The pax ecclesiastica of Elizabeth’s reign actually masked a growing schism that remained beneath the surface as long as she was on the throne, but which began to bubble up when James VI of Scotland became James I of England. The Puritans had hopes for their Scots king as James had been raised by Presbyterians and the Scots Church was, at the time of his accession, mostly Presbyterian in its makeup. (At the time that James inherited the English Throne, there were two bishops in Scotland, appointees of the Scots Parliament and without diocesan jurisdiction. The post was primarily honorary as the Scots Parliament recognized the Presbyterian organization of the Kirk (Church) in 1592. ) But those optimistic Puritans did not know James. He was an ardent proponent of Episcopal Church polity and by his death in 1625 had reestablished a full bench of diocesan bishops in Scotland. James’ theme was “no bishop, no king” and he realized that the elimination of episcopacy was just a tad too democratic for his crown to rest secure.
The heroes of the faith under Elizabeth were those ministers who had fled the England of “Bloody Mary” for the Reformed Churches of Geneva, Zurich, and Strasbourg and then, upon Elizabeth becoming Queen and reestablishing Protestantism, returned to England. Their time abroad had confirmed them in Reformed Church Polity (which was Presbyterian) and Calvinist doctrine. The “High Church” party in the Church of England, the group which favored bishops and held more Catholic views of the sacraments, remained very much in the shadows while Elizabeth was on the throne, despite the Queen’s own support of episcopacy and her liking for a certain amount of ritual in her chapel. Under James, however, there was a marked movement away from Calvinist theology by some of the bishops, notably Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Chichester and later Bishop of Winchester as well as Dean of the Chapel Royal. Andrewes defended the doctrine of the Real Presence (though he rejected Transubstantiation) claiming that after the bread is consecrated (his word) it is no longer bread in a natural sense. He used terms such as “sacrifice” and “altar” in referring to the Holy Communion and to the table on which it was celebrated. His private chapel was fitted out with silver candlesticks, a censer, and five copes among other High Church paraphernalia. Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft (1604-1610) was another bishop who tried to move the Church of England away from its Calvinist foundation. Bancroft’s successor, George Abbot was Calvinist in his soteriology (theology of salvation) but held a strong Catholic understanding of the Apostolic Succession and the priesthood, though he was a mortal enemy of William Laud who would later be Archbishop of Canterbury and bring down both the episcopacy and the crown with his High Churchmanship. George Montaigne who under James held successively the Sees of Lincoln, London, Durham, and York rejected Calvinist Soteriology and insisted on conformity to the Prayer Book in worship. Thomas Dove, (bishop of Peterborough) and John Overall (bishop first of Coventry and Lichfield and later of Norwich) were staunch opponents of Calvinist doctrine. Thomas Ravis, bishop of London, (1607-1609) rigidly opposed the Puritan faction. On the other hand, his predecessor Richard Vaughn, James’ bishop of London (1604-1607) had been a staunch Calvinist, but found himself in a theological minority on the episcopal bench.
The Puritan party began to realize that the bishops were a threat to the Calvinist faith and Protestant legacy for which Cranmer and Ridley and Latimer and the other Marian Martyrs had shed their blood. There were in fact two distinct Churches in England—the Episcopal Church of England with its bishops and Arminian doctrine and increasingly Catholicized Liturgy and the Puritan Church of England with its non-conforming clergy and Calvinist doctrine and non-Liturgical worship. They would somehow hold together during the reign of King James, but his son, Charles I, would inherit a religious tinderbox along with the Crown and when it blew—as indeed it would—the consequences would be disastrous for Crown and Miter alike.
Ok—a little glossary of terms here to help the reader become familiar with something they might get on Jeopardy some day.
Arminianism, Arminians, Arminian. The Arminians (named after Dutch Theologian Jacobus Arminius) were adherents of a theological position antithetical to Calvinism in as that they denied the double pre-destination taught by Calvin. Double predestination is that God has foreordained those who will be saved to salvation and those who will be damned for damnation. Calvin’s position does not ascribe free will to the individual as his or her ultimate fate has been pre-determined by God. Grace is given only for the elect; Christ died only for the elect. The Armenians taught that Christ died for all and that grace sufficient for salvation is offered to all though the freedom of the will permits some to accept saving grace and others to reject it.
Non-conformist, non-conforming clergy. The non-conformists were those of the Puritan party who refused to “conform” to the Prayer Book and its liturgy but rather practiced the more free-style worship of the Reformed or Presbyterian Churches. This term will be important in the Church of England until the end of the 17th century when the non-conformists will withdraw from the Anglican Church to form their own religious bodies. During the period of the English Civil War and subsequent Parliamentary “Protectorate” of the Cromwells, the non-Conformists will have the ascendency in the Church of England.