Monday, June 15, 2009

The Central Churchman

Sadly, one does not hear much from Central Churchmanship Anglicans on the web. The web discussion about Anglicanism seems to be dominated by Anglo-catholics, Revisionists (sorry, but I cannot call them liberals anymore), and Evangelicals/Charismatics. It seems very few folks want to talk about Mere Anglicanism - perhaps there are very few mere Anglicans!

Americans may be wondering what I mean by "Central Churchmanship." I think it is what you might call "Middle of the Road" or "Conservative Broad Church," that is, theologically rooted in the Bible, the Early Fathers and the English Reformation, and middle of the road in ceremonial. The archetypal example of Via Media Anglicana. It evolved from the old High Church tradition in the late 19th century. They adopted the term "Central Churchmanship" in esponse to the Ritualist and Anglo-Catholic hijacking of the term "High Church."

For British Anglicans of a certain age, the Most Rev. Geoffrey Fisher (1887-1972), Archbishop of Canterbury 1945-61 was the typical Central Churchman - theologically moderate, morally conservative, content with the Prayer Book service as it stood, intent on making the machinery of the Church work as efficiently as possible. Many bishops and country parsons of the 1950s and 60s were of the same breed, and they were well regarded not just by their flocks, but by the population in general. Of course, the Central position has its problems - it used to be a bit too associated with The Establishment, and the Old School Tie, but it was the ballast that kept the Anglican ship stable.

Central Churchmanship began to decline in the late 1960s. Some of the old Central Churchmanship theological colleges closed and other embraced Liberalism. With the general drift in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church towards liberal, and later Revisionist, theology and an acceptance of the permissive society, it made it easy for what should have been the next generation of Central Churchmanship clergy to give it up and go Liberal. Of course, Central Churchmen and Central Churchwomen have not disappeared, but they do seem to be overlooked these days.

In my next few posts I am going to talk a little bit about "Central Churchmanship" and why I think it should be taken seriously. Also, if the chance presents itself, I will also take the time to comment occasionally on worship, contemporary issues, and maye even write a little about my hobbies and interests.

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