Anglicanism’s Golden Age?

Another in a series of thoughts and reflections on trying to identify what the Anglican patrimony is and what it is not.

I am a bit befuddled by an observation Fr. Calvin Lane makes in his review of volume I of the Oxford History of Anglicanism, edited by Anthony Milton.

It seems that this volume (which I have not read) represents a revisionist or post-revisionist view of Anglican history.  This revisionist view asserts that the “classical patriarchs” of Anglicanism (Cranmer, Jewel, Hooker, Andrewes) did not succeed in establishing a clear Anglican identity during the period from the 1520s through the 1660s.  This scholarship is apparently not “what is repeated over and again among Anglicans.”  According to Lane, many Anglicans tend to think that the concept of Anglicanism as the Via Media was established at least by the time of what is referred to as the Elizabethan Settlement.

It has long been my understanding, however, that Anglican identity did not come to be understood as such until the Restoration of the 1660s, which is what the essays in the volume claim.  Moreover, Lane says a number of the essays in this volume reflect scholarship that has been current since the 1970s. 

What leaves me befuddled, then, is that this scholarship has not yet managed “to seep into the living tradition” of Anglicanism. Perhaps if members of the Ordinariates are au courant with the current state of scholarship, it will be helpful in the project of understanding our patrimony.

Though I recommend reading Lane’s entire review (and perhaps the volume reviewed), perhaps the takeaway quote from Lane’s review is the following:

“While it should be obvious that the persistent via media paradigm [of the 1520s until the Restoration] must be laid to rest, the bigger claim is that any attempt to define Anglicanism by highlighting a single voice, event, or text before the Restoration is a false start.”

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