The church by law established in England calls itself 'the Church of England', and everyone seems happy with that title. Perhaps, this lecture will suggest, they shouldn't be. The title - and its Latin predecessor, ecclesia Anglicana - is a slippery one, with at least four different meanings, meanings whose ambiguities the Tudors and their successors were able to exploit for their own ends. In the process, this very old title became enmeshed with a new piece of jargon - 'Anglican' - whose meanings were equally slippery. This lecture will retrace this linguistic sleight of hand and argue that, if we see that tangled origins and shifting meanings of these terms more clear, it gives us a fresh perspective on the established Church's ongoing identity crises.
Alec Ryrie FBA is Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham University, Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London, co-editor of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History and president of the Ecclesiastical History Society. He is a historian of the English Reformation and of the wider Protestant tradition, and his books include Being Protestant in Reformation Britain (2013), Protestants (2017), Unbelievers (2019) and The English Reformation (2020). He is also a Reader in the Church of England, serving in the diocese of Newcastle.