High Church

views updated Jun 11 2018


High Church is a term applied to the party within the Anglican Communion in general, and the Church of England in particular, that has sought to minimize the Protestantism of the Anglican Communion and to stress its continuity with the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages. It has fostered a "high" view of the nature of the Church, and especially since the 19th century, a reverence for retrieval of ancient liturgical usages and the acceptance of the sacerdotal nature of the ministerial priesthood. One of their earliest leaders was William laud, archbishop of Canterbury (163345). In the 17th century this group supported the theory of the divine right of kings as applied to the Stuarts, and the jacobites. Devotion to the latter cause led some into schism in the 18th century as nonjurors. In the 19th century the tradition was taken up by followers of tractarianism and the oxford movement. The High Church party, successors of the Tractarians, remain a distinctive group. Many of their clerical members have adopted Catholic practices on a large scale. Their Sunday Eucharist, for example, is practically identical to that of a Catholic Mass.

See Also: anglicanism; broad church; low church.

Bibliography: g. w. o. addleshaw, The High Church Tradition: A Study in the Liturgical Thought of the Seventeenth Century (London 1941). b. e. steiner, Samuel Seabury, 17291796: A Study in the High Church Tradition (Athens, Ohio 1971). r. b. mullin, Episcopal Vision/American Reality: High Church Theology and Social Thought in Evangelical America (New Haven 1986). k. hylsonsmith, High Churchmanship in the Church of England: From the Sixteenth Century to the Late Twentieth Century (Edinburgh 1993). r. d. cornwall, Visible and Apostolic: The Constitution of the Church in High Church Anglican and NonJuror Thought (Newark/London 1993).

[e. mcdermott/eds.]

high church

views updated May 23 2018

high church. Within the Church of England, the high-church party stresses continuity with the pre-Reformation church and holds a ‘high’ concept of the authority of the church, bishops, and sacraments. Originating in the resistance of certain churchmen to the protestantizing determination of Elizabethan and early Stuart puritanism, the term was first coined in the later 17th cent. High churchmen flourished under the later Stuarts because of their insistence on the divine right of kings. Despite successful political campaigns into the early 18th cent., they were doomed to disappear along with the Jacobite cause. Their theological and ecclesiastical opinions survived, to be rediscovered by the Oxford movement of the 1830s. Separated from the politics of succession, 19th-cent. high churchmanship emphasized the spiritual nature of the Church of England and its role in society. High-church influence on the Church of England encouraged a recovery of its intellectual life, especially the study of patristic and medieval history, liturgy, and ecclesiology. By the end of the 19th cent. high churchmanship was the dominant orthodoxy, despite court battles over the ritualist movement, which represented one aspect of it. Its success also contributed to bitter divisions between the high church or catholic grouping and the low church or evangelicals.

Judith Champ