One, Catholic, and Apostolic: Samuel Seabury and the Early Episcopal Church

Article excerpt

One, Catholic, and Apostolic: Samuel Seabury and the Early Episcopal Church. By Paul V. Marshall. New York: Church Publishing, 2004. 272 pp. $50.00 (cloth); $30.00 (paper).

Paul V. Marshall's book, One, Catholic, and Apostolic: Samuel Seabury and the Early Episcopal Church, assesses the first bishop from the perspective of the formation of American liturgy. It is the first major work on Seabury to emerge in over a decade. Marshall's thesis is based in the belief that it is impossible to study liturgy from the perspective of texts alone. Rather, he painstakingly recreates the complicated web of relationships among Seabuiy and his contemporaries, showing the varied motivations, ideologies, loyalties, and theology that governed them.

Marshall critiques the marginalisation of Samuel Seabury and his historical legacy. The bishop who emerges here is assiduous, tenacious, dedicated, and willing to withstand severe criticism for the sake of his vision of the church. As a high churchman in the tradition of the nonjurors and the Caroline Divines, Seabury believed that a valid episcopacy and three-fold ministry was integral to American Anglicanism.

Marshall's book makes several contributions to the historiography of Samuel Seabury. He highlights the extent of the "diversity without inclusivity" prevalent among North American Anglicans after the Revolution (p. 66). A variety of theological, cultural, and social perspectives and viewpoints existed simultaneously. In this context, Seabury believed that the episcopacy was divinely ordained, and that he brought a "purely ecclesiastical" episcopate to America "pure, valid and free" (p. 89). Marshall argues that Seabury s ecelesiology was inherently practical and focused on the needs of a new church.

The first three chapters of the book relate to revisionist interpretations of Seabuiy, the Connecticut church in the Revolution, and emergent American ecelesiology. Marshall argues that Seabury was most concerned with a church constitution "marked by catholic doctrine and worship" (p. 40). He asserts that Seabury based his ecelesiology and sacramental theology on Samuel Johnson, and focused on church government, the "apostolically ordered function of its hierarchy," and liturgical life. …