1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bangorian Controversy

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BANGORIAN CONTROVERSY, a theological dispute in the early 18th century which originated in 1716 with the posthumous publication of George Hickes's (bishop of Thetford) Constitution of the Christian Church, and the Nature and Consequences of Schism, in which he excommunicated all but the non-juring churchmen. Benjamin Hoadly (q. v.), the newly-appointed bishop of Bangor, scented the opportunity and wrote a speedy and able reply, Preservative against the Principles and Practices of Non-Jurors, in which his own Erastian position was recommended and sincerity proposed as the only test of truth. This was followed by his famous sermon, preached before George I. on the 31st of March 1717, on The Nature of the Kingdom or Church of Christ. In this discourse "he impugned the idea of the existence of any visible church at all, ridiculed the value of any tests of orthodoxy, and poured contempt upon the claims of the church to govern itself by means of the state." He identified the church with the kingdom of Heaven—it was therefore "not of this world," and Christ had not delegated His authority to any representatives. Both book and sermon were reported on by a committee appointed by the Lower House of Convocation in May, and steps would have been taken by the archbishop and bishops had not the government stepped in (Hoadly denied that this was at his request) and prorogued Convocation till November. Hoadly himself wrote A Reply to the Representations of Convocation and also answered his principal critics, among whom were Thomas Sherlock (q.v.), then dean of Chichester, Andrew Snape, provost of Eton, and Francis Hare, then dean of Worcester. These three men, and another opponent, Robert Moss, dean of Ely, were deprived of their royal chaplaincies. Hoadly was shrewd enough not to answer the most brilliant, though comparatively unknown, of his antagonists, William Law. Though the controversy went on, its most important result had already been achieved in the silencing of Convocation, for that body, though it had just "seemed to be settling down to its proper work in dealing with the real exigencies of the church" when the Hoadly dispute arose, did not meet again for the despatch of business for nearly a century and a half. (See Convocation.)