|Part of a series on|
The term high church refers to beliefs and practices of Christian ecclesiology, liturgy, and theology that emphasize formality and resistance to modernisation. Although used in connection with various Christian traditions, the term originated in and has been principally associated with the Anglican tradition, where it describes churches using a number of ritual practices associated in the popular mind with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The opposite tradition is low church . Contemporary media discussing Anglican churches erroneously prefer the terms evangelical to low church and Anglo-Catholic to high church, even though their meanings do not exactly correspond. Other contemporary denominations that contain high church wings include some Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches.
Because of its history, the term high church also refers to aspects of Anglicanism quite distinct from the Oxford Movement or Anglo-Catholicism. There remain parishes that are high church and yet adhere closely to the quintessentially Anglican usages and liturgical practices of the Book of Common Prayer .
High church Anglicanism tends to be closer than low church to Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox teachings and spirituality; its hallmarks are relatively elaborate music, altarpieces, clergy vestments and an emphasis on sacraments. It is intrinsically traditional.
High church nonetheless includes many bishops, other clergy and adherents sympathetic to mainstream modern consensus across reformed Christianity that, according to official Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian teachings, are anathema (see the ordination of women and to varying degrees abortion).
The term high church has also been applied to elements of Protestant churches within which individual congregations or ministers display a division in their liturgical practices, for example, high church Presbyterianism , high church Methodism and within Lutheranism there is a historic high church and low church distinction comparable with Anglicanism (see Neo-Lutheranism and Pietism).
In the 17th century, high church was used to describe those clergy and laity who placed a high emphasis on complete adherence to the Established Church position, including some emphasis on ritual or liturgical practices inherited from the Early Church or the Undivided Church. However, as the Puritans began demanding that the English Church abandon some of its traditional liturgical emphases, episcopal structures, parish ornaments and the like, the high church position came to be distinguished increasingly from that of the Latitudinarians, also known as those promoting a broad church, who sought to minimise the differences between Anglicanism and Reformed Christianity, and to make the church as inclusive as possible by opening its doors as widely as possible to admit other Christian viewpoints.
Until the early 19th century the term high churchmen was used for those who emphasized the link between church and state, the monarchy and the liturgy of the 1662 Prayer Book.[ citation needed ] The 19th-century Oxford Movement within the Church of England began as a high church movement, following a call to action to save the Church of England, whose position, while emancipation of Roman Catholics and other changes in the English body politic, was perceived as being in danger.[ citation needed ] High churchmen resisted the erosion of the Church of England's traditionally privileged and legally entrenched role in English society.[ citation needed ] Over time several of the leading lights of the Oxford Movement became Roman Catholics, following the path of John Henry Newman, one of the fathers of the Oxford Movement and, for a time, a high churchman himself. A lifelong High Churchman, the Reverend Edward Bouverie Pusey remained the spiritual father of the Oxford Movement who remained a priest in the Church of England. To a lesser extent, looking back from the 19th century, the term high church also came to be associated with the beliefs of the Caroline divines and with the pietistic emphases of the period, practised by the Little Gidding community, such as fasting and lengthy preparations before receiving the Eucharist. After the Restoration, the term high church became associated with those who took the view that the Church of England forever ought to be specially protected against all other Christian beliefs, which it termed sectarian.[ citation needed ]
During the reign of King James I, there were attempts to diminish the growth of party feeling within the Church of England, and indeed to reconcile to the Church moderate Puritans who did not already conform to the Established Church or who had left the Church in recent years. The project to create the Authorized Version of the Bible was one such attempt at reconciliation. The continued use of what has also been termed the King James version of the Bible, by Anglicans and other Protestants alike in the English-speaking world, is a reflection of the success of this endeavour at cooperation.
During the reign of King Charles I, however, as divisions between Puritan and Catholic elements within the Church of England became more bitter, and Protestant Nonconformity outside the Church grew stronger in numbers and more vociferous, the High Church position became associated with the leadership of the High Church Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, (see Laudianism), and government policy to curtail the growth of Protestant Dissent in England and the other possessions of the Crown. See, for example, the attempt to reimpose episcopacy on the Church of Scotland, a policy that was 'successful' until the reign of William and Mary, when the office of bishop was discontinued except among the small minority of Scots who belonged to the Scottish Episcopal Church.
In the wake of the disestablishment of Anglicanism and the persecution of Anglican beliefs and practices under the Commonwealth, the return of the Anglican party to power in the Cavalier Parliament saw a strong revival of the High Church position in the English body politic. Victorious after a generation of struggle, the Anglican gentry felt the need to re-entrench the re-Anglicanised Church of England as one of the most important elements of the Restoration Settlement through a renewed and strengthened alliance between Throne and Altar, or Church and State. Reverence for martyrdom of the Stuart king Charles I as an upholder of his Coronation Oath to protect the Church of England became a hallmark of High Church orthodoxy. At the same time, the Stuart dynasty was expected to maintain its adherence to Anglicanism. This became an important issue for the High Church party and it was to disturb the Restoration Settlement under Charles II's brother, King James II, a convert to Roman Catholicism, and lead to setbacks for the High Church party. These events culminated in the Glorious Revolution and the exclusion of the Catholic Stuarts from the British throne. The subsequent split over office-holders' oaths of allegiance to the Crown and the Royal Succession, which led to the exclusion of the Non-Juror bishops who refused to recognise the 1688 de facto abdication of the King, and the accession of King William III and Queen Mary II, and did much to damage the unity of High Church party.
Later events surrounding the attempts of the Jacobites, the adherents of the excluded dynasts, to regain the English and Scottish thrones, led to a sharpening of anti-Catholic rhetoric in Britain and a distancing of the High Church party from the more ritualistic aspects of Caroline High churchmanship, which were often associated with the schismatic Non-Jurors. Eventually, under Queen Anne, the High Church party saw its fortunes revive with those of the Tory party, with which it was then strongly associated.
However, under the early Hanoverians, both the High Church and Tory parties were once again out of favour. This led to an increasing marginalisation of High Church and Tory viewpoints, as much of the 18th century was given over to the rule of the Whig party and the aristocratic families who were in large measure pragmatic latitudinarians in churchmanship. This was also the Age of Reason, which marked a period of great spiritual somnolence and stultification in the Church of England.
Thus, by the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, those liturgical practices prevalent even in High Church circles were not of the same tenor as those later found under the Catholic revival of the 19th century. High Church clergy and laity were often termed high and dry, in reference to their traditional high attitude with regard to political position of the Church in England, and dry faith, which was accompanied by an austere but decorous mode of worship, as reflective of their idea of an orderly and dignified churchmanship against the rantings of the low churchmen that their Cavalier ancestors had defeated. Over time, their High Church position had become ossified among a remnant of bookish churchmen and country squires. An example of an early 19th-century churchman of this tradition is Sir Robert Inglis MP.
Only with the success of the Oxford Movement and its increasing emphases on ritualistic revival from the mid-19th century onward, did the term High Church begin to mean something approaching the later term Anglo-Catholic. Even then, it was only employed coterminously in contrast to the Low churchmanship of the Evangelical and Pietist position. This sought, once again, to lessen the separation of Anglicans (the Established Church) from the majority of Protestant Nonconformists, who by this time included the Wesleyans and other Methodists as well as adherents of older Protestant denominations known by the group term Old Dissent. In contrast to earlier alliances with the Tories, Anglo-Catholicism became increasingly associated with socialism, the Labour Party and greater decision-making liberty for the church's convocations. Anglo-Catholics, particularly in London, were sometimes called sacramental socialists.[ citation needed ]
From the mid-19th century onward, the term High Church generally became associated with a more avowedly Anglo-Catholic liturgical or even triumphalist position within the English Church, while the remaining Latitudinarians were referred to as being Broad Church and the re-emergent evangelical party was dubbed Low Church. However, high church can still refer to Anglicans who hold a high view of the sacraments, church tradition and the threefold ministry but do not specifically consider themselves Anglo-Catholics.
Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation, in the context of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. It is one of the largest branches of Christianity, with around 110 million adherents worldwide as of 2001.
Anglo-Catholicism comprises beliefs and practices that emphasise the Catholic heritage and identity of the various Anglican churches.
The Oxford Movement was a movement of high church members of the Church of England which began in the 1830s and eventually developed into Anglo-Catholicism. The movement, whose original devotees were mostly associated with the University of Oxford, argued for the reinstatement of some older Christian traditions of faith and their inclusion into Anglican liturgy and theology. They thought of Anglicanism as one of three branches of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" Christian church. Many key participants subsequently converted to Roman Catholicism.
The words Popery and Papism are mainly historical pejorative words in the English language for Roman Catholicism, once frequently used by Protestants and Eastern Orthodox Christians to label their Roman Catholic opponents, who differed from them in accepting the authority of the Pope over the Christian Church. The words were popularised during the English Reformation (1532–1559), when the Church of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and divisions emerged between those who rejected Papal authority and those who continued to follow Rome. The words are recognised as pejorative; they have been in widespread use in Protestant writings until the mid-nineteenth century, including use in some laws that remain in force in the United Kingdom.
A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity that comprises all church congregations of the same kind, identifiable by traits such as a name, particular history, organization, leadership, theological doctrine, worship style and sometimes a founder. It is a secular and neutral term, generally used to denote any established Christian church. Unlike a cult or sect, a denomination is usually seen as part of the Christian religious mainstream. Most Christian denominations self-describe themselves as churches, whereas some newer ones tend to interchangeably use the terms churches, assemblies, fellowships, etc. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, biblical hermeneutics, theology, ecclesiology, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.
"The Vicar of Bray" is an eighteenth century satirical song recounting the career of The Vicar of Bray and his contortions of principle in order to retain his ecclesiastic office despite the changes in the Established Church through the course of several English monarchs. The song is particularly interesting because of the number of allusions to English religious and political doctrines and events crammed into it, justifying the close reading and annotation given here.
Latitudinarians, or latitude men, were initially a group of 17th-century English theologians – clerics and academics – from the University of Cambridge who were moderate Anglicans. In particular, they believed that adhering to very specific doctrines, liturgical practices, and church organizational forms, as did the Puritans, was not necessary and could be harmful: "The sense that one had special instructions from God made individuals less amenable to moderation and compromise, or to reason itself." Thus, the latitudinarians supported a broad-based Protestantism. They were later referred to as broad church.
Broad church is latitudinarian churchmanship in the Church of England in particular and Anglicanism in general. The term is often used for secular political organisations, meaning that they encompass a broad range of opinion.
In Anglican Christianity, low church refers to those who give little emphasis to ritual. The term is most often used in a liturgical sense, denoting a Protestant emphasis, whereas "high church" denotes an emphasis on ritual, often Anglo-Catholic.
Ritualism, in the history of Christianity, refers to an emphasis on the rituals and liturgical ceremonies of the church. Specifically, the Christian ritual of Holy Communion.
Churchmanship is a way of talking about and labelling different tendencies, parties, or schools of thought within the Church of England and the sister churches of the Anglican Communion.
The term Evangelical Catholic is used in Lutheranism, alongside the term Augsburg Catholic, with those calling themselves Evangelical Catholic Lutherans or Lutherans of Evangelical Catholic churchmanship stressing the catholicity of historic Lutheranism in liturgy, beliefs, practices, and doctrines. Evangelical Catholics teach that Lutheranism at its core "is deeply and fundamentally catholic". The majority of Evangelical Catholic Lutheran clergy and parishes are members of mainstream Lutheran denominations.
High church Lutheranism is a movement that began in 20th-century Europe and emphasizes worship practices and doctrines that are similar to those found within both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy and the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism. In the more general usage of the term, it describes the general high church characteristics of Lutheranism in the Nordic countries such as Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. The mentioned countries, once a part of the Swedish Empire, have more markedly preserved Catholic traditions.
Catholicity is a concept pertaining to beliefs and practices that are widely accepted by numerous Christian denominations, most notably by those Christian denominations that describe themselves as catholic in accordance with the Four Marks of the Church, as expressed in the Nicene Creed formulated at the First Council of Constantinople in 381: "[I believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."
Anglican eucharistic theology is diverse in practice, reflecting the comprehensiveness of Anglicanism. Its sources include prayer book rubrics, writings on sacramental theology by Anglican divines, and the regulations and orientations of ecclesiastical provinces. The principal source material is the Book of Common Prayer, specifically its eucharistic prayers and Article XXVIII of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Article XXVIII comprises the foundational Anglican doctrinal statement about the Eucharist, although its interpretation varies among churches of the Anglican Communion and in different traditions of churchmanship such as Anglo-Catholicism and Evangelical Anglicanism.
Branch theory is an ecclesiological proposition that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church includes various Christian denominations whether in formal communion or not. The theory is often incorporated in the Protestant notion of an invisible Christian Church structure binding them together.
Anglican doctrine is the body of Christian teachings used to guide the religious and moral practices of Anglicans.
Anglican interest in ecumenical dialogue can be traced back to the time of the Reformation and dialogues with both Orthodox and Lutheran churches in the sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century, with the rise of the Oxford Movement, there arose greater concern for reunion of the churches of "Catholic confession". This desire to work towards full communion with other denominations led to the development of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, approved by the Third Lambeth Conference of 1888. The four points were stipulated as the basis for church unity, "a basis on which approach may be by God's blessing made towards Home Reunion":
Central churchmanship describes those who adhere to a middle way in the Anglican Communion of the Christian religion and other Anglican church bodies, being neither markedly high church/Anglo-Catholic nor low church/evangelical Anglican in their doctrinal views and liturgical preferences. The term is used much less frequently than some others.
Evangelical Anglicanism or evangelical Episcopalianism is a tradition or church party within Anglicanism that shares affinity with broader evangelicalism. Evangelical Anglicans share with other evangelicals the attributes of "conversionism, activism, biblicism and crucicentrism" identified by historian David Bebbington as central to evangelical identity. The emergence of evangelical churchmanship can be traced back to the First Great Awakening in America and the Evangelical Revival in Britain in the 18th century. In the 20th century, prominent figures have included John Stott and J. I. Packer.