Skip to main content

An Historical Perspective on Doctrine and Discipline in the Church of England

  • Geoffrey Rowell (a1)

Doctrinal discipline is a necessary concomitant of ministerial accountability and ecclesial integrity. When there is division in the Church the consequence of that division is expressed in articles or confessions of faith which, in the words of the Declaration of Assent, indicate how that Church ‘bears witness’ to the Christian Gospel and the faith once delivered to the saints.

Hide All

1 The substance of this article reproduces in an appropriately amended form the historical and theological background material prepared by Bishop Rowell for the House of Bishops Working Group on Clergy Discipline (Theology and Liturgy) and which was incorporated in its report Clergy Discipline (Doctrine) (GS 1554).

2 Cf Mirgeler, Albert, Mutations of Western Christianity (Burns & Oates, 1964).

3 For this and the many questions of doctrine and discipline posed by the Reformation, especially in relation to baptism, the Eucharist, and the nature of the Church, cf MacCulloch, Diarmaid, Reformation: Europe' House Divided 1490–1700 (Allen Lane, 2003).

4 Church of England (Worship and Doctrine) Measure 1974, s 5(1); Doe, N, The Legal Framework of the Church of England (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1996). p 256. Yet it has been noted that same Measure contains a circular arguments in that Once a Measure with doctrinal refrence has been passed by the General Synod and Parliment and received the Royal Assent that determines that such doctrine is in accordance with Scripture and tradition and the historic formularies according to the Canons of the Church of England, and cannot further be tested. (Cf the cases brought by the Revd Paul Williamson on precisely this issue in relation to the question of the ordination of women to the priesthood).

5 Leeder, Lynne, The Ecclesiastical Law Handbook (Sweet & Maxwell 1997).

6 Ibid. 9.2, p. 267.

7 Bray, Gerald (ed). Tudor Church Reform: the Henrician Canons of 1535 and the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum (The Boydell Press, Church of England Record Society, 2000), pp xli ff, pp 170–224.

8 13 Eliz 1, c 12, also known as the Ordination of Ministers Act 1571 and the Act confirming the Thirty-nine Articles 1571.

9 Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical 1604 (ed Bullard, J V, 1934), Canon V. p 6.

10 Ibid, Canon XXXIV, p 38.

11 Ibid, Canons I, III, pp 3, 4.

12 Rodes, Robert E. JrLaw and Modernization in the Church of England: Charles II to the Welfare State (University of Notre Dame Press, 1991), p. 259.

13 Quoted Ibid. pp 274–275.

14 Ibid. p. 275.

15 Ibid. p. 276.

16 Ecclesiastical Law Handbook, 9. 3, p. 270.

17 Cross, F L and Livingstone, E A (eds), Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1997 edn), entry on Purchas Judgement pp 1348f. For the case, see Hebbert v Purchas (1871) LR 3 PC 605.

18 Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, entry on Ridsdale Judgement. For the Case, See Ridsdale v Clifton (1877) 2 PD 276, PC.

19 Cf McCart, Thomas K., The Matter and Manner of Praise: the controversial evolution of hymnody in the Church of England 1760–1820 (Scarecrow Press, 1998).

20 Read v Bishop of Lincoln [1891] p. 9. See Newton, John A., ‘The Trial of Bishop King’ (1999) 5 Ecc LJ 265.

21 Cross, F L and Livingstone, E. A (eds), Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, entry ‘Ecclesiastical Discipline, Royal Commission on’ pp 524f.

22 Liddell v Westerton (1857) Brod & F 117, PC.

23 Martin v Mackonochie (1868) LR 2 PC 365.

24 Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline, 1906, IV, Appendix C, p. 49.

25 Leeder, Ecclesiastical Law Handbook, 9.5, p. 271.

26 Bell, G.K.A., Randall Davidson, Archbishop of Canterbury (3rd edn) (Oxford University Press, London, 1952), p. 1150.

27 Iremonger, F. A.William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, his life and letters (Oxford University Press, London, 1948), pp 465466.

28 Barnes, John, Ahead of his age: Bishop Barnes of Birmingham (Collins, London, 1979), pp 395412;Carpenter, Edward, Archbishop Fisher - His Life and Times (The Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1991), pp 295301.

29 The Ecclesiastical Courts: Principles of Reconstruction, Commission on Ecclesiastical Courts (SPCK, London, 1954), p 73.

30 Ibid, p. 71.

31 Re St Stephen's, Walbrook [1987] Fam 146, [1987] 2 All ER 578 Ct of Eccl Causes Res.

32 James, Eric, A Life Bishop John A T Robinson, Scholar, Pastor, Prophet (Collins, London, 1987), p 121.

33 Chadwick, Owen, Michael Ramsey: a Life (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990). pp 372373. q. Michael Ramsey. Canterbury Pilgrim, 1974, pp. 3–5.

34 Quoted in Mantle, Jonathan, Archbishop: the Life and times of Robert Runcie (Sinclair-Stevenson, London, 1991), p 207.

35 Jenkins, David E., The Calling of a Cuckoo: Not Quite an Autobiography (Continuum, London & New York, 2002), pp 5253.

36 Hastings, Adrian, Robert Runcie (Mowbray, London, 1991), p. 202.

37 The Nature of Christian Belief: a statement and exposition by the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England (Church House Publishing, London, 1986), p. 2.

38 Ibid, p. 9.

39 Newman, J.H., Fifteen Sermons preached before the University of Oxford between AD 1846 and 1843 Longmans, Green, & Co, London 1898), ‘ The theory of developments in religious doctrine’, pp 331332.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ecclesiastical Law Journal
  • ISSN: 0956-618X
  • EISSN: 1751-8539
  • URL: /core/journals/ecclesiastical-law-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed