Anglican Attitudes. A Study of Victorian Religious Controversies

Philosophical Studies (Dublin) 9:156-162 (1959)
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The Church of England By Law Established, in incidental payment for secular privilege, has submitted to the bonds of established clichá, in particular to the reproach that its rulers seem more concerned with the external or practical working of Anglican faith and ritual than with their intellectual definition and justification. This intellectual looseness remained unimportant in practice as long as a forceful anti–Roman spirit blew all waves of opinion in one practical direction. In time, however, that wind gradually lost force and positive cross–currents of Anglican belief came to the public surface. The legislators of the sixteenth century had formulated the positive rules of the Thirty–Nine Articles and the Prayer Book in tolerantly broad language. They left no decisive teaching authority to explain their texts and to meet the challenge of shifting ritual and speculative doubt. Time has subjected both instruments to an everwidening range of individual interpretation especially since the early nineteenth century, when the Anglican monopoly of political, social and educational institutions was disputed by fresh tides of Protestant dissenters, renascent Catholics and nascent agnostics. To–day, as Mr. Cockshut wryly comments: “to throw doubt on the Anglican formularies is itself part of the Anglican tradition”.



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