Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Evangelical High Churchmanship according to Bishop John Henry Hobart

This is a term which has two meanings, the first gained some popularity in the 19th century but later died out, the second is much older and relates to Bishop Hobart, as it describes the spirit of American high churchmanship. I refer you to the link below to Peter Toon's article on this point. Basically as the Tractarian Movement changed churchmanship in England and with the introduction of modernism, many Churchmen wanted to know where they stood in relation to the new types of churchmanship. Many felt they were simultaneously embodying the spirit of different types of churchmanship (evangelical and high church), those who were Evangelicals first but later felt they also sympathized with the High Church tradition were called High Church Evangelicals with "High Church" as the adjective and High Churchmen who felt sympathetic to the Evangelical movement were called Evangelical High Churchmen, with "Evangelical" as the adjective. The word also relates to Bishop Hobart's spirit of high churchmanship which operated in America on the eve of the Oxford Movement and later blended with or coexisted with Anglo-Catholicism. Hobart's lifelong maxim was "Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order," which really encapsulates the spirit of Hobartian churchmanship. The spirit of Bishop John Henry Hobart are exemplified by this quote,

"In the correct sense of the term, High Churchmen disclaim the imputation of not being evangelical. It is only when faithless to their principles that they are not pre-eminently so. Are they distinguished by their zeal for the Church in the ministrations and ordinances annexed to it by Christ and his apostles? But it is the only object of these ministrations and ordinances, to excite and to cherish a lively and holy faith in the atoning merits of the Son of God, who gave himself for this Church; and to convey to the soul the quickening and sanctifying influences of the divine Spirit which animates this mystical body of the Redeemer; and thus to assure to the faithful that they are "heirs through hope of God's heavenly kingdom." Pardon, justification, eternal life, as the free gift of God the Father, through the merits and intercession of his eternal Son, and through the renovating and sanctifying agency of the Holy Ghost--these are the great evangelical truths which alone render of value or of efficacy, the ministrations and ordinances for which the High Churchman contends--and which so deeply pervade that Liturgy which he cherishes with a sacred affection, only inferior to that with which he regards the inspired volume. These then are the truths which, faithful to his principles, he must most ardently cherish, most strenuously and zealously inculcate. Evangelical the High Churchman must be, or, in contending for the Church and Liturgy, he will prove either that he understands not their nature, their excellencies, their divine and spiritual objects; or that the deep guilt of inconsistency with the most sacred principles, and of an indifference in the most important of all interests, the salvation of the soul, rests upon his conscience." (HCV)

Bishop Hobart delivered several charges which outline the principles of High Churchmanship, in an American context. I will rely on several of Hobart's speeches and sermons but specifically, "The Churchman: The Principles of the Churchman Stated and Explained, in Distinction from the Corruptions of the Church of Rome and from the Errors of Certain Protestant Sects." Notice a subtle point in the title of the charge, that being that the entirety of the Roman system is implied to be denied by churchmen but only certain errors of certain Protestant sects are to be avoided. This shows one key feature of High Churchmanship which has been lost due to Tractarian influence. Old High Churchmen were decidedly Protestant and anti-Roman but they avoided some of the errors of some Protestant churches. A good example of this is where Hobart says, "The CHURCHMAN claims this appellation, because rejecting equally Papal corruptions and Protestant errors, he adheres in all essential points to the faith, ministry, and worship, which distinguished the apostolic and primitive Church, and particularly to the constitution of the Christian ministry under its three orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons." This sums up the main focus of High Churchmanship. The High Churchman rejects all the corruptions of Papal Rome and certain errors which have crept up in the churches of the Reformation. To read more, click here.

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