Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The English Reformation: Religion and Cultural Adaptation

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The English Reformation: Religion and Cultural Adaptation

Article excerpt

The English Reformation: Religion and Cultural Adaptation. By Norman Jones. Oxford and Maiden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 2002. xv + 253 pp. £17.99/$35.95 (paper).

How did it come about that, during the sixteenth century in England, "a nation of habitual Catholics turned into Protestants" (p. 2)? Investigating this question has energized historians of Tudor England, generating in recent years a wealth of books overflowing with new data, fresh perspectives, and conclusions that stimulate new research. Jones addresses this question through analyses of institutional and intergenerational dynamics, focusing on people's practical responses to situations in which they found themselves. His aim is to describe "the creation of post-Reformation English culture" (p. 1). Since the creation of that culture coincides with the emergence of early Anglican identity, the insights that Jones presents are relevant for the formation of the seminarians I teach as well as for others concerned about living as faithful Anglicans today. Fortunately, the book's engaging narrative style makes it accessible, and its substantial selected bibliography invites further inquiry.

For readers who are not conversant with recent historical scholarship, Christopher Haigh's English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993) may serve as a useful point of orientation for understanding Jones's contribution. Haigh concluded that, at the end of Elizabeth's reign, religion in England was fractured. Alongside nostalgic adherents to traditional religion, godly Protestant Puritans, and Recusants devoted to Counter-Reformation Catholicism, stood the "parish Anglicans," who got along by going along with whatever was imposed upon them. Jones presents a deeply nuanced description of what it meant for particular people and groups to get along in this fractious century. They got along by balancing, in the multitude of particular cases that comprise life together, the claims of personal conscience with the fundamental value of communal harmony. …

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