Monday, July 12, 2010

A Riposte on Puritans and Puritanism

"The Puritan party from the days of Elizabeth to the present time have never honestly accepted the Prayer Book : its members have been too much of Churchmen to leave the Church, but too little of Churchmen to value its principles: They have remained in a false position, attempting to subvert the system to which they nominally conformed. It has been pointed out how openly the attempt was made in Elizabethan times; and, though it has in God's good Providence failed all along to win any substantial recognition, it has been able at times to establish an evasive and false tradition of Prayer Book interpretation which has practically popularized and sought even to justify a system of disloyalty to the Prayer Book. The party has had its conflicts with more loyal and wholehearted churchmanship, and the issues have hitherto not been finally decisive. The failure of the Elizabethan attempt to puritanize the Church inaugurated the period of loyalty of the early Stuart times: the success of this recovery was too rapid and too injudicious, and so the revenge came speedily; for a while sectarianism and even puritanism had their way, until a short experience of their results under the Commonwealth produced a fresh reaction. The failure of the Puritans at the Savoy inaugurated another period of loyalty under the later Stuarts, but, when Church life was systematically crushed in the 18th century by Whig politicians and Latitudinarian bishops, the reign of the false tradition and the evasive, disloyal or merely torpid attitude to the rules of the Church's worship again set in; and those who tried to be loyal to the Church system, whether early followers of Wesley, Clapham Evangelicals or Oxford Tractarians, were all alike in turn charged with innovation, disloyalty and even with Popery. The contest still survives; the Puritan party still works for a system, which is not the system of the Catholic Church or of the English Prayer Book, and defends its disregard of plain rubrics (e.g., as to fasting or daily services), and its want of sympathy with the system (e.g., as to the frequency and discipline of Communion by appealing to the evasive tradition, which in the dark days of the history it has been able to form, and would like to fasten permanently upon the Church. Thus there is no feature more marked in the history of the Prayer Book than this contest between the Church system of worship expressed in the Prayer Book and the false interpretation which has grown up through a continuous tradition of evasion and rebellion."

This quotation, taken from Proctor and Frere's New History of the Book of Common Prayer, is still as true as the day it was written and published. The Continuum has been repeatedly split by this fight which has been made the worse by those who should have been the best of Churchmen adopting and practicing a tradition equally at varience with the Prayer Book and the Church, i.e., an imitation of the very worse of what even Roman authorities have labeled as "Roman bad taste." The result is that those who know and actually practice the Anglican tradition seem to have become fewer every year. But it is that tradition, the way of the classical Prayer Book Catholic, which this blog has embraced and will continue to do our best to set before all those who call themselves Anglicans and the world at large.

The above was originally posted in my first year and I am putting it back up now because of recent opinions on other Anglican sites, I think this long quotation from Proctor and Frere needs to be revisited. In both the English and American churches men who had no loyalty to the doctrine, discipline and worship to be found and still found in all of the classical prayer books stood for orders and accepted ordination to an office which they didn't accept or believe in precisely for the reason of destroying first the Church of England and now all of Anglicanism. The purpose of this blog is to support Anglicanism according to the one official document of the Church which is the Book of Common Prayer.


Anonymous said...


Canon Tallis said...

If we wan real Anglicanism, we will only be able to find it and live it by real obedience to the Book of Common Prayer tradition. Only in this way can we get behind both our 'Back to Baroque' decadence lovers and the worst of what a misrepresentation of what the English reformation actually attempted and demanded - that is a return as close as humanly possible in any age to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the most primitive Church.

charles said...

Yes, Canon Tallis, there needs to be a restoration of common order understood by the prayer book and other related formularies. However, Anglicanism seems to have tolerated a couple traditions which have been more or less ingrained, not only the low-church puritan kind but also the liberal ethos. While I hope we can regain a sense of constitutional orthodoxy, I doubt very much either puritanism or modernism will entirely disappear. My hope is they become better understood, tolerated, and somewhat harnessed, becoming marginal forces, hemmed in by standards of regular catechism and, where necessary, discipline. But we first must agree what are Anglican standards? They certainly are not the Directory of Worship anymore than the Missal. And certainly they are not 'laxity'.

Canon Tallis said...

The standards of Anglicanism are clear. First is Holy Scripture as interpreted by the earliest bishops and Catholic fathers. The second is the local Book of Common Prayer in it's tradition. Our problem as always been those who wanted to rule the Church but refused to accept either of the above. What we need most at the moment are bishops who will set an example in their parishes and their visitations. But they must be men secure in their knowledge and understanding as well as their full acceptance of Anglicanism. The American Church has had few of them and the Church outside these shores even fewer.

Fr. David said...

For catechism and enquirers I use "An Outline of an Anglican Life" by Louis Tarsitano. I am aware that some believe that his is too Calvinist, but I find him to be truly "via media."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Canon Tallis for this post and your others elsewhere. They give hope and encouragement to those of us who hope that the Continuum in the UK may, eventually, prove to be a suitable and stable home for us.


Canon Tallis said...

In there are those in the UK who wish to continue the Old Religion, and by that I mean the full faith and practice of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, I do not think it would be difficult to find a bishop of undoubted orders to order suitable candidates to the diaconate and to the priethood. Of course, I think it would be most appropriate if a certain group got off their duff, realizing that we are facing an emergency and acted. It seems, however, that they are going to plead their Constitution and Canon Law, theirs and not that of the ancient Church, to add delay upon delay with the hope that English Christians will surrender the old faith and consent to the use of an English translation of the Roman missal.

Fr.Jas.A.Chantler said...

Canon Tallis
i enjoy visiting your site and some of the places you list in your profile.I am hoping that you may be able to suggest some likely sources my parish might contact in order to find a set of riddel posts.We are not able to afford very fine posts such as those which adorned Comper churches or the ancient churches of England but many modest churches had quite lovely posts which they've eliminated and they must be laying around somewhere. If anyone who visits this blog has any suggestions for us we would be very grateful indeed.Also it could be that there are some old books which could help guide a local craftsman if we have to have some made but I don't know if there were any produced or, if there were, whether they would still be available.I have plenty of pictures of course but nothing more than that.Many thanks.
The Rev'd.Jas.A.Chantler
2223 Kildare Road
Walkerville Ontario Canada
N8W 2X2

Anonymous said...

"Of course, I think it would be most appropriate if a certain group got off their duff, realizing that we are facing an emergency and acted. It seems, however, that they are going to plead their Constitution and Canon Law, theirs and not that of the ancient Church, to add delay upon delay with the hope that English Christians will surrender the old faith and consent to the use of an English translation of the Roman missal."

Quite! This really is part of the problem (or challenge) here in the UK. No one really seems to understand that to be the 'Continuum' in this country (England) you have to 'continue' something that the bulk of traditional Anglicans can identify with. The fact that Priest such as yourself and Fr Hart have found a place in the ACC gives me hope but I can't help but wish that the situation in the UK was more like that in the US.


Samual said...

The sole purpose of the silk tallit is to hold the tzitzit (tzitzis). The prayer shawl (tallit, tallit , tallis, talis) also has an Atarah.