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‘The Consent of the Faithful’ from 1 Clement to the Anglican Covenant

  • Benjamin J. King


The origins of the term consensus fidelium lie in the rhetorical tropes of pagans who exhorted unity between friends and within cities – tropes supporting the hierarchy of imperial elites. The earliest Christians adapted this language for the same purpose within churches: to speak of unity and lay involvement in support of Church hierarchy. After the Reformation, Church of England writers used this rhetoric to enforce conformity to church polity and morality. The Tractarians and their successors employed a rhetorical ‘voice of the laity’ as a bolster for episcopal power. While the early twentieth century saw some in the Church of England and Anglican Communion use this same rhetoric to bring the laity into actual decision-making processes, the rhetoric of recent statements by the Communion has left power firmly with bishops.



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The School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, TN 37375, USA. I wish to thank my colleagues James Dunkly, Paul Holloway and Brown Patterson, and my student Joycelyn Stabler, for their help with this article. I am also grateful for the insights of Edmund Newey, of those who heard me present a version at the University of Heidelberg, and of an anonymous reviewer for JAS.



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2. Kennedy, George A., A New History of Classical Rhetoric (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 3.

3. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 5.16.10 (trans. G.A. Williamson, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965, repr. 1983]).

4. Fitzgerald, John T., ‘Philippians in the Light of Ancient Friendship’, in John T. Fitzgerald (ed.), Friendship, Flattery, and Frankness of Speech: Studies on Friendship in the New Testament World (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996), pp. 141160, at p. 146 citing Plato, Alcibiades, 126–27.

5. Marchal, Joseph A., Hierarchy, Unity, and Imitation: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of Power Dynamics in Paul's Letter to the Philippians (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006), pp. 9698.

6. Here I disagree with Marchal, while recognizing these friends were not equals.

7. Marchal is right that Paul exhorted the Corinthians to be ‘unified in their submission’ to their leaders (Hierarchy, Unity, and Imitation, p. 97 quoting Margaret Mitchell on 1 Cor. 16.15-16, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians [Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991], p. 179).

8. Balch, David L., Let Wives Be Submissive: The Domestic Code in 1 Peter (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981), pp. 8889, compares with Dio Chrysostom's four speeches ‘On Concord’.

9. Balch notes that 1 Clem. 22.5 uses the same quotation (Ps. 34.14) as 1 Pet. 3.11, but seeking harmony among Christians not in the household (Let Wives Be Submissive, p. 88).

10. E.g., Tertullian, De praescriptione, 21. T.D. Barnes argues that Tertullian (c. 160–c. 220) was of the Equestrian class; ‘Aspects of the Severan Empire II: Christians in Roman Provincial Society’, New England Classical Journal 36 (2009), pp. 3–19, at pp. 4–5. For evidence of the class of 1 Clement's author, see Lampe, Peter, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), pp. 8687.

11. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 5.28.6 (trans. Williamson, History).

12. In Athanasius's account of various fourth-century councils, the fathers at Nicaea (325) had àποστολικòν … τò ϕρòνημα (De Synodis, 5); those meeting at Antioch (345) ended the so-called ‘Macrostich’ Symbol with the ‘ecclesiastical mind in the Lord, to which the divinely inspired Scriptures bear witness without violence, where men are not perverse’ (De Synodis, 26 [trans. Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (henceforth NPNF) series ii, vol. IV]).

13. Letter 14.4 (trans. G.W. Clarke, The Letters of Cyprian of Carthage. I–IV. Ancient Christian Writers [New York/Mahwah, NJ: Newman Press, 1984–86]).

14. For the role Cyprian's pagan past as a rhetor played in shaping his (and future) ecclesiology, see Brent, Allen, Cyprian and Roman Carthage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). For an account of the class structure at work in the controversies during Cyprian's episcopate, see J. Patout Burns Jr, Cyprian the Bishop (London: Routledge, 2002). For the role of plebs in episcopal elections such as Cyprian's, see Alexander Evers, Church, Cities and People: A Study of the Plebs in the Church and Cities of Roman Africa in Late Antiquity (Leuven: Peeters, 2010), pp. 97–111.

15. Letter 55.17.3. Admitted immediately were those who had obtained certificates of compliance but without sacrificing, and who were now practising penance; as Burns points out, this moderated Cyprian's original position, yet in this letter he defended the confusion under which the certified had acted, Cyprian the Bishop, p. 182 n. 59.

16. Letter 67.5.2 (trans. Clarke, Letters).

17. Letter 67.4.2 (trans. Clarke, Letters).

18. Trans. Tilley, Maureen, Donatist Martyr Stories: The Church in Conflict in Roman North Africa (Translated Texts for Historians, 24; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1996), p. 5455; my italics.

19. For Ambrose's ability to leverage lay support against the emperor, in comparison to Cyril of Alexandria's inability to get the people to consent to his monks’ violence, see Drake, H.A., ‘Intolerance, Religious Violence, and Political Legitimacy in Late Antiquity’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 79 (2011), pp. 193235.

20. Augustine wrote that friendships ‘out of many … forge unity’, Confessions, 4.8.13 (trans. Chadwick, Henry in St. Augustine, Confessions [Oxford: Oxford University Press, repr. 1998]).

21. Marchal, Hierarchy, Unity, and Imitation, p. 98.

22. De baptismo, 7.53.102 (trans. NPNF, ser. i, vol. IV). Latin in Congar, Yves, ‘Reception as an Ecclesiological Reality’, in Guiseppe Alberigo and Anton Weiler (eds.), Election and Consensus in the Church (Concilium, 77; New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), pp. 4368, at p. 49.

23. Contra Faustum, 11.2 (trans. NPNF, ser. i, vol. IV).

24. Congar, ‘Reception as an Ecclesiological Reality’, p. 49.

25. This point is made by Gillian Evans, ‘Rome's Response to ARCIC and the Problem of Confessional Identity’, One in Christ 28 (1992), pp. 155–67, at p. 166. Evans makes a contemporary point: ‘Between the two positions, that there must be complete unanimity in the faith; and that each Church ought to hold the faith in its own distinctive way as constitutive for its being that Church [i.e. through disputation], stands a third: that variations in matters of faith at least in some matters may be “legitimate” ’ (p. 166).

26. Jewel, Apology of the Church of England (ed. John Booty; New York: Church Publishing, 2002), p. 105.

27. For more on schooling in rhetoric in this period, see Skinner, Quentin, Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), ch. 1.

28. Hooker, Richard, The Works of That Learned and Judicious Divine Mr Richard Hooker. Arranged by John Keble, Seventh Edition Revised by R.W. Church and F. Paget (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1870). Because of widespread availability, I will quote from the Keble edition rather than the more authoritative Folger Library edition; henceforth Hooker, Laws.

29. Here I will use Eden, Charles Page, The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D.D. (10 vols.; London: Longmans etc., rev. edn., 1847–54). Eden, a Fellow of Oriel, was a contributor to the Tracts for the Times, and editor of two volumes of the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, who ‘revised and corrected’ the Evangelical Bishop Heber's edition of Taylor. The Theological Works of Herbert Thorndike (ed. Arthur W. Haddan; 6 vols.; Oxford: J.H. Parker, 1844–56) in the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology was also Tractarian; henceforth Taylor, Works and Thorndike, Works.

30. Here I will use The Practical Works of Richard Baxter: With a Life of the Author and a Critical Examination of his Works by the Rev. William Orme (23 vols., London: James Duncan, 1830); henceforth Baxter, Works.

31. A Treatise of Knowledge and Love Compared (1689), Pt. 1 ch. 6.15 (Baxter, Works, XV, p. 58). Baxter elaborated: ‘In my time, the common sense of the strictest sort was against long hair, and taking tobacco, and other such things, which now their common practice is … In Poland and Bohemia, where they had holy, humble, persuading bishops, the generality of the godly were for that Episcopacy, as were all the ancient churches, even the Novatians; but in other places otherwise. So that it is hard to be certain of truth or error, good or evil, by the mere consent, opinion, or experience of any.’

32. Hooker, Laws, I.10.8, a passage on the laws of human society that may originate with Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II.97.3: ‘if they are free, and able to make their own laws, the consent of the whole people expressed by a custom counts far more in favor of a particular observance than does the authority of the sovereign, who has not the power to frame laws, except as representing the people’ (trans. Anton C. Pegis (ed.) Basic Writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas [Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1997]); my italics.

33. For later interpreters of Laws, see Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘Richard Hooker's Reputation’, English Historical Review 117.473 (2002), pp. 773–812. See also Brydon, Michael, The Evolving Reputation of Richard Hooker: An Examination of Responses, 1600–1714 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), p. 78, although n. 159 citing Thorndike's quotation of Hooker in An Epilogue to the Tragedy of the Church of England should read ‘Book III, 69’ (cf. Thorndike, Works, IV.1, p. 174).

34. W. David Neelands has convincingly argued that, for Hooker, ‘ “tradition” is a word with negative connotations, usually associated with what is taken to be the Roman Catholic attempt to erect something “merely human” as an authority independent of and alongside Scripture and reason’; ‘Hooker on Scripture, Tradition and Reason’, in Richard Hooker and the Construction of Community (ed. A.S. McGrade; Tempe, AZ: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1997), pp. 75–94, at p. 89. Cf. Quantin, Jean-Louis, The Church of England and Christian Antiquity: The Construction of a Confessional Identity in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2009), p. 90.

35. Hooker, Laws, I.8.11. On such a view of reason, see Edmund Newey, ‘The Form of Reason: Participation in the Work of Richard Hooker, Benjamin Whichcote, Ralph Cudworth and Jeremy Taylor’, Modern Theology 18 (2002), pp. 1–26.

36. Hooker, Laws, IV.4.2.

37. Hooker, Laws, V.7.2 quoting Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 6.11. See Harrison, William H., ‘Prudence and Custom: Revisiting Hooker on Authority’, Anglican Theological Review 84 (2002), pp. 897913. For Jewish and Christian authorities, see Hooker, Laws, V.8.3.

38. Hooker, Laws, 36.1.2, trans. at Hooker, Laws, III.11.13. Hooker quoted Augustine's original letter rather than following Aquinas (Summa Theologica, I-II.97.3) in adding the extra sentence found in Gratian, Decretum, I.11.7: ‘And, as violators of the divine ordinances are to be corrected, so too are those who scorn ecclesiastical customs’ (trans. Thompson, Augustine, The Treatise on Laws [Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1993]).

39. Hooker, Laws, Preface, 4.1.

40. For a discussion of the relevant passages of Laws, see Locke, Kenneth A., The Church in Anglican Theology: A Historical, Theological and Ecumenical Exploration (Farnham, UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 5158.

41. Hooker, Laws, VIII.6.11; my italics.

42. Hooker, Laws, VIII.6.8 [Folger edition 6.7]: ‘till it be proved that some special law of Christ hath for ever annexed unto the clergy alone the power to make ecclesiastical laws, we are to hold it a thing most consonant with equity and reason, that no ecclesiastical laws be made in a Christian commonwealth, without consent as well of the laity as of the clergy, but least of all without consent of the highest power’.

43. The OED refers to Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1596): ‘That all the cares and euill which they meet, May … Seeme gainst common sence to them most sweet’ (IV, canto 10, stanza 2).

44. Shapiro, Barbara, Probability and Certainty in 17th Century England: A Study of the Relationships between Natural Science and Religion, History, Law, and Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 4.

45. Epilogue, I.3.20 (Thorndike, Works, II.1, p. 46), I.1.5 (p. 17). I.4.15 argues for the reasonable probability of revelation at the Council of Jerusalem (p. 70). Charles Miller has argued from phrases such as these for Thorndike's ‘common sense’ ecclesiology in The Doctrine of the Church in the Thought of Herbert Thorndike (DPhil. dissertation, Oxford, 1990), ch. 1.

46. Analogy, Intro[2] (1736) in The Works of Bishop Butler (ed. David E. White; Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2006), p. 151; henceforth Butler, Works.

47. Analogy, ii.6[.16]: ‘Common men, were they as much in earnest about religion as about their temporal affairs, are capable of being convinced, upon real evidence, that there is a God who governs the world; and they feel themselves to be of a moral nature; and accountable creatures. And as Christianity entirely falls in with this their natural sense of things; so they are capable, not only of being persuaded, but of being made to see, that there is evidence of miracles wrought in attestation of it [i.e. Christianity], and many appearing completions of prophecy’ (Butler, Works, p. 270); my italics.

48. Tennant, Bob, lays stress on the rhetorical nature of Butler's work, which was often written to be preached (Conscience, Consciousness and Ethics in Joseph Butler's Philosophy and Ministry [Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2011]). Regarding patronage, Samuel Clarke and Edward Talbot provided ‘the Butler circle's entire patronage’ (p. 31). Tennant comments on two of Butler's published sermons, which refer to God as ‘friend’: ‘God is the friend of people in the same way as the master of a household is a friend of the domestic servants in the household’ (p. 60).

49. Epilogue, Book I, Preface, 10 (Thorndike, Works, II.1, p. 7).

50. This is the title of ch. 6 in Quantin, The Church of England.

51. Epilogue, Book I, Preface, 9 (Thorndike, Works, II.1, p. 7); my italics. Thorndike published a condensed form of the argument of Epilogue in 1662 called Just Weights and Measures writing in ch. 7.4: ‘go no further, than the consent of the Church will bear us out. For if we make new and private conceits of the Scripture, and the sense of it, [or] law to the Church, which we reform; we found a new Church upon that Christianity, which the only Church of God never owned’ (Thorndike, Works, V, p. 125).

52. ‘For inasmuch as the consensus of the faithful hands on the certain testimony of the Apostles concerning Christ, on the basis of the faithful let the Church for its part stand firm. It is manifest that it is with the Church as [their] author, and on the Church's authority, that the Scriptures are accepted as the Word of God’; Thorndike, De ratione ac iure (London: Thomas Roycroft, 1670), p. 80 (I owe this translation to Christopher Bryan and Christopher McDonough).

53. Epilogue, I.6.16-21 (Thorndike, Works, II.1, pp. 120–24), citing Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Vincent of Lérins and Thomas Aquinas. Although Thorndike gave Tertullian less authority because of his Montanism, nevertheless ‘common sense must needs tell’ against those who would reject Tertullian's witness to a factual matter; Epilogue, I.7.32 (Thorndike, Works, II.1, p. 132).

54. Epilogue, I.8.17 (Thorndike, Works, II.1, p. 150).

55. Epilogue, I.8.17 (Thorndike, Works, II.1, p. 150); my italics.

56. Miller explains: ‘In the late 1640s and throughout the 1650s even the Presbyterian establishment increasingly felt the challenge posed by a burgeoning Independency … Thorndike's discussion of conciliarism, his attempt to articulate a view of the church as a “standing synod,” seem to have been developed largely in response to the claims of Congregational ecclesiology’; The Doctrine of the Church pp. 301–302.

57. Calvin, Institutes, IV.3.8. Another instance of Thorndike's rhetorical approach to Calvinists came when naming the Epilogue, Book II, Of the Covenant of Grace. According to McGiffert, Michael, Thorndike aimed ‘to wrench the substance of the covenant from Puritan custodians, to get an Anglican grip upon its practicum and to represent both, newly and powerfully forged, to his once and future Church’; ‘Herbert Thorndike and the Covenant of Grace’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 58 (2007), pp. 440460, at p. 442.

58. Just Weights and Measures, ch. 7.1 (Thorndike, Works, V, p. 122); my italics highlight Vincent, Commonitorium 2.6.

59. Just Weights and Measures, ch. 6.8 (Thorndike, Works, V, p. 117).

60. Just Weights and Measures, ch. 6.7 found patristic evidence that the English Church owed Rome the ‘respect which was owed to their mother-Church; but that they either owed it or shewed it the respect of a subject to a sovereign … none at all’ (Thorndike, Works, V, p. 116).

61. Ductor Dubitantium, II.3 Rule 19.3 (Taylor, Works, IX, p. 693). Cf. n. 38 above, for, unlike Hooker, Taylor takes this quotation straight from Gratian.

62. Ductor Dubitantium, I.2 Rule 10.1 (Taylor, Works, IX, p. 205): ‘Ancient writers are more venerable, modern writers are more knowing. They might be better witnesses, but these are better judges.’ His suggestion in the sermon ‘Via Intelligentiae’, that ‘the great learning of the fathers was more owing to their piety than to their skill’ (Taylor, Works, VIII, p. 390), is the opposite view from Thorndike's, for whom the fathers’ authority came from ‘the position they obtained in the hierarchy of the Church in their time’ through their learning; Thorndike, De ratione ac iure, p. 489 (trans. Quantin, Church of England).

63. ‘The conscience must be confident, and it must also have reason enough so to be: or at least, so much as can secure the confidence from illusion; although possibly the confidence may be greater than the evidence, and the conclusion bigger than the premises. Thus the good simple man that about the time of the Nicene council confuted the stubborn and subtle philosopher by a confident saying over his creed: and the holy and innocent idiot, or plain easy people of the laity, that cannot prove christianity by any demonstrations, but by that of a holy life, and obedience unto death’, Ductor Dubitantium, I.2 Rule 2.5 (Taylor, Works, IX, p. 52); Taylor also used the legend of the ‘simple good man’ and the Nicene Creed (from Sozomen, Hist. Eccl. 1.18; Socrates, Hist. Eccl. 1.8; Rufinus, Hist. Eccl. 1.3) in the sermon ‘Via Intelligentiae’ (Taylor, Works, VIII, p. 385).

64. A Christian Directory: or, A Sum of Practical Theology and Cases of Conscience (1673), Pt. 3, ch. 2, Direct. 3.2 (Baxter, Works, V, p. 21).

65. Christian Directory, Pt. 3, ch. 2, Direct. 4 (Baxter, Works, V, p. 21).

66. Christian Directory, Pt. 3, Qu. 62, Ans. 1 (Baxter, Works, V, p. 403).

67. Christian Directory, Pt. 3, Qu. 62, Ans. 10 (Baxter, Works, V, p. 404).

68. Cyprian, Letter 67.5.2 (trans. Clarke, Letters).

69. This tradition is traced in Michael R. Prieur, The Use of Consensus Fidelium as a Source of Moral Judgment: A Study of Anglican Moral Theology with Special Reference to Kenneth E. Kirk, 1886–1954 (PhD dissertation; Rome: Pontifical Institute of S. Anselm, 1970). I thank Fr Prieur for sending me a copy of his dissertation.

70. One of the first references in the OED came in a church context: ‘Bishop Colenso is … decidedly against what seems to be the consensus of the Protestant missionaries’; Saturday Review (London) 637, 21 December 1861.

71. Newman, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine (ed. John Coulson; London: Collins, 1961, repr. 1986), p. 63.

72. Gore noted ‘all through the Nicene troubles the informal influence of the faithful laity who would not accept bishops or teachers who represented alien doctrine’ (‘General Lines of Church Reform’ in Douglas Eyre [ed.], Reform in the Church of England [London: John Murray, 1915], p. 13), before proposing that ‘the House of Laymen … would sit at least side by side with the Houses of Convocation’ (p. 20). Simpson, Sparrowet al., The Place of the Laity in the Church (London: Robert Scott; Milwaukee, WI: Young Churchman's Co., 1918), gave a précis of Newman's article at ch. 6 before proposing at p. 132 that ‘the House of Clergy alone possesses decisive authority while the House of Laity has only advisory and consultative [Newman's word] position’.

73. E.g. Barrister-at-law Douglas Eyre re-edited Reform in the Church of England, which included ‘The Principles and Conditions of the Scottish Establishment’ by layman (and former prime minister) Arthur (Lord) Balfour, pp. 73–91.

74. For Gladstone's ecclesiastical friendships, see Jonathan Parry, Democracy and Religion: Gladstone and the Liberal Party, 1867–1875, pp. 182–91, who describes Gladstone's vision for the Liberal party thus: ‘while the natural leaders, the propertied classes, would assume political command, the pressure for the maintenance of moral government would come from the common man’, p. 171. This vision drew from Joseph Butler's moral teachings on “common sense”.

75. Gladstone wrote in a letter of 1842 of ‘those great Catholic principles which distinguish our Church from many other Protestant bodies: such … as … universal or Catholic consent’; quoted Rowell, Geoffrey, The Vision Glorious: Themes and Personalities of the Catholic Revival in Anglicanism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. 7.

76. Mark Chapman, ‘Rawlinson, Alfred Edward John [Jack] (1884–1960), bishop of Derby and theologian’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed online 23 October 2011.

77. Newman, The Church of the Fathers (ed. Francis McGrath; Leominster: Gracewing and Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), pp. 340, 348. Peter Nockles shows that Newman's politics continued to be Tory rather than, as some have argued, populist; ‘ “Church and King”: Tractarian Politics Reappraised’, in Paul Vaiss (ed.), From Oxford to the People: Reconsidering Newman and the Oxford Movement (Leominster, UK: Gracewing, 1996), pp. 93126.

78. During the controversy over R.D. Hampden's appointment as Regius Professor of Divinity in July 1836, Newman looked to the fourth century and ‘the witness of the Christian people for the orthodox truth … One or two of the great cities were corrupted as time went on, but the mass of the laity was decided and fervent in its maintenance of the sacred truth that was in jeopardy. The population of Alexandria, Antioch, Edessa, Cæsarea, Rome, and Milan, were even patterns in their profession of the dogma to the distressed, menaced, and hardly-used ecclesiastics’ – i.e. the ancient equivalents of Hampden. Newman, Essays Historical and Critical (new imp.; London: Longmans, 1919), I, p. 130.

79. Preface, The Epistles of S. Cyprian with the Council of Carthage on the Baptism of Heretics (Library of Fathers XVII; Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1844), p. xiv quoting Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8 and Cyprian, Letter 14.5.

80. Pusey wrote of Cyprian's councils concerning the lapsed: ‘there is not the slightest trace of any wish of the Laity to assume to themselves any part of the legislation, which our Lord had entrusted to the Bishops’; The Councils of the Church from the Council of Jerusalem a.d. 51, to the Council of Constantinople a.d. 381, (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1857), p. 90.

81. Keble, Letters of Spiritual Council and Guidance (ed. R.F. Wilson; Oxford and London: James Parker and Co., 3rd edn, 1875), p. 297; this undated letter to an unnamed recipient cited approvingly Gladstone's A Letter to the Right Rev. William Skinner, D.D. on the Functions of Laymen in the Church (London: John Murray, 1852), pp. 3435.

82. Keble, Letters of Spiritual Council, pp. 296–97.

83. Record, 18 August 1871 and Ryle, A Churchman's Duty about Diocesan Conferences (1871); quoted in M. Wellings, Introduction to ‘J.C. Ryle’ in M. Smith and S. Taylor (eds.), Evangelicalism in the Church of England c. 1790–c. 1890: A Miscellany (Bury St. Edmund's: Boydell Press, 2004) pp. 296–7. Bishop Phillpotts of Exeter set up the first diocesan synod in 1851 in response to the Gorham Judgment, in which a secular court upheld an Evangelical clergyman's appeal against Phillpotts. Evangelicals responded by pressing for greater lay involvement, e.g., ‘the Record encouraged the Exeter laity to “claim their rightful share in this proposed synod” by electing representatives’; Burns, Arthur, The Diocesan Revival in the Church of England c. 1800–1870 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), p. 229.

84. Quoted in Creighton, Louise, The Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, D.D. (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1904), II, p. 353. Montague Villiers, vicar of St Paul's, Knightsbridge, who led these clergy, was a member of the 1898 Joint Committee of the Convocation of Canterbury examining church reform.

85. Rackham, R.B., ‘The Position of the Laity in the Early Church’, in Douglas Eyre (ed.), Reform in the Church of England (London: John Murray, 1915), pp. 2872, at pp. 28–29. Rackham was a member with Gore of the Community of the Resurrection.

86. Rackham, ‘The Position of the Laity’, p. 29.

87. G. Bayfield Roberts ‘The Position of the Laity in the Early Church’, in Sparrow Simpson, al., The Place of the Laity in the Church (London: Robert Scott; Milwaukee, WI: Young Churchman's Co., 1918), pp. 3557, at p. 46 quoting Cyprian, Letter 71.1. For more on Roberts, see Charles H. Dant, Distinguished Churchmen and Phases of Church Work (London: Anthony Treherne and Co., 1902), ch. 6, in which he describes the E.C.U. as ‘governed by an aristocracy [of clergy and laity] which derives its authority from the democracy’, p. 131.

88. Roberts, ‘The Position of the Laity’, pp. 48–49.

89. The 1902 report, it seems, responded to Rackham: ‘It was by natural process that the phrase “meetings of the brethren” grew into the form “meetings of the bishops,” without any necessarily sweeping change in the facts, certainly without any abandonment – far less deliberate reversal – of the original idea. The efforts of Cyprian to secure the co-operation of the laity, however interpreted in detail, seem to us to have their real strength in their correspondence with the original idea. But the attempt to include the laity, without any machinery of representation, was not likely to be permanently successful … The more autocratic development of episcopacy may itself, no doubt, represent some very valuable aspects of truth’; The Position of the Laity in the Church: Being the Report of the Joint Committee of the Convocation of Canterbury (1902) (repr. with intro. by Norman Sykes; London: Church Information Board, 1952), p. 17.

90. The Position of the Laity, p. 15 n., quoting Keble in Bright, William, Some Aspects of Primitive Church Life (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1898), pp. 9495) n. 1. See n. 81 above.

91. 31 March 1900 to Prebendary (Villiers?) in B.J. Kidd (ed.), Selected Letters of William Bright, D.D. (London: Wells Gardner, Darton and Co., 1903), p. 313. The recipient is anonymous except for his title, but it would make sense if the recipient were his fellow Committee member at n. 84 above.

92. 31 March 1900 to same, quoting Leo, Letter 102 (Kidd, Selected Letters, p. 316).

93. 26 April 1900 to same (Kidd, Selected Letters, pp. 325–26).

94. ‘General Lines of Church Reform’, in Eyre (ed.), Reform in the Church of England, pp. 12–13. Ancient democracy was rather different from ‘representative government’; see MacMullen, Ramsay, Voting About God in Early Church Councils (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2006), ch. 2.

95. ‘General Lines’, pp. 4, 16, 9.

96. See Benjamin J. King, ‘Seeking Consensus within the Anglican Tradition: The Example of Charles Gore’, in Charles M. Stang and Zachary Guiliano (eds.), The Open Body: Essays on Anglican Ecclesiology (New York: Peter Lang, 2012), pp. 79–100.

97. Roman Catholic Claims (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 11th edn, 1920), p. 40.

98. ‘The Authority of the Church’, in Selwyn, E.G., (ed.), Essays Catholic and Critical: By Members of the Anglican Communion (London: SPCK, 3rd edn, 1929), p. 113.

99. ‘Authority as a Ground of Belief’, in Selwyn, E.G., (ed.), Essays Catholic and Critical: By Members of the Anglican Communion (London: SPCK, 3rd edn, 1929), p. 96.

100. The Virginia Report: The Report of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (1997), 3.9.

101. The Lambeth Conference 1948: The Encyclical Letter from the Bishops; together with Resolutions and Reports (London: SPCK, 1948), Pt. 2, pp. 84–85.

102. Lambeth Conference, Pt 2, p. 85; quoting the report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Christian Doctrine (of which Rawlinson was a member), Doctrine in the Church of England (London: SPCK, 1938), p. 35.

103. Virginia Report, 1.2: ‘From the earliest time in the history of the Christian community, an admonishing voice has been heard exhorting believers to maintain agreement with one another and thereby to avert divisions.… Nevertheless the controversies themselves were stages on a road towards greater consensus.’

104. Virginia Report, 3.51, which continues: ‘The emergence of the Lambeth Conference and more recently, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council, together with the primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, have become effective means … of binding the Anglican Communion together.’ The Windsor Report (2004), 98, called these four the ‘Instruments of Unity’; the Anglican Covenant calls them ‘Instruments of Communion’.

105. Virginia Report, 6.18. See also the bold claim at 6.20: ‘The bishops at Lambeth are to represent those who have no voice.’

106. Communion, Conflict and Hope: The Kuala Lumpur Report of the Third Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (2008), 18. My thanks to Christopher Wells for bringing this report to my attention.

107. Communion, Conflict and Hope, 17, 61.

108. Communion, Conflict and Hope, 113; also 123 rightly recognizes that ‘Talk of broken communion has often been a form of exchange to gain rhetorical advantage.’

1. The School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, TN 37375, USA. I wish to thank my colleagues James Dunkly, Paul Holloway and Brown Patterson, and my student Joycelyn Stabler, for their help with this article. I am also grateful for the insights of Edmund Newey, of those who heard me present a version at the University of Heidelberg, and of an anonymous reviewer for JAS.

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Journal of Anglican Studies
  • ISSN: 1740-3553
  • EISSN: 1745-5278
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-anglican-studies
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