Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Foundations of the Anglican Church CXXVII

Edward Bouverie Pusey 

Newman’s 1845 conversion to Catholicism shook the Anglican world and while both before and even more after Newman’s reception into the Catholic Church there was a veritable wave of defections from the Church of England with prominent Anglicans, clergy and lay alike, not all leaders of the Oxford Movement “swimming the Tiber.” 
The most prominent of those who stayed rooted in his Anglican convictions was John Keble whose sermon “National Apostasy” to open the Oxford Assizes of 1833 triggered the Tractarian Movement.  Keble was the son of an Anglican clergyman, also named John Keble.  The senior Keble was vicar of Coln Saint Alwyns.  The younger Keble was born in 1792 and as a young man attended Corpus Christi College Oxford.  He took Holy Orders in 1815 and became a fellow of Oriel College Oxford.  He served a number of years as University Examiner before leaving academia and devoting himself to pastoral work.  Before giving up Academia for parish ministry, however, he had written his Magnum Opus, The Christian Year, a collection of poems for every Sunday and the major feasts of the Church of England.  It captured the romanticism of the early 19th century and even today a number of the poems remain popular in hymn form.  The Christian Year won for Keble a professorship of Poetry at Oxford which he held for about thirteen years before taking up parish ministry.  He continued to write both poetry and prose through the remainder of his life.  During the publication of the Tracts For The Times, Keble wrote Adherence To The Apostolical Succession The Safest Course, On Alterations In The Prayer Book, The Sunday Lessons, The Principle of Selection, Richard Nelson III, Baptism, Sermons For Saints’ Days and Holidays No. 1 Saint Matthias, Sermons for Saints’ Days and Holidays, No. 2 The Annunciation Of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Sermons for Saints’ Days and Holidays No. 3 Saint Mark’s Day, Sermons for Saints’ Days and Holidays No. 4 Saints Philip and James, and On the Mysticism Attributed To The Fathers Of The Church.  His younger brother, Thomas Keble, was also a prolific contributor to the Tracts.  John Keble had tremendous influence on sparking a renewed interest among Anglicans in their patristic heritage and he knew how to capitalize on the Romantic Movement of the 19th century to awaken an appreciation for so much of what had been jettisoned from Anglicanism both during the Puritan years and the Latitudinarian captivity.  His interest in the feasts of the Church and his ability to bring them to popular devotional attention through his poetry was particularly helpful in awakening a liturgical piety in the Church of England. 
The other Anglican Divine who remained faithful to the Church of England and took leadership in the Oxford Movement when so many others were becoming Roman Catholics was Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882).  Pusey was a member of the junior branch of the Viscounts Folkestone but was himself a commoner.  He studied at Eton, matriculated at Christchurch Oxford and was elected to a fellowship at Oriel (as were Keble and Newman).  He studied Oriental Languages at Göttingen and when he returned to England was named Regius Professor of Hebrew at Christchurch to which position was also attached a canonry at Christchurch Cathedral.  His time at Göttingen exposed him to the German pietists and insured his alienation from the rationalist trends in theological reflection espoused by the Latitudinarians.  He was somewhat of a latecomer to the Tractarians but came to publish the following Tracts: Thoughts on the Benefits of the System of Fasting Enjoined by Our Church, Supplement to Tract XVIII Thoughts on the Benefits of the System of Fasting Prescribed by Our Church, Scriptural Views of Holy Baptism, Scriptural Views of Holy Baptism (continued), Scriptural Views of Holy Baptism (concluded), An Ernest Remonstrance to the Author of ‘The Pope’s Letter,’  and Catena Patrum. No. IV. Testimony of Writers in the later English Church to the doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice with an historical account of the changes in the Liturgy as to the expression of that doctrine.  In addition he gave a number of remarkable sermons that challenged the Latitudinarian mediocrity into which the Church of England had fallen as well as renouncing the Calvinist doctrines of the sixteenth century.  His 1843 sermon “The Holy Eucharist, A Comfort to the Penitent” was so marked a departure from the Calvinist approach to the Sacrament that it led to having his license to preach suspended for two years.  He preached two sermons entitled “The Entire Absolution of the Penitent” in 1846 calling for a revival of sacramental confession and absolution in the Church of England. In 1853 he preached a sermon “The Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist” which led to drastic changes in liturgical practice as the developing High Church party summoned the courage to abandon the bland trappings of Calvinist worship and restore pre-Reformation practices in the Liturgy.  He also wrote a number of books on the Eucharist as well as on the Hebrew Scriptures.  His Eirenicon was an attempt to find sufficient common ground for reunion of the Church of England with the Catholic Communion.  He didn’t succeed in winning either side to his argument. 
Ironically while his works on the Eucharist led to a ritualistic revival in the Church of England, Pusey himself remained quite Protestant in his own liturgical style and was not in favor of wholesale copy of Catholic or Pre-Reformation ritual.  The liturgical exuberance—and even excesses—for which the High Church party would become (in)famous were for the disciples of Pusey and Keble more than for the masters themselves but they did provide the theological framework for a “Catholic Revival.”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your return to Anglicanism! As a topic, that is.