ST 710: Anglican Ecclesiology: The reality of Christian division from the 16th century to Lambeth 2020

Christopher Wells, PhD

Course Description

This course seeks to identify and analyze the main streams of Anglican thought about the one Church of the creeds. Our inquiry will combine historical and theological aspects, holding each accountable to the other: historical descriptions will be placed in conversation with normative principles from Scripture, ecumenical consensus, and authoritative doctrinal formulae, while constructive solutions will be held accountable to events and commitments of the past and the present. We will note the reality of Christian division since the 16th century, set within the patristic context of St. Augustine of Hippo. In this way, we will learn the main lineaments of traditional Western ecclesiology and be able to evaluate the plausibility of a divinely-given Anglican vocation.


The course is divided into three parts. The first is built on the foundation of St. Augustine of Hippo's incomparably influential theology of the Church Catholic, drawn from his richly scriptural and doctrinal engagement of Donatism and its associated consequences and lessons. With Augustine in hand, we will sift similarities and differences between two foundational figures of the classical Anglican period, John Jewel (Apology of the Church of England) and Richard Hooker (Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity), and examine the 39 Articles, in order to set forth the contours of several, distinctive and nascent "Anglicanisms." Part two of the course charts the emergence of a wider Anglican "communion" beyond England along the same Augustinian lines, with special attention given to the contribution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. The founding texts of the Episcopal Church, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, and the towering Lambeth Conference of 1920 will be called upon to illustrate the decided pull of catholicism, turned outward in hopeful service to the whole Church. The final stage of the course alights on the ecumenical transformation of Anglican ecclesiality in the latter part of the 20th century, with special attention to the Anglican-Roman Catholic international dialogue (ARCIC) and its reception by the councils of the Communion. The now-familiar Augustinian grammar and lexicon will again guide our examination of contemporary Anglican discernments about faith and order, and propose some means of holding together both catholicity and apostolicity. Achievements of recent Lambeth Conferences and hopes for the Lambeth Conference 2020 will feature prominently at the end.

Course Dates

January 20 - January 24

Day / Time


Winter Program

Course Type



There are no prerequisites for this course.

Additional Information

There is no additional information for this class.


New, Auditing & Visiting Students
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Current Students
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