Broad church is latitudinarian churchmanship in the Church of England
in particular and
Anglicanism in general. The term is often used for
secular political organisations, meaning that they encompass a broad
range of opinion.
2 See also
4 Further reading
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
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. Characteristic
members of this group were the contributors to Essays and Reviews,
1860, and A. P. Stanley. 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
Broad church as an expression is now increasingly replaced by
references in the
Church of England
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, 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 liturgical preferences who leaned theologically
towards liberal Protestantism; whilst "central" described those who
were theologically conservative, but took the middle way in terms of
liturgical practices. 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 Anglicans, "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
In The Episcopal Church in the United States, the term "broad church"
has a slightly different connotation, referring to those whose
liturgical practice is neither high nor low church. Theologically,
they may be either conservative—equating to Central
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.
^ Cross, F. L. (1957); p. 199
^ Cross, F. L. (1957); p. 199
^ Williams, Rowan (27 June 2006). "The Challenge and Hope of Being an
Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of
the Anglican Communion". Dr. Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of
Canterbury. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
^ Matthew Worley (2009). The Foundations of the British Labour Party:
Identities, Cultures and Perspectives, 1900-39. Ashgate Publishing,
Ltd. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-7546-6731-5. ; ; Gerry
Hassan (2004). The Scottish Labour Party. Edinburgh University Press.
p. 25. ISBN 978-0-7486-1784-5. ; Paul Corthorn;
Jonathan Davis (24 October 2007). British Labour Party and the Wider
World: Domestic Politics, Internationalism and Foreign Policy.
I.B.Tauris. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-85771-111-3. ; Dick
Richardson; Chris Rootes (16 January 2006). The Green Challenge: The
Development of Green Parties in Europe. Routledge. p. 60.
Chadwick, Owen. The Victorian Church (1960) vol 1
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