Episcopi Vagantes and the Anglican Church Paperback – 28 Feb 2006
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Top customer reviews
The jury is still out on judgement for Brandreth's work. First published in 1947, reprinted in 1961, Episcopi Vagantes is both a history and a polemic. The various denominations of Christendom have a history of `not playing nice together', and ironically, the closer in history, style, and general aspect of denominations, the harsher they are toward one another. One gets the sense here of the cliched explanation of why there is always more than one Baptist, Methodist, or other such church in town. One also recalls Swift, and the illustration of warfare over whether it was proper to crack the hard-boiled egg on the top or the bottom.
There are real issues at the heart of Brandreth's work. The term in the title of the book, Episcopi Vagantes, could be translated as vagrant bishops - these are people who have acquired or assumed titles without really having, in many cases, institutions or credentials to back them up. In the Old and Independent Catholic movements throughout the world, but particularly in North America, there is a nearly-inexhaustible diversity of bishops, archbishops, and metropolitans. One of the perennial criticisms of the Old and Independent Catholic movements is that these people often represent no one other themselves and perhaps a handful of followers. In a good number of cases, counting in human terms, this is correct.
This book has supporters - Henry Brandreth was granted access to archives at Lambeth Palace (an official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury), and one such archbishop praises Brandreth's efforts for `bringing light to bear on this obscure but not unimportant corner of ecclesiastical life.'
One of the problems that Old and Independent Catholics must admit, being honest historians, is that many people who have sought and been granted ministerial orders in the past have been unworthy of these; many have sought orders for personal gain, for personal glory, and sometimes for the ability to deceive or make mischief for their local Anglican, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox communities. Brandreth addresses the issue in his preface to the second edition, after having received commentary and feedback, often in the form of scathing criticism and attack, for the first edition.
Perhaps the most critical line in the entire book is found in this preface. `I believe all the episcopi vagantes to be ecclesiastically in error.' This small phrase sets the framework for the bias in this book. Brandreth admits in the preface that there are honest and true persons, of right intention and action, among this group. However, his admission of this is couched between statements that make it clear he doesn't want to give any individuals or groups the slightest credibility or legitimacy.
Why would a scholar and cleric of the Anglican church care so much about these? It is relatively rare in the course of Anglican history for the Anglican church to make pronouncements on the validity and legitimacy of other Christian bodies, save for purposes of official intercommunion. Perhaps the answer lies in the dealings of the Old Catholics themselves, who often proclaimed their validity as somehow more proper or valid than the Anglicans with whom they wanted to relate. One individual, highlighted in the book, Archbishop Mathew, may have misled the continental Old Catholics into believing that there was a great number of people desperately concerned with validity along historical episcopacy lines (although Mathew may have been more sinned-against than sinning, at least in his original intentions vis-a-vis situation in England); Old Catholics on the continent claim a stronger connection (not without its own controversy) with the See of Rome than the Anglicans maintain in many respects. Mathew's consecration and continuing ecclesiastical odyssey afterward (he ordained and consecrated many people, under different organisational structures and rubrics, during his decades-long tenure as a bishop) created a host of local problems for Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
In an era where communications were slow and verifications hard to do, it may have been difficult for local clergy to verify who had proper credentials. Ultimately, most Old and Independent Catholics did not find a welcome home with most Anglicans or Roman Catholics; sometimes there was open hostility, but more often an active ignoring of the situation.
The lists included in Brandreth's book trace lines of succession from Mathew, Vilatte, Ferrete, Herford, Aftimios, Duarte Costa, and various other lesser lines of succession. These lines have stretched all across the world, onto every continent. Various strands are in communion with each other, and others don't recognise anyone but themselves. Some Old Catholic bodies, such as the Philippine Independent Catholic Church, which arose out of missionary work by many who come from these lines of succession, boasts millions of members. Old Catholics in some places such as Puerto Rico have a good working relationship with local Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
In all, the book Episcopi Vagantes and the Anglican Church is a fascinating read. It must be taken as if one were reading one side of the arguments in a court case; the subtle way Brandreth attacks some of the Old Catholics is worthy of a study in and of itself. Yet, Brandreth does highlight many problems that continue to plague not only Anglican-Old Catholic relationships outside of Europe, but some of the problems that Old and Independent Catholics must recognise and attend to if their churches are to become effective and proper places of the worship of God.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
He wrote in the Preface to this 1947 book, "This small book had its origin in a Report I was asked to prepare some years ago on the subject of episcopi vagantes ["wandering bishops"]... it became obvious that most Anglicans had not even heard of the existence of such people. It seemed, therefore, that some general account of the subject might be of interest... [to] those charged with the administration of the Church ... should they ever have to deal with any of the persons of whom this book speaks... It is... a study which ought to be undertaken, since much of the harm done by these misguided men has been due to ignorance, on the part of Churchmen, of their true aims and position... all episcopi vagantes are not tarred with the same brush... I have come into contact with a number of them, and for some... I have come to cherish a personal liking and respect." (Pg. vii)
A Foreword by the Rev. Canon J.A. Douglas states, "They have had a single characteristic in common. One and all have declared themselves to be possessed of valid episcopal orders derived from an historic Church, the apostolic succession of which is accounted unchallengeable by Western theologians. And though their power to do so has been repudiated that by that Church, each and all of them have proceeded to confer what they claimed to be valid episcopal and other orders upon men who did not belong to that Church." (Pg. ix-x)
Brandreth says, "The episcopi vagantes of the present day are grouped into four main streams of succession, although others periodically arise, and after a brief time depart for the obscurity whence they came." (Pg. 2) He says of Bishop Arnold Harris Mathew, "There was really no uncertainty about Mathew's actual consecration at all, and there can be no doubt that his own Orders were valid, though there is grave doubt as to the worth of the acts of some of those in succession from him. The point which appears to have been in the minds of the bishops, however, as that these episcopi vagantes could not be regarded as having any Church behind them." (Pg. 4)
He notes, "The most widespread of the Mathew lines of succession is that of the so-called Liberal Catholic Church. This body is a curious offshoot of the Theosophical Society... The succession comes through Willoughby, and the whole movement was strongly condemned by Mathew himself... The movement is not Christian in any normally accepted sense of the world, but is a combination of Roman Catholic ceremonial and Oriental occultism... It claims that its succession descends from Mathew, but, owing to the esoteric nature of its teachings, grave doubt must be expressed as to the validity of its Orders." (Pg. 16-17)
Of the more recent revival of a succession from Julius Ferrete (a 19th century Dominican priest), he says, "This revival bases its claims on the assertion that by the consecration of Ferrete in 1866 the Metran of Homs gave authority for the setting up of autokephalous Syrian Churches in the West... The claims will not stand the test of investigation... the Metran of Homs does not himself possess authority to authorize the setting-up of autokephalous churches and, indeed, there is no evidence whatever that he attempted to do so." (Pg. 46-47) Of a pamphlet written by the group, Brandreth comments acidly, "This farrago of nonsense carries its own condemnation. So far as can be ascertained, no one prelate who had ever been in communion with the See of Antioch took part in this 'election,' which was conducted in a manner not in accordance with the Canons of that Church by a group of Englishmen whose connection with the Antiochene Patriarchate is, to say the least, a matter of dispute." (Pg. 49)
Although this book is very critical of these various movements, the modern reprinting of this book [by a publisher of many "independent" sacramental church books] is testament to its value as a historical resource. It will be of great interest to anyone studying "independent" Catholic/Anglican/Orthodox or other sacramental churches.
That being said, one may wonder why I chose to give this 5 stars -- and the reason is that this is one of the extremely few works documenting the movement in the first half of the twentieth century, and even reading between the lines of viciousness, one can learn a lot about the movement. The tables of apostolic succession are indispensable. I find that the footnotes contain a lot of very valuable information. Many of the bishops he listed would have been completely forgotten without him. Even much of the history he recounts is useful if distorted.
So order this book for your library, which won't be complete without it, and get yourself a box of salt to go with it.