Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760

Article excerpt

The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760. By Colin Podmore. Oxford Historical Monographs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. xv + 332 pp. $85.00 (cloth).

This precise and groundbreaking study will be of interest to readers of this journal as much for what it does not tell about the Moravian Church as for what it does. Restricted to one period in the eighteenth century in England, this book understandably docs not tell us that it also constitutes an important and fascinating background chapter to the resolution proposed to the Episcopal Church's General Convention of 2003 for "Interim Eucharistic Sharing" with the Moravian Church in America.

That body, an aggregate of approximately 160 parishes and 50,000 members, has already been in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 1999. It is part of the worldwide church called "the Unity of the Brethren" or Unitas Fratrum, tracing their origin to the pre-Reformation reform movement of Jan Hus and his followers in fifteenth-century Bohemia. That church is understood to have opposed the selling of indulgences, while advocating communion in both kinds and insisting that the Bible, liturgy, and preaching all be in the vernacular. The church's official date of founding is 1457, and among their subsequent leadership are such illustrious personages as Zinzendorf, Comenius, and Jablonski.

The General Synod of the Church of England has voted a step toward "full visible unity" (as the English Anglicans now call it) with the Moravian Church in the United Kingdom (explicated skillfully in the Fetter Lane Common Statement of 1995), and the book now under review, written by the leading English Anglican expert on the subject, tells the fascinating, if chronologically limited, story of the Moravian Church in England from 1728 to 1760.

Drawing most importantly upon extensive manuscript collections (much in German), Podmore in this revised Oxford 1994 doctoral thesis has recounted the relationship of the Moravian Church to the great Evangelical revival in eighteenth-century England, especially as regards John Wesley and George Whitefield, as well as the responses of the Anglican bishops. …

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