Thursday, 17 March 2016

Fathers and Anglicans, by Arthur Middleton

Arthur Middleton, Fathers and Anglicans: The Limits of Orthodoxy, 2001 Gracewing

I read this book after it was recommended on the Old Jamestown Church blog.

Fathers and Anglicans is an history of Anglican patrology. It looks at how some of the great hisrtorical theologians of the Church of England have emphasised the importance of the writings of the Church Fathers. Men such as Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes and Richard Hooker looked upon the Church Fathers as both a source of theological enrichment and a polemical bulwark in debates with both Catholicism and non-conformist Protestantism. Covering Anglican history into the 19th century, the author explores how the Tractarians departed from the historical Anglican use of the Fathers in the way they sought to use the Fathers not only to defend Anglicanism, but also to re-shape it.

The author sees in the Church Fathers much relevance in both establishing Anglicanism's catholic and ecumenical foundations, as well as acting as a corrective to the various modern fads and trends that afflict her.

As a Roman Catholic, I am a little sceptical about whether the Church Fathers would have approved of the Church that arose from the English Reformation and whether the patristic sources used by men like Cranmer and Taylor really supported their conclusions, but one must admire the reverence that Anglicans had for their Patristic heritage.

Fathers and Anglicans is a very thorough and detailed exploration of its subject, if perhaps a little dry.

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