Project Canterbury

The Continuity of the Church of England
Before and After Its Reformation in the Sixteenth Century,
With Some Account of Its Present Condition.

Being a Course of Lectures Delivered at S. Petersburg in the Official Residence of the Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod to Audiences Consisting for the Most Part of Members of the Orthodox Church of Russia

by the Rev. F. W. Puller
Of the Society of S. John the Evangelist, Cowley

New York: Longmans, 1913.


IT seems right to put on record in this Preface the circumstances which directly prepared the way for and led up to the delivery of the course of lectures which here appears in book form.

That a Priest of the Church of England should be invited by a diocesan Bishop of the Orthodox Russian Church to give a course of lectures on the English Church to members of the Russian Church, and that the Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod should arrange that those lectures should be delivered in his official residence, are events which do not happen every day, and they are events which betoken such a degree of friendliness towards the English Church on the part of high Russian authorities both ecclesiastical and civil, as would have been scarcely thought possible a little while ago.

No doubt for a great many years past there have been influences at work preparing the way for a rapprochement of the Russian and English Churches. Among ourselves good work has been done by Mr. William Palmer and by Mr. George Williams, and by Dr. Neale and by Mr. W. J. Birkbeck and others; and there have been visits of Russian and Greek Bishops to England and of Anglican Bishops to Russia and to the Greek-speaking countries of the nearer East.

But there can be no doubt that the idea of forming a Russian Society for the promotion of friendly relations between the Churches of Russia and England was very largely due to the good work done by the Anglican and Eastern-Orthodox Churches Union, a society founded in England in July, 1906. Of this society the Rev. H. J. Fynes-Clinton has been the Honorary General Secretary from the beginning, and during the six years of its existence it has spread into many different parts of the world. One of its two Presidents is Archbishop Agaphangel of Vilna and Lithuania, and four other Russian Bishops are on the roll of its members.

It was however felt that, if the movement was to spread on any large scale in Russia, it was desirable that a Russian society should be formed with its centre in Russia; and accordingly a scheme for the formation of such a society with a constitution and rules was drafted by certain influential and zealous Russian Churchmen living in S. Petersburg, and this scheme was submitted to the Holy Synod along with a petition to the Synod that the scheme should be sanctioned. The sanction of the Synod was granted just at the time when four of our Bishops, namely the Bishops of Wakefield, Bangor, Exeter, and Ossory, were paying a visit to Russia, and were being entertained most hospitably by the authorities in Church and State. The meeting at which the new society came into existence was held in February, 1912, in the official residence of the Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod, and at that meeting a number of persons were enrolled as members. Bishop (now Archbishop) Eulogius of Kholm was elected President, and a committee was formed.

At the first meeting of the committee it was determined that a Priest of the English Church should be asked to give a course of lectures on the Church of England in S. Petersburg; and in due time the President of the Society, the Bishop of Kholm, caused to be sent to me an invitation to come to S. Petersburg and there give a course of four lectures on the subject selected, the first lecture to be given on the evening of Ascension Day, and the three other lectures respectively on the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the following week. With the consent of my Superior General I gratefully accepted the invitation, and in due time, after receiving the blessing of my Bishop, I left England along with Mr. Fynes-Clinton on Monday, the 29th of April (N.S.), and travelling via Berlin and Warsaw reached Moscow on Thursday, the 2nd of May (N.S.), which day according to the Old Style used in Russia is reckoned as the 19th of April.

We remained at Moscow eleven days, and spent a very enjoyable time in that most interesting city. We were graciously received in audience by Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, and at her invitation were shown over every part of the Convent of nursing and teaching Sisters, of which she is both Foundress and first Mother Superior. We were able to have interviews and in some cases long conversations with three of the Suffragan Bishops of the diocese of Moscow, and with the Archimandrite of the Tchudoff Monastery, and with other distinguished clergymen and laymen belonging to the Orthodox Russian Church. Unfortunately we were unable to see the Metropolitan of Moscow, as he was absent from his Cathedral city at the time of our visit.

On the evening of May 13 (N.S.) we left Moscow and arrived the next morning at S. Petersburg. After breakfasting at the house of Monsieur Nicolai de Lodygensky, we visited first the Bishop of Kholm, the President of the new Russian Society, and then his Excellency, Monsieur V. Sabler, the Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod, who, besides many other gracious acts of kindness, invited me to give my lectures in his own official residence.

These lectures were given on the days which had been fixed for them, and the number of those who attended them was exceedingly encouraging. That number varied from about 200 to about 300. The larger part of those who attended were Russians, but there was also a fair number of members of the English colony in S. Petersburg. The lectures were delivered in English, but they were interpreted sentence by sentence into Russian by Monsieur de Lodygensky, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Russian Society which through its President had invited me to deliver the lectures.

I need say nothing more here about these lectures, because they are printed in this book as they were delivered, with the exception that, to keep the length of the lectures within due limits, some few passages, which stood in the manuscript and find a place in this book, were omitted in the delivery.

It may however be well to remind English readers that I was not addressing an audience of specialists in English Church History, but a mixed audience consisting mainly of Russian lay people, though with a fair sprinkling of Russian ecclesiastics, and I had therefore to assume that most of my audience had very elementary ideas about the Church of England. This book is therefore not a book giving the results of learned research, but is intended to be a popular, though I hope accurate, account of the Church of England in her continuous life from the sixth century to the twentieth, special attention being paid to the events of the sixteenth century, when the enemies of our Church try vainly to make out that there was a breach of continuity.

When I wrote the lectures, I had no idea of publishing them in English, though I thought it possible that I might be asked to allow them to be published in Russian. As a matter of fact, they are going to be published in Russian. But it has been represented to me that the lectures deal with a subject which would interest many English readers, and might be of real use to some of them; so I have determined to publish them not only in Russian, but also in English.

I am indeed very sensible that there are matters which ought to be treated in a book of this sort, and which nevertheless are not treated here. I cannot pretend that the book contains an exhaustive discussion of its subject. But I was limited to a course of four lectures, and I preferred to discuss what seemed to be the most important points with some measure of fullness, rather than to treat a large number of points inadequately.

I am not professing to give in this Preface a full account of my visit to S. Petersburg, which lasted sixteen days; but there was one discussion held with a number of the Professors attached to the S. Petersburg Spiritual Academy, which seemed to be so fruitful in its results, that I cannot pass it over in silence. The meeting was held in one of the apartments occupied by the Bishop of Kholm, and he presided, there being also present Bishop Innocent of Yakutsk. The subject proposed for discussion was the Eternal Procession of the Holy Ghost, about which, as is well known, endless controversies have been carried on between the Eastern and Western divisions of Christendom. The very distinguished Professor Brilliantoff acted on this occasion as the principal speaker on the Russian side; and he began the discussion by asking me what meaning was attributed by the Church of England to the Filioque clause in the Constantinopolitan Creed. [In the Eastern form of the Creed it is stated that the Holy Ghost "proceeds from the Father." In the Latin and English forms it is stated that He "proceeds from the Father and the Son" (Filioque).]

I commenced my reply by reminding the assembly that in the course of the third Action of the second Council of Nicaea (A.D. 787) the Letters of enthronization sent by S. Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Hadrian of Rome and to the three other Patriarchs were read; and that in those letters the assertion is made that the Holy Ghost proceeds "from the Father through the Son" (ek tou Patros di Huiou) [Coleti, Concilia, ed. Venet., 1729, viii. 812.]; and that immediately afterwards the replies sent to S. Tarasius by the representatives of the three Eastern Patriarchal sees were read, expressing the joy of the writers at the orthodoxy of S. Tarasius's letters; and that finally the synodic letters of Theodore, Patriarch of Jerusalem, were read, in which letters the Holy Ghost is confessed as proceeding eternally " from the Father," no mention being made of His Procession through the Son. [Op. cit., col. 825.] A protocol was afterwards entered in the Acts of the Council to the effect that the whole Council consented to and received the definition of orthodoxy of the most holy Ecumenical Patriarch, Tarasius, which had just then been read, and also the reply sent to S. Tarasius by the representatives of the other Eastern Patriarchal sees, and the synodic letters of Theodore of Jerusalem. [Op. cit., col. 841.] I pointed out that these facts make it clear that the second Council of Nicaea synodically approved the formula which speaks of the Holy Ghost as proceeding from the Father, and it also approved the formula which speaks of the Holy Ghost as proceeding from the Father through the Son. The Council evidently saw no reason why both these formulas should not be accepted. And, when we remember that there have been Eastern theologians who have repudiated the formula "ex Patre per Filium," and when we also remember that the second Council of Nicaea is reckoned by the whole Eastern Church among the Ecumenical Councils, the approbation given by the Council to the formula "ex Patre per Filium " appears to be a decision of the highest importance.

I went on to say that the theologians of the Church of England repudiate all idea of there being more than one arche or Fountain-head of Deity. [Bishop Edgar Gibson of Gloucester well sums up our English teaching in his explanation of the fifth Article (The Thirty-nine Articles edit. 1908, p. 213).] The Father alone is the primary Source from whom the Son proceeds, and He alone is also the primary Source from whom the Holy Ghost proceeds; but in the Eternal Spiration of the Holy Ghost the Son intervenes with a certain mediating co-operation, so that the Holy Ghost proceeds eternally from the Father through the Son, and therefore in a sense it may be said that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. In other words, our English theologians regard the formula "Filioque" as equivalent to the formula "Per Filium."

[Cf. S. Greg. Nyss., Quod non sint tres Dii--ad Ablabium, circ. fin.; P.G., xlv. 133.

[On this subject I would venture to urge the instructed reader to study the illuminating Etudes de Théologie Positive sur la Sainte Trinité by Père de Regnon. See, for example, the third and fourth chapters of his Etude xxii. (vol. iii. pp. 130-150) and many other passages of his masterly work.

[Tertullian, the very fountain-head of the theological language of the West, admirably combines the ideas of the "Filioque" and the "per Filium." He says (Adversus Praxean, cap. viii.):--"Tertius enim est Spiritus a Deo ct Filio, sicut tertius a radice fructus ex frutice, et tertius a fonte rivus ex flumine, et tertius a sole apex ex radio. . . . Ita Trinitas per consertos et conexos gradus a Patre decurrens . . . monarchiae nihil obstrepit" (Corp. Scriptt. Eccll. Latt., Vindobon., xlvii. 239).]

Professor Brilliantoff then said that my explanation was entirely in accordance with the teaching of the Orthodox Eastern Church.

Afterwards the question of the insertion of the Filioque clause into the Constantinopolitan creed by the English and other Western Churches was raised.

In regard to that matter I stated by way of preliminary that the Church of England makes no complaint against the Eastern Church for adhering strictly to the Creed as it was sanctioned by the Council of Chalcedon. The English Church accepts the Council of Chalcedon as an Ecumenical Council, and the Creed as sanctioned by that Council is therefore for us also an Ecumenical document of the highest authority. But the Council did not put forth the Creed as a formula to be used in the Liturgy of the Altar. At the time when the Council of Chalcedon was held, no Creed was said in the Liturgy. When we introduced the Creed into the Liturgy, we were not bound to introduce it in the exact form in which it was sanctioned by the Council. Moreover, both in the West and in the East it had been customary for local Churches to add clauses to Creeds of very high authority. In the West the Apostles' Creed is the Creed which is used at Baptisms and on most other occasions when a Creed is used; it is not, however, used at the service of the Altar. Now the Apostles' Creed is the Creed of the early Roman Church, and was probably composed not later than during the first half of the second century. Yet local Western Churches on their own authority added clauses to it. Thus in the fourth century or earlier the Church of Aquileia added to the Apostles' Creed the clause about the descent of our Lord into Hades. [Cf. Rufin., Commentar. in Symbol., §§ 14, 18; P.L., xxi. 352, 356. Whether the clause originated at Aquileia I do not know.] And in the fifth century or earlier the Gallican Churches, or some of them, added the clause about the Communion of Saints. [This clause did not get into the Roman Creed until later, but it is found in the Creeds of Niceta of Remesiana and of S. Jerome as early probably as the fourth century (compare Dr. A. E. Burn's text-book, The Apostles' Creed, pp. 41, 43).] Yet no complaints were raised by the Roman Church or by other Western Churches on account of these clauses having been added. On the contrary some centuries later these additions were accepted by the Roman Church herself and ultimately by all the Western Churches. Similarly in the East, the original Nicene Creed was put forth by the most venerable and most authoritative of all the Ecumenical Councils, namely the Council of Nicaea. [In putting on paper the statement which I made to the Conference about the interpolation of authoritative Creeds in the East, I have corrected an inaccuracy into which I fell, and have set forth the evidence somewhat more fully than I did at S. Petersburg.] For a time that was the only Creed which had received Ecumenical sanction; yet the local Churches of the East felt quite free to use their own traditional local Creeds, and to enlarge them by inserting clauses taken sometimes from the Nicene Creed and sometimes from other sources. There seems good reason to believe that the Constantinopolitan Creed is really the Creed of the Church of Jerusalem enlarged about the year 363 by S. Cyril of Jerusalem, and quoted eleven years later by S. Epiphanius in the H9th chapter of his Ancoratus. [See Dr. Hort's Two Dissertations, 1876, pp. 73-97, and Dr. A. E. Burn's text-book, The Nicene Creed, pp. 27-29. P. G., xliii. 232. The Ancoratus was published in 374, seven years before the Council of Constantinople, the second Ecumenical.] This enlarged Creed of Jerusalem is almost word for word the same as the Creed which we now commonly call the Constantinopolitan Creed. The original Nicene Creed had been interpolated at Constantinople and perhaps elsewhere, with additional clauses before the time of the Council of Chalcedon, [Compare Hort (Two Dissertations, pp. 112-115).] and it is recited in the Chalcedonian definition in an interpolated form. [For example, in the Nicene Creed as quoted by the Council of Chalcedon, the words "of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary" are interpolated after "was incarnate"; and the words "and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate" are interpolated after "and was made man "; and the words "of whose kingdom there shall be no end " are interpolated after "to judge both the quick and the dead." I give these merely as specimens, for there are several other interpolations beside some omissions. Compare Mansi ii. 668 with Mansi viii. 109, 112.]

All these facts make it quite clear that local Churches in the fourth and fifth centuries, that is to say in the age of the great Fathers of the Church, felt themselves at liberty to add clauses to the Creeds which they had inherited from earlier times, or which they had received from Ecumenical Councils. And if this is granted, why should it be regarded as ultra vires for the Churches of England, Spain, Gaul, and Germany, and finally for the Church of Rome, to add the Filioque clause to the Constantinopolitan Creed? Of course a local Church has no right to add a heretical clause to any Creed. But it has already been admitted that the Filioque clause, if it is regarded as equivalent to the formula, Per Filium, is not heretical, but is perfectly orthodox.

At the close of the Conference the presiding Bishop, the Bishop of Kholm, authorized me to tell my audience at my lecture in the evening that, though the Russians and the English differ in the wording of their respective formulas, yet the Conference had, after hearing explanations, concluded that the two Churches are agreed as to the substance of the teaching concerning the Eternal Procession of the Holy Ghost.

It is much to be hoped that the good work which the newly formed Russian Society has begun will go on and prosper, and finally in God's good time result in the re-establishment of intercommunion between the Churches of the Eastern Communion and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. But if this blessed consummation is ever to be reached, both sides will need to be actuated by a peace-making spirit, ready to recognize substantial unity amid superficial diversity, and many prayers will have to be offered, and many opportunities for friendly intercourse will have to be secured and utilized.

For more than eight centuries and a half the separation has lasted; but God is evidently creating now in both Communions a desire for re-union; and He who has begun this good work will know how to bring it to a successful issue, unless we mar His loving designs by lack of zeal or other unfaithfulness.

"For the welfare of God's holy Churches, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord." [From a diaconal suffrage which occurs more than once in the Liturgy of S. Chrysostom.]


September 28, 1912.

Project Canterbury