Anglicanism is Theologically Reformed

At my graduation from university I was, while Protestant, not too concerned with Protestantism, though I continued to hold all the solas of the Reformation and appreciated the Reformed take on things. Interested instead in being catholic, I was in retrospect a lot less stable than I am now, being slightly mesmerized by Eastern Orthodoxy; in reaction against many Protestants’ extreme anti-Realist bias, I even countenanced the use of icons as ‘windows to the departed saints’, though on this point I held my peace.

At this time, when a friend expressed that maybe he didn’t want to be Presbyterian anymore, I did indeed share his doubts about the ugliness and narrowness of some Reformed infighting, while D. G. Hart’s biography on Nevin probably helped me process some stuff emotionally. At that time, though, as I told another friend, one thing I liked about Anglicanism was that in one institution it held together Evanglical, Anglo-Catholic and Charismatic streams. This was a silly idea. Lee Gatiss writes at Meet the Puritans,

So if you hear or read someone say ‘Anglicanism’ was invented in the nineteenth century by the Oxford Movement, or by the bitter bishops who swept back into power in 1660 with Charles II, blow a raspberry at them. It goes back further than that! The word Anglican was in use from at least the end of the 16th century precisely to describe the English manifestation of the international Reformed movement. Our beloved Puritans were a part of that wider current.

There is even a reference in a 1616 book called Tessaradelphus by Thomas Harrab to ‘Anglianism’ – which antedates the usual references to ‘Anglicanism’ by a few centuries, well before Cardinal Newman was even a twinkle in his father’s eye. Harrab says, ‘I call the religion of England Anglianisme, because it among the rest hath no one especial author, but is set forth by the Prince and Parliament.’ In other words, it is the Reformed Church of the English nation, not just of one man (Calvin, Luther, or Cranmer).

People, Anglicanism is Catholic and Reformed! This means it does not look over its shoulder trying to look like Rome, nor does it try merely to balance Protestant and non-Protestant theology. It is, rather, a classical magisterial Protestant tradition, and it’s according to this identity that we’re to evaluate the Caroline divines. So Anglicans, be Protestant, and Protestants, hold Anglicanism to its Protestant confession. If we abandon Anglicanism instead, we promote chaos.

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