This little book is filled with the most recent scholarship on the English Reformation. MacCulloch's thesis is that the Reformation that was underway under the reign of Edward VI was cut short by his death. Thus the developments of 1550 (Hooper's refusal to wear vestments) and 1552 (Cranmer's revised Book of Common Prayer)were as far as the English Ref was going to go. The Ref in England experienced "arrested development." Farther than that Elizabeth would not go. Thus all the Evangelical/Puritan/Presbyterian efforts of those who had been schooled under Calvin in Geneva or in Frankfurt during Mary Tudor's brief reign were thwarted as they attempted to take the Reformation further along continental lines desiring to make England as Reformed as Zurich or Geneva. Due to Elizabeth's resistance to further ecclessial innovation, reformation or renovation the English church remained an odd mixture of early continental Reformed thought encapsulated in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the somewhat more catholic sounding Book of Common Prayer of 1559, which was more "catholic" than Cranmer's 1552 version, and the simultanteous retention of a medieval Catholic church structure constituted of bishops, dioceses and parishes. The Elizabethan Settlement of 1559 satisfied almost no one initially, but brutal suppression of Roman sympathizers on the one hand and radical Puritans on the other brought about religious stability by the 1580s. The Elizabethan Church was a large tent where men and women of conflicting religous passions could worship in the same church. According to MacCulloch Anglicanism as we know it did not come into being until Richard Hooker enunciated its ethos in his "Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" quite late in Elizabeth's reign. In the 1590s men weened on the Elizabethan Settlement began to envision a High Church type of Anglicanism that would briefly flower under Charles I albeit with disastrous consequences. With the Restoration of 1660 the enigma known as Anglicanism never dared to define itself clearly as either Protestant or catholic thus making necessity a virtue.
This very fine little book is an excellent discussion of the Church of England during the Late Reformation, a period as vital to a proper understanding of Anglicanism as the better known reign of Henry VIII.
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