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Salisbury Cathedral

and history
Anglicanism membership of the Church of England or a related Episcopal Church. The Anglican Communion is a network of Christian Churches throughout the world. The share the use of the Book of Common Prayer in their liturgy.


Archbishop Cranmer

Archbishop Cranmer
(who wrote the Book of Common Prayer)


Members of the Church of England are: also known as Anglicans. the origins of English Christianity are unknown, but the presence of British Bishops at the Council of Arles (3l4) indicates the existence of an organized church. Following the Roman withdrawal and Teutonic invasions, British Christianity retreated to the Celtic lands, but in the late sixth and early seventh centuries, Roman and Celtic missions began the reconversion of England.

The Synod of Whitby (663-664) secured the observance of roman forms. the English Church was largely isolated from continental ecclesiastical affairs until the norman invasion of 1066. However, distance from Rome, the conflict between England and France, and papal decline made English submission more nominal than real. it was an easy matter for King Henry VIII (1491-1547) to use his divorce from Catherine of Aragon as grounds for detaching England from papal obedience.

The parliament of 1532-1536 created King Henry "supreme head on earth of the Church of England." under Edward VI (1537-1553), the English church underwent a liturgical and doctrinal reformation. The accession of Mary Tudor (1516-1558), known in England as "Bloody Mary," because of the number of people she burnt at the stake, inaugurated a period of Roman reaction, during which many of the Edwardian reformers were martyred. Elizabeth I (1558-1603) restored a protestant settlement, but her aim was a comprehensive, national, episcopal church, with the monarch as supreme governor.

Moderate Protestantism reflected in the church's doctrinal basis, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the writings of Richard Hooker, gave Anglicanism its classic via media statements. The post-restoration church had its high and low wings. like most Protestant denominations. The Anglican Church was affected by Deism in the eighteenth century, but the key movement of this period was the evangelical revival.

Medieval spirituality was revived by the Oxford Movement, led by John Henry Newman and John Keble, with an emphasis on the church, apostolic succession, sacramental grace, and ascetic holiness. the movement was seen by many people as a romanizing tendency. Since the mid-nineteenth century, due to the activity of the Christian socialists, the church has become increasingly aware of its social responsibilities and in the mid-1960s it witnessed the beginning of an evangelical revival among its clergy.


Copyright Irving Hexham 1999