Anglican Futures: Anglican Alphabet Spaghetti

Anglican Futures Anglican Alphabetti Spaghetti A dummies guide to the plethora of organisations and acronyms linked to faithful Anglicans in the UK and Europe. I once spent some time around military personel.  Everything had its own TLA (Three Letter Acronym) right...

Canterbury Tales: Favourite Bible Stories Retold by Archbishop Justin Welby

Canterbury Tales Favourite Bible stories retold by Archbishop Justin Welby The Good Samaritan A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead, halfway...

Anglican Mission in England Elects Two Suffragan Bishops

Anglican Mission in England Elects Two Suffragan Bishops The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) met in Synod on 18 June.  While there, they elected two suffragan bishops to aid Bishop Andy Lines in providing episcopal oversight for the overall work.  Bishop Lines also...

Pride Flags Causing Conflict at Christian School

Pride Flags Cause Conflict at Christian School Conflict has broken out in a Christian school in Oxfordshire over the display of “Pride” flags. The institution in question is Kingham Hill School.  The same Trust (Kingham Hill Trust) oversees Oak Hill College, an...

Prayer Book Society Raising Funds to Put BCPs in the Hands of Choristers

Prayer Book Society Raising Funds to Put BCPs in the Hands of Choristers The Prayer Book Society, which will soon celebrate its 50th Anniversary, is raising funds to put a special edition BCP into the hands of junior choristers around the nation.   The idea came to...

Book Review: Reimagining Britain by Justin Welby

Reimagining Britain Foundations for Hope Justin Welby Bloomsbury, 2018, new edn. 2021 (ISBN: 978-1-4729-8497-5, 322pp, £12.99) The Archbishop of Canterbury has made several notable political interventions recently, including over ‘partygate’ and the Rwanda deportation...

Birthday of Anglicanism in America

Birthday of Anglicanism in America By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins June 16, 1607 was the birthday of Anglicanism in America. On this day Captain John Smith and 104 others celebrated the Lord’s Supper when they arrived safely in Jamestown, Virginia. Jamestown was the...

Barnabas Fund Report: Two ChiBok Girls Found

Barnabas Fund Reports Two Chibok Girls Found After 8 Years 24 June 2022 Two women, who were among hundreds of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the Nigerian town of Chibok eight years ago, have been found. Hauwa Joseph was discovered among a group of other...

New Bishop-elect for the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory

Church of Ireland News New Bishop Elected for Cashel, Ferns & Ossory The Church of Ireland diocese of Cashel, Ferns, and Ossory now has a bishop-elect.  The Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross was elected to succeed the Rt Revd Michael...

Editorial: Lessons to be Learned from the American Pro-Life Movement

Editorial Lessons to be Learned from American Pro-Life Movement Friday, 24 June 2022, the Feast of St John the Baptist, will be a date which will live in infamy amongst the supporters of abortion.  On that date, the US Supreme Court, overturned the precedent set by...

The History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland

The History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland

From the first century to the twenty-first

Gerald Bray

Apollos, 2021 (ISBN: 978-1-78974-120-9, 693pp)

Throughout his long academic career Bray has ably straddled both doctrine and ecclesiastical history, so it is no surprise that the author of God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology (2012) should now offer a comprehensive synoptic treatment of British church history. Without a doubt, this volume will rank as one of definitive importance not only within the author’s legacy, but among histories of Britain generally. 

The choice of setting is significant. The British Isles (which Bray very modishly describes as ‘the North Atlantic archipelago’) currently consist of five main political entities across four ‘nations’. The various twentieth century devolutions of political power from Westminster belie the complexity which always underlay the unitary and imperial British state. Bray unfolds the religious experience of each nation in both distinction and mutual tension; a feat not regularly attempted by a profession often more interested in individual national or regional accounts. Moreover, the British context is not only of local import, but of international. As the Protestant world looks back to understand its own genesis, though it may cast one eye at the northern Germanic lands, it cannot fail but to turn the other to these islands, from whence so many global denominations have sprung. 

To be successful, any work of this scope must stand atop a multitude of learned shoulders and seek to synthesise a plethora of histories. Bray achieves this with aplomb, drawing insight from Andrew Atherstone, Colin Buchanan, Owen Chadwick, Patrick Collinson, A.G. Dickens, Eamonn Duffy, Sarah Foot, William Gibson, Stephen Hampton, Bruce Hindmarsh, Jonathan Israel, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Judith Maltby, Henry Mayr-Harting, Maurice Powicke, Janina Ramirez, Nicholas Sagovsky, J.J. Scarisbrick, Peter Toon, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Carl Trueman, Nicholas Tyacke, and Nigel Yates. Bray is himself a careful archival scholar, having edited the records of convocation and written extensively on the development of church canons. This book capitalises on the best of the past two generations of such scholarship and formats it in a wonderfully accessible, pleasurably readable, and commendably faithful tome. 

Even in a book of this length, to survey two millennia of church history in a zone as exceptional as the British Isles, is demanding. Inevitably, many developments are addressed economically, though there are few which fail to receive at least a paragraph of treatment. Readers with specialist interest in particular eras may spot the glosses, but cannot fail but to be impressed by the careful and balanced manner in which they are handled.

Bray aspires to ‘help us understand who we are, where we have been, and where we may be going’. The book serves readers at many levels of attainment and interest in this regard. It may be hoped that, more than this, it may serve in the great aspiration Bray lays before us that ‘at any moment [the faith] may burst forth in glorious flame and sweep all before it’.

Edward Keene, Little Shelford