Little Bits of History

The Bangorian Controversy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2014
Benjamin Hoadly

Benjamin Hoadly

March 31, 1717: Benjamin Hoadly delivers a sermon entitled The Nature of the Kingdom of Christ to George I of Great Britain. The Bangorian Controversy had roots in the 1716 publication of George Hickes entitled Constitution of the Catholic Church, and the Nature and Consequences of Schism. Hickes had broken away from the Church of England after the Glorious Revolution. Hoadly, Bishop of Bangor, wrote a reply called Preservative against the Principles and Practices of Non-Jurors and his own way to test for truth. And then he was invited to give a sermon to the King.

On this day, he present his sermon based on the Biblical text John 18:36. This verse reads: “My kingdom is not of this world,” and using this documentation, Hoadly posited there was no Biblical justification for any church government of any sort. If the church is to be likened to anything, it is to be aligned as a kingdom of heaven. It is not of this world and Jesus did not delegate any authority to any Earthly representative. At the time, there were two visions of government. One side held that God appointed the king and the bishops to be leaders and imbued them with special grace to serve. The other side held that power flowed from the people to the leaders and that leaders were not intrinsically or innately better than those they led.

The sermon was published immediately and soon the furor of attacks and counterattacks erupted. Hickes, a Non-juror, had been dead for a year before his sermon was published and therefore unable to respond. Andrew Snape, Thomas Sherlock, and William Law all wrote their own treatises in the same year as the sermon’s first appearance. The first two were speaking from the position of the High Church while Law was a non-juror. The following year, Robert Moss’s High Church treatise led to Thomas Herne’s defense of Hoadly. Francis Hare, also High Church, published his Church Authority Vindicated in 1719, provoking Hoadly to one more response in 1720.

Hoadly was born in 1676 and became Bishop first of Bangor and then Hereford, Salisbury, and finally Winchester. He was educated at St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge and ordained in 1701. He dreamed of conformity of rites from the Scottish and English churches and the above debate took place early in his career. He became a leader of the low church and a spokesman for the Whig party. His adversary was Francis Atterbury, a spokesman for the high church and leader of the Tory party. This controversy was the high water mark of his career although afterwards he continued to publish sermons. He died in 1761 at the age of 84.

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. – Khalil Gibran

Really I feel less keen about the Army every day. I think the Church would suit me better. – Winston Churchill

I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death. – George Carlin

I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Also on this day: Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
How TALL Are You? – In 1889, the world’s tallest structure was inaugurated.
Spring Forward – Fall Back – In 1918, DST was first used in the US.
Virgin Territory – In 1917, the US takes possession of the Virgin Islands.

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