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A Little Deviation From Their "Christian" Root 

 

"They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." 1 John 4: 5-6 

According to The History of The Park and its Spiritual Heritage, theirs is a long history with many well-known names associated with them. The Park is declared to be ecumenical.

The House:"...There has been a house on the site since the 15th century. From 1777 to 1857 it was owned by the Thornton family and in 1784 was known as Mugger-hanger Lodge....Both Godfrey and his son Stephen Thornton were directors of the Bank of England and Godfrey became Governor. Because of this and its proximity to London, it is a natural place in which to hold consultations on City ethics. The Thornton Institute, a school of ethics, was set up in 1997 which will hold residential courses at Moggerhanger House, when finished. We have permission to use the Thornton family name and crest on the letterhead of the Thornton Institute..." http://www.personal.u.net.com/~the-park/NewFiles/mhpthistory.html

Spiritual Heritage:

"The first ever Christian martyr in England was St Alban. Moggerhanger is in the diocese of St Alban's, although The Park itself is ecumenical"

The Encyclopædia Britannica Online article on Saint Alban states that this man is venerated as a Saint by the Church of England, which also holds a feast day in his memory every June 17, instead of June 22, which was the day he supposedly died. 

Alban was a Roman who was killed when he hid and then switched clothes with, a priest. "...His tomb was venerated, and a church had been built on the site as early as 429. Later, the Abbey of St. Albans was founded there, and around it grew the town of St. Albans. " 29   

Update: "MASONRY IN ENGLAND...medieval operative masons in England regarded Charles Martel as one of their patrons and included him in the traditional history. The traditional history continues with an allegorical account of the establishment of masonry in England and the fixing of good rates of pay. Briefly, it says that England was pagan and had neither masonry nor the ancient charges until the time of St Alban, when a worthy knight who was chief steward to the king constructed the town walls. He is said to have cherished the masons for their good work, on which account he obtained from the king and his counsel a charter, naming the masons an Assembly. He also gave them charges and doubled their wages, which previously had been only a penny a day throughout the whole land." 

"The early background to St Albans is worth recounting. St Albans is the successor of the important Roman-British town of Verulamium, which according to the records of the Roman historian Tacitus may have been one of the few examples in Britain of a municipium, wherein the inhabitants had the same rights as the citizens of Rome. The town owes its name to St Alban, a Roman soldier who was the first Christian martyr in England, beheaded in 303 for giving refuge to St Amphibalus, the priest who had converted him to Christianity. In about 793 Offa, the king of Mercia, founded a Benedictine abbey in honour of St Alban. It rose to such great power end wealth that its abbot was the premier abbot in England from 1154 to 1396. Another contemporaneous legend says that the emperor Gordianus (244-238 BC) sent many architects into England, and that they constituted lodges and instructed the craftsmen in the true principles of freemasonry. It also says that a few years later, when Carausius (293-287 BC) was emperor in Britain, he was a lover of the craft and appointed Albanus as Grand Master of Masons, who employed the fraternity in building the palace of Verulamium. Despite the obvious discrepancies in the dates, it is a fact that architecture and the craft of masonry were first encouraged in England during the third century and that the earliest masons came from Europe." 

"In the light of the early history of St Albans, it is not surprising that its establishment features in the traditional story of the origins of operative masonry in England. Some researchers are of the opinion that the increase in wages attributed to the time of St Alban was the increase that came into effect after the period of the Black Death, the bubonic plague that swept through Asia and Europe and reached England in 1348. ..." 

"The traditional history concludes with the legend of an Assembly held at York in 926 during the reign of King Athelstan, whose half-brother Edwin (often called his son), had learnt geometry and the mason's craft, then prevailed upon the king to issue a Charter for the masons and a Commission to hold an annual Assembly. There is no known record of the Assembly, but a tradition handed down for many centuries often has a basis in fact. In any event, the continuing association of York with masonry began with the conversion to Christianity of the Northumbrian king, Prince Edwin, by his Kentish wife. He was baptised on Easter Day 627 by Paulinus, the first Bishop of York, in a wooden chapel on the site of the present Minster. The Venerable Bede, a renowned historian who lived in the Jarrow monastery on Tyneside from 682 until his death in 735, records that Edwin replaced the chapel with a stone church which became the centre of the Bishopric, but it was burned down about 741 and replaced by a magnificent stone church ruined around 1080, following the Norman Conquest. After progressive rebuilding, the York Minster was erected between 1220 and 1474." [by W.M. Don. Falconer of Sydney, Australia;  Masonic Essays;
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/8291/donfr.html  Masonry in England (don7.html#8)]

The History of The Park and its Spiritual Heritage continues:

"...The area has many Christian associations. Moggerhanger was in the Parish of Blunham, a neighbouring village, until 1860. One of the incumbents at Blunham being the poet John Donne (1572-1631). There is a Thornton family mausoleum at Blunham church. Bedfordshire is also Bunyan country and John Bunyan (1628-1688) would have called at all the houses in the neighbourhood..."

The Thornton family has always had Christian connections. Henry and John, who were cousins of Godfrey and Stephen Thornton at Moggerhanger, were members of the Clapham Sect, and known associates of Wilberforce and later Shaftesbury. All members of the sect were also involved in the Bible Society from its foundation in 1804. In fact the Thornton family have been involved in CMS, the Bible Society, the church, and banking down through the centuries...John Newton (1725-1807) and William Cowper (1731-1800) were not far away in nearby Olney. Mrs Dawkins who lived at the house with her husband the Revd Edward Henry Dawkins, built the parish church of Moggerhanger, St John the Evangelist, in 1860 in memory of her husband...MHPT plan to restore the house and grounds to their former glory with the help of English Heritage, other grant making trusts, and those in God's kingdom throughout the nation." [Bolding added] http://www.personal.u.net.com/~the-park/NewFiles/mhpthistory.html

The Clapham Sect was an Anglican Evangelical social/political group, who were in essence, Reconstructionists to Dominionists.  The Sect, whose spiritual direction came from John Venn (1759-1813), a rector of the Clapham Holy Trinity Church, was mainly composed of wealthy Anglicans who had their homes in Clapham. The group was originally called "the Saints" with leading figures including William Wilberforce, Granville Sharp, Henry Thornton, Hannah More, James Stephen, Zachary Macaulay, the father of Thomas Macaulay and many more.

The Encyclopædia Britannica Online records, "... Many were members of Parliament, where, in addition to their abolitionism, they worked for prison reform, prevention of cruel sports, and the suspension of the game laws and the lottery. They supported several missionary and Bible societies, financed Hannah More's schools and pamphlets, and published their own journal, The Christian Observer... They believed in the preservation of the ranks and orders within society and preached philanthropic benevolence from above. To the poor they offered religious instruction and improvement in manners..." 30.    

The John Venn mentioned is not to be confused with a later John Venn (1834-1923), a possible relative, who was a Priest but later left the church, was a lecturer at Cambridge University, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the 1887 Society for Psychical Research (SPR). 31 

William Wilberforce was the acknowledged leader of the Clapham Sect. He was a close friend of the Thorntons and actually lived with the family for a time. When he married, he and Henry Thornton lived on the same estate in different homes. Henry's estate was the base for many of the Clapham Sect's meetings. William was also a close friend of the future prime minister, William Pitt the Younger. 

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Wilberforce, "...began to support parliamentary reform and Roman Catholic political emancipation, acquiring a reputation for radicalism that later embarrassed him, especially during the French Revolution, when he was chosen an honorary citizen of France...From 1815 he upheld the Corn Laws (tariffs on imported grain) and repressive measures against working-class agitation... He and his associates--Thomas Clarkson, Granville Sharp, Henry Thornton, Charles Grant, Edward James Eliot, Zachary Macaulay, and James Stephen--were first called the Saints and afterward (from 1797) the Clapham Sect, of which Wilberforce was the acknowledged leader..." 32. 

Many view the beginning of Evangelical Protestantism as emerging with John Wesley in 1738. From there it spread into the Church of England with the help of the Clapham Sect. Just as Jacob Prasch aligns with Clifford Hill and his associates, who derive doctrine from those who reject Jesus Christ, so to the Clapham Sect and the "Evangelicals."

In 1783, George Fox's Quakers presented the first substantial anti-slavery petition to Parliament and played a prominent role in the Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1787 Anglicans, Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson formed the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, with the help of the Quakers. Their committee was composed of twelve members, nine of which were Quakers. Charles Grant (chairman of  East India Co.), John Wesley, Josiah Wedgwood and William Wilberforce also gave their support to the campaign. The Exeter Hall group was another source of evangelical political pressure groups with Exeter Hall being the building where the missionary societies held their meetings. 33

In the book, A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948, the authors note the allegiance of evangelicals and the Clapham Sect with other groups to achieve their political goals. 

"The long uphill campaign first against the slave-trade and then against slavery as an institution on British territory, waged for thirty years by William Wilberforce  (1759-1833), Charles Grant, Zachary Macaulay and their friends owe much to the group of Church of England Evangelicals, christened from it's habitat "The Clapham Sect"; but "those remarkable men of Clapham could never have attained their goal without the help and support of Methodists, Quakers and other Evangelical dissenters. "My staunchest allies," as Wilberforce called them."34.  

The Church of England developed three groups with slightly conflicting beliefs. Anglican Evangelicals were essentially those who adhered to the Protestant rather than the Catholic heritage of the Anglican Communion. These beliefs were generally part of the "low" churchmen "because they give a "low" place to the importance of the episcopal form of church government, the sacraments, and liturgical worship. The term Low Church was used by about the end of the 17th century, although this emphasis within Anglicanism was evident since the time of King Edward VI (1537-53)." 35. "High" churchmen are those that give a "high" place to the importance of the episcopal form of church government, the sacraments, and liturgical worship and are often called Anglo-Catholics. 

The Evangelical movement actually "...began within the Church of England in the 8th century, although it had many points in common with earlier Low Church attitudes and with 16th- and 17th-century Puritanism. The followers of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, eventually left the Church of England, but many with very similar beliefs remained within the established church...[Those] Included among the Evangelicals' many leaders were the influential Clapham Sect...In the 19th century the Evangelicals opposed the Oxford Movement...In the 20th century they were influenced by liberalism and the new, scientific methods of studying the Bible... Some continued to stress the verbal inspiration and accuracy of the Bible and became known as conservative Evangelicals. Others, a much larger group, accepted the new learning and became known as liberal Evangelicals. In general, they continued as the Low Church party within the Anglican Communion." 36.  

The Oxford Movement or High church movement spawned the Anglo-catholic movement, which, "...sought to renew Catholic thought and practice in the Church of England. The term Anglo-Catholic was first used in some of the writings of leaders of the Oxford Movement who wished to demonstrate the historical continuity of the English (Anglican) Church with Catholic Christianity...Anglo-Catholics have continued to be an important force within the Anglican Communion." 37. 

The Broad Church was the third faction in the Church of England. It, "represented "broad" views and eschewed narrow expressions of doctrine as practiced by Anglo-Catholics (or High Churchmen) on one hand and anti-Roman Evangelicals (or Low Churchmen) on the other. Broad Churchmen in the 19th century...were liberal figures in the Anglican church with decidedly intellectual, rather than political, interests. At the turn of the century they were leaders of the Modernist movement, which demanded "a modern creed for modern man." Broad Churchmen brought to the United States the British Christian Socialism that transformed the socially conservative Episcopal church into a leading exponent of the Social Gospel." 38. 

UPDATE~ Sunday May 21, 2000: "SENIOR Church of England clergy are to join Druids and pagans at a controversial conference...The conference, Spirit of the Land 2000, is described as "a Christian-Druid dialogue and reconciliation meeting for the new Millennium". It is being held against a background of growing interest in New Age religion and white magic. Organisers of the event include Emma Restall Orr, the joint chief of the British Druid Order, the Rev Marcus Small, a vicar in Hertfordshire, and the Dean of Guildford, the Very Rev Alexander Wedderspoon...a number of clergy already participated in joint Christian and pagan services, but there was still too much ignorance and hostility. Mark Graham, of the Pagan Federation, which represents Druidry, wicca and sharmanism, said: "Some pagans believe in magic, just like some Christians believe in the power of prayer and miracles." "We celebrate our connectedness to nature and I will sometimes dance naked around a fire. They aren't doing much dancing around a fire naked at matins or evensong but perhaps they should. Perhaps they will like it." "...The day-long conference at Amesbury, Wiltshire, in June, will be chaired by Rosemary Hartill, the former BBC religious affairs correspondent. Speakers include Martin Palmer, a former adviser to Prince Philip, and Ronald Hutton, a professor of history at Bristol University. The event will end with a Christian service and a Druid ceremony in which a green-robed priestess will make offerings of bread and mead..." [Alarm Over Church Talks With Druids', Jonathan Petre, Sunday, May 21, 2000; Issue 1822, Electronic Telegraph; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ >http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000140326]

~end update~

The Episcopal Church is well known for it's liberal views. According to the article, "Protestant Episcopal Church,"

"... In points of doctrine, worship, and ministerial order, the church descended from and has remained associated with the Church of England...When the American War of Independence began in 1775, there were about 300 Church of England congregations in the 13 colonies. The church suffered persecution and a decline in membership during the Revolution, because all of the clergymen had taken an oath of allegiance to the crown at the time of their ordination, and many of them were Loyalists who were forced to flee to Canada or England. Some, however, supported the Revolution...William White...proposed that congregations form themselves into an American church that would continue the spiritual legacy of the Church of England but would otherwise separate from it...In the 19th century the church expanded westward through the work of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (organized in 1820)...In later years the promotion of liberal theology, biblical criticism, the Social Gospel, and the ecumenical movement lessened the tensions between the High [Catholic leanings] and Low [Protestant leanings] Church attitudes...Unlike some other Protestant churches, however, the Episcopal Church avoided schism." 39. 

 

Next Section:

The Clapham Sect, The Ghost Society & The Word of God

Previous Section:

Jacob Prasch  & The Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research

 

Footnotes:

29. "Alban, Saint" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

30. "Clapham Sect" Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

<http://members.eb.com/bol/topic ?eu=24547 &sctn=1 &pm=1> [Accessed 13 April 2000].

31. http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Venn.html

32. "Wilberforce, William" Encyclopædia Britannica Online. <http://members.eb.com/bol/topic ?eu=79007 &sctn=1 &pm=1>
[Accessed 13 April 2000].

33. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/REevangelical.htm 

The Evangelical Movement  & Clapham Sect,

34. A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948; Ruth Rouse & Stephen Charles Neill; Editors; Philadelphia, West Minster Press, 1954

35. "Anglican Evangelical" Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

<http://members.eb.com/bol/topic ?eu=7670 &sctn=1 &pm=1> [Accessed 13 April 2000].

36. "Anglican Evangelical" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

<http://members.eb.com/bol/topic ?eu=7670 &sctn=1 &pm=1>[Accessed 13 April 2000].

37. "Anglo-Catholicism" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

< http://members.eb.com/bol/topic ?eu=7676 &sctn=1 &pm=1> [Accessed 13 April 2000].

38. "Broad Church" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

<http://members.eb.com/bol/topic ?eu=16786 &sctn=1 &pm=1> [Accessed 13 April 2000].

39. "Protestant Episcopal Church" Encyclopædia Britannica Online. <http://members.eb.com/bol/topic ?idxref=217822 &pm=1> [Accessed 13 April 2000].

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