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.