5 DECEMBER 1952, Page 6

Protestant Catholics


tc ID me to live, and ',will live Thy Protestant to be," wrote Robert Herrick to Anthea; and as a tribute of personal fealty the word is innocent and complimentary. When trans- ferred to the realm of religious and theological disputation, however, it becomes at once controversial, and to some even contumelious. This aspect of its character has been emphasised recently by the discussion resulting from a sermon by the Bishop of Monmouth in Westminster -Abbey on the theme of the forthcoming coronation of Queen Elizabeth IL To be sure, the occasion was unfortunately chosen: for Her Majesty's coronation should be a means of uniting all her subjects in a common charity rather than of dividing them at the waters of strife. In justice to the preacher, however, it should be observed that a considerable part of his discourse (which did not attract the attention of the Press) was a fervent assertion of provincial -Protestantism, as expressed in the historic insis- tence by the dioceses of Wales of their independence against the claims equally of Canterbury and Rome.

Otherwise, indeed, it might have seemed that, if members of the Church' of England stood in need of instruction as to the character of their Church, the presenceon the English episcopal bench of the author of The Anglican, Tradition would have guaranteed the ripe historical wisdom necessary for the pur- pose. In view Of the ripostes provoked by the sermon however, it may not be unprofitable to consider, from the historical standpoint, the applicability of the contending epithets ;" Pro- testant" and " Catholic " to the Church of England anti' their occurrence in the coronation rite.

The gravamen of the Bishop of Monmouth's charge- would appear to be that "the Coronation Oath is a State document," the use of which to define the Protestant succession to the throne is imposed upon the Church; so that its definition, ," The Protestant Reformed Religion," ought not to be accepted by churchmen "as an accurate description of their faith." In the concluding sentence of the sermon, indeed, it is allowed that the Church of England is "both Catholic and reformed "; from which it may be inferred that the word " Protestant" constitutes the rock of offence. , With the contention that the Glturch of England conceives itself a trite branch of Christ's Holy Catholic Church there can be no quarrel. In Bishop Jewel's Apology, published 'in 1562, he pointed as proof of this to the retention by that Church of the Holy Scriptures, the three Creeds, the two Dominical Sacraments and the threefold Order of Ministry; and con- 'eluded that, by the Reformation and breach with Rome, "from the primitive Church, from the apostles, and from Christ we have not departed," but that „" we have forsaken the Church as it now is, not as it was in old times past." In the coronation rite itself the sovereign is invested with a ring, described as "the seal of Catholic Faith," so that " you may continue stead- fastly as the Defender of Christ's Religion.' The question, Itherefore, is not whether the Church of England• may be called "Catholic," but whether it may also rightly be 'considered to be "Protestant." • • Before examining this point, however, it may be useful to • observe that in an established Church the assent and concur- ' 'once of the constitutional authorities of both Church and .1 State are necessary to such public acts as the order of corona- , tion. The Bishop of Chichester's Randall Davidson, for example, makes it clear that the present form of the royal declaration (to be taken at the coronation if it has not been already made) was drafted by that archbishop himself on his own initiative at the accession of George V. To describe this therefore as purely a State document would hardly seem to fit the facts. Presumably, too, Archbishop Davidson, in fram, ing the form of word's in which the sovereign affirms, "I am a 4. Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge, faithful Protestant," did not intend to imply a repudiation of that epithet as applying to the Church of which the Queen is supreme governor. Similarly, not the declaration and oath only.; but the entire coronation rite (including the reference to the ring as "the seal of Catholic faith "), after being committed to the Primate for revision, if he think 4 that to be necessary, is submitted for the approval of the Committee of the Privy Council and then of the Queen in Council. The attempt to assert a dichotomy between Church and State in respect of this rite must therefore be challenged.

Futhermore, the Bishop of Monmouth averred that the phrase, "the Protestant Reformed Religion," in the corona- tion oath, was devised by the State in order to embrace both the' established Churches of England and Scotland (notwith- standing the fact, stressed by him, that the former is "not in communion" with the latter). But he omitted to mention that, when the Act of Union was debated in the English Parliament, attention was drawn to the absence of any provision for the security of the episcopalian Church of England, corresponding to the Act of Security for the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Whereupon Archbishop Tenison of Canterbury procured the inclusion of such a measure, the preamble of which declared its aim "that the true Protestant Religion, as presently possessed within this Kingdom, with the worship, discipline, and government of this Church, shall be effectually and un- alterably secured."

it is time, however, to consider the historical origin and meaning of the offending epithet, "Protestant," Indubitably it originated in the protest of certain German princes and cities at the Imperial Diet of Speier in 1529 against the decision of a majority to reaffirm the edict of the Diet of Worms. "It involved first and foremost," wrote Dr. J. P. Whitney, "a repudiation of the Papacy and Papal power in any shape. Historically such a repudiation is the meaning Of Protestant." In this sense, evidently, the Church of England is Protestant.

Similarly, the proper designation of the Lutheran Churches is taken from the Confession of Augsburg, to which they sub- scribe as their theological standard, not from the popular word coined to describe the minority at the Diet of Speier. It is unnecessary for the present purpose‘ to enquire into the varieties of usage of the word " Protestant " in relation to the Lutheran and Calvinist Churches of the Continent. But the Bishop of Monmouth would have done more to enlighten counsel if he had devoted some attention to its' historical meanings in English religious development. For example, during the seventeenth century in England the. antithesis of " Protestant " was not " Catholic " but "Papist." Thus Arch- bishop Sancroft repeatedly in official documents used " Papist " to describe members of the Church of Rome. Furthermore, " Protestant " became a middle term between " Papist " on the one side and " Puritan " on the other. It was in this context that Bishop Ken declared that he died "in the communion of the Church of England, as it stands distinguished from all papal and puritan innoyations." • Modern controversial manners have become more consider- ate and courteous since the rough and tumble of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century disputations; and the change has led to the desuetude of the term "Papist" and the substitution of "Roman Catholic." Assuredly there is no desire to return to former ways; but this is no justification for allowing it to be supposed that the opposite of " Protestant" is " Catholic" sans phrase. Accordingly Anglican divines of the seventeenth century did not shrink from the appellation of Protestant as ascribed to their Church. Indeed, at the very nerve-centre of controversy, in the Convocation of Canterbury in 1689, the upper and lower houses concurred in an address thanking William III for his zeal "for the honour, peace? advantage, and establishment of the Church of England; whereby we doubt not, the interest of the Protestant religion in all other 13rotestant churches . . • will 'be the better secured under the influence of your Majesty's Government and protection."

-The Bishop of Monmouth perhaps may suspect 6rchbishop Tenison as a latitudinarian and Whig; and even Archbishop Davidson as a diplomatist and politique. Probably however he would accept the verdict of the historian, Bishop William Stubbs, "that there ought to be no hesitation in admitting that the Church of England since the Reformation has a right to call herself, and cannot reasonably object to be called, 'Protes- tant' "; because that Church "relation to the See of Rome has maintained an attitude of protest." At least the martyred Archbishop Laud canhot be under any cloud of sus- picion, who in his last will testified : "I die as I have lived, in the true, orthodox profession of the Catholic Faith of Christ, a true member of his Catholic Church, within the communion of a living part thereof, the present Church of England "; and in his last words on the scaffold before execution likewise affirmed : "This is no time to dissemble with God, least of all in matters-of religion; and therefore I desire it may be remem- bered I have always lived in the Protestant religion established in England, and in that I come now to die."

No churchman of the Anglican allegiance need find difficulty in following Laud's acknowledgement of his Church as histori- cally both Catholic and Protestant. Nor is there any contradiction between the investing of the sovereign in the coronation rite with the ring, "the seal of Catholic Faith," and the royal declaration, "1 am a faithful Protestant "; and the loyal subjects of Queen Elizabeth II will pray that in both these complementary capacities she may long be preserved to "Continue steadfastly as the Defender of Christ's Religion."