Building the Church of England

The Book of Common Prayer and the Edwardian Reformation


Were mid-Tudor evangelicals roaring lions or meek lambs? Did they struggle with a minority complex, or were they comfortable with their position of political ascendancy under Edward VI? How did their theological blueprint of the ‘True Church’ fit their temporal realities? By relocating the Book of Common Prayer at the centre of the English Reformation, Stephen Tong gives new significance to two underacknowledged drivers of reform: ecclesiology and liturgy. Edwardian reformers caused a sensation in England by engaging with these questions, which spilled over into Ireland, and continued to cast a shadow over subsequent generations of the English Protestants.

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Stephen Tong, Ph.D. (2018), Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, is a History Master at Sydney Grammar School. He has published book chapters and articles on the English Reformation, including ‘The doctrine of the Sabbath in the Edwardian Reformation’ (Historical Research, 91, November 2018, 647-661).
"In this clear and thought-provoking study, Stephen Tong moves on from recent historiography to illuminate how the first untrammelled phase of the Protestant Reformation under Edward VI viewed itself and intended to change the Church of England. His refreshingly novel perspective is to reject hindsight, and to avoid viewing the Edwardian Church through the lens of later Elizabethan Puritan/conformist conflict."

Diarmaid N.J. MacCulloch, Saint Cross College and Campion Hall, Oxford

Building the Church provides a stimulating new perspective on the short-lived Edwardian Reformation. Deftly weaving together the histories of liturgy, theology and ecclesiastical politics, this excellent book illuminates the hidden complexities and the creative dynamism of the evangelical movement and the institution it forged. Peering behind the pious myths that have accumulated around the Edwardian church and prayer book in succeeding centuries, Stephen Tong helps us to better understand both in their own terms. In the process, he successfully recasts our understanding of the significance of the mid-Tudor period in the longer story of the evolution of English Protestantism. A critical intervention in the contested debates about its early history, his book will be vital reading for students and scholars of the Reformation in Britain and further afield.

Alexandra Walsham, Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge
Reformation scholars (particularly English Reformation), post-graduate and undergraduate students, lecturers in Church History, university and seminary libraries, and clergy and lay folk in the Global Anglican Communion. Keywords: Church of England, Anglican, Episcopal, Episcopalian, Liturgy, Liturgical, Prayer Book, Ecclesiology, Ecclesiological, Tudor, mid-Tudor, Thomas Cranmer, Martin Bucer, John Hooper, John Bale, Vestments Controversy, Irish Reformation, Troubles at Frankfurt, Sabbath, Sabbatarian.
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