Fledgling South African Anglicanism and the Roots of Ritualism





South African Anglicanism, Ritualism, Bishop Robert Gray, Tractarianism


The early years of Anglican ministry in South Africa were primarily among English settlers. Their worship patterns, for the most part, reflected the general trends of English Anglicanism at the time, which itself was influenced theologically and materially by a moderate form of Calvinism. This article examines the ethos of the early generation of Anglicans, and highlights some of the possible reasons why a moderate Calvinistic stance seemed to suit the ordinary settler classes. However, the status quo was challenged by the arrival of Bishop Robert Gray in 1848. Thus, the article continues by exploring some of the reasons why Gray aroused such strong feelings in certain congregations. Among the most important reasons for the opposition against Gray were his Tractarian sympathies. While many historians have agreed that Gray was a high church cleric, most stop short of labelling him a Tractarian. This article critically examines Gray’s sympathies and posits that while he started out firmly within the high church party of Anglicanism, he slowly moved closer and closer to Tractarianism. Finally, the article considers aspects of Gray’s leadership which encouraged a gradual move from moderate Calvinism towards a more definite Tractarian and ritualist stance as the nineteenth century drew to a close.


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How to Cite

Bethke, Andrew-John. 2020. “Fledgling South African Anglicanism and the Roots of Ritualism”. Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 46 (3):18 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2412-4265/8293.



Received 2020-08-17
Accepted 2020-09-09
Published 2020-12-24