He Hath Filled The Hungry With Good Things

Early Developments in Anglo-Catholic Social Theology

Darryl M. Jordan
5 May 2002

Introduction: The Need for an Anglo-Catholic Synthesis

"He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away." This subversive yet so familiar phrase is found in the Book of Common Prayer, faithfully committed to memory by all Anglicans who regularly pray, or better, sing, the Daily Office. It is, of course, a portion of the Blessed Virgin Mary's evening prayer canticle, the Magnificat. Yet how often has its unmitigated social meaning gone unnoticed?

Catholic [1] Christianity is an utterly social religion, and as such must be conceived in all aspects in terms of a schema of loving relationships between equal persons. The essence of the Catholic faith and its Good News for humanity is that the essentially social God (Trinity of persons[2]) became fully human (hypostatic union), suffered with and for us (atonement), and shares with human persons the divine nature through the sacraments of the Church. Indeed, as the contemporary Anglo-Catholic theologian Kenneth Leech avers, "there is no 'social gospel,' as there is no 'spirituality,' apart from the gospel itself: on the contrary, the Christian God is a social God, whose nature is social and who shares his nature with human kind."[3] This is the consensus of the early Church Fathers, and it is this Trinitarian-incarnational-sacramental-social synthesis that is at the heart of the Catholic Creeds and Ecumenical Councils. Yet most Christians tend to focus exclusively on the theological and Christological aspects of this synthesis without noticing the implications of such teaching for a proper understanding and ordering of human society. Episcopalian Bishop Allison has written an insightful account on the ultimately dehumanizing and "cruel" implications of the ancient heresies, such as Arianism and Nestorianism, and the reader is encouraged to consult this work for a "humanistic" overview of the conciliar period.[4] The present work espouses this orthodox patristic Tradition as received.

The purpose of this paper is to briefly survey the history of development of a viable social theology within High Church Anglicanism in the context of the Church of England. Thus the reader will be introduced, perhaps not for the first time, to several influential Anglicans who pioneered this re-orientation. Sadly, few Anglicans, let alone Christians at large, are aware of the radical social teachings of some of their socially-conscious siblings. Even the present writer, an avowed Anglo-Catholic, was only aware of modern writer Leech as an expert in spiritual theology until undertaking research for this paper. It was this lack of awareness and holistic thinking that led Frank Weston, Bishop of Zanzibar, to excoriate the sacramentally pious yet socially complacent on the occasion of the 1923 Anglo-Catholic Congress

Come out from before your tabernacles [containing reserved Sacrament]. You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the table if you do not pity Jesus in the slum. . . If you say that an Anglo-Catholic has a right to hold his peace while his fellow citizens are living in hovels beneath the level of the streets, then I say to you, that you do not know the Lord Jesus in his Sacrament. [5]
Thus we may refer to such theological-cum-social holism as the Anglo-Catholic Synthesis.

Evangelical, Liberal and Anglo-Catholic: The Anglican Via Media

First it will be useful to define some ecclesiastical terms. Anglicanism is popularly divided into three species of churchmanship: [6] Low, Broad and High. Another common triad is generally synonymous: Evangelical, Liberal and Anglo-Catholic. Both of these demonstrate the Anglican notion of its identity within Christianity-at-large as the via media, or middle way, between Roman Catholicism and extreme Protestantism, or Rome and Geneva, respectively. Anglicanism prides itself in its ability to accommodate adherents of each orientation. Starting in the middle, Broad churchmen, with their characteristic optimism regarding the goodness of human nature, tend to view lack of education and other deficits as the chief evils within society. Low, or Evangelical, churchmen tend to elevate Scripture and personal conversion. Alternatively, High or Anglo-Catholic churchmen exalt the role of the sacraments and the Church. Consequently, a non-Anglican Evangelical would doubtless find affinity with many Anglican Evangelical parishes. Likewise, a Roman Catholic might find an Anglo-Catholic parish even more "romanesque" than his own. It is the latter to which this paper's focus is directed primarily, with one "broad" exception.[7]

The term "High Church" is best employed to denote the earliest Anglican manifestation of the development of a high ecclesiology.[8] The first were Catholic-minded Elizabethan archbishops of Canterbury, the most prominent being Richard Hooker (1554-1600) and Richard Bancroft (1544-1610). These theologians countered the Puritans (i.e. Calvinists), who pressed for further reforms; they stressed episcopacy and the sacraments. Most notable among the writings of the period was Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, which envisioned the ecclesia anglicana as an extension of the ancient church of the patristic period. The Caroline Divines (named for King Charles I, "The Martyr"), such as archbishop of Canterbury William Laud [9] (1573-1645) and bishop of Winchester Lancelet Andrewes (1555-1626) stressed the Divine Right of Kings. It was during this early period of high churchmanship that the notion of the via media arose.

The Oxford Movement and Tractarianism: Creating Catholic Consensus

What most people currently identify with high churchmanship or Anglo-Catholicism is the fruition of the more relatively recent Oxford Movement (1833-1845), usually understood as commencing with a sermon by John Keble (1792-1886) on 14 July 1833 at Oxford to counter certain Erastian trends in the Church of England. Quite unlike the Laudians, his intent was to call the church to greater autonomy from the English state. This was followed by a series of tracts,[10] eventually totaling ninety, in which the Church of England's Catholic essence was adduced. Other famous names associated with this phenomenon are John Henry Newman (1801-1890) [11] and Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882).[12] Thus began a revival that affected every quarter of the Anglican Communion. Prior to the Catholic revival, virtually all parishes were more austere and simple, looking rather more Calvinist than Catholic. There was widespread distrust of ritual, notwithstanding the solicitous rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer. Candles and elaborate vestments were considered illegal. The altar was an occasional and perfunctory "communion table," devoid of even a cross. That one is not surprised by the modern pervasiveness of Anglican "priests" wearing copes and chasubles, surpliced choirs, the elevation of the Host, the reservation of the consecrated species, and indeed the Eucharist itself as the central act of worship on Sundays, is due chiefly to the success of the Oxford Movement, more specifically its next generation, the Ritualists.[13] These were the instrumental means by which Anglicanism was "re-catholicized," though not surprisingly, many opposed such accommodations.[14] The Ritualist movement developed into what is now called the Anglo-Catholic party.

Thus the Oxford and Ritualist movements effectively reclaimed Anglicanism's Catholic essence in terms of its patristic, and even to some degree, its medieval roots. Indeed, the Church of England

...is at heart Catholic -- possessing a continuity with the Catholic church, not least as it existed in the middle ages [sic] in England. Therefore, there was no question of turning a Protestant church, the Church of England in this case, into a Catholic church, for that is like squaring a circle. What was required in the English situation was to make bishops, clergy, and laity conscious of their heritage and to propagate vigorously what might be called the Catholic faith and practice. It was argued that during the eighteenth century and the early part of the nineteenth century, if not before, the Church of England had theologically and liturgically forgotten its essentially Catholic nature, which is enshrined in its Prayer Books of 1549 and 1662. What was hidden and forgotten had to be publicly proclaimed and made manifest for all to see.[15]
The Eucharist, and thus the recitation of the Nicene Creed, was back at the center of liturgical focus for a sizeable percentage of parishes. Anglo-Catholicism,[16] that movement dedicated to preserving and promoting this awareness, thus achieved for the Anglican Communion a general rapprochement with its ancient Catholic heritage that obtains to this day. With this renewed sacramental focus came a new communitarian ethos, though the Tractarians were notoriously aloof from social issues,[17] "having an essentially emotional response to the conditions of nineteenth-century industrial and urban Britain: shock at the wretchedness of the poor and anger at the unrestrained pursuit of luxury on the part of the wealthy."[18] It was, in fact, during this second generation of Tractarians that the phenomenon of the 'slum-priests' developed, in which many new parishes were started in the impoverished areas of England, most notably in London's East End. Thus it was the Ritualists who first attacked poverty at the grass-roots level.

With this welcome respite from the speculative remoteness of Broad churchmanship, and the overly moralistic, individualist, even fatalist tone of Calvinist Evangelicalism, a truly Anglican Catholic social theology could emerge to further vex the status quo of the vaunted Victorian English imperial establishment. Sachs recognized the coincidence of Tractarianism and a growing critique of modernity and the establishment obtaining in the Victorian era,

Beginning with the Tractarians, a movement to loosen the Church from its English, imperial moorings advanced. The question of the Church's relation to culture became pivotal as new forms of Anglicanism posed alternative expressions of religious life. These modern popular sentiments suggested that the modern Church embodied an apostolic order, distinct from the political establishment, grounded in local religious community. Indeed, I argue that a profound feature of modern life has been the appearance of popular opinion as a basis for political and religious authority. In diverse forms, grassroots religious movements have challenged institutional prerogative. For Anglicans, the onset of modernity awakened a fascination with local culture and encouraged a sacramental sense of community as the Church's identity.[19]
With this renewed emphasis on local autonomy, populism and community came a call to social wholeness, paving the way for the emergence of Christian socialism in England. Sachs continues
The quest for wholeness raised the issue of the Church's integrity as articulate Anglicans criticized the Church for its compliance in the social establishment. The idea of disengaging the Church gained momentum as a result of a new brand of politics. From 1870 in Britain, socialist political organizations encouraged the Church toward an apostolic ideal of religious community.[20]
It is to this emerging Catholic socialist phenomenon within Anglicanism that we now turn our attention.

Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872): The Universal Kingship of Christ

The mid-Victorian broad-church clergyman F.D. Maurice is considered the father of Christian Socialism in England. Allied in his efforts by novelist and clergyman Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), he set about to combine Christian and socialist principles. Raised in a Unitarian home and thus refused a degree from Cambridge as a Nonconformist, Maurice eventually converted to Anglicanism and was ordained. Early on he developed a tentative affinity with the Tractarians.

As Clutterbuck avers,

He believed that all class barriers must be broken down and all men brought into the Universal Society of the Church. He might at first have seemed a powerful ally of the ritualists who were slaving away in the parishes the bring to their people the spiritual benefits of the Catholic Church, but although he admitted the dedication of these priests, he disagreed with their methods. Being a broad churchman he disliked their concern for men's sins because he took a more optimistic view of man's nature. Rather than a sinful creature in need of regeneration, Maurice saw man as ignorant and in need of education. Nevertheless he was a great influence on Victorian society.[21]
Niebuhr in his peerless work Christ and Culture identifies Maurice as a chief example of the conversionist motif, or "Christ the transformer of culture," along with a patristic predecessor, St. Augustine of Hippo.[22] One espousing this conversionist motif
is concerned with the redemptive work of God in the incarnation of the Son, and not merely with redemption in his death, resurrection and return to power. Not that the conversionist turns from the historical Jesus to the Logos that was in the beginning, or that he denies the wonder of the cross in marveling at the birth in a barn; he seeks to hold together in one movement the various themes of creation and redemption, of incarnation and atonement. The effect of this understanding of the work of Christ in incarnation as well as creation on conversionist thought about culture is unmistakable. The word that became flesh and dwelt among us, the Son who does the work of the Father in the world of creation, has entered into a human culture that has never been without his ordering action.[23]
Perhaps Clutterbuck is a bit unfair in his assessment of Maurice's disavowal of any doctrine of sin. For Niebuhr, Maurice was quite chagrined with humanity's penchant for self-love and divisiveness. With regard to the latter, Maurice had no sympathy for any form of triumphalist churchmanship, whether Evangelical or Ritualist, perhaps leading him eventually to affiliate with neither. His awareness of his own self-centeredness led him to humbly admit, "When I began to seek God for myself. . . the feeling that I needed a deliverer from an overwhelming weight of selfishness was the predominant one in my mind."[24] For Maurice, Christ's Kingdom was the controlling, universal principle of human existence. Niebuhr continues,
The conversion of mankind from self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness was for Maurice the universal and present divine possibility. It was universal in the sense that it included all men; since all were members of the Kingdom of Christ by their creation in the Word, by the actual spiritual constitution under which they lived. It was universal also in the sense that the church needed to direct all its interest toward the realization of the divine possibility of universal, willing acceptance of the actual rule.[25]
And thus, our thesis partially realized, in an admittedly Origenist slant,
Universal salvation meant more than the turning of individual selves to their true center. By creation through the Word, men are social. . .The full realization of the kingdom of Christ did not, then, mean the substitution of a new universal society for all the separate organizations of men, but rather the participation of all these in the one universal Kingdom of which Christ is the head. [26]
That few know the name F. D. Maurice is lamentable. The opening sentence of John Orens' essay "Maurice on Prayer" might be obsequious, but it does remind us of Maurice's significance.
There is no Anglican theologian of the nineteenth century more universally revered than Frederick Denison Maurice. Christian Socialist, educator, ecumenist, novelist and priest, Maurice looms above most of his contemporaries in the breadth of his interests and the prophetic spirit which inspired them. Identified with no church party, yet claimed by all, Maurice seems the quintessential Anglican: learned, tolerant and pious.[27]
Most Anglo-Catholics with strong social sentiments would point to the influence of Maurice, who gave to the Catholic Revival a new humanistic face in his vision of the church as the ideal and universal society.

Stewart Duckworth Headlam (1847-1924): Tractarianism Meets Socialism

Steward Headlam was a singularly controversial cleric, brought to Catholic sympathies by the "ardently incarnation writings of F.D. Maurice."[28] He also apparently shared Maurice's universalism, a fact that got him booted from his first parish assignment. Whether this trait persisted throughout his life has not been discerned. Another radical feature of his piety was Marian devotion, which provoked much rancor among parishioners and clergy alike. After his reassignment to a curacy in an East London parish, his bishop asked the vicar if Headlam believed in the Divinity of Our Lord, receiving the wry reply "Of course he does, and I think he believes in the divinity of Our Lady also."[29] Indeed Headlam called Mary's Magnificat, which titles this treatise, "the hymn of the universal social revolution".[30] He was thus solidly sacramental, incarnational, and social. His commentary on the Church's catechism defends his own version of our Anglo-Catholic Synthesis. Here is an excerpt from the section "Sacramentalism," in which he excoriates Protestant views of the Real Presence and their implications for social reform:

Both the avowed enemies and the professed friends of the Christian Church talk as if you could really separate between the "spiritual" and the "material"; as if, for instance, the taking care that people are properly fed was not distinctly Church work; as if things secular and sacred were contrary to each other. They forget that it is not the bread alone, but the inward and spiritual grace of which the bread is the outward and visible sign, by which men live; that bodily food is not only a kind of parable of spiritual food, but that this food which you can see and taste is an actual means whereby not only your body but your spirit is fed, and a pledge to assure you that it has been fed. You are literally, as He himself said, feeding, clothing and housing Jesus Christ, when you are feeding, clothing, housing any human being; bad food, ugly clothes, dirty houses, not only injure the body, but injure the soul: nay, more, they do great injury unto God Himself. It is not to be wondered at that if, as seems patent, such considerations as these are a necessary result of sacramental teaching, such teaching should not be popular amongst the English well-to-do people. To co-existence of a great deal of religion in the same country with a great deal of poverty seems to be the natural outcome of all that talk about a "mere form," of which so much is heard from English Protestants: and people who forget that it is possible and necessary to worship with the body as well as with the spirit, are bound, if they are consistent to answer the cry of the outcast by building Mission Halls rather than by restoring to them the land from which they have been cast out, or the wealth of which they have been robbed.[31]
Headlam was unremitting in his identification of the socialist imperative inchoate in Christ's teachings, as he stated in a speech to the Fabian Society in 1882, "I hope, then, that I have said sufficient to make clear that, so far as Christ's works and teachings are concerned, not only is there no contradiction between the adjective 'Christian' and the noun 'Socialism,' but that, if you want to be a good Christian, you must be something very much like a good socialist."[32]

Perhaps Headlam's most important accomplishment was the founding in 1887 of the Guild of St. Matthew (GSM), called the "shock troops" of Christian Socialism in the late nineteenth century.[33] The GSM supported tax reforms as an aid to the landless poor, and on a broader "social" scale, scandalously encouraged attendance at theaters and the ballet. Here are GSM's "objects":

I. -- To get rid, by every possible means, of the existing prejudices, especially on the part of "Secularists" against the Church -- her Sacraments and Doctrines; and to endeavor to justify God to the people.

II. -- To promote frequent and reverent Worship in the Holy Communion, and a better observance of the teaching of the Church of England as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.

III. -- To promote the Study of Social and Political Questions in the light of the Incarnation.[34]

Percy Widdrington summarizes his impressions while a member of Headlam's GSM, writing in 1945.
Fifty years ago Christian Socialism was represented by the Guild of Saint Matthew. It was a militant organization, small in membership, but intensely alive. It published for many years a well- written monthly: The Church Reformer. Turning over its pages one is struck by the variety of causes it espoused and the vigour with which it conducted its campaigns. War on poverty, on slums, on sweating, on dangerous trades; war on puritanism and bigotry - - the recognition of the Stage and the Ballet; a campaign for the restoration of the land; the removal of political disabilities, and the extension of popular education . . . The poverty of the people - - poverty in the fullest sense of the word - - and the degradation which resulted from it, were the motives that impelled us to action ... The Guild of St. Matthew was a Catholic society, and its members practising Catholics. Belief in the Incarnation and the Mass constituted our theological basis. [35]
Headlam was dauntless in the face of Puritan social proprieties. Since its inception, Anglo-Catholicism has notoriously catered to homosexuals. Headlam's sympathy is especially evident in his defense of novelist, poet, playwright and purported homosexual, Oscar Wilde.
Stewart Headlam was one of the founders of a group called "The Anti-Puritan League", whose membership also included G. K. Chesterton, Cecil Chesterton, and Edgar Jephson. The group issued a few pamphlets, ruffled a few evangelical feathers, and faded away. But it was through a friend in the Anti-Puritan League that Headlam became involved in the trial of Oscar Wilde, that disgraceful episode of Victorian homophobia and hypocrisy run amok. Wilde was vilified by the press, treated abominably by the courts, and abandoned by his friends. His name was pasted over on theatrical billboards; his colleagues in the theater ran for cover. An exorbitant bail of 5,000 pounds was required, which proved very difficult to obtain until Stewart Headlam came forward with half of it.[36]
Perhaps this act was one of "overstepping the mark"[37] for it certainly caused the Guild to be discredited by a largely prudent Victorian society. However, his sacramental socialism "emphasized the Church as a human community, which challenged the state by offering a model of what of what it should be."[38]

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The Christian Social Union: Establishing Respectability

Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918) founded the Christian Social Union (CSU) at Oxford in 1889, "a more respectable and genteel approach [to socialism than GSM]."[39] As a symbolic act of passing the baton, the Oxford branch of the Headley's Guild disbanded in order to join the CSU. Regarding the CSU's perceived lack of praxis, GSM loyalists were reputed to quip witheringly of their approach, "Here's a glaring evil. Let's read a paper about it."[40] Such egregious poshness notwithstanding, membership in the CSU eventually eclipsed the GSM, and chapters spread throughout England. Indeed "like the Guild of St. Matthew, it was exclusively Anglican, by unlike the Guild, it was rapidly and widely accepted with approval within the Church of England an expression of the prevalent social-services idealism of the upper, or upper-middle class clergy who organized and sustained it."[41] CSU's role as a forum for Catholic and incarnational social theology suggests it as a worthy successor to the Oxford Movement. Its incipient literary achievement was a collection of essays on the incarnation entitled Lux Mundi. [42] It was edited by CSU member Charles Gore (1853-1932), a former member of the 'Holy Party' that he co-founded in 1875 with Holland and Bishop of Durham and Scripture scholar Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901). A brilliant and compendious achievement of Anglican scholarship from a scientific and critical perspective, this publication is widely regarded as marking the birth of Liberal Catholic churchmanship within Anglicanism.[43] Billings also lauds this publication as

a turning point for the Catholic movement, for it spoke of the need for Christian thought to take into account advances in knowledge and changing circumstances. The essays emphasize 'Catholic' themes which became more generally influential in the Church: the incarnation is regarded as the basis of doctrine; the Christian ethic is seen as a social ethic with the Kingdom of God as the controlling idea; matter can be the vehicle of grace. After Lux Mundi and Gore's Bampton Lectures of 1891 [at Anglo-Catholic St. Mary the Virgins's parish in Oxford], Catholic social theology is decidedly 'incarnational': Christ came to redeem the whole world of matter and nothing less than redemption of the whole world should be of concern to Catholics. It is also increasingly critical of capitalism and looks towards collectivist solutions to society's problems.[44]
Conspicuously absent from the CSU was a decidedly sacramental ethos. A continuing voice for the propagation of its Catholic socialist agenda was its journal, Commonwealth, which initiated an investigation into the social problems of substandard housing, pollution and low wages (through the compilation of 'white lists' of underpaying firms).[45] It also campaigned strongly against the Poor Law that forced people into the workhouse. The CSU also produced a significant number of pamphlets and booklets that suggested solutions to further social inequities, including minimum wage reform and state benefits for the unemployed.

However, due to its upper-class respectability, the CSU was never properly-speaking, "socialist," though it promoted an effective Catholic social theology which motivated considerable change in the injustices obtaining in England at the time. Simply put, never were there large numbers of English or American clergy inclined to adopt the extreme class-conscious and revolutionary tenets of ideological Marxism. It was the task of more radical Anglican thinkers to experiment with a truly leftist agenda (though none were particularly revolutionary in orientation, being more Fabian by disposition).[46]

The Church Socialist League: The Rise of the Radical Left

Gore took just such a left turn when he founded a new religious order,[47] The Community of the Resurrection in 1892, which later gave birth to the Church Socialist League (CSL) in 1906. Thus Catholic socialism found a communal locus and expression, attracting radicals from such groups as the GSM and CSU. The Community's rule included vows of poverty and stability, and in ethos was thus rather Benedictine.[48] Gore handed over leadership of the Community to Walter Howard Frere, who later founded CSL, which emerged from a clergy conference he led with Paul Bull. Under Frere's influence, Catholic socialism had finally integrated a sacramental theology, "Politically radical, the League emphasized the link between socialism and the sacraments of the Church."[49] Indeed, Frere was foremost among Anglicans to argue for the legitimacy of the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.[50] The CSL included such notables as Percy Widdrington and Percy Dearmer, but by far its most colorful member was Conrad Noel, who later went on to found his own radical socialist group in 1918, the Catholic Crusade.

Father Conrad Noel (1869-1942): The Red Vicar of Thaxted

Noel's family was aristocratic, though his father was a radical socialist and a notorious bisexual.[51] This might somewhat explain his eccentric behavior and humor, as well as his indefatigable sense of fair play and democratic idealism. Admitting an over-zealous fondness for beer, and throwing lavish parties accruing debts exceeding his allowance, he was unable to complete his studies at Corpus Christi College at Cambridge. Eventually he attended Chichester Theological College. There he occasionally attended Mass at a nearby Roman parish. He also read extensively from the early fathers, discovering to his surprise that some of them disavowed the ownership of private property, and that the corollary concern of the councils in defining the hypostatic union was that "If they went wrong in their fundamental conception of human and divine nature they would go wrong in the political and commercial theories which are the outcome of our fundamental conceptions about life."[52] In this manner was his Catholic and radical socialist theology formed: by reading patristics at seminary, though he was also deeply influenced by moderns like F.D. Maurice. He amused himself with his fellow student by pinning up "radical" quotes, admitting

I am, therefore, not surprised that my fellow students at Chichester Theological College put me down as a crank when I used to have some fun with them. Most of them were Conservatives, or what were then called Unionists. I used to invite them to my study, where I had pinned to the walls quotations from this early [patristic] literature, and carefully folded under the names of their authors. My friends would laugh derisively when they read such saying as 'Property is Robbery' and 'All things should be in common.' Then I would turn down the folded slip and have the laugh on them, for attached to the maxims were the names of the great St. Ambrose of Milan and other authorities, whose writings they had been studying for examination.[53]
When accused of "popery and pantheism" by his bishop, a charge with which he would not concur (he had merely stated his "belief in God immanent in nature and in man" and served an Anglo- Catholic parish (All Saints, Plymouth) from which many had "gone over to the Church of Rome,"[54] Noel pointed in defense to the beauty of solemn liturgy,
What I found in continental worship and the service of All Saints' was a beauty manifested principally at Mass, with its employment of all the senses: the colour of roses, the scent of incense, and the rich harmonies of music. High Mass is a symbol and sacrament of the world created by God, the world as we find it around us, and that fairer world of heart's desire.[55]
Indeed his notion of the immanence of God was predicated on the incarnation. Against the Romans whose sole attention to transcendence leads them to embrace fascism, Noel's religion demanded democracy. He continues
The papist sees something, and only something of this, for he has lost the vision of the world to come, but he has never made the mistake of teaching that the world of nature is identical with God. His emphasis has been on the transcendence and not on the immanence of the creator. In fact, that emphasis has led the Church of Rome to fascist conclusions. God the omnipotent, Dictator in the Heavens, is best represented by omnipotent dictators in Church and State, in infallible popes, and almighty Führers. This is a negation of true democracy, that democracy which is the natural outcome of the doctrine of the immanence of God, in nature and in man, the indwelling of the Word in nature and in man.[56]
Noel's reflections on the doctrine of the Trinity also informed his social theology. In his ironically titled book Jesus the Heretic, he asserts, using the language of the Athanasian Creed
Let us then consider the Blessed Trinity as the source of our own personal lives and the life of the world. Each one of us is a trinity in unity -- body, mind and spirit: the disunity between these is not according to the original intention of the Triune God. The world has in it plenty of variety, but the variety is not always healthy, is often antagonistic and discordant, because it is not a variety in unity, and does not yet express the 'Three in One and One in Three.' It cannot be said of the world, as at the present constituted, that it contains no differences or inequalities, or that within it 'none is afore or after another.' We look forward to a world of infinite variety in harmony, of living unity, not of dead uniformity; if man is to create so delightful a world, he 'must think thus of the Trinity,' for it is the will of the Triune God to inspire men to renew the world in such a way as to make it the expression of His own Being.[57]
Thus that obscure and seldom read Creed,[58] that magnum opus of conciliar dogma, is the ideal blueprint for humanity since it reveals the Nicene-Constantinople-Chalcedonian consensus regarding the nature of God and Christ, and hence by extension, man and society.

Noel's parish church at Thaxted, Essex in East Anglia was a haven for socialists and artists and he was much beloved by his parishioners. It was there that he received the derisive, but probably not eschewed, moniker "the red vicar." The composer and avid churchman Gustav Holst composed his own magnum opus, The Planets, while living and worshiping in Thaxted during Noel's rectorate. A group of English folk dancers, The Thaxted Morris Men, founded by Noel's wife Miriam in 1911, thrives to this day. Their current venues fittingly occur most frequently in pubs.[59] Chapman glowingly summarizes Noel's ministry.

In assessing the legacy of this extraordinary life, it can hardly be denied that Conrad Noel left his mark on the Church: he was undoubtedly a maverick and a romantic, and yet his sense of democracy and co-operation, as well as his sense of fun and joy, shaped an approach to church and society which was firmly rooted in the breadth of the catholic tradition but which was never exclusivist or elitist. Thaxted became famous for the quality, beauty and fun of its worship which sought to meet the challenge of sharing in a redeemed human community based on values of equality, participation and fraternity. . . The church was not merely a preacher of social justice -- it was an experiment in community in which liturgy, life and beauty were all united. It took an eccentric to realise this vision. . . in his warfare against the prosaic, Noel sought to integrate the particular and the universal, this world and the next in a new world order. Of course he failed -- as all must fail -- and yet he held on to the vision, dreaming the dreams for the world and trying to put them into practice.
Reflection: The Anglo-Catholic Synthesis Today

The work of Anglo-Catholics sensitive to social inequities is far from over, though their focus has shifted somewhat. Since the emergence of the welfare state in England and America, there is a general perception that widespread poverty has been alleviated and many social inequities effectively addressed. Billings notes

Since the Second World War there has been a decline of Anglican Catholicism in part because its causes have succeeded: the Church of England is more sacramental than it was and many of Catholicism's social concerns were met with the creation of the welfare state and growing post-war affluence. Indeed if we were to ask, 'What sort of a society did Anglican Catholics envision for Britain after the war?' it would bear strong resemblance to what the post-war Labour government in fact created: a welfare state in which key sectors of British industry were taken into public ownership. It was a strongly collectivist social vision.[60]
Yet he goes on to assert his concerns about a premature sense of triumph.
It is my contention that social Catholicism is in urgent need of re-examination and reformulation. In particular, its historic rejection of the market economy, its Maurician suspicion of 'individualism' and its espousal of collectivist solutions means that it risks being irrelevant to a society which has accepted a greater role for markets, is concerned about the freedom of the individual and is suspicious of corporatism -- while being uneasy about the consequences of this.[61]
One promising new organization that continues to carry the banner for a more socially oriented Anglo-Catholicism is Affirming Catholicism. Indeed it was this group that sponsored the works by Billings and Chapman cited earlier. Calling itself "The New Catholic Movement in the Anglican Church," they enjoy popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. Following is their statement of identity, brilliantly corresponding to our Anglo-Catholic Synthesis:
One of the primary goals of Affirming Catholicism is the retrieval and reinsertion of the doctrine of the Trinity into the centre of Church life.

Indeed, the 'deposit' of Catholicism is to be honoured precisely because it leads us deeper into the ever-expansive Catholicity of the Holy Spirit.

Affirming Catholicism is thus a movement of hope which honours the mystery of the Trinitarian fullness and believes this will always have unforeseen and liberating consequences for Christian living.

We are therefore:

Indeed it appears that the modern agenda has shifted from relief of poverty to addressing inequalities in the arenas of gender-inclusivity (especially and appropriately in terms of ordination)[63] and sexuality,[64] though Affirming Catholicism still publishes opinions on economic social concerns. They would point approvingly to the successful campaign within the Church of England (and the American Episcopal Church) to go forward with the ordination of women to priestly ministry (though at the time of this writing, no women have been consecrated bishop in England -- not so in America). Since some of their proclivities are a distinct departure from Anglo-Catholicism's more "traditional" ethical and moral agenda, it is left to the reader to decide if this new direction is warranted. Perhaps Oxford-educated and Tractarian-inspired poet Gerald Manley Hopkins summarizes the Anglo-Catholic Synthesis best in his poem 'As kingfishers catch fire'
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
   As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
   Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
   Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
   Selves -- goes its self; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is for me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
   Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is-
   Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his --
   To the Father through the features of men's faces.[65]

hallu motion


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Billings, Alan, Ed. Jeffrey John. "What Sort of a Society are We Envisaging Now?" in Living Tradition: Affirming Catholicism in the Anglican Church. Boston: Cowley Publications, 1992.
Chapman, Mark D. Liturgy, Socialism and Life. The Legacy of Conrad Noel. London: Darton, Longman, Todd, 2001.
Clutterbuck, Ivan. Marginal Catholics. Anglo-Catholicism: A Further Chapter of Modern Church History. Leominster,Hertfordshire: Gracewing, 1993.
Frere, W.H. A Commentary on the Rule of the Community of the Resurrection. .
_________. The Authority for Reservation.
Gore, Charles A. (editor). Lux Mundi. A Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation. New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1889. Headlam, Stewart D. The Laws of Eternal Life: Being studies in the Church Catechism. London: William Reeves, 1897. Anglo-Catholic Socialism.
. _________________. "Christian Socialism," from a Lecture to The Fabian Society, 1892. Anglo-Catholic Socialism.
Hopkins, Gerald Manley. Editor Catherine Phillips. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Hylston-Smith, Kenneth. High Churchmanship in the Church of England. From the Sixteenth Century to the Late Twentieth Century. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1993.
John, Jeffrey. Permanent, Faithful, Stable. Christian Same-Sex Partnerships. London: Affirming Catholicism, 1993.
Leech, Kenneth. The Social God. London: Sheldon Press, 1981.
McClain, Frank; Richard Norris; and John Orens. F.D. Maurice. A Study. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1982.
Mellor, Ted. "The Guild of Saint Matthew." Anglo-Catholic Socialism.
Moorman, J.R.H. A History of the Church in England. 3rd Ed. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1973.
Niebuhr, H. Richard. Christ and Culture (50th Anniversary Edition). San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2001
Noel, Conrad. An Autobiography. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1945.
___________. Jesus the Heretic. London: The Religious Book Club, 1940.
___________. Socialism in Church History. London: Frank Palmer, 1910.
Orens, John. "Dancing the Magnificat." Anglo-Catholic Socialism.
Pickering, W.S.F., Anglo-Catholicism. A Study in Religious Ambiguity. London: Routledge, 1989.
Sachs, William L. The Transformation of Anglicanism. From State Church to Global Communion. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Sedgwick, Jonathan. Why Women Priests? The Ordination of Women in the Apostolic Ministry. London: Affirming Catholicism, 1992.


[1] The term "Catholic" is used here inclusively, and comprises Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants insofar as they ascribe to the teaching of the Creeds and Councils of the Church. This paper will focus primarily on the social insights of Anglo-Catholicism.
[2] It is one of the chief insights of Catholic Trinitarian theology that persons can only be conceived in relationship to others. Person and individual are not synonyms. The essential relation is that of love.
[3] Kenneth Leech, The Social God (London: Sheldon Press, 1981), Praef. vii.
[4] C. FitzSimons Allison, The Cruelty of Heresy: An Affirmation of Christian Orthodoxy (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1994).
[5] Quoted in Leech, 21.
[6] The terms "churchmanship" and "churchmen," though ostensibly masculine, are meant to denote both men and women. The present writer has not encountered a suitably sonorous gender- inclusive alternative. Indeed, youth groups in the Episcopal Church are still sometimes identified as "The E.Y.C. (Episcopal Young Churchmen)" though comprised also of girls (and boys, for that matter).
[7] The present writer readily admits that the foregoing descriptions of the various modes of churchmanship are oversimplifications, and at best caricatures. Few churchmen would not subscribe to traits from each party, though in varying proportions. Such is the beautiful ambiguity of Anglicanism.
[8] W.S.F. Pickering, Anglo-Catholicism. A Study in Religious Ambiguity (London: Routledge, 1989), 15-40. The present discussion of terms regarding Anglo-Catholicism is largely a summary of Chapter 1, "What is Anglo-Catholicism?"
[9] "For the time, the rising tide of Puritanism is stemmed by William Laud, the martyr archbishop, who in season and out of season preached the doctrine of equality before the law, against the Puritan theory of immunity in the case of courtiers and gentlemen." Conrad Noel, Socialism in Church History (London: Frank Palmer, 1910), 224-225.
[10] Hence another pejoration, "Tractarianism."
[11] Newman eventually converted to Roman Catholicism, and thus became John Cardinal Newman. His notion of the development of doctrine was influential for both Roman Catholics and Anglicans in formulating historical theology.
[12] Hence yet another unfortunate moniker, "Puseyite."
[13] J.R.H. Moorman, A History of the Church in England, 3rd ed. (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1973), 363. The re-introduction of Eucharistic vestments is actually the achievement of the so-called Ritualist movement, a mid-Victorian phenomenon inspired by the Oxford Movement proper.
[14] Two "societies" were formed to fight for and against an Ornaments Rubric authorizing the Ritualists' preferences, the English Church Union and the Church Association, respectively. Interestingly, a popular and socially enlightened Ritualist vicar named A.H. Mackonochie, while selflessly serving the parish church of St. Albans, Holborn, was prosecuted and suspended for three months for using lighted candles and a mixed chalice as he celebrated Mass (Ibid., 367). Such was the bitterness felt by many (mostly Evangelicals) toward these "papist encroachments."
[15] Pickering, 25.
[16] Pickering distinguishes Tractarians from Anglo-Catholics by stating that the former refuse to pray directly to saints, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the grounds that it violates the Articles of Religion. Similarly suspect is the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. The Tractarians were quite circumspect to stay within perceived articular bounds. Anglo-Catholics, or Ritualists, had no such qualms, and these practices have achieved widespread prominence today, occasioning little resistance from any putative "Prayer Book conservatives." Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to locate such "Catholic Puritanism" today. Given the number of present parishes guilty of these "violations," one may infer with confidence that Anglo-Catholicism has reached a veritable hegemony within the so-called "high church" party. The Communion of Saints and the Real Presence are integral to a fully Catholic social theology.
[17] A notable exception here is the foundation of religious orders dedicated to helping the poor (cf. Moorman, 367-368).
[18] Alan Billings, "What Sort of a Society are We Envisaging Now?" in Living Tradition: Affirming Catholicism in the Anglican Church, ed. Jeffrey John (Boston: Cowley Publications, 1992), 71.
[19] illiam L. Sachs, The Transformation of Anglicanism. From State Church to Global Communion. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 208.
[20] Ibid., 208.
[21] Ivan Clutterbuck, Marginal Catholics. Anglo-Catholicism: A Further Chapter of Modern Church History (Leominster,Hertfordshire: Gracewing, 1993), 115.
[22] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, 50th anniv. ed. (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1950, 2001), 218-229. Niebuhr identifies four additional motifs: Christ against culture, The Christ of Culture, Christ Above Culture, Christ and Culture in Paradox.
[23] Ibid., 192-193.
[24] Ibid., 221-222.
[25] Ibid., 225.
[26] Ibid., 226.
[27] Frank McClain, Richard Norris, John Orens, F.D. Maurice. A Study (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1982), 61.
[28] John Orens "Dancing the Magnificat," based on a talk given to the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary Anglo-Catholic Socialism.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Stewart D. Headlam, The Laws of Eternal Life: Being studies in the Church Catechism (London: William Reeves, 1897) Anglo-Catholic Socialism.
[32] Stewart D. Headlam, "Christian Socialism," from a Lecture to The Fabian Society, 1892. Anglo-Catholic Socialism.
[33] Ted Mellor, "The Guild of Saint Matthew". .Anglo-Catholic Socialism.
[34] Ibid.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Ibid.
[37] Sachs, 216.
[38] Ibid.
[39] Billings, 73.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Kenneth Hylston-Smith, High Churchmanship in the Church of England. From the Sixteenth Century to the Late Twentieth Century (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1993), 224.
[42] Lux Mundi. A Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation, ed. Charles A. Gore (New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1890).
[43] It is this Anglican orientation with which the present writer finds the most affinity, having been active in a parish of that variety while living in the UK (St. Mary Magdalene, Parish Church of Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey). The vicar, the Rev. Julian Reindorp, a self-proclaimed Liberal Catholic and educated at Cambridge, was quite influential in this Anglican's theological development.
[44] Billings, 74.
[45] Hylston-Smith, 224.
[46] The Fabian Society was essentially secular organization, urging a gradual political shift toward socialism.
[47] It should not be construed that this was the first Anglican religious order since Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. There had already been an effective revival of monasticism during the Oxford Movement years (e.g. the Sisters of Charity, by Pusey in 1939, cf. Moorman, 367).
[48] W.H. Frere, A Commentary on the Rule of the Community of the Resurrection
[49] Ibid.
[50]] W.H. Frere, The Authority for Reservation
[51] Mark D. Chapman, Liturgy, Socialism and Life. The Legacy of Conrad Noel (London: Darton, Longman, Todd, 2001), 5.
[52] Conrad Noel, An Autobiography (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1945), 30.
[53] Ibid. 37.
[54] Ibid., 36. Noel even said the Roman Catholic bishop frequently went to All Saints to observe the latest Roman customs on the continent.
[55] Ibid., 37.
[56] Ibid.
[57] Conrad Noel, Jesus the Heretic (London: The Religious Book Club, 1940), 2.
[58] Regrettably, the Athanasian Creed (though admittedly probably not penned by Athanasius' own saintly hand) is now virtually forgotten among Anglicans and Roman Catholics like, though it was once said annually: at Mass on Trinity Sunday.
[59] For a brief history and schedule of events. As of this writing the next scheduled appearance will be on 15th May 2002, 8.15pm, at The Pheasant, Great Chishill. Regarding pubs, Conrad, ever the democratizer and scorner of Puritan prudishness, opined "if we could only get an English bishop to spend an occasional evening in an English tavern, not with the object of 'doing good' but of enjoying himself, I believe his testimony would be real value to the temperate and of no value to the teetotaler. In spite of all defects, the tavern possesses none of the exclusivism of private clubs, but is for all sorts and conditions of men." (from his essay "The Heresy of Teetotallers," quoted in Chapman, 10).
[60] Billings, 76.
[61] Ibid.
[62] Stated on their website. Though not affiliated with Affirming Catholicism, the following "Christian Left" site is also quite resourceful: http:// www.anglocatholicsocialism.org
[63] Jonathan Sedgwick, Why Women Priests? The Ordination of Women in the Apostolic Ministry (London: Affirming Catholicism, 1992).
[64] Jeffrey John, Permanent, Faithful, Stable. Christian Same-Sex Partnerships (London: Affirming Catholicism, 1993).
[65] Gerald Manley Hopkins, ed. Catherine Phillips (Oxford: Oxford University

The Revd Darryl Jordan is Assistant Curate at St Michael's Church, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, UK