Talk:Latitudinarian

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A note from the author: this article is intended to be more historical than anything. The term "latitudinarian" is still used, but it has triumphed effectively to such a point that there is no longer a point in calling it a challenged movement. Therefore, there is little discussion of who is a latitudinarian today. That's why the historical development of the movement stops in the 19th century. After that, discussions will be limited, probably, to individual divines who were against it, rather than on how the philosophy emerged. Geogre 13:14, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC) In other words, everyone is much more latitudinarian today than they were, so no one much mentions it as a remarkable thing, unless they're somehow against it. Geogre 00:46, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I had always thought that a Latitudinarian upheld uniformity and establishment in England, but allowed diverse theological views and interpretations within the Church of England, so that there would be no justification for Protestant or Catholic non-conformity. Without a monopoly on religion, the modern equivalent becomes broad church or big tent. --Henrygb 17:06, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

I think we agree. Initially, it was somewhat like Hooker's "things indifferent," except that this has to be understood historically. At the time of that statement by Hooker, the was no separate Protestant Church operating within England, so statements about latitude regarding the Calvinist (and Knoxian) innovations were attempts to maintain a single docrinal integrity while allowing some ecclesiastical difference. (Hooker, of course, was not in favor of much latitude; he argued that the episcopacy is the only fit way, but he pressed the argument on latitude to suggest that no one is going to Hell over the presence or absence of a Bishop or allegiance to the King as church head.) Anyway, the 18th c. expression gets weaker, as the issue of latitude is about whether or not you consecrate ministers who disagree with the King's role in the church, whether or not you allow communicants who might go out and preach that the local bishop is Satan's pawn, etc. I didn't mean to suggest that it was indifference about the practice of Catholicism or adherence to a non-CoE doctrine. If the article is unclear, please help clarify it. Geogre 19:26, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

George, you asked for corrections so I changed the closing bit on ecumenism. It is not about drawing all religions together that is the inter-faith movement, and it does tend to de-emphaises doctrine. The ecumenical movement is about bringing the churches together and is as you state likely to take a more positve view of doctrine. MnJWalker

I see the distinction you were making, and I certainly have no problem with it. It does make the article clearer. What is now bothering me is the number of contexts where 20th century historians use "latitudinarian" to mean, basically, "philosophical rather than religious" or "deist." The problem, I think, comes from the Cambridge Platonists. They weren't any one thing. Some of them, like More, were quasi-semi-philosophical, and others were just what might be called semi-Pelagian. The term evolves to mean "latitude" in church practice, but I'm worried that someone hitting the term in the Isaac Newton article won't understand that its meaning there is different from its meaning in an article on, say, George Eliot. Geogre 09:51, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Unofficially official 18th c. polity?[edit]

Can the line "While always officially opposed, the latitudinarian philosophy was, nevertheless, dominant in the 18th century in England." be clarified? It seems to imply that the whole country was adopting the position whereas (as I understand it) it more or less passed by most of the population. --Cherry blossom tree 22:24, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm not exactly sure your distinction. The point here is that the CoE didn't approve it (the Convocation was in abeyance, for one thing), but the theologians crept ever so silently nearer to it every day. Further, the nation's churches were full of extreme (the infamous divisions of "High and crazy, low and lazy, broad and hazy"), so the governing stance was tolerance, which is, de facto latitudinarianism if not de jure latitudinarianism. I.e. the common person on the pew was probably more latitiudinarian than any single divine, because he had the "that's good for them what wants it" view, whereas the divines who were forced to take a position would have not approved of official tolerance. There are a lot of factors for latitudinarianism in the 18th c. One was the dangers of extremism shown by the Jacobite and Cromwellian violence. One was the rationalist spirit, whatever that was, that informed, for example, Pope's popular argument that man cannot scan God (Essay on Man). One was the Hanoverian kings, who were fairly low church but couldn't get that point into force against Lords. One was the continual emergence of new protestant sects that attacked the church from the left. One was the resurgence of Deism.
Am I making sense? Is there a way, from that ramble, that you can see to improve the sentence, and I'd be happy to see it clarified. Geogre 00:41, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
I think the most obvious point is that this article could easily be several times longer than it is! I suppose I'm referring to the common person on the pew (and even the common person not on the pew but whose religious ideas were in some way informed by Christian traditions.) You could argue that these people were subconsciously extremely latitudinarian but I don't think that this was a position they adopted either in the sense that it didn't come from considering the theology or in that they took up this line in the 18th century - I seem to remember that they had always had something of a freewheeling attitude towards church doctrines. It's a while since I read about this, though, so feel free to tell me to run along if I'm completely wrong. --Cherry blossom tree 19:29, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Sure, although I'd say these things were a result of the era when they took such matters very, very seriously. London in 1700 had riotous groups demanding that all priests be disallowed, as the Bible said you should call no man 'father,' others still saying that even a painting in a church is idolatry, others saying that all those people were obvious servants of Satan, etc. I.e. things were very hot. The "good sense" we associate so firmly now with John Bull was sort of a consequence of John Bull having numerous domestic disputes. People of low and high church really did read different newspapers, vote for different parties, and go to different restaurants from each other. Against all of that strife, the voices of "I'm confused, so I don't care" and "all is one" and the older "these are things indifferent" began to take center stage, and that coincided with a king who was interested in defusing the situation and with an emergent philosophical tradition, so it took. It took root so deeply that it's hard for us today to remember what an innovation it was. England didn't take the official tolerance of Holland, but it allowed its own state church to be pretty flexible, all things considered. (Sorry, I'm writing like a popularizing historian, here.) Yes, the article could be much, much longer. I'm an 18th c. Britain historian and a dabbler in theology. What we need is a theological historian to add to it. She or he could find all the thinkers who formed philosophy or reacted to it -- besides Hooker, I mean. Geogre 20:53, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Sorry this has taken a while. I accept your argument. The people I was referring to, though, wree in the very lowest section of society who didn't vote or read newspapers and so on. Having re-read the original sentence, however, I think the reference to "the Latitudinarian philosophy" implicitly establishes what I wanted it to establish, so I'm happy to leave it (after wasting quite some time on it. Enjoyably, though.) --Cherry blossom tree 22:39, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Ah, well, those people.... I don't agree with the argument that latitudinarianism made England seek out and embrace Methodism and George Whitefield's preaching, but it is a tempting argument. (I'd rather go all Marxist and suggest that enclosures, transportation revolutions, and disruptions to country economies introduced by industrialism made the people ready for Methodism.) All the same, the very local level and the illiterate appear to have been the folks filling out the ranks of the protesters, either way -- both the 'loyal' troops of The '45 and the angry mob of the Gordon riots or Porteus riots -- but the way they're portrayed by such persons as Henry Fielding suggest that most were, as you say, vague in doctrine and zealous in tradition. Geogre 01:12, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

18th Cntry USA[edit]

"For the 18th-century English church in the United States (which would become the Episcopal Church after the American Revolution), latitudinarianism was the only practical course since it was a nation with official pluralism"
  • Pluralism was only official in the US federally. At the state level, state religions continued both in law & in custom into the 1800s --JimWae 07:47, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, yes, but the point I was aiming for is that non-congregational churches, and in particular the Church of England in the US, that would have been the same thing: it was a national church -- a move from Church of England to Church of the United States -- and so it would have had the same bias. Would you say that established religion was common in the states? I see those states as very much the exception, as most were pluralist (particularly the mid-Atlantic and southern states). Geogre 13:04, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

"For the 18th-century English church in the United States (which would become the Episcopal Church after the American Revolution), latitudinarianism was the only practical course since it was a nation with official pluralism" I would like to see more about what Latitudinarianism has more recently evolved into in the U.S. and the push back from conservatives. Actually, how viable is it now? Dale Matson (talk) 14:45, 24 December 2012 (UTC)