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low church

low church. As against the high-church view of the Church of England, low churchmen minimized continuity with the medieval past and the role of bishops and sacraments. Their views owed more to the reform of the 16th cent. but were often described in the late 17th and 18th cents. as ‘latitudinarian’. Politically, they favoured the revolution settlement and were generally Whig in sympathy. Therefore, the accession of the Hanoverians brought them into the ascendancy and also into the political machine. Theologically they represented a liberal arminian view, opposed to calvinism which developed in one direction in Wesleyan methodism. The term passed out of use until the 19th cent. when it was recovered in contrast to the high-church views of the Oxford movement. By then it had taken on some of the characteristics of the evangelical revival and shed its lukewarm latitudinarianism. To counter the tractarian influence, low churchmen and evangelicals often made common cause with the increasingly popular protestant nonconformist congregations. Whereas the high-church emphasis was on salvation within the divinely appointed church through a sacramental system, the low church emphasized personal salvation through individual conversion and close attention to Scripture as the inspired word of God. Low-church worship was consciously anti-ritualist and held fast to the Book of Common Prayer.

Judith Champ

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Low Church

Low Church: see England, Church of.

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