Wednesday, July 29, 2009

OFFSPRING: The 3rd Party


The third party of the English Church is called High-Church. They form, so to say, the Conservative body of the Church, whereas the Low-Churchmen may be termed to a certain extent the Radicals, and the Broad-Churchmen the Liberals.

These High-Churchmen lay a stress upon the Church, connect the Bible with the Church, respect the old Church-observances, e. g. the vigils, the feast and fast days, which have fallen into utter desuetude with the other parties of the Church. They see their clergymen as "Priests," and themselves to be considered a branch of the Catholic Church. The Church is their aristocratic pride, and they contribute large sums for building, beautifying, restoring, endowing churches. Hooker's Church Polity is their standard work. You will find on the shelves of those among them who profess theological learning, the works of their Bishops Andrewes, Laud, Beveridge, Bramhall, Overall, Nicholson, Wilson, Cosin, Bull, &c.

The Dissenters and their Chapels they disdain, and feel sorely grieved at the Low Church dissent creeping into the Church. Of the Broad Church they are ashamed, and feel deeply the defect of the English Church in not being able to excommunicate them. They love both the Prayer Book and the Thirty-nine Articles, either not perceiving the deep gulf between both, or bridging it by interpreting the Articles by the Prayer Book, as the Evangelicals interpret the Prayer Book by the Articles. No wonder that both parties, although building on the same substruction, come to a very different result. (Catholic Orthodoxy, J. J. Overbeck, 1866)


Nearly 150 years ago, Overbeck identified the three parties that harbor in the sea which is Anglicanism. The first party is the Low-Church or radical party; this group would throw any part of Holy tradition that does not match their reformation mindset, and in its place conform the church to the contemporary, and individually minded evangelicalism of our day. The second, is the broad church party that is made up of the liberals; this group sees themselves as free to give preference to their own philosophies above the perfect truth handed down to the church in scripture and Holy tradition.

The 3rd Party, which he identifies as the high-churchmen, is the group he connects with the Orthodox Catholicity, and those who possess the historic faith of the British Isles. This group connects the Bible with the Church, and give ecclesiology the proper role that is required alongside scripture. They love both the Prayer Book and the Thirty-nine Articles, & do not perceive a gulf between them, because they bridge any apparent disagreement by interpreting the Articles by the Prayer Book. In other words, they practice lex orandi, lex credendi. Furthermore, he contends that this is the very faith articulated by the Fathers of post reformation Anglicanism Bishops Andrewes, Laud, Beveridge, Bramhall, Overall, Nicholson, Wilson, Cosin, Bull, &c.

Time has not stood still, the 3 parties have continued to move forward, and today the majority of Anglicans worldwide would now fall into that party which Overbeck called the High-churchmen: Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, S.E. Asia, &c... make up over 74% of all Anglicans and each is High Church. It is conceivable that Anglicanism is closer today than it has ever been to attaining the Western Orthodoxy of the first millennium that is its heritage. Kyrie eleison.

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