The Cambridge Movement: the Ecclesiologists and the Gothic Revival

The Cambridge Movement: the Ecclesiologists and the Gothic Revival

The Cambridge Movement: the Ecclesiologists and the Gothic Revival

The Cambridge Movement: the Ecclesiologists and the Gothic Revival

Excerpt

For a century now, a single type of church building has been regarded as most appropriate for worship according to the Book of Common Prayer. Within this time, most of the Protestant denominations in the English-speaking world have also adopted this variety of church. Few factors have so profoundly influenced the worship of the Anglican Communion and the Protestant denominations as the type of church devised and propagated by a group of undergraduates at Cambridge University during the early years of Victoria's reign. That this particular liturgical arrangement could survive in an age when most Victorian architecture is uncritically rejected, is proof that it has so successfully altered liturgical patterns that resistance to it seems futile.

Yet resistance there now is, though still quite rare. After decades of building churches with the full neo-medieval arrangement, a few liturgical scholars have begun to question its basic suitability. There can be no mistaking the fact that the Cambridge Camden Society was actuated by distinct theological presuppositions, especially about the doctrines of the ministry and the sacraments. The reluctance of its members to engage in open theological debate never concealed from their contemporaries the fact that these men held a definite theological position.

Twentieth-century liturgical scholars of such differing backgrounds as Jungmann, Dix, and Brilioth have shown clearly that the Middle Ages were not the apex of Christian worship that an earlier generation supposed them to be. Indeed, the Cambridge Camden Society chose as its ideal a period when the common worship of the entire Body of Christ was realized much less than at many other periods in the Church's history. For the . . .

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