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Difference between High Church and Anglo-Catholic and can Anglo-Catholics identify as Protestants?

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by Decanus, Apr 24, 2021.

  1. Decanus

    Decanus I don't even know anymore

    United Kingdom
    Whenever there is talk on Anglo-Catholicism Vs Evangelicalism, you often hear or read that one emphasises the Catholic nature of the Anglican church and the other emphasises the Protestant nature, but can (or are) Anglo-Catholics still considered Protestants? Do AC's see themselves as Protestant and would evangelicals accept them as Protestant?

    Also, what are the differences between Anglo-Catholic and high church? I understand AC is about theology whereas HC refers to liturgical practice, but what would you say makes them distinct from one another? What would AC or HC folk do that the other would not?
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  2. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

    United States
    Oriental Orthodox
    High Church is just a term that means that Church has a more formal liturgy, as far as vestments, incense, longer traditional prayers and full liturgy etc.

    Anglo Catholic tends to mean that the Church identifies more with the older Latin Catholic heritage when it comes to the the church service and maybe sacraments than it does to its Protestant heritage.

    The two are similar and almost synonyms , but High Church/ Low church is a little more generic. It is possible for instance to be High Church, but not as Anglo Catholic, some churches have borrowed from the Eastern Orthodox for instance, while some others emphasized Celtic tradition, and in Spain you got things like the Mozarabic mass for Spanish Episcopal/Anglicans, and technically speaking their are many "Divine Liturgies" around the World, so an Anglican in another country in Eastern Europe, Asia or Africa might have a Church service that looks more like that of an Eastern Church.

    For Example, the "Saint Thomas Christians" of Southern India, have been influenced by Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism but they previously were Syriac Orthodox (Indian) and before that were in the Assyrian Church of the East so they actually look like a Latinized version of their older heritages doing an Eastern liturgy in their own tongue but with Catholic looking vestments (but the color scheme is more Indian).
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
  3. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

    Getting back to the questions about Anglicanism, we have several different questions put on the table, and that makes an uncomplicated answer difficult. But as I think about the matter, I feel that Anglicanism (whatever term describes different parties or factions within the Anglican churches) is a spectrum.

    While we can generalize about Anglo-Catholicism or Low Churchmen, etc., the questions were more about individuals and their views. So, if it's to be about individual people, there are many different, usually only slightly different, answers that could be given. And if we look closer, we find that whatever "group" is being described, there are people there who are "a little more this" and others who are "a little more that."

    In other words, there are no firmly defined divisions because there are all sorts of crossovers in evidence. In addition, for most Anglicans, it doesn't matter much if other individuals lean towards more or less ceremony or differ from the next individual on practices and beliefs, so long as they are within the historic framework of Anglican Christianity.

    For myself, I incline towards the more "Evangelical" (but I rarely use that term myself) and "Low Church" side of things, but it doesn't bother me at all if there are fellow Anglicans who lean the other way, or are Lower (!) Church than I. In fact, I can appreciate a "High Mass" or lots of vestments (for example), if I'm visiting a church other than my own.

    This simply is not a matter of sharply separated and mutually territorial churches within a church. And I think that's how most Anglicans see it. As for who's Protestant and who's Catholic, my belief is that Anglicanism is unique in being both.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
  4. Anthony2019

    Anthony2019 Pax et bonum! CF Ambassadors Supporter

    United Kingdom
    I would say that "high church" refers to the style of worship, which is usually liturgical, and where the Eucharist is central. It may also include other things such as type of music (usually more traditional), vestments, and the use of incense during services. But is not as straightforward as it seems. I know many high church parishes that use modern versions of the liturgy, for example.

    Anglo-Catholic refers to members of the Anglican church who wish to preserve its Catholic heritage and identity, based upon the roots of the English church prior to the reformation. As a result, some of the beliefs of Anglo-Catholics are very closely related to Roman Catholicism, with an emphasis on the sacraments, Mariology, the intercession of the saints, a high view of the Eucharist, and many other things.

    Anglicanism is extremely diverse. Here in the UK, I have visited a wide variety of Anglican churches and all of them have different expressions of worship. Some of them are very traditional and others much more modern. However, our cathedrals and monasteries tend to be much more "high church" and I would say many of them lean more towards Anglo-Catholicism in their theology and practice.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
  5. Padres1969

    Padres1969 Episcopalian

    I think the division between Anglo-Catholic and High Church for me is very apparent just by virtue of the two congregations I worship with. My home congregation is High Church. The liturgy is formal but Episcopal Rite II (so modern vernacular), vestments, some incense, emphasis on the Eucharist, choir, organ. Having grown up Post-Vatican II Catholic I felt right at home the first time I attended as it was on the surface very similar to a modern Catholic liturgy (at least modern Catholic as of 20 years go). That said, the second church I attend on rare occasion is an Anglo-Catholic parish.

    Where my home parish superficially felt familiar to me coming in as a former Post-Vatican II raised Catholic, the Anglo-Catholic parish feels like going into a time machine back to Pre-Vatican II (sans most of the Latin). Episcopal Rite I (with all the thees, thys, etc..), Ad Orientem altar, even more incense, bells upon bells, great emphasis on the Virgin Mary, the Saints, Intercession, Confession before mass, greater emphasis on the Eucharist. I joked the first time I left with the priest that their church felt more "Catholic" than my childhood Catholic church (though it really wasn't a joke, it's a fact). While there are some similarities, High Church places far less emphasis on the more Catholic tenants and practices, particularly when you dig below the surface in my experience. It's also far more my cup of tea, but I still appreciate Anglo-Catholicism for it's beauty even if it's a little too Catholic for my personal taste.

    As for the OP's original question, yes I'd still consider Anglo-Catholics Protestant to an extent since they reject Rome, which at the core was the unifying trait of all early Protestants even if they had widely varied takes on theology. That said, as Anglicanism has always been a via-media, I honestly don't know if it's a requirement per se, even if as I said I think they'd still qualify under the most basic of definition of Protestantism.
  6. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

    United States
    There are Anglo-Catholics that don't reject Rome. They are called Anglo-Papalists. If they were allowed to remain in their marriages and celebrate their odd notions of an English Tridentine Mass, they would be Roman Catholic. This sounds a lot like the Ordinariates but a lot of the married clergy were not going to be approved for reordination and the Mass they got wasn't exactly what they had before.

    Most of these people would also prefer that the Pope go back to styling himself 'first among equals' (you know, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Patriarch of Moscow, Jerusalem, etc.).
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  7. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

    United States
    I identify as Anglo-Catholic of the High Church variety. As for me, I no longer identify as Protestant yet I am far from aligned with from Rome. "Via Media" says it best for me and I am content to stay in that 3rd, middle space.
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  8. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

    I knew some young guys like this in seminary, who hadn't married yet, and would have gone to Rome except they were clear they weren't up for a life of celibacy. All of them are now married Anglican priests. Whether they stay Anglican for the duration remains to be seen...
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  9. Sean611

    Sean611 Anglo-Catholic

    United States
    There are very few differences from a liturgical stand point when it comes to high-church vs. Anglo-Catholic as you noted. From a liturgical standpoint Anglo-Catholics might include more Marian elements/petitions in the service, but that is not always a guarantee. Furthermore, an Anglo-Catholic parish might differ from a high-church Protestant in terms of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and other practices/festivals. However, it is important to note an Anglo-Catholic parish could be anywhere from low, broad, to high-church (though they are generally high-church) with an emphasis on theology that is more in line with Roman Catholicism (though not Roman Catholicism). However, like all things Anglican, one must be careful as even Anglo-Catholics tend to not always agree amongst themselves on theological issues.

    Even though I worship at a continuing Anglo-Catholic parish and self identify as Anglo-Catholic, under a strict view (or perhaps a Roman Catholic view) of the term "Protestant" I would still be a Protestant as I reject the Roman Catholic understanding of the papacy, amongst other issues. I honestly have no idea of how other Christians would term Anglo-Catholics. I am not too concerned with whether someone thinks I am a Protestant or a Catholic. Anglican is a term I am quite comfortable with and I have very few issues with fellow traditionalist Anglicans who see things differently than me.