1Cor1522 – what’s your actual name? That is so good to know that this is of benefit to you. Will come on later in the week to why the Creed Of Athanasius was dropped from the revised Prayer Book of the Episcopalian Church in 1801; it is very relevant to our theme and may also shed some light on why a section of the Episcopalian Church today is less likely to accommodate Universalism – although on the whole the Episcopalian Church is ultra-Liberal compared with the Anglican Church in the UK (but I for one don’t equate Universalism with Liberalism – no way; it can properly be a Conservative option too).

Ok Drew – we go for the white knuckle ride then? In the posts that immediately follow I will have cause to say more about Elizabeth’s faith – which was genuine, but not Universalist I think, at least not as you and I would think of Universalism (I’ve revised my picture of her slightly from the rose tinted vision I had of her at first – probably half remembered from ‘Look and Learn’ educational comics when I was a child!); of the influence of gentle, sweet tempered Matthew Parker – who may have been a Universalist (we can make a case for it but I think it is impossible to prove); and of the influence of Bucer, which was real, but I think more marginal than we originally assumed. Whatever, as early as Richard Hooker in the 1580s we have proper evidence of hopeful universalism from a key figure of the Anglican tradition. I think we will never know for certain exactly why the 42nd article was abrogated – for reasons I will explain - but along with Canon Frederic Farrar we can put it down to Divine Providence, and certainly see this Providence working itself out in the history of Anglicanism as it gradually became a fully tolerant and non-persecuting Church.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby 1Cor1522 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:27 pm

Sobornost wrote:1Cor1522 – what’s your actual name?


I don't normally give my name out online out of old habit. However my name is Paul. I just use 1Cor1522 in reference to one of my fave passages in the Bible. :D
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:33 pm

Hi Paul -there are a lot of Paul's in this world so you haven't really blown your cover :lol: Nice to have you along for the journey. Will do a couple more posts tomorrow (just working on one now).

All the best


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

Postby Sobornost » Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:31 pm

Before looking at the revision of the Forty Two Articles in any detail I will first respond to Drew’s questions in a brief ‘excursion’. (You’ve got me in pompous academic mode – and I’m loving it; so your mockery is appreciated! :lol: ).
I am sure Elizabeth’s religious faith was genuine and heartfelt. Her manual of private devotions suggests that her private faith was pretty mainstream Protestant focussed on ‘Justification through Faith Alone’.

As someone primarily influenced by the Lutheran tradition – which retained a love of music and ritual -she loved fine Church music and encouraged the use of vestments. When she first came to power she had a large golden cross installed for adoration in her private chapel. An outcry ensued and it was removed only to be reinstated later.

It was her refusal to budge on the issues of vestments that got poor old Matthew Parker embroiled in a controversy that he would have preferred to avoid which gave him the posthumous nickname of ‘Nosey Parker’. You see the Reformed Calvinist Christians who were in the ascendancy refused to wear the vestment stipulated by Royal Decree in the Prayer Book. These vestments were fairly low key by High Catholic standards, but still too much for the Calvinists who wanted to wear the austere black Genevan gown. They argued that the wearing of vestments made the officiate at Communion into a Priest presiding at a real sacrifice – which was more than they could stomach. The reluctant Parker had to ensure that vestments were worn – hence his reputation for checking up and spying on clergy (there were some fines and brief imprisonments of a few clergy as a result, but nothing serious). He was a gentle man and his successor Archbishop Grindall was more assertive in standing up to the Queen about allowing flexibility to accommodate the Calvinists.

Elizabeth had frequent ‘run ins’ with the Calvinists – although she was happy to accommodate those who were loyal to the Church (a later Archbishop Whitgift, was thoroughly Calvinist in his theology, but was happy to bring sectarian Calvinists into line). She also obviously fell out with them, and would not budge, over the issue of elected committees of Elders replacing her appointed Bishops. IN addition she fell out with them over the issue of ‘Prophesyings’ – these were un-programmed interactive sermons that went against Royal decree –Elizabeth wanted her bishops to control the content of the clergy’s sermons.

Late in her reign when a Calvinist clique tried to revise/supplement the Thirty Nine Articles with Six Articles proclaiming the truth of Double Predestination as the bedrock of Anglican faith she was beside herself with rage – and the authors were banished from the realm. However, apart from fines and the occasional brief stays in prison it appears that the Calvinists were never really persecuted by her, and their persecution has been greatly exaggerated in Calvinists histories (perhaps they were just too powerful to persecute – I dunno). The same was true of the Brownists– a sect within Anglicanism that wanted more independence at a local level for parishes to hire and fire their clergy and became known as the Independents in the next century and later as the Congregationalists. They were subjected to fines and imprisonment but never put to death.

It seems that Elizabeth genuinely loved peace and was prepared to tolerate pluralism as long as you kept your private beliefs to yourself and conformed to the practices of her Church. ‘We would not have windows into men’s souls’ she is reputed to have said (it appears that it was actually Francis Bacon who wrote this, but it surely comes near to what she thought). And until 1575 there was no religious persecution in England, in this England was only matched for toleration in the Free Dutch Republic at this time (although the latter allowed for more genuine outward religious pluralism). In 1575 – perhaps, significantly, the year of Matthew Parker’s death, the persecutions began. I will have to return to this darker chapter of Elizabeth’s reign before we weigh the final evidence for the meaning of the abrogation of the 42nd article. However, for the next post I will say something more about Matthew Parker and the influences on him (so hold your questions back about Elizabeth the persecutor for the moment).

All the best


Dick
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:20 am

A footnote to the above post –

Elizabeth - 'Good Queen Bess' - is known to have loved at least one man with a fond and steady affection - that man being Matthew Parker (I would not call her famous affection for Robert Dudley 'steady' - rather it was solely passionate and therefore capricious, although she was never cruel to him). She is also known to have loathed one man so much that it out put her out of all charity - that man being John Knox, Scotland's fierce and unrelenting Reformer trained by Calvin in Geneva. In the year that Elizabeth came to the throne Knox published a tract entitled 'A Trumpet Against The Monstrous Regiment Of Women'; in this tract the mirthless firebrand argued for a strong view of the so called 'biblical' doctrine of the headship of men and subordination of women, inferring from this that it was ungodly, indeed Satanic, that a Queen should ever come to the throne of any country. To be fair to Knox, he had written this tract before Elizabeth’s accession and his real targets were Bloody Mary, then Catholic Queen of England, and Mary of Guise then French Catholic Queen of Scotland (and mother of Mary Queen of Scots). But certainly 'Good Queen Bess' was not amused.

Note that the Christian Humanist tradition, in contrast to Mr Knox, had always held a high view of women and about the goodness of educating women - witness Thomas Moore and his educated daughters who disputed with the King on points of law and theology, and Roger Ascham the tutor to Elizabeth, and all of the spirited and resourceful heroines in the comedies of Shakespeare, who was also much influenced by Christian Humanism.

Second footnote - those of you who have not read other posts I have made may think my judgements are too soft when I look at people from the past (you may, for example, think that I've even seemed to condone Elizabeth's use of fines and light prison sentences for Calvinists in the last post - but not so). Maybe I am a man of soft temperament (we can't all be hardnosed all of the time!). However I will say that I believe that we should not be anachronistic in our judgement of people in the past. We need to judge them in the light of their circumstances and limitations, as future generations will do to us one day - if they are merciful and don’t also leap to making anachronistic judgements about us.

I'm always concerned about the Tentmaker site view of history - where ECT is simply a conspiracy of the power hungry and bad, while universalism was always the clear teaching of the early church; this, in myview, discredits our case as Univesalists by being too clear cut and going against much of the evidence. It may also seduce us into thinking that some people credited with Universalists views over at Tentmakers - I'm thinking especially of John Chrysostom and Jerome - would be good company to keep if alive today (but I think most of us would find both of them, particularly Jerome, absolutely vile).

Now for the really pretentious bit! I think history is a wonderful training in moral imagination and that it is much undersold. We look back at people in the past and recognise shared joys, sorrows and problems with them (this trains us in sympathy). But on closer inspection we often realise with a jolt how very different they also were from us, and how it is stupid to judge the past in terms of the present (this trains us in empathy - being able to negotiate and understand difference and otherness in our everyday lives). I told you it was going to be ‘deep man’ :lol: .

All the best


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:36 am

Matthew Parker, Elizabeth’s first Archbishop of Canterbury, was much loved by the Queen. He had been the Chaplin to her Protestant mother, Anne Boleyn (second wife of Henry IIIV). He had also been Chaplin to the young Elizabeth throughout the dark and difficult years before she became Queen (she had, for example, been imprisoned by her sister Mary in the Tower of London for a short time – uncertain of her own fate – and this was the same prison fortress where her Mother had met death at the hands of a sword wielding headsman). So Elizabeth and Parker had a shared personal history; and she had every reason to feel fond affection for him – and forgave him for having married when she appointed him her Archbishop (one of the idiosyncrasies of Elizabeth’s faith is that, although a Protestant, she was a firm believer in celibacy for those clergy raised to the rank of bishop).

Her appointment of Parker was also a shrewd move – I think we are mistaken if we view her depth of faith and political shrewdness as incompatible; she needed a conciliator and moderate to restore the Protestant faith to her realm in such a way as not to threaten violence and schism. This was a time when all religion was political (and even the pacifist Anabaptists refusal to buy into State controlled Magisterial Protestant religion was interpreted as an act of political rebellion).

So we know of Parker’s influence on the Queen – although we can be sure that she certainly had a mind of her own too! So what can we say about the influences that shaped Parker’s? Can these tell us anything about the context of the abrogation of the 42nd article (before we look at this in detail).

Regarding sources, we actually have good resources of primary source documentation for Parker – which I will give details of very soon in a separate post not much to say). However, I think we can be almost 99% certain that none of these sources give us a clear window into Parker’s soul regarding whether or not he was a Universalist (or whether or not the young Queen Elizabeth shared these sympathies with him before bitter political experience took its toll on her spiritual optimism). All I can do is make a good case for his Universalist sympathies based on the possibilities from the evidence.

Parker was educated at Oxford University and, unlike the other major English Reformers, he actually studied Patristics. So he knew the Church Fathers and it is very likely that he had studied Origen in some shape or form. He would certainly have been aware of the theology of Origen from the writings of the Dutch Christian Humanist Erasmus, who had a great influence on the English Reformers prior to the Genevan ascendancy of the Elizabethan Calvinists (I will do a separate post on the influence of Erasmus because I feel this is vital in making my ‘case for the possible’). Parker was also the friend and colleague of the moderate continental reformer Martin Bucer who was resident at Oxford university during the reign of the boy King Edward IV (I will also do a separate post on Bucer)

When Parker became Archbishop, one of his first acts was to call upon the ancient powers and authority of ‘Convocation’ to reinstate the Ecumenical faith subverted by the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome. And this Convocation which revised Cranmer’s 42 Articles to 38 (that later became the 39 Articles) was modelled on the Great Ecumenical Councils of the early church at which the Bishop of Rome was merely a ‘first amongst equals’ – as Parker well knew from his study of the Patristics. The Elizabethan Convocation was composed of; Parker; Richard Cox Bishop of Ely - an ill tempered and peppery anti-Calvinist by all accounts; and Edmund Gheast (or Guest) Bishop of Rochester who had been Parker’s Chaplin and was a man after Parker’s heart. (In some sources I have seen the third Bishop named as Edmund Grindall, Parker’s successor to Canterbury, but the most recent sources name Gheast so I assume the others are in error). Farrar in ‘Eternal Hope’ tells us that the alterations made by this Convocation to Cranmer’s articles – which included the abrogation f the 42nd - were given the consent of ‘the Bishops and Clergy of both...provinces’ (that is Canterbury and York).

Parker’s first love was Church History on which he wrote prolifically. In his writings he made a case that the English Church since Saxon times had always showed a degree of independence from the tyranny of Papal authority – and thus was keen to stress the continuity of the Reformed Church with the church founded by St Augustine of Kent, missionary to the pagan Angles and Saxons (a different Augustine from St Augustine of Hippo, the foremost ‘Severe Doctor’ of the Church). In his historical interests Parker stood foursquare in the tradition of Christian Humanism.

Christian Humanism began in the fourteenth century with the Italian scholar Petrarch. Whereas the medieval scholars had concentrated single-mindedly on the study of Divinity and the things of Eternity, Petrarch showed a new interest in the Human story of Human history. He lived in the City State of Florence which was under threat from the ‘fascist’ tyranny in Milan. Partly in repose to this threat he revived interests in the Classics of Republican Rome, written before the Caesars, and spoke of a Republican Age of Freedom and Light (in Rome), and a republican age of Freedom and Light (in Florence) with a ‘Middle Age’ of darkness that lay between the two. From this we derive the concept of the Middle Ages and, it seems, Petrarch’s insight had an enormous influence on the development of historical consciousness – of our awareness of change through time. Parker was basically following Petrarch’s model in writing his History of the English Church.

Christian Humanism never dismissed the claims of Eternity but tried to hold these in creative tension with the claims of Time. Hence the Humanists were interested in theology and biblical studies, but they were also interested in history, politics, law and in human emotion and empathy. As the motto of the Christian Humanists, taken from a Roman poet, put it – ‘I am a human being and therefore nothing human is alien to me’. In this connection the favoured Christian Humanist model of salvation was the Greek Orthodox one of salvation being a process of collaboration between the Human and Divine wills (Jacob Arminius was himself a Christian Humanist).

Christian Humanists were also concerned to establish the best texts for the Bible – going to the Hebrew and Greek originals rather than depending on the authority of the Latin Vulgate and ahving an evangelical purpose in doing this – and they were concerned to settle matters of doctrine by research into the Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils. So again Matthew Parker fits the profile.

During the reign of Bloody Mary. Parker had kept a low profile rather than flee to the Continent or court martyrdom. He had actually spent a lot of time absorbed in his studies. Because of this I can anticipate a macho response that he somehow ‘wimped out’ of martyrdom from some quarters – and this is worth briefly reflecting on. Both Jesus and Paul avoided death until they had no alternative but to face it. And Paul’s hymn to Agape in 1 Corinthian 13 gives us a timely warning about the death loving cult of martyrdom – real Martyrs die as witnesses to love, not for ideological reasons. As the Anglican Universalist William Law wrote, ‘Martyrdom has had its fools’. I note for example that Cranmer who was martyred under Mary, was the same Cranmer who persuaded the boy King Edward to sign the warrant for death by burning of an Anabaptist woman of blameless life. I have also often been haunted by the sentiment expressed by the scholar Richard Marius in his biography of Luther. He wrote that Luther’s position was often precarious and he was undoubtedly a very brave man who would have faced death with resolution if this had been required of him. However, because of the intemperate violence with which Luther pursued the cause for Reform, Marius concludes that if Luther had not been born perhaps a hundred thousand people who died horrible deaths in war and persecution would have died quietly in their beds.

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:27 am

Superb post Dick, thank you. Very helpful to understand something of Parker's academic credentials and the Christian Humanist tradition. Keep 'em coming, friend.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby JasonPratt » Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:44 am

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:19 pm

Thanks Drew and Jason – very kind of you of you both. Continued support until this is finished is much appreciated; any praise only goes to my head for a very short time these days. (I’m at work tomorrow and have to have a tooth out on Thursday but will try to get this finished by Friday, or at least by Sunday, while I’m still inspired).

Before looking at the influence of Erasmus, I first want to look at the influence of Martin Bucer who was Parker’s academic colleague at Cambridge during the reign of the Protestant boy King Edward VI (mea culpa! - I said ‘Oxford’ incorrectly in my past post and stand self corrected; it seems that Parker was also a Cambridge man). Among the Continental Reformers, Bucer has a well deserved reputation for moderation. He was early on influenced by the writings of Erasmus that advocated moderate, Ecumenical and peaceful reform based on consensus over essentials and agreeing to differ in a spirit of charity over details.

Bucer was originally based in Strasbourg and from there he influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. His time of authority in Strasbourg is notable in that although he was a Magisterial Protestant, he banished Anabaptists rather than having them killed – which was an improvement on the record of his fellow Reformers.
In the early Reformation he was noted as a conciliator when he acted as a mediator between the two leading reformers, Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli, who differed on the doctrine of the Eucharist. Later, Bucer sought agreement on common articles of faith between the Reformers. He also believed that the Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire could be convinced to join the Reformation. Through a series of conferences organised by Charles V, he tried to unite Protestants and Catholics to create a German national church separate from Rome.

In 1549, Bucer was exiled to England, where, under the guidance of Thomas Cranmer, he was able to influence the second revision of the Book of Common Prayer. He died in Cambridge, England, at the age of 59. Although his ministry did not lead to the formation of a new denomination, many Protestant denominations have claimed him as one of their own. He is remembered as an early pioneer of ecumenism’.

With all this in mind we can imagine Bucer having a formative influence on the instinct for moderation in the young Matthew Parker – and Parker was named by Bucer as one of the two executors of his estate when he died in England in broken health at the age of 52.

I have found no explicit or implicit evidence to suggest that Bucer had Universalist sympathies. There is one thing I know that, perhaps, strikes me as telling about Bucer’s theological; sympathies. In the first revision of Cramner’s Book of Common Prayer the Service for the Burial of the Dead included the rite of Holy Communion and the offering of prayers for the dead, as in the Catholic rite. It was apparently Bucer that influenced Cramner to drop these from the service of the second revision so as to bring Anglican practice more in line with Reformed tradition. Now I understand that Holy Communion and prayers for the dead at a burial service were (and are) open to abuse – they can lead people to think that somehow their prayers can curry favour with God to alter His judgements, and they can even lead to a sort of fetish like, ancestor worship type mindset. However, although neither Holy Communion nor Prayers for the Dead during the Burial Service are part of my tradition, I do think that both practices, undertaken properly, can be very beautiful in expressing the solidarity of the living and the dead in both the Old Adam and the New Adam – and these are truly Universalist sentiments. That Bucer felt so strongly about their suppression suggests to me that he was not a hopeful Universalist. I wouldn’t want to make too strong an issue out of this; it’s impossible to say one way or the other, but I don’t think we have any clues about him being a Universalist at heart, and his suggestions for the revision of the Burial Service could be construed as suggesting the contrary.

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:30 pm

Drew - just to speak up for MArtin Bucer, I note that in the early part of this thread you made the follwing quotation from him -

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.)


And this places him in the tradition of Erasmus (see next) although it is not on its own sufficient proof of hopeful Univeralsim on his part.

All the best old chum


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:46 pm

I need to say something about Erasmus now. Erasmus of Rotterdam was the foremost Northern European Christian Humanist of the Reformation period. I’ve already linked him to the English Reformation – and he is a very important figure to account for in deciding whether Parker could have been motivated by secret Universalist sympathies in abrogating the 42nd Article. So here is a sketch of what I know about Erasmus.

Erasmus influence on the broad Northern Christian Humanist tradition – for whom his ‘’Praise of Folly’ was a much loved classic - on Anglican tradition, on the Reformed tradition of Martin Bucer, and latterly on the Anabaptist Spiritual Tradition (and through them on the Quakers), on the Socinians, and on the Protestant Armenian tradition is well attested. His influence on political thought in the concept of European Community is also acknowledged by many today (and celebrated currently by the EEC funded ‘Project Erasmus’).

Erasmus’ biting ‘Satires’ on the abuses of Late Medieval Catholicism – the sale of indulgences, the monastic retreat from the world into an easy life etc – were one of the key factors that motivated the Reformation; indeed they were perhaps as influential as Luther’s promulgation of his 39 Theses. Certainly it was a reading of the Satires that first inspired the young Thomas Cranmer to enlist in the cause of Reform.

At first Erasmus supported Luther, but Erasmus dreamed of peaceful Reform of the Church, and of an inclusive/comprehensive Church in which all Christians could agree upon essentials, but exercise charity in agreeing to differ about the details. Erasmus never fully specified what the essentials of doctrine were; but it seems that what mattered to him most was imitation of Christ in a life of gentle self giving.

As well as a man of letters and a scholar of the Greek and Roman classics, Erasmus was also a great biblical scholar. He produced the ‘Textus Receptus’ of the Greek version of the New Testament – based on only six manuscripts out of the hundred or more available to scholars today. His Greek text was not entirely complete and he had to fill in the missing bits with translations from the Latin Vulgate - but it was a start. He also wrote paraphrases of his edition of the Greek New Testament which were translated into English and were in common use by the early, pre-Elizabethan, Anglican Church (in which his ’Satires’ were also loved). Matthew Parker would have known both texts well.

(Note: in an earlier post I sated that ‘regarding the ambiguous meaning of ‘aionos’ in New Testament Greek, D.P. Walker states 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’. I have not been able to find evidence that Erasmus was aware of this distinction in his lexical labours on the Textus Receptus – but who knows? This is an issue that the scholars on this site may well be able to help with. Any takers?)

Erasmus actually stayed in England during the reign of Henry VIII, at a time before the English Reformation had gathered any momentum. He became firm friends with his fellow Catholic Christian Humanist Sir Thomas Moore who was then Lord Chancellor of England. He also advised Dean Colet of St Pauls on Colet’s lectures about St Paul’s Epistles in the original Greek tongue.

As the Continental Reformation gathered an all too violent momentum, Erasmus and Luther fell out irreconcilably. The key issue was Justification by Faith. Luther, working from the theology of St Augustine of Hippo – he had been an Augustinian monk - argued that the human will was powerless. Erasmus begged to differ. He respected Augustine but placed another of the Fathers above him in terms of esteem and soundness of doctrine; namely, Origen the Father of Christian Universalism. From Origen Erasmus argued for a synergistic understanding of salvation – that this entails collaboration between the Human and Divine wills, and therefore it is wrong to speak too simply about the powerlessness/bondage of the Human will. A bitter falling out ensued, with bitter invective and counter-invective exchanged.

Origen was much in vogue amongst the Christian Humanists. Erasmus claimed that Origen’s metaphysical speculations about the pre-existence of souls, the Final Restoration of All in Christ etc., were of little interest to him. Rather he admired Origen for other virtues–

• First, for his doctrine of the (limited) freedom of the human will

• Second, as the prototype for the Christian Humanist scholars – Origen was the first truly significant Christian scholar and compiled a massive compendium of the Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek using comparison of multiple divergent texts to establish the best reading.

• Third as the systematiser of the threefold method of interpreting scripture according to the literal level, the moral level and the allegorical level of meaning in any specific text. I may get round to doing a supplementary post on his topic before moving on from the Elizabethan age to the 39 Articles in the context of later Anglican history. Suffice to say at the moment that Erasmus followed Origen in his interpretive methods. Luther also paid attention to the allegoric meaning of scriptural passages sometimes, but Calvin poured scorn on this method preferring the clear sense of the literal level of scripture.

• Fourth as a model of good rhetorical style – and the teaching of good rhetorical style was a key feature of the Christian Humanist education programme.

Well this is what Erasmus claimed – but perhaps he was being less than open about his interest in Origen’s metaphysical speculations – at least regarding the Restoration of All Things in Christ. I note the following from D.P. Walker’s ‘The Decline of Hell’ (p. 75) –

’...Erasmus of course was far too prudent to make any pronouncements about the eternity of hell. Indeed when he was criticised for the following passage in his ‘Enchiridon’:
The flame in which that rich feaster in the Gospel is tortured, and the torments of hell, about which the poets have written much, are nothing but the perpetual anxiety of mind which accompanies habitual sin
He replied, not very convincingly, that he was writing only of remorse in this life,


Nor was there then any doubt in my mind about the fire of Gehenna

But the whole tone of his evangelical philosophy of Christ, and his great admiration for Origen, might easily lead disciples to reject eternal torment.

So what is going on here? We can only speculate within the bounds of the possible. Erasmus may well have been a hopeful Universalist emulating the caution of his master Origen on this matter. I refer agina to D.P. Walker(p.5 this time) –

The peculiar dangers attached to any discussion of the eternity of hell were such that they produced a theory of double truth: there is a private, esoteric doctrine, which must be confined to a few intellectuals, because its effect on the mass of people will be morally disastrous; and a public, exoteric doctrine, which these same intellectuals must preach, although they do not believe it. The second kind of truth is not, of course, a truth at all, but a useful, pragmatically justifiable lie. This secrecy was already being advocated by Origen, who, when discussing hell in his ‘Contra Celsum’, forbore to go beyond the mere statement that it was a place of punishment, because:

To ascend beyond this is not expedient, for the sake of those who are with difficulty restrained, even by fear of eternal punishment, from plunging into any degree of wickedness, and into the flood of evils which result from sin


We today may find Origen’s argument depressing in its expediency – but it was the only show in town for magisterial Christians of a Universalist temper in the West until moral reasoning from the psychology of fear started to be questioned in the Eighteenth Century. I think Erasmus may well have been playing at the same game of ‘double truth’.

Open confession of Universalist sympathies would also have been the end of the road for Erasmus who had no enthusiasm for unnecessary martyrdom. He saw his friend Thomas Moore’s death in a different noble cause as pure ‘waste’. Indeed there appears to have been a strong tradition of dissembling during the dangerous times of Reformation Europe – with people outwardly appearing to conform to ‘orthodox’ beliefs (as defined by the religious system of power in which they lived and moved) but inwardly holding different beliefs. Elizabeth avoided death under Mary by outwardly confessing Catholic beliefs. Thomas Moore dissembled in silence and prevarication until he could no longer hold his peace about his views on Henry VIIIs divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Therefore, I think this is another good reason, in supplement to ‘double truth’ to the disparity between Erasmus’s utterances about hell noted above.

(Incidentally, the tradition of religious dissembling went under the title of ‘Nicodemite dissembling’ first named by Calvin in his Excuse à messieurs les Nicodemites after Nicodemus who in John’s Gospel comes to see his Lord Jesus by night while remaining a pious member of the Jewish Sanhedrin by day).

Matthew Parker – and even perhaps Elizabeth - when viewed in this context could well have been Universalists holding to a standard of double truth out of expediency, and perhaps even Nicodemites if they feared that open Universalism could mean that their supporters would lose respect for them and unseat/kill them. We cannot prove any of this – but I have made the case as best as I can.

Finally, all of this dissembling and double truth telling in a dangerous time took its toll and could, I believe, have people living with split consciousness. For example, Thomas Moore, who in his fantasy ‘Utopia’ seems to recognise religious toleration as a good thing in an ideal world, in the real world, as Lord Chancellor of England, was a fierce persecutor of English Protestants (and pilloried for this as a villain ,with some cause, by John Foxe in his Book of Protestant Martyrs). Erasmus, the champion of toleration, in a few passages seems to advocate persecution of those who leave the comprehensive Church as sectarians.

John Jewell was another man with a split mind. I referred to him in an earlier post. He was Bishop of Salisbury during Elizabeth’s reign and an accomplished Humanist scholar. IN 1569 he wrote guardedly in support of his fellow Humanist scholar, the German Gerhard Jam Voss who in 1569was the first to cast doubt on the authorship of the Athanasian Creed – thus denting the authority of the Creed used in Elizabethan England to support the burning of heretics – as we shall see. However Jewel was also a strong supporter of the death penalty for heretics.

Christian Humanists were not always moderate people – but the general tendency of the movement, in the spirit of Erasmus, was towards moderation and tolerance.

All the best


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:29 am

Hi Drew (and Hi Paul Corinthians - havent; heard from you for a couple of days and hope you are still following) –
I’m home from work now (early start, early finish) – I’m just going to chill out for the afternoon and then will get going with this thread again in the early evening.

Any feedback from you as to how the argument is developing at this point is appreciated. I hope I’ve made valid distinctions in assessing the evidence between what we can be certain about, what is probable, what is possible, and what is plain ridiculous when we are talking about this fascinating area of history (at least for us Christian Universalists). I hope I am beginning to make a reasonable case for thinking that arguments suggesting Matthew Parker may have been a Universalist are not ridiculous; rather they wobble somewhere between the possible and the probable (indeed I’m beginning to think that the idea that Elizabeth nursed Universalist sympathies may be possible, despite her career as a persecutor from 1575).

You’ll just have to trust me about sources – because I am giving you a general sketch rather than the real McCoy here. If you would particularly like to question me about my sources on specific points of interest, do ask and I will supply them.

Before assessing the changes to Cranmer's 42 Articles in any detail (at last!!)I think that I/we now need to pause to reflect on why we cannot expect the evidence from this period to yield positive answers. It’s not only that the evidence is fragmentary; it’s also to do with the lack of personal disclosure expected of most public figures at this time even in their personal correspondence (and there are sound reasons for this – expedient self protection, and also the lack of a clear language of personal revelation at this time).

I think perhaps I should also say a little more about the ‘double truth’ doctrine of early Universalism – we may find this troubling, D.P. Walker certainly stands in harsh moral judgement on it; but I think he is being anachronistic and we are being anachronistic if we feel as he does. Also, on reflection, I certainly feel that Walker’s use of the words ‘esoteric’ and ‘intellectual’ in his passage on Origen quoted in my last post needs to be qualified.

With my dentist appointment tomorrow – which I had conveniently put to the back of my mind since I don’t like having teeth pulled!!! – I think it unlikely that I will have everything completed by the end of Friday. But I do hope to have the argument about the abrogation of the 42nd in its original Elizabethan context settled, as far as is humanly possible.

After this I want to continue the story – mainly looking at how the Athanasian Creed was used by the Tudor and early Stuart Anglican Church as a charter for persecution, and how (some) Anglicans eventually learnt that this was wrong at the same time that they questioned the authority of this creed (this links to the English Civil War and its aftermath, the development of Religious Toleration from the late seventeenth in England and its Anglican supporters and detractors, the changes to the prayer book made by the Episcopalians in 1801, and the prosecution for blasphemy of an Anglican hopeful Universalist clergyman in the mid- Victorian period using the Athanasian creed as a pretext (Farrar alludes to this prosecution in the sermon I have already quoted).

An important sub-theme here is the different arguments put forward by Anglicans and others during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The eighteenth century arguments against hell are based on reason – threats do not produce good behaviour, disproportionate punishment eventually breed hatred of a tyrant and rebellion rather than compliance. This is in keeping with the Age of Reason/Enlightenment and part of the rational/classical ethos.

In the nineteenth century the arguments against hell are based more on feeling and imagination – ‘How can a loving father do such things to his children? How can we live happy knowing that or nearest and dearest departed may be suffering eternal torment?’ Etc. This is in keeping with the ethos/emphasis of Romanticism.

At the end of the thread I’d like to sum arguments about whether an Anglican today -,of whatever shade or party, and whether ordained or lay - can in good conscience describe themselves as Universalist (given the 39 articles, The Athanasian Creed etc; to which, of course, I hope to give a resounding ‘yes!!!’)

I think I will deal with this part of the argument on unused thread on the ‘Athanasian Creed, the Damnatory clauses and EU’ Drew started for me at Ecclesiology. I will refer everyone to the very full discussion of the theological issues regarding the Creed that has already taken place for excellent background reading. But will confine myself to the history outlined above in the new thread.

The new thread should not be as complex as this one, of which it will be a continuation, and I hope to have it ‘nailed good and proper’ by the end of next week. That’ll give everyone, including me, a time to take a breather between thread topics.

I hope you are all still on board and appreciate your support.

All the best

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:59 am

Still very much on board, Dick, but have been too busy to respond. I'm not pinning my hopes on Parker and Elizabeth being universalists, but it is fascinating that your research is leaning towards that possibility.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:54 am

Hi Drew –

I always know you are there!! A quick word about primary sources for Matthew Parker

First he left a substantial library to Corpus Christi College on his death in 1575 –

The Parker Library is the rare books and manuscripts library for Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It is known throughout the world due to its invaluable collection of over 600 manuscripts, particularly medieval texts, the core of which were bequeathed to the College by Archbishop Matthew Parker.

The Parker Library on the Web project is a joint venture run by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Cambridge University Library and Stanford University Libraries in the United States of America.The main goal of the project is to digitise all of the medieval manuscripts in the Parker Library and to be the first project that seeks to make an entire library publicly accessible on the web. The project is funded by the Mellon Foundation.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker_Lib ... ti_College

I note from the catalogue that his collection includes texts of both Erasmus and the Church Fathers, and plenty of texts concerning the History of the English Church – Venerable Bede, Alfred, Anglo Saxon Chronicle etc.. I could do a proper scholarly trawl here, but I’m pretty content that this all accords with the picture that emerges from biographical information.

Second we have his correspondence from his time as Archbishop that was all published in the nineteenth century by The Parker Society, ‘For the Publication of the Works of the Fathers and Early Writers of the Reformed English Church’. This society was formed in 1840 and disbanded in 1855 when its work was completed. The current Church Society gives the opinion that –

...The stimulus for the foundation of the (Parker) society was provided by the nineteenth-Century Tractarians. Some members of this movement, e.g., R.H. Froude in his Remains of 1838-9, spoke most disparagingly of the English Reformation: ‘Really I hate the Reformation and the Reformers more and more’. Keble could add in 1838, ‘Anything which separates the present Church from the Reformers I should hail as a great good’. Protestants within the Church of England therefore felt the urgent need to make available in an attractive and accessible form the works of the leaders of the English Reformation. To many it seemed that the Protestant foundations of the English Church were being challenged like never before. Thus the society represented a co-operation between traditional High Churchmen and evangelical churchmen, both of whom were committed to the Reformation teaching on justification by faith. Subscribers were also involved in the erection of the Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford, although this was as much anti-Roman Catholic as anti-Tractarian. The society had about seven thousand subscribers who paid one pound each year from 1841 to 1855; thus for fifteen pounds the subscribers received fifty three volumes – the General Index and the Latin originals of the 1847 ‘Original Letters relative to the English Reformation’ being special subscriptions. Twenty-four editors were used and the task of arriving at the best text was far from easy. The choice of publications was controversial and some authors and works were unfortunate not to be included in PS volumes. While some of the volumes have been superseded by more recent critical editions, today this collection remains one of the most valuable sources for the study of the English Reformation.

See -

http://www.churchsociety.org/churchman/ ... namond.pdf

The Church Society – a very Conservative body within the Church of England - is involved in a project to re-publish the volumes first published by the Parker Society to encourage the faithful today. They are keen, like the original Parker Society, to give the lie to the idea that the Elizabethan Settlement, of which I shall write very soon, was a compromise between the ‘extremes’ of Lutheranism/Zwingli-ism and not a compromise between the extremes of Roman Catholicism and Calvinism. My view is that those that stress the former view (Conservative Protestants) are as much guilty of historical myth making as those who stress the latter view (Anglo-Catholics), The Elizabethan settlement in Parker’s Prayer Bok with its 38 Articles was deliberately vague, and it always meant different things to different people (as he was content to be ‘all things to all men’).

However, the unwitting testimony of the publication of Parker’s correspondence by Conservative Protestant Anglicans must be that there is nothing in this correspondence to disturb their view. I hope you agree with this – and on these grounds I take it as read that I do not need to trawl through his letters etc, for new evidence.

Likewise I take it as read that Dean Farrar would have researched Parker’s correspondence before writing his Eternal Hope sermons and that he was well aware the arguments and historical myths/conjectures of Conservative Protestant Anglican’s when he wrote -

To say that it (the 42nd article) was struck out because the Anabaptists were no longer prominent is simply an unsupported conjecture. The conjecture may be true, but even if so I look on the elimination of the Article as distinctly overruled by a watchful Providence; since it is the province of the Church to decide only in matters of faith, and no church has a right to legislate in those matters of opinion on which wise and holy men have, in all ages, been content to differ, seeing that we have no indisputable voice of Revelation to guide our conclusions respecting them.

(see my first post in this revived thread - a couple of days ago)

A lot more is known about Christianity in the Renaissance and the Reformation today than was known in Farrar's day – of how messy and disparate and fascinating Christianity was then (as it is today). This has allowed me to make my own conjectures (but I hope these are stated with due modesty rather than as historical myths- or ‘truths’ that go beyond the evidence). In the end we have to focus on ‘the watchful providence’ of how the abrogation of the 42nd article worked itself out in our history –this is the truly important thing in my view.

What I will do now is briefly address the issues I highlighted in my last post, and then crack on with an analysis of the Elizabethan Settlement. I think I will also start and Appendix thread for the two Ecclesiology threads that are developing here – I have other very relevant and interesting bits and bobs that the committed may well want to read and comment on; but I do not want this material to interrupt the main narrative thread

All the best


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:12 am

Correction to the above - I meant to say that the Church Society's Conservaitve view of the Elizabethan Settlement is that it was a compromise between Lutheranism/Zwingli-ism and Calvinism (a narrow range).

In my view the C of E today - which is the C of E that matters most - has progressed from the Elizabethan Church through Acts of Toleration and through learning from its history as a persecuting Church and repenting of this. Today the Anglican compromise - in all but the rite fo Adult Baptism - is actually more like a compromise between Catholicism and Anabaptism.

All the best

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:59 am

Two thoughts (which I may expand on in a supplementary thread)

First a word about Walker’s scruples over Origen’s doctrine of double truth

Second a word about private and public selves during the Reformation

Regarding Walker – his book ‘The Decline of Hell’, is a fine study. However he does sometimes seem harsh in his value judgements. I’m convinced that Origen did not see the final truth of Christian Universalism as a matter just for ‘intellectuals’. Obviously Origen was a gifted intellectual but the pursuit of theology was/is never simply a matter of intellectual pursuit in the Eastern tradition, Study must always be allied to participation in the liturgy of the Church, and a life of contemplative prayer and ascetic discipline. I’m sure that what Origen meant by his double truth doctrine is that some things cannot be disclosed to people new to the faith, and should be kept for people more mature in the faith – and this goes for both the learned and the ‘simple’. He was concerned that new believers might hastily draw the wrong conclusions (like ‘since we are all going to be saved we can just let it all hang out and do what we like’).He was no intellectual snob. As he said to the Pagan Neo-Platonist Celsus – who was certainly a snob; ‘You prepare fine food for the elite. We (Christians) cook for the masses’. We differ from Origen today because, in my view, we have a better understanding of what motivates people to live a good life – and this is rarely done by having them internalise a psychology of religious terror from bad or partial religious teaching.

On another thread AllanS has intriguingly suggested that perhaps C.S. Lewis came round to thinking of Hell in terms of ‘double truth’. Allan wrote that

There's a suggestive incident in Dawn Treader where the crew mutiny against Caspian. He quashes the revolt by saying only a select few (the elect?) would be chosen to continue the mystical voyage into the Utter East. All the rest would be left behind. Upon hearing this, all the crew but one begged to be chosen, and were reinstated.

I cannot help but wonder if Lewis thought the threats of being shut out etc in the Gospels were designed to have a similar effect.

(If you are reading this Allan – Ta for the insight! It is far more relevant here than in the context I originally suggested)

Regarding private and public selves – if you look at the portrait of Erasmus by Holbein he seems to have an almost mask like composure (and the same is true of many portraits from the period of many public figures). The wearing of a public mask was vital for those in power or who moved in the circles of the powerful; for death or banishment through incurring disfavour was always a terrible risk. So people played there cards closely to their chests (and Universalists of the time would not have deliberately courted martyrdom over a matter of private opinion). We do get fleeting glimpses of private selves – in the intimacy of the miniature paintings and in the coded messages of poems and private devotions (but these are always open to a variety of interpretations). However, we will not gain a window into a person’s soul of this type and from this period by looking at their public correspondence– apart from a few unique individuals, of whom I believe Luther was one.

All the best


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby 1Cor1522 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:58 pm

I am also still very fascinated by all you are posting here. I have been silent because
1) Just reading along
2) Intermittent Net issues

But this is really good stuff so do not worry. I haven't lost interest in the slightest. :D
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:19 am

Hi Dick, I'm still reading along too and just about keeping up. Fascinating stuff about the influence of Erasmus and the need for caution in putting forward views which may be deemed heretical in those days. :shock:
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:46 am

Hi Paul and Drew -

Lovely to hear from both of my encouragers - and keep it up; you are vital for my motivation, adn I thank you warmly :D

Paul - that's a great quotation from 'Abraham Lincoln' you have as your motto (and the real Abraham Lincoln was a very fine and humble man who America should be proud of and revere above some of the more 'certain of the destiny of America as the elect nation of God' figures in its history - in my view).

Drew - yes you had to be very cautious. And 'heresy' was a slippery category in the fast moving falling outs about ever finer points of doctrine that was a feature of the Reformation (and this often went hand in hand with fast moving shifts in balance of power and alliances). And never mind hopeful Universalism, the idea of religious tolerance was itself often suspect as a damnable doctrine.

The context of martyrdom during the Reformation was also far more ambiguous than it was to the Christians in the first centuries of the Church. The early Christian martyrs knew that they were making a clear protest and witness against the brutality of Roman power, hoping to change hearts and minds thereby (at least this was the case of the less egocentric martyrs – I am more suspicious of some of the exhibitionist enthusiasts for martyrdom whose stories I have read). But in the reformation it was Christian killing Christian. The blood of martyrs was no longer the seed of the Church, but the seed of further sectarian violence.
Paul and Drew- I know both of you have a keen personal interest in the matters of which I am writing - and that's wonderful motivation for me. Understand that I hurtle along at a fine old pace because I want to set down an overview; and also, because of my personal situation, I'm never sure when my time will be severely restricted again - so I'm making the most of this window of opportunity.

So take in the scope of my narrative - it will remain on site for you to ponder the details at leisure, and you can always, always get back to me with questions - I hope you know that I will try my best to give you an honest answer.

All the best friends


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:44 am

That’s enough background...

And so in 1558, Elizabeth I ascended the throne of England, hailed as the ‘New Deborah’ after the tragic reign of her Catholic half sister ‘Bloody Mary’. And Elizabeth’s reign was to last for more than forty years until her death as a frail old woman in 1603.

Again I must emphasise that her basic instinct was always for peace and tolerance. Mary had burned 300 Protestants at the stake in three terrible years. No one died under Elizabeth for their faith until 1575 – and she exacted no reprisals on the Marian persecutors. In addition she was initially a conciliator on the international stage. She had no real appetite for war and foreign adventures – unlike her father Henry VIII who it seems, at least in his prime, would wake up each spring with his blood up and full of heat for new battles. It was only new and threatening developments in the International situation that persuaded her to engage in war with the mighty Spanish Empire (with great success) and colonial repression in Ireland (with tragic consequences).

Elizabeth’s first big challenge on coming to the throne was to sort out the religious mess left by Mary (in an age when religion and politics were identical). As I wrote in an earlier post –

Elizabeth was in a difficult situation and was not fully confident of her position until late in her reign after the defeat o the Spanish Armada when she finally became ‘Gloriana Virginia,’ the Virgin Queen beloved by her people. At first she had to play different parties off against each other in order to survive, and also take care not to offend continental Princes of various religious sympathies so as to keep open the prospect of a marriage match and build defensive alliances on the basis of this guessing game. She also had to cope with religious pluralism and the need to prevent the sectarian violence that was all too common on the Continent.

I will add that her position was also difficult because of the slur attached to her name that she was illegitimate; the child of the Protestant whore Anne Boleyn who had supplanted the rightful Queen Katherine of Aragon and had eventually been tried and executed explicitly on charges of adultery and implicitly on charges of witchcraft. This slur was made good use of by supporters of Mary Queen of Scots later in Elizabeth’s reign.

The solution thrashed out by Elizabeth and her supporters and advisers in both the Lords and the Commons to the politico-religious quandary has become known as the Elizabethan Settlement. The Act of Settlement/Supremacy passed in 1558-9 made Elizabeth – rather than the Pope – the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This meant that she was empowered to appoint Archbishops and Bishops, and therefore had control of the reins of Church politics. However, regarding matters of Church doctrine it was agreed that while she should be consulted on these, she should not interfere unnecessarily in them (and most of the time she kept to her part of this bargain – she only influenced two of the 39 Articles explicitly, for example). The revision of the Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer with its 42 Articles by Archbishop Matthew Parker in Convocation with Bishops Cox and Gheast was the next stage of consolidation.

The ‘total package’ that was the Elizabethan Settlement rapidly came to be known as the Anglican ‘via media’ (‘middle way’). Richard Hooker was later to describe this in a ringing phrase as the ‘Golden Mediocrity’ (mediocre ‘in them days’ was used to describe the virtuous and moderate middle ground or ‘golden mean’, and had none of its modern idolatrous connotations of ‘second best’). By Elizabeth’s time the actual influence of Erasmus on doctrinal matters was on the wane – but Erasmus rhetoric of moderation still exerted a powerful influence on the formation of this ‘Golden Mediocrity’.

As I have suggested earlier, the various factions that existed in the Church of England then, and the slightly different factions that exist in the Church of England now, all have different interpretations of this ‘Golden Mean’ – is it set between Catholicism and Calvinism; between Lutheranism and Calvinism; between Calvinism and Radicalism etc..? My view, as you will have guessed, is that it was actually a piece of benign religious/political fudge to privilege the Peace of the realm over any factional understandings of Truth. It was indeed – ‘All things to all men’.

I note that in the early 1950’s a very influential theory – since discredited – was put forward by the historian Sir John Neale concerning the Settlement. He argued that Elizabeth’s real intention had been to preserve the old Catholic faith of England in everything excepting loyalty to the Pope and the restoration of Monastic lands – but she was pushed into a more radical reforming programme by a Puritan pressure group in Parliament known as ‘The Puritan Choir’. He noted hesitations in legislation in support of his thesis. However these hesitations are now almost unanimously put down to ‘government politicking round Catholic peers and bishops until a Lords majority could be constructed to pass the settlement’ (see ‘ The History Today Companion to British History’, p.282).

I go with the current consensus – Elizabeth wanted to avoid strife with English Catholics (while hoping that the old religion in its Roman form would die out in a generation). She needed to appease the powerful Calvinist lobby without bowing to them. And her own instincts, like Matthew Parker’s, were basically Lutheran softened by Christian Humanism. And this is the context for the shaping of the 39 Articles to which I will now turn (at last!!!!) - obviously, with special attention to the abrogation of the 42nd Article of Cranmer’s Prayer Book.

A final word at this stage. Just to give you a seed thought about the subject that I will turn to after considering the Articles – that is, the Elizabethan church as a persecuting Church – I’d like to briefly introduce you to the character of John Foxe, the Protestant martyrologist. I remember perusing Foxe’s ‘Acts and Monuments’ (commonly known as ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs’) as a child in a public library. It filled me with terror – all of those grisly, seemingly sadomasochistic depictions of deaths most horrid in graphic illustrations. The book begins with the stories of the early Christian Martyrs; then fast forwards to the martyrs of pre-reformation Protestantism (the Waldensians on the Continent, and the Lollards in England); then forwards to the persecutions of the new Reformed Christians under the still Catholic Henry VIII (with Sir Thomas Moore as the arch-villain); and finally forwards to the martyrs during the reign of ‘Bloody Mary’. The book has often been used as a rallying point for the fears of Protestant fundamentalists – the message seeming to be that persecution was always and only an attribute of Romish Popery . Indeed when John Locke was writing his epistle on Religious Toleration at the end of the seventeenth century he had to employ the collaborative skills of the scholarship of his Dutch Armenian Christian Humanist friends to debunk this myth.

However, for his time Foxe was a radical. Almost alone among magisterial Protestants he bravely protested that the burning of heretics – and indeed the death penalty for heresy – was not a good idea. When a congregation of Anabaptists who had fled to England to escape persecution on the continent were discovered worshipping in secret and tried and condemned in 1575, it was Foxe who bravely pleaded for their lives. It was Foxe’s Acts and Monuments and its affect on the public imagination which meant that there was no public stomach for a large scale burning. And it was Foxe, who when two were finally burned at the stake, comforted them in their hour of trial. In addition to this, Foxe’s ‘Acts and Monuments’ was a very controversial book at the time. Elizabeth was none too keen on her half-sister Mary, also a Queen of England, being portrayed as a villainess, and Foxe also wanted to commemorate the twenty Anabaptists who had died under Mary, but this was censored. His inclusion of the Lollards in his martyrology was suspect, because like the Anabaptists the Lollards had disobeyed the ‘dread majesty’ of Christian Princes (albeit Catholic ones).

All the best


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:42 am

I’ll do another post on other significant changes to the Prayer Book; but I’ll not keep you waiting any longer. Let us now consider the Abrogation of the 42nd article in context.
Cranmer’s 42nd Article stated that:

All men shall not be saved at length. They also are worthy of condemnation who endeavour 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 pain for their sins a certain time appointed by God’s justice.

The accepted view, which Farrar alludes with a degree of scepticism in ‘Eternal Hope’ (but remains agnostic on), is that this Article seems to be entirely consonant with the Lutheran Confession of Augsburg (1530), one of the documents on which Cranmer’s Articles of 1552 are based. The Confession states in Article 27—‘Of Christ's Return to Judgment’ – that:

Also they (the Lutherans) teach 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. They condemn the Anabaptists who think that to condemned men and the devils shall be an end of torments.

The Article from the Augsburg Confession explicitly condemns the Anabaptists – it predates the Munster debacle by three years – but the Anabaptists were already associated, rightly or wrongly, with the Peasant Risings which had been put down ruthlessly by Lutheran Princes egged on by the explosive rhetoric of Martin Luther himself.

Cranmer’s Article, does not explicitly mention the Anabaptists but, the argument goes, it is placed in a sequence of other Articles – also deleted by Parker – which address the fears of Magisterial Protestants about Anabaptists and imply a fear of the repetition of the Munster debacle. These articles condemn the false teaching of –

Millennialism/Chiliasm – the utopian idea that men can set up the Kingdom of God here on earth (the condemnation is a clear swipe at the Messianic kingdom of Munster)

Soul sleep – the idea that the human soul is mortal, dies with the body, and that both await the general Resurrection on the Day of Judgement. Again this idea was anathema to Magisterial Protestants (although Luther had some sympathy with it). First because it might take away some of the deterrent effect of the imagined terrors of Hell by persuading people to think – in superstition- that the wait between death and Judgement could be a very long one, so a period of blessed oblivion could be anticipated before the torment begins. Second – and with this Luther would not have sympathised – it could become part and parcel of an annihilationist doctrine (the wicked are not raised from the dead, only the righteous are).

Perfectionism and Antinomianism – the idea that God’s elect are free from sin in this life and therefore can ‘let it all hang out’; again a condemnation that suggest the Munster debacle. Some of the stories that came out of Munster - of John of Leydon disporting himself with his concubines – are probably fictitious in my view. But the cruel imposition of polygamy by Leydon did give rise to the more lurid stories of unrestrained promiscuity and it is these that Cranmer addressed with his condemnation of antinomian perfectionism. (I note that these ideas – that the elect can do no wrong - have also been current in extreme/distorted manifestations of Calvinism throughout history, by the way).

As the accepted argument continues, Parker and friends felt that the danger of Munster had passed and the Church needed to address more pressing concerns (all conjecture since we have no minutes for the Convocation and no documents of personal reflection on the Convocation’s deliberations from its members). However we do note that articles condemning Anabpatists concerning their position on taking oaths, bearing arms , and on teaching that all goods be held in common were retained (and other articles on the relationship between Church and State all implicitly condemn the Anabaptists). We also note that it was actually the damnatory clauses of the Athanasian Creed that were used as a pretext for continued persecution of Anabaptists eventually (for the teaching of at least some Anabaptist about the Incarnation was deemed heretical as I shall describe in a later post).

I’m sure the explanation about the receding threat /memory of the Munster debacle is a perfectly good explanation for the deleting of the Articles covering Soul Sleep, Chiliasm, and Perfectionism/Antinomianism. However – I may not be a Prince among experts – but I do have a wee problem with this as an explanation for the abrogation of the 42nd article. You see this article condemns Origen’s teaching that all will eventually be saved. As far as I know the Anabaptists at this time were annihilationist; and this teaching was implicitly condemned in Crammers article on Soul Sleep. (It is until the seventeenth century that Anabaptist sects appear – for example, the Dunkers, with explicitly Universalist teachings). I note that, quite properly, article 27 of the Augsburg Confession against the Anabaptists does not condemn Universal Salvation; rather it condemns the doctrine that the torments of men and devils shall have an end – which sounds very much like annihilationism to me. Curious eh?

All the best



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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:39 pm

Regarding other changes to the Prayer Book made by Parker in convocation with his brother bishops (and under Elizabeth’s watchful eye)...

First, I list some of the few changes made to the liturgy...

The very last rubric in the Communion service (called the "Black Rubric") was dropped. This had sought to assure that kneeling during Communion did not in any way imply worship of the elements of the Bread and Wine. Its supression gave leeway to Catholics loyal to the Queen who privately understood communion in terms of transubstantiation and adoration of the Host as the ‘Corpus Christi’ (which is what the rubric implicitly cnodemned). The Thirty Nine Articles speak out against this very understanding of Communion – transubstantiation is not to be taught by Anglican clergy as sound doctrine. But put the two together and the implied message is that while the Catholic understanding of the ‘Mass’ it is not to be taught , each person is allowed to follow their own understanding of Communion in the secrecy of their heart

The prayers/curses against the Pope were dropped from the Litany to conciliate Catholic opinion (and at this time Elizabeth had not, as yet, been excommunicated from the Catholic Church and, I dare say, was not keen on this happening either)

A rubric was added to Morning Prayer prescribing the use of traditional vestments. This went against the Reformed view of vestments commended to Cranmer by Martin Bucer. It is consonant with Elizabeth’s ‘Lutheran’ instincts and was later use by her as a powerful weapon to assert her authority over the Calvinists.

Second a list of other changes to Cranmer’s Articles which are of note to us

Article 20

A preamble was added to Article 20 on the authority of the church, ‘asserting the authority of the Church to decree rites and ceremonies (one of two alterations thought to be made at the explicit request of Elizabeth). This preamble reasserts the Queen’s authority to impose vestments etc, on Calvinist clergy at her will. I’m sure Elizabeth had no sense that the wearing of vestments and the sacrificial understanding of communion are necessary to salvation. For her the vestments issue was simply a sticking point to assert her authority over.

Article 17

However, Article 17 on Predestination did give some leeway to the Calvinists. Cranmer’s version, asserts the election of the saved to salvation, but does not assert the election of the reprobate to damnation .Indeed Cranmer’s article gives a deliberate rebuke to the Reformed view of Predestination when it asserts that the elect cannot know Assurance of their salvation in this life (which became the Calvinist view in the generation after Calvin’s death). Parker and friends kept the Article as Cranmer wrote it – but deleted the rebuke about Assurance. So here was a wonderful piece of fudge that everyone could agree on – at least partially – and no one needed to disagree on. Pure genius!

• The wooly Lutheran influenced believers could agree with it, as could the Humanist pre-Armenian ‘freewillers’. Yes the elect are predestined to salvation but somehow the damned are dammed through their own free choice.

• The Calvinists and Reformed Christians could agree with it. Yes the elect are predestined to salvation – quite so; and although the Article does not state that the reprobate ear also elected to damnation (double predestination), it does not deny this. In addition although the Article does not affirm the Calvinist doctrine of Assurance, it issues no rebuke to those that do. Any moderate, non-sectarian Calvinist could buy into this. The Article is not Reformed, but it is partially Reformed and moving in the right direction.

• The secret Universalist Christians - if they existed - could agree with it. Yes we are all elected to salvation by the inescapable love of God who wills the final Restitution of All in Christ – and whose will cannot ultimately be frustrated.

Article 22

Article 22 against the doctrine of Purgatory – as Farrar notes in Eternal Hope – condemns the ‘Romish’ doctrine of Purgatory; but this leaves the door open for other understanding of Purgatory, at least in theory.

Article 29
Article 29 – ‘On the wicked that eat not the Body of Christ’ was omitted at first from the 39 Articles, and again it is thought this was done at Elizabeth’s explicit request (hence the 39 Articles were originally the 38 Articles). This Article argues that a wicked person receiving Holy Communion can derive no benefits from it, for their wickedness means that although they eat the Bread at Communion this does not become the body of Christ. I’ve always found controversy over Sacraments baffling – but as far as I understand it – (and stay with me on this because I think it leads to an important point)

• The Catholic view is that at Communion the whole substance of the Bread and the Wine are converted into the whole substance of the Body and Blood of Christ and only the appearances remain the same. So in the Catholic view the wicked do indeed eat the Body of Christ at Communion but do so to their condemnation.

• The Lutheran view is that the substance of the Bread and Wine co-exists with the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion. So as with the Catholic view, the Lutheran view is that the wicked do indeed eat of the Body of Christ at communion but do so to their condemnation.

• The Receptionist view, which became the mainstream Anglican view, is that the Bread and the Wine only become the Body and Blood of Christ to those who receive it in faith. So in this view the wicked do not eat the Body of Christ at communion – they are condemned for not coming to Communion in good faith.

• The Calvinist view is that Communion is a memorial meal and the Bread remains Bread –although the Spirit of Christ is present to the Elect at Communion. So again in this view the wicked do not eat the Body of Christ at Communion, and the wicked are condemned anyway by being among the reprobate.

So the two groups of people that Elizabeth was careful not to offend here were the Lutherans abroad, and the Lutheran influenced Anglicans, and the Catholics. She was trying to keep her loyal Catholic subjects on board and, according to the authoritative entry on the 39 Articles in ‘The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church’, she was also keen not to offend the Lutherans ‘probably in a move to facilitate good diplomatic relations with the Lutheran Princes of Germany’. Is this not curious? Surely if the 42nd article of Cranmer’s prayer book was simply a reworking of the 27th Article of the Augsburg confession she would have been equally cautious about that its abrogation might cause a stumbling block to her wooing of the Lutherans (I hope it’s now clear why I’ve laboured this obscure point!).

Anyway in 1571 Article 29 was restored bringing the total to 39. Obviously by this point Elizabeth was past caring about delicate sensibilities over sacramental theology.

That’s quite enough on the 39 Articles. Are you still with me?

All good wishes

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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby 1Cor1522 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:27 pm

Still with you and am very impressed with all the info you have posted. Very appreciative and thankful. :D
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:53 am

Thanks Paul: you are keeping my spirits up – bless you :D

So where are we now? Well I hope I’ve been able to suggest to you – as fairly and truthfully as possible -that while there may not be necessary grounds for thinking that Matthew Parker was a secret Universalist – and that his Queen was at least a sympathiser – there are certainly sufficient grounds for thinking this might have been the case.

Likewise with the abrogation of the 42nd Article: there may not be necessary grounds for thinking that the abrogation was done to allow belief in Universal Salvation as a private option – but again, there are certainly sufficient grounds for thinking this.

Are we all agreed here? All for one and one for all? ;)

I must turn now to a more depressing topic. Seven people were burnt at the stake during Elizabeth’s reign – two Anabaptists and five Arian Unitarians. At one point paranoia about two ‘sects’ that were actually very small in England – namely the Family of Love and the Anabaptists - became epidemic And, very tragically, roughly two hundred and ninety Catholics were also killed – most by beheading, but some by hanging, drawing and quartering and Elizabeth’s reign saw some appalling massacres of Irish Catholics carried out by Sir Walter Raleigh. That’s a pretty stark picture and hard to reconcile with the idea that the Queen was a Universalist sympathiser. But the picture is more complex than my brief sketch suggests – far more complex in fact. And I’d like to spend a little time with you looking at it in more detail (unless you tell me to stop!).

It is hard to ‘read’ Elizabeth. The sources for her reign are – as would be expected of this period –fragmentary and inconclusive. And so much about Elizabeth was about public persona; she gave few clues away about her private self (and, to give her credit, this seems to have made her respectful of the private selves and private beliefs of her fellow human beings). Her public persona was carefully crafted. It is commonplace to observe that Catholic England, before the time of Elizabeth, had been known as ‘Mary’s Isle’ because of the depth of devotion to the Virgin Mary shown there. Old habits die hard, even when the new religion of Protestantism had come to ascendancy. So Elizabeth, in reinventing her public persona as ‘The Virgin Queen’, not only gave justification for her disinclination to marry, but also – whether consciously or not – filled the vacuum left by the suppression of the cult of the ‘Virgin Mother of God’ (this idea was popularised fairly recently by the International hit film about Elizabeth starring Kate Blanchett).

The pageantry and etiquette at court, the allegoric symbolism of court masques, and of court poetry, and of paintings and engravings on the Royal and Imperial themes all underpinned this new cult; as did the carefully staged ‘processions’ of the Queen from town to town in England receiving the loving devotion o f her ‘dear’ people.

If the ‘Elizabeth the cult’ is a block to our access to Elizabeth’s private thoughts, another factor makes it even more difficult to sift evidence about her with over confidence – namely that Elizabeth had some very powerful and influential advisers. She may have been a mighty Christian ‘Prince’ in her own way (she is referred to as ‘Prince’ as often as she is referred to as ‘Queen’ in sources from the time). However she was never a tyrant with absolute power. Elizabethan England was not a representative democracy; but Elizabeth still had to answer to her Parliament and heed the advice of her Privy Council – composed of men like Robert Cecil Lord Burgleigh, and Francis Walsingham who, it seems, could force Elizabeth’s hand to act and speak against her better and her worst instincts when considerations of statecraft/real-politick demanded this.

We need to bear these things in mind when considering Elizabeth’s record as a persecuting Prince/Queen, and the Elizabethan Church’s as a persecuting Church– and we always need to look at the political context of the different types and phases of Elizabethan persecution.


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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby revdrew61 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:24 am

Yep, still with you Dick, and loving it. Interesting speculations about the editing of the Articles. It is frustrating that no minutes of the Convocation have survived. Not even personal reflections or jornal entries by the participants. What a shame. Still, there seem to be plenty of hints and clues for you to do your excellent detective work with.
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Re: Church of England Articles allowed Universalism in 1563

Postby Sobornost » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:34 am

Well thanks for that old chum :D – it is indeed a real encouragement to me. I also detect our Jason’s benign and tolerant presence hovering in the background somewhere, and I am so grateful that he mainly ,with other input, have already done such a marvellous job in expounding the pros and cons of the Athanasian Creed on a separate thread – it’s gonna make our job so much easier in the second part of this story.

Those who are reading this, whoever you are, I’d like to thank you for your patience thus far. Since Drew and Paul have given me the thumbs up I feel happy to proceed with this thread as planned. The next bit about persecution in the Elizabethan Church is important – it’s not just an afterthought now that I’ve considered the question about the motivation behind the abrogation of Cranmer’s 42nd article as best I can for the moment. A It’s really important for a fair assessment of the limits of Elizabeth’s tolerance – which I believe, despite the evidence I gave in the last post (given without any context) was actually very wide. It is also an important bridge to the next part of our story which concerns the history of the influence of the Athanasian Creed in the Anglican Church after the time of Elizabeth. However, I do intend to end my contribution to this first thread on an upbeat note by cutting and pasting posts I’ve already made about Richard Hooker’s seeming ‘hopeful universalism’ elsewhere on the site to here with some small additions (the additions will be marked in bold so that those of you who have read the original posts already can speed read the bits you are already familiar with),
I’d like to say something at this point about the relevance of history to us today. History never ever repeats itself in exactly the same way – but we can often discern some general trends in the human story (like the lesson that brutal treatment of the vanquished by the victor – no matter how just the victor’s cause - is nearly always a recipe for future violence). I strongly believe that however strange and violent the Elizabethan religious world may seem to us it also yields important lessons to us of general trends.

Very soon we will consider the case of the treatment of Catholics under Elizabeth. The initial attempts at limited toleration of Catholics within the Elizabethan Settlement were well intentioned. However, as the political situation worsened with internal and external strife in dangerous times some Catholics became involved in treason, although it seems that most remained fiercely loyal to their Protestant Queen. Many were quite unfairly persecuted, and some put to death, who were completely innocent as extremist Protestant voices whipped up fury against picturing all Catholics as a monolith in which extremists and loyalist became one beast. I’m not the first to point out the parallel between the situation of loyal Elizabethan Catholics and the parallel between loyal and moderate Muslims in the United States, Britain and Europe since 9/11. And we should continue to mind the lessons of history here in my view

There is another parallel trend that occurs to me very strongly at the moment. Just last week the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has been speaking about the persecution of Christians in Britain and how Christians should now be prepared to fight and die for their British Christian heritage and traditions as Africa Christians are prepared to die for their faith today. I don’t wish to be unkind to George Carey – I actually know someone who was a member of his staff for a time and testifies to him and his wife being enormously kind and humane people. In addition I was always very uncomfortable when public school educated wits in the Church of England used to mock him as ‘a bit of a thicko’. However, I do take issue with his words last week.

Just from thinking about the historical issues for this thread I would conclude that the question of our ‘Christian traditions and heritage’ in the UK and elsewhere in the world is not a simple matter; rather it is a matter of competing stories which we need discernment to interpret and to sift the wheat from the chaff. Also I take issue with George’s contention that Christians are actually persecuted in the UK (although they most certainly are in other parts of the world). What he really means is that Conservative Christians have sometimes been discriminated against in the UK by insensitive and ill informed secularist. These cases have been rare and most of them have been resolved quickly and without acrimony. Yes there is a continuing row about Civil partnerships for Gay people and how recognition of these in the law has sometimes presented Conservative Christians with a choice to act against their consciences or give up their jobs (i.e. if they happen to have a job as a Registrar of births, marriages, and deaths). I think these cases could and should be dealt with more sensitively and the matter should be constantly under review – it is a terrible thing to force people’s consciences -but none of this amounts to persecution. Indeed the paper in the UK that shouts most loudly about this persecution of Christians in the UK with angry headlines has a very poor record in painting Christians concerned with social justice issues etc., in the worst possible way, and was none too supportive of Desmond Tutu in his righteous and loving struggle against Apartheid.

Speaking of Desmond Tutu I also take issue with George concerning his romantic statement about African Christians’ being prepared to die for their faith. Indeed, in a sense this is true – and I’m sure Desmond Tutu would certainly have died for love if circumstances had made this unavoidable. However, what worries me about George’s statement is that in some parts of Africa we have a parallel situation developing to that of pre-modern Europe in the time of religious wars and persecutions; where the blood of martyrs fuelled the cycle of retribution. I think we can see the following parallels between Reformation Europe and certain parts of North and Central Africa today –

We have intra religious strife between competing Christian denominations – made worse in Africa by inter religious strife with Islam
We have plague (Aids in the African context)
We have hunger and scarcity
We have the beginnings of an urban middle class who are losing touch with and sympathy for the poor as disparity in wealth and poverty rises
We have the social upheaval of urbanisation with people being displaced from their traditional village communities
We have the replacement of traditional religion with more rational monotheistic faith but with traditional beliefs persisting in debased and corrupted forms while the new order is being born
We have the beginning of centralised state and law – but older forms of social organisation and justice persisting in a fragmented and debased form

And I am sure there are other parallels too. But all of this is a perfect context for religious violence and scape-goating violence, as it was in the days of the Reformation.

We may marvel at the courage and dignity of our African brothers and sisters – but we also have to understand their situation without romanticism and do what we can to help them and pray for them.

I give a plug to my favourite charity here:

www.steppingstonesnigeria.org/

Stepping Stones Nigeria is a wonderful example of how we can be aware of the complexities of African Christianity and the potentially tragic consequences of some of its manifestations (but not all by any means); and we can help if we so choose (given that many of us will already be up to our eyes in charitable commitment).

All the best

Dick
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