World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Broad church

Article Id: WHEBN0000803787
Reproduction Date:

Title: Broad church  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Anglicanism, High church, Low church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, Thomas Arnold
Collection: Anglican Churchmanship, Anglican Theology and Doctrine, Christian Terminology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Broad church

Broad church is a term referring to latitudinarian churchmanship in the Church of England in particular and Anglicanism in general. The term is often used to refer to secular political organisations, meaning that they encompass a broad range of opinion.


  • Usage 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4


After the terms high church and low church came to distinguish the tendency toward ritualism and Anglo-Catholicism on the one hand and evangelicalism on the other, those Anglicans tolerant of multiple forms of conformity to ecclesiastical authority came to be referred to as "broad". The expression apparently originated with A. H. Clough and was current in the later part of the 19th century for Anglicans who objected to positive definitions in theology and sought to interpret Anglican formularies in a broad and liberal sense.[1] Characteristic members of this group were the contributors to Essays and Reviews, 1860, and A. P. Stanley.[2] As the name implies, parishes associated with this variety of churchmanship will mix high and low forms, reflective of the often eclectic liturgical and doctrinal preferences of clergy and laity. The emphasis is on allowing individual parishioners' choice.

Broad church as an expression is now increasingly replaced by references in the Church of England to liberalism. For example, Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, in his "text of reflection" The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today, released in 2006,[3] described the three "components in our heritage" as "strict evangelical Protestantism", "Roman Catholicism" and "religious liberalism", accepting that "each of these has a place in the church’s life". These would broadly correspond to the low church, high church and broad church parties in the Church of England. It has been suggested that "broad" tended to be used to describe those of middle of the road ceremonial preferences who leaned towards liberal Protestantism; whilst "central" described those who were theologically conservative, but took middle way in ritual. Broad churchmen might best be described as those who are generally liberal in theology, often culturally conservative, but also supportive of a broad, that is, comprehensive Anglican Church including Evangelical Anglican, "Middle of the road" or "vanilla Anglicans" or "central churchmen", liberal or "progressive" Anglicans, moderate high churchmen, and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans (though not fundamentalist on the one extreme nor papalists on the other). It is not possible to draw sharp lines between some of these traditions.

In the Episcopal Church in the United States, the term "broad church" has a slightly different connotation, referring to those whose ceremonial practice is neither high nor low church. Theologically, they may be either conservative - equating to Central Churchmanship in the Church of England - or liberal, which would identify them with the broad church or liberal strand within the Church of England.

The term has also been used with regards to political parties, particularly the Labour Party (UK) and New Labour.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Cross, F. L. (1957); p. 199
  2. ^ Cross, F. L. (1957); p. 199
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Matthew Worley (2009). The Foundations of the British Labour Party: Identities, Cultures and Perspectives, 1900-39. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 2.  

Further reading

  • Cornish, F. W. (1910) The English Church in the Nineteenth Century. 2 vols. London: Macmillan (particularly relevant are: vol. 1. pp. 186-96, 299-316; vol. 2, pp. 201-44)
  • Cross, F. L. (ed.) (1957) The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. London: Oxford U. P.; Broad Church, p. 199.
  • Jones, Tod E. (2003) The Broad Church: Biography of a Movement Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0739106112
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.