The history and transformation of the episcopal church since the sixteenth century

Many leaders confidently looked forward to completing a mission that was nothing less than the Christianization of the world. Was, for example, the Apostle Paul guilty of triumphalism? And yet it does seem obvious that the great expectations of that earlier time have been disappointed. The thoroughly secularist nature of the European powers became increasingly evident in many ways.

The history and transformation of the episcopal church since the sixteenth century

True, the Church of England in the colonies suffered from a sluggish rate of growth and a shortage of clergymen throughout much of the seventeenth century. But in the century before the American Revolution, that communion's fortunes prospered: Anglican churches spread along the length of the Atlantic seaboard, the largest concentration being in the coastal South.

Medieval Catholic Background

In these colonies, Anglicanism also enjoyed the advantage of being the established, state-supported church, as it had been in England since the sixteenth century. Henry aimed merely to supplant the pope as the head of the English church-not to remodel it along the lines approved by Protestant reformers.

But under his Protestant successors, especially Elizabeth I, that was what happened-although not at all to the extent desired by English Puritans like the Presbyterians and Congregationalists.

The history and transformation of the episcopal church since the sixteenth century

Indeed, the Church of England continued to bear a close resemblance the Roman Catholic Church, as it does down to the present. Like Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism is, historically, a liturgical religious tradition, meaning that great emphasis is placed on observing a formal devotional regimen-the celebration of saints' days and other holy days, the performance of elaborate, dramatic ceremonies, the conduct of worship by reciting set prayers-all accompanied by sublime organ music and choral singing and led by priests wearing vestments.

And, like Roman Catholics, Anglicans have always favored elegantly constructed churches with ornately decorated interiors.

The purpose of all this outward show is to instill those attending worship with a sense of awe and piety.

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Finally, like Roman Catholics, most if not all Anglicans reject Calvinism, with its emphasis on predestination and conversion, and the evangelical ethos often associated with that theology.

Anglicans instead stress the capacity of humankind, enlightened by reason, to earn salvation by leading upright, moral lives.

The history and transformation of the episcopal church since the sixteenth century

The Church of England also retains Roman Catholicism's hierarchical form of government: This mode of organization also prevailed in early modern Britain, but the American colonies, lacking a bishop, entrusted enormous authority to local church vestries composed of the most eminent laymen.

This was especially true in the South, which led to frequent contests for control and influence between parsons and the vestry. Guiding Student Discussion So what your students really need to know is that there was more than one distinctive form of Protestantism in early America: On the contrary, there were many diverse groups of Protestants within the white population-Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Dutch Reformed as well as Anglicans, Quakers, and Lutherans, to mention only the most numerous.

The culture of Reformed groups-the simplicity of their church structures, the emphasis upon the sermon rather than formal rituals and set prayers-contrasted sharply with that of Anglicanism. Important as these points are, there is an even more telling contrast. While many Reformed churches embraced an evangelical ethos, especially in the mid-eighteenth century as the Great Awakening spread throughout British North America and revivals simultaneously swept Protestant Europemost Anglicans the Methodists in their ranks being the great exception rejected evangelical influences.

Another way of saying this is that, compared to Reformed churches, Anglicans made less stringent demands on the inner resources of individuals.

Belonging to the Church of England did not require individuals to testify to a conversion experience or to submit to an ascetic code of conduct enforced by the clergy and watchful lay members. Nor was any premium placed on strict doctrinal conformity, for, unlike the members of the Reformed tradition, Anglicans had little taste for dogmatism and tolerated differences of opinion on many points of theology.

Instead, their clergy encouraged a temperate, practical piety among the laity through liturgical observance and moral admonition. And many colonials found great comfort in this form of Protestantism. Ordinary Anglican lay people found spiritual satisfaction in hearing intoned from the pulpit the familiar, stately cadences of the Book of Common Prayer, the basis of worship services in the Church of England.

They were uplifted and sustained by participating in the yearly cycle of rituals commemorating holy days and by savoring the music supplied by choirs and organs.

And they took consolation from carefully composed sermons emphasizing the reasonableness of Christianity, the benevolence of God, and the innate capacity of men and women to make proper moral judgments.

So here is the key difference to stress to your students: This is not to say that Anglicans disparaged profound religious emotion, nor is it to say that Reformed churches devalued the importance of leading a moral life.

But it is to say that the religious messages of these two Protestant groups differed in their EMPHASIS-in what they told the laity was most essential in seeking God and attaining assurance of salvation.

In general, it is accurate to say that Anglicans mistrusted sudden, strong, public expressions of religious emotion-the weeping, shrieking, and trembling that overcame some participants in evangelical revivals.

Such behavior most Anglicans disdained as unseemly and disorderly.

The Nineteenth Century

Above all, what bears emphasizing in the classroom is that both the Anglican and Reformed versions of Protestantism were and are equally authentic modes of Christian spirituality. Put another way, the question that should never be asked in any historical discussion of early American religious life is: To be sure, this advice is not easy to execute, but your efforts won't go unrewarded.

Most of the young people in my classes at a public university in the mid-Atlantic, no matter what their religious backgrounds, respond to such discussions with great enthusiasm and curiosity, if only because they know so little about the full range of spiritual options even within the Protestant tradition.

As all veterans in the classroom know, most adolescents run deeper than they let on to adults, and teaching this material probably will confirm that observation. Historians Debate Until recently, colonial Anglicanism has not received evenhanded, dispassionate treatment from most American historians-and for several reasons.

Part of the difficulty is that some supporters of the Church of England emerged as outspoken loyalists during the revolutionary struggle, which led the ardently patriotic historians of the nineteenth century to portray all Anglicans as traitors to the cause of liberty. Then, too, in the wake of the American Revolution and disestablishment, popular support for Anglicanism all but collapsed:Saint George's Parish has a long and rich history beginning with the labors of English missionary priests and garrison chaplains in the late seventeenth century.

British missionaries visited Schenectady as early as and an Anglican Parish under the patronage of St. George was established in Although the Church of England (also known as the Anglican Church, and, today, as the Protestant Episcopal Church) commanded the loyalties of a great many churchgoers in early America, its history has received relatively little treatment from historians-especially compared with the attention lavished on .

The Catholic Church in Spain has a long history, starting in the 1st century. It is the largest religion in Spain, with 68% of Spaniards identifying as Catholic.. Attempts were made from the late 1st century to the late 3rd century to establish the church in the Iberian peninsula.

Canons of the Synod of Elvira (circa AD) indicate that the church was greatly isolated from the general. A History of the Catholic Church. from Its Beginning to the End of the Sixteenth Century.

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As both its critics and its champions would probably agree, Roman Catholicism has been the decisive spiritual force in the history of Western civilization. Thus the Roman Catholic Church is itself a complex institution, for which the usual diagram of. The history of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico dates from the period of the Spanish conquest (–21) and has continued as an institution in Mexico into the twenty-first century.

Catholicism is one of the two major legacies from the Spanish colonial era, the other being Spanish as the nation's language.

The Present and Future Church by Wolfhart Pannenberg November At the dawning of this century, Christians in Europe and North America harbored great expectations.

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