Monday, March 24, 2008

A Plea for a Biblically Faithful Mission-Oriented Prayer Book

Several readers of the articles in my series on An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) in their comments in response to the articles have questioned the need for an open and public scrutiny of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). In this article I pause from examining An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) and explain why I believe such a scrutiny is warranted.

An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) was produced primarily for the churches of the Anglican Mission in the Americas. In its Solemn Declaration of Principles, adopted in Kampala in 1999, the Anglican Mission recognizes the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal as its standards for doctrine and worship:

Article II. The Book of Common Prayer and Worship

Section 1 - The Book of Common Prayer
The official Book of Common Prayer has doctrinal authority in this Church. It shall be used in this Church at such times, and with such liberty as the Canon on this subject shall prescribe; but no Canon shall ever make its use imperative on all occasions, or forbid the use of extempore or other prayer at suitable times.

For Anglicans, this tradition of common prayer, which has been an integral part of our identity since the first Prayer Book of 1549, is most cogently summed up in the Book of Common Prayer issued in the Church of England in 1662. All subsequent editions of the Prayer Book derive from this Book and should be understood and interpreted in a manner consistent with it.

Section 2- Freedom in usage
However, strong as is our dedication to ordered and orthodox worship, nothing in our understanding of it necessarily excludes approaches to corporate worship which are freer and more accessible to those just making their first acquaintance with the Body of Christ at prayer. The Ordinary, therefore, may authorize alternative rites and uses "so long as the Faith be kept entire" in accord with the doctrinal norms, formularies and guidelines of this Church.

Article III. Further Doctrinal Norms and Formularies

Section 2- The Formularies of the Church of England

a. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal
The theology set forth in the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal shall be the theology to which alternative liturgical texts and forms will conform.

b. The 39 Articles of the Church of England
This Church subscribes to the teaching of the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England. These are to be interpreted, as ordered in the Declaration which prefaces them in the English Book of Common Prayer, "in the full and plain meaning thereof" and "in the literal and grammatical sense." Further, it is understood that there are places in the Articles (i.e. Art. 37) that assume past and present political structures in England which do not directly apply to this Church located as it is in North America.

In the Appendix to the proposed Constitution of the Anglican Mission we find the following elucidations:

APPENDIX I. Official Theological Elucidation on the Solemn Declaration, Articles I, II, III and the Constitution Article I

Comments related to Article II, The Book of Common Prayer and Worship

Section 1. The Book of Common Prayer
From very early times, it has been the practice of the Church to set forth, by authority, approved texts and forms of common prayer to be used in public worship. These serve to safeguard the accurate and complete transmission of the Faith given to us against the tendency of fallen mankind to ignore those elements of the Faith that are inconvenient and to supply what he sees to be deficiencies in it. They are intended to ensure that those that worship in the Congregation of God's faithful people are formed by the pure Word of God and the sacraments of the New Covenant into a temple fit for his inhabitation.

Section 2. Freedom in usage
However, strong as is our dedication to ordered and orthodox worship, nothing in our understanding of it necessarily excludes approaches to corporate worship which are freer and more accessible to those just making their first acquaintance with the Body of Christ at prayer. As Saint Augustine perceived God as that Beauty which is unchanging yet ever new, so we recognize that the eternal truth of the Faith brought us in Christ must speak newly to each generation. So long as those engaged in planning and leading these freer forms of worship consciously strive to conform them to the Faith presented in the Book of Common Prayer, there should be no problem in these different approaches co-existing in harmony. The Ordinary, therefore, may authorize alternative rites and uses "so long as the Faith be kept entire" in accord with the theological norms, formularies and guidelines of this Church.

As I noted in my previous article, the Anglican Mission in its ratification of the Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partnership also agreed to accept "The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship." The Anglican Mission further agreed to accept "the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense...as expressing fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief. "

In its Solemn Declaration of Principles the Anglican Mission also set two critical standards for itself in the development of alternative liturgies and forms. The first is "However, strong as is our dedication to ordered and orthodox worship, nothing in our understanding of it necessarily excludes approaches to corporate worship which are freer and more accessible to those just making their first acquaintance with the Body of Christ at prayer...." The second is "The theology set forth in the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal shall be the theology to which alternative liturgical texts and forms will conform." These are the standards to which the Anglican Mission committed itself at Kampala--at least on paper.

My evaluation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) shows that the services in the book fall considerably short of these two critical standards and in doing so the book represents a serious departure from the original vision of the Anglican Mission. There are always forces at work inside and outside an organization like the Anglican Mission that work to change its vision to their own personal vision. I personally was surprised that the Anglican Mission had engaged Peter Toon to guide the compilation of a service book for the Anglican Mission because his personal agenda, as reflected in his articles and other writings, is significantly different from the Anglican Mission's vision. In a number of ways they are at cross-purposes. In a number of his articles Dr. Toon has attacked the values of the Anglican Mission if not the Anglican Mission itself directly. In engaging Dr. Toon in the compilation of a service book for the Anglican Mission, the leaders of the Anglican Mission may have sought to co-opt a potential critic of the service book. They may have also thought that in placing a leader of traditionalist Anglicans in charge of the book's compilation, they would make the book more acceptable and attractive to traditionalists. They may have hoped that the book would bridge the divide between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals.

A number of the folks that are drawn to the Anglican Mission are evangelical Christians who are attracted to liturgical worship. What concerns me is what they are being offered with the liturgical worship—the theology that is embodied in that worship. One of the important principles of worship that Anglicans have always recognized is "Lex Orendi, Lex Credendi." What we pray shapes what we believe.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer recognized this principle and removed from the Second Book of Common Prayer of 1552, everything that directly or indirectly gave expression to a doctrine that was not gathered from the Scriptures or was contrary to the Scriptures. He wanted to give the English people a Prayer Book that was thoroughly Scriptural—"the pure Word of God," a Prayer Book that would cultivate in them a faith that was grounded in the Scriptures. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer is substantially the 1552 Prayer Book.

An Anglican Prayer Book (2000) was preceded by Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, which was authorized for restricted trial use in the Anglican Mission for a limited period. Despite its title and an article in the Prayer Book Society's journal Mandate stating that these services were contemporary English forms of the services of the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal, the theology of the services was not the Biblical-Reformation theology of the 1662 edition of the Prayer Book and the Ordinal. The compilers of the trial services drew heavily from those parts of the 1928 American and the 1962 Canadian revisions of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal where they depart the most from the theology of the 1662 Prayer Book. The compilers of the trial services not only took textual material and rubrics from these books but they adapted the textual material so that the theology given expression in the trial services was not always that of the books from which they had been drawn.

In his writings Dr. Toon has shown a tendency to gloss over the theological differences between the 1662 Prayer Book, the 1928 American Prayer Book, and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book, a number of which are significant. This tendency was quite evident in the services authorized for trial use. In a number of places the trial services spoke where the 1662 Prayer Book is silent and took theological positions that even the 1928 American Prayer Book and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book do not express, or if they do give expression to them, only express them in muted language—theological positions over which Anglicans are sharply divided.

For example, in their adaptation of the 1962 Canadian Exhortation to the Godparents in the Service for the Baptism of Infants the compilers of trial services went beyond the language of the 1662 Canadian Prayer Book which speaks of being "strengthened by the Holy Spirit" at Confirmation and spoke of being "strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit" at Confirmation. While Evangelicals in the Anglican Church agree with Anglo-Catholics that the bishop, when he lays hand upon the candidate for confirmation, prays for the strengthening of the Holy Spirit, they reject as contrary to the Scriptures the Anglo-Catholic doctrine that the gift of the Holy Spirit is imparted with the laying of hands at Confirmation. They point to those passages in the New Testament that teach and show that the Holy Spirit is received apart from the laying on of hands. The 1662 Confirmation Service is silent on this point. The bishop prays for the strengthening gifts of grace for the candidates. He then lays hands on each candidate and prays that God will defend him, and that he will increase in the Holy Spirit more and more each day until he comes to God's everlasting kingdom. The 1662 Confirmation Service speaks of the bishop laying his hands on the candidates to certify, or assure them, "by this sign", of God's favour and gracious goodness toward them." It does not suggest that either the gift of the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Holy Spirit are conferred at Confirmation. Such a view is only the interpretation of the theological significance of Confirmation of one theological stream in Anglicanism.

From his writings I gather that Dr. Toon is a proponent of the two-stage theory of Christian initiation that was popular in the earlier part of the twentieth century and which was a point of heated dispute among Anglicans then (and still is now) and subscribes to this interpretation of Confirmation's theological significance. Other reputable Anglican theologians like Michael Green and J. I. Packer would strongly disagree with him. Dr. Toon's views, however, were given expression in the trial services, violating what might be described as the "neutrality" of the 1662 Prayer Book.

I drew this defect and other shortcomings of the trial services to the attention of Bishop Chuck Murphy and Dr. Toon himself. I also submitted proposals for revision of the trial services to Bishop Murphy. I subsequently sent Bishop John Rodgers and Bishop Murphy for their review a draft of a service book, A New American Prayer Book, which corrected a number of the defects of the trial services. From my evaluation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), it appears that some of the changes that I suggested were incorporated into that book. The adaptation of the 1926 Canadian Exhortation to the Godparents, for example, was dropped. However, a modified version of the doctrine to which it gave expression is found in the Catechism of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008).

Unlike its predecessor An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) does not claim to be a translation of the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal into contemporary English. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), however, continues to gloss over the significant theological differences between the 1662 Prayer Book, the 1928 American Prayer Book, and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book, which at a number of places have fairly disparate theologies. It also introduces significant theological changes that set it apart from all three books but especially the 1662 Prayer Book.

An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) also at first glance appears to take the path of theological "multiformity" of the more recent Anglican services books instead of adhering to the Biblical-Reformation theology of the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal and the Thirty-Nine Articles. But its theological "multiformity" is deceptive. When the whole theology of the book is evaluated, it clearly leans heavily toward Anglo-Catholicism in its Caroline and Tractarian forms.

In our email correspondence Dr. Toon has described An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) as a bridge to "genuine Anglican doctrine and experience" for those folks who have been using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. However, Dr. Toon's idea of "genuine Anglican doctrine and experience" is not classical Anglicanism, which is evangelical and Reformed in its theology, but a synthesis of the "Catholic" doctrine and experience of the more pronounced seventeenth century Caroline High Churchmen and the nineteenth century Tractarian High Churchmen. This is not the Anglicanism of the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal and the Thirty-Nine Articles. It is High Church doctrine and experience that frequently goes beyond the theological boundaries of these two formularies. In its nineteenth century Tractarian form it is sought to do away with the Thirty-Nine Articles and replace the Articles as a doctrinal standard with the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal reinterpreted in "a Catholic sense." It represents only one of the theological streams in Anglicanism.

My evaluation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) does not the support the comment of one of my readers that An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) will work for a group like the Anglican Mission that represents all theological streams in Anglicanism. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is not only weighted heavily toward Anglo-Catholicism but also toward a High Church style of worship. It also tries to restrict a number of practices that one sees in Anglican Mission churches. For example, baptism by immersion--partial or full immersion--is enjoying something of a revival in the Anglican Mission. The Anglican Mission web site and Anglican Mission brochures show a priest or deacon baptizing a young girl in a swimming pool. The Book of Common Prayer from 1549 on has prescribed dipping (immersion) as the preferred mode of baptism, except in case of weakness, in which case pouring (affusion) may be used. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) restricts the mode of baptism to pouring (affusion) only. This is decidedly a break not only with the 1662 Prayer Book but also its predecessors. It cannot be justified in the light of the revival of immersion, not just in Anglican Mission churches but also in the churches of other Anglican jurisdictions. It is not a question of this mode of baptism having fallen into disuse.

Another example of its restriction of practices seen not only in the churches of the Anglican Mission but also in other Anglican jurisdictions is that An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) makes no provision for biddings for special prayers and thanksgivings before the Intercession in the Order for the Holy Communion; insertion of names in the Intercession, except the names of those in authority and the bishop and the local clergy; and times of open prayer in Morning and Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion. The lack of provision for these widely accepted practices in global Anglicanism in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is surprising. Even the 1928 Book of Common Prayer permits the priest to ask before the Intercession "the secret intercessions of the congregation for any who have desired the prayers of the church." The following rubric precedes the Intercession in the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book:

"Then shall one of the Ministers ask the prayers of the people, using always either the first or the last of the following Biddings, together with one or more others if so desired; and he may provide short periods for silent prayer."

This rubric is followed by a number of short bidding that may be used.

Provisions for biddings for special prayers and thanksgivings like the preceding ones, for insertion of the names of other individuals beside public figures and pastors, and times of open prayer move the prayers of the church from the general to the specific and make our prayers less impersonal. They put names and faces upon those "who in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity." They make the liturgy more evangelistic, congregational, and pastoral.

None of these practices represent a departure from the teaching of the Scriptures or the Biblical-Reformation theology of the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. Their omission is also not defensible on evangelistic, liturgical or pastoral grounds.

Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, the predecessor to An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), displayed certain tendencies that ran counter to the Anglican Mission's Solemn Declaration of Principles as they apply to freedom of usage: "However, strong as is our dedication to ordered and orthodox worship, nothing in our understanding of it necessarily excludes approaches to corporate worship which are freer and more accessible to those just making their first acquaintance with the Body of Christ at prayer." An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) exhibits similar tendencies. For example, An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) limits worship on Sunday to Morning or Evening Prayer or Holy Communion. Congregations using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book also have the option of Ante-Communion. A number of the more recent Anglican service books make provision for a Service of the Word for those occasions when the regular services of Morning and Evening Prayer, Holy Communion, and Ante-Communion do not meet the particular needs of a congregation. An early form of this service is authorized in the General Directions for Publick Worship of the Church of Ireland’s Book of Common Prayer of 1926:

"Upon special occasions, instead of the whole order for Morning or Evening Prayer, such selections from the Services of the Church and from the Holy Scriptures may be used as shall be approved of for this purpose by the Ordinary."

This type of service is particularly useful in reaching and evangelizing those segments of the unchurched population that are not baptized and have little, if any, Christian background and negligible prior experience with the Body of Christ at prayer.

As Anglican Mission Bishop John Rodgers noted in an interview with Virtue Online, "we lose some coherence with a diversity of liturgies, but we might attract more people." Bishop Rodgers went on to say, "The tension arises between our desire for a common worship and mission, reaching as many of the lost as possible."

The tendencies that run counter to "freedom of usage" provisions of the Anglican Mission’s Solemn Declaration of Principles, which are evidenced in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) will hobble the efforts of Anglican Mission churches to reach and evangelize the spiritually disconnected and unchurched in their communities. They will also hinder the missionary outreach efforts of churches of other Anglican jurisdictions using the book.

The theology of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is not any closer to that of the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal than the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Both of these Prayer Books deviate significantly from the Biblical-Reformation theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) has to a certain extent the Reformed form of the 1662 Prayer Book but at a number of critical points its theological content is substantially different from that of the 1662 Prayer Book. For example, its theology of the Eucharist departs from the fairly mild form of moderate realism that characterizes the Eucharistic theology of the 1662 Prayer Book and, as Brian Douglas notes in his case study of the 1662 Prayer Book on the website Anglican Eucharistic Theology, "has persisted in Anglicanism so strongly."

The theology of "The English Order, 1662, which includes a small number of significant changes in the 1662 Eucharist is much less restrained in its realism. These changes include the addition of the Benedictus and the Agnes Dei and the reservation of the sacrament, traditionally associated with a realist eucharistic theology, including the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and the practice of eucharistic adoration. They teach a doctrine of the real and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist that is not consistent with Reformed eucharistic theology of the 1662 Prayer Book.


The oblation-anamnesis in "The American Order, 1928" speaks of celebrating and making before God "the memorial your Son has commanded us to make, which is also offered to God. It goes on to speak of remembering Christ’s mighty works in the celebration and making of this memorial and concluded by offering thanks for the benefits "procured for us" by these mighty works. The oblation-anamnesis does not explicitly link the signs of bread and wine with the memorial. However, that linking is implicit in the oblation-anamnesis since it follows the Institution Narrative which is introduced with these words "and instituted, and in his holy gospel commanded us to continue, a perpetual memory of his precious death until he comes again. The memorial is offered to God as an oblation and with it the consecrated bread and wine with which the memorial is celebrated and made. This represents a significant departure from the Reformed eucharistic theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The 1662 Eucharist has no offering of the bread or wine to God at the offertory or in the Prayer of Consecration. The only reference to an offering is the communicant’s thanksgiving and praise and self that follows the reception of communion.

The anamnesis in "The Canadian Order, 1962," after recalling Christ’s mighty works, speaks of making before God a memorial in "this sacrament of the holy Bread of eternal life and the Cup of everlasting salvation," an euphemistic reference to the body and blood of Christ. The juxtaposition of the anamnesis with the petition God to accept "this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving" suggests the offering of the memorial to God as part of the praise and thanksgiving and by implication the offering of the consecrated bread and wine with which the memorial is made. This is also a significant departure from the 1662 Prayer Book’s eucharistic theology.

An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) may not be as clearly realist in eucharistic presence and sacrifice as the 1979 Book of Common Prayer but it certainly moves more in that direction than it does in the direction of the 1662 Prayer Book.

Dr. Toon himself has been critical of evangelicals in The Episcopal Church for their embrace of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. He takes the position that due to their adoption of the 1979 Prayer Book, they become too malleable or yielding from a doctrinal standpoint. In an editorial in Mandate he expresses this position: "...Rite II services in ‘contemporary language’ provide the necessary ingredients of intelligibility, simplicity, accessibility, relevance and meaningfulness and so are a means of making their services and outreach popular and attractive. So they pay little attention to the actual doctrinal content -- i.e., they do not check it against the doctrinal content of the classic BCP & the Articles of Religion in terms of who is God, who is Jesus and what is salvation."

One is tempted to suspect Dr. Toon of cynical exploitation of this weakness in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), taking advantage of their inattentiveness to doctrine to foist upon evangelical Episcopalians who have migrated to the Anglican Mission a service book that does not conform to the Biblical-Reformation theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal and the Thirty-Nine Articles. On the other hand, when Dr. Toon refers to the "classic" Book of Common Prayer, he is usually speaking of the 1928 American Prayer Book and not the Prayer Book that global Anglicanism regards as the classic Anglican Prayer Book—the Book of Common Prayer of 1662.

This inattention to doctrine I would contend extends to a much larger group than evangelicals in the Anglican Mission and The Episcopal Church. Being a champion of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, Dr. Toon also never mentions the part that that Prayer Book played in this development. I admit some trepidation in drawing attention to the role of the 1928 Prayer Book in this development because a number of Episcopalians and other Anglicans in the United States have a deep attachment to the 1928 Prayer Book. However, the 1928 Prayer Book did contribute to this development and we need to be honest with ourselves about it.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer was the first major revision of the American Prayer Book, and moved the American Prayer Book much further away from the Biblical-Reformation theology of the 1662 Prayer Book than had its predecessors, the 1789 and 1892 Prayer Books. In a sense, whether we like to admit it, the 1928 American Prayer Book paved the way for the 1979 American Prayer Book. Having introduced a number of significant deviations from the 1662 Prayer Book, it encouraged some people to desire further changes and prepared others to accept these changes. In their attempt to give expression to a more "Catholic" theology in the American Prayer Book, the compilers of the 1979 Prayer Book could claim precedence in the 1928 Prayer Book and continuity with that book.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer was adopted at a time in the history of The Episcopal Church when the two theological streams dominating the church were Anglo-Catholicism and Broad Church Liberalism. (A synthesis of these two theological streams is ascendant in the church today.) There was a movement to do away with the Thirty-Nine Articles in The Episcopal Church. A resolution to abolish the Articles had been adopted by the 1925 General Convention and was awaiting ratification of the 1928 General Convention to go into effect. The resolution, however, was quietly dropped with the adoption of the 1928 Prayer Book.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer gave expression to doctrines that were not only contrary to Scripture but also at variance with the Biblical-Reformation theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles. The 1928 Prayer Book encouraged Episcopalians to tolerate and accept these doctrines. It served as a vehicle for disseminating these doctrines widely in the Protestant Episcopal Church and contributed to the further erosion of Scriptural authority in the church. This erosion had already begun before the adoption of the 1928 Prayer Book. Indeed it was key to the adoption of the 1928 Book. The dynamics at work in the Protestant Episcopal Church that produced the 1928 Book fostered the inattentiveness to doctrine that has come to characterize a large segment of Episcopalians. There was already a tendency to subordinate doctrinal content to liturgical form instead of liturgical form to doctrinal content. The 1928 Prayer Book reinforced this tendency as well as the inattentiveness to doctrine.

My own concern is that in the excitement of having a contemporary language alternative to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer North American Anglicans will not give enough attention to the doctrinal content of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). They will not only overlook the book’s doctrinal deficiencies but will also ignore its other defects. From the perspective of Biblical theology, the classical Anglican formularies (i.e., the Thirty-Nine Articles; the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal) and the missionary imperative An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is not just a flawed book. It is a seriously flawed book.

In email correspondence with this writer Dr. Toon dismissed the need for a theology of missions in a service book that, while it is primarily intended for use in the Anglican Mission in the Americas, is also expected to "be used by other Anglicans and Episcopalians both in North America and elsewhere in the English-speaking world." This attitude is both surprising and alarming. The Anglican Mission is a missionary arm of the African Anglican Province of Rwanda. One would expect a service book published for its use would emphasize missions and would be designed for the mission field. The lack of a theology of missions in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is quite evident when An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is compared with Our Modern Services, the contemporary language service book of the African Anglican Province of Kenya. Our Modern Services has a strong theology of missions. The theology of missions in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is negligible. Even the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book have more of a theology of missions than An Anglican Prayer Book (2008).

As I have pointed out in several of my articles, I believe that An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) could greatly benefit from more flexibility in the services. I am advocating only a modest flexibility such as an acknowledgment that directions to stand, sit, or kneel are suggestions only; permission to sing hymns in the services otherwise than where indicated, to use other versions and forms of psalms and canticles instead of those printed in the services, to substitute metrical psalms for prose ones and hymns for canticles, and to use informal worship songs in addition or in place of hymns, retention of the options of Ante-Communion and dipping (immersion) as a mode of baptism, provision for A Service of the Word, and the like. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) needs the kind of flexibility that allows worship planners to tailor services to a wide variety of circumstances – composition, size, ministry target group, and worship style of the congregation, cultural context of the community, availability of clergy and musical resources, worship setting, and other variables; that encourages congregations to explore a range of options and discover what they can do well, and what works best for them in reaching the spiritually disconnected and the unchurched and in drawing both seekers and believers closer to God in their particular circumstances. A service book with this kind of flexibility incorporated into it recognizes that in the twenty-first century all sorts of churches and all kinds of worship are needed to fulfill the Great Commission and to make disciples of all people groups. It does not seek to force the worship of all congregations into the same mold.

The struggle today, as it was at the time of the English Reformation in the sixteenth century, is above all else about the authority of Scripture. However, we have already lost that struggle the moment the moment we pick up a Prayer Book that is not Scriptural in its doctrine and begin to worship with it.

The defects of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) are not something that can be corrected over time as some have suggested. They warrant and even demand immediate attention. I believe that it is dangerous to ignore them. In drawing attention to them, I am not calling for a perfect service book but one that conforms to the standards of doctrine and worship that the Anglican Mission has adopted in its Solemn Declaration of Principles and the CCP Theological Statement and will serve the Anglican Mission’s central purpose of missionary outreach. I am pleading for a Prayer Book that is faithful to the Word of God and will provide not just members of the Anglican Mission but all North American Anglicans with a worship aid that will help them to reach the millions of the lost in our part of the world and elsewhere before they pass into a godless eternity. We owe this to the one who gave his life for us that we might enjoy a new relationship with God. He suffered for our sins. We cannot do any less.

14 comments:

Brian Douglas said...

Thank you for your work on the Eucharist and the prayer books. I am glad that you have used some of my work in yours. It may be that the theology of the Eucharist at the time of the Reformation was not as uniform as your article tends to suggest. I would argue that it was multiform with various underlying assumptions of eucharistic theology current. Arguing for one 'true' eucharistic theology among Anglicans at the time of the Reformation (or at any time for that matter) is, in my view, not really sustainable. What I think I have shown in my case studies in Section 1 of my site (http://web.mac.com/brian.douglas) is that there is a multiformity of eucharistic theology at the time of the Reformation. Perhaps the different theologies of the Eucharist shown in modern prayer books and in 1662 are merely a continuation of that. I think it is also necessary to be very clear about what is meant by the words 'real' and 'substantial' in relation to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I have used the term 'moderate realism' which I see you have adopted, to mean a real presence of Christ in the Eucharist but one that is not carnal or physical. It is interesting to note that Aquinas in his writing on transubstantiation clearly excludes a fleshy or carnal presence in relation to Christ's presence in the Eucharist. Aquinas actually uses a moderate realist framework. Transubstantiation is a moderate realist framework but many people have difficulty with the philosophical notion of a change of substance.

Thanks for the discussion.

Brian Douglas

Don said...

Thanks much for your article. My response is here.

God bless.

Robin G. Jordan said...
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Robin G. Jordan said...

I do see a need to point to the attention of our readers that Brian Douglas, while he has produced some excellent case studies upon the eucharistic theologies of various benchmark Anglican divines, does include in the category of "Reformation" theologians the Caroline divines which I would not include among the Edwardian and Elizabethan Reformers. By expanding the "Reformation" is this way, one does see greater variety in eucharistic theologies. While we may disagree on where the "Reformation" ended, I greatly appreciate his work. I do not argue for one eucharistic theology at the time of the Edwardian and Elizabethan Reformation but for a dominant eucharistic theology, one held by the proponderance of the benchmark divines of the period. At the same time I recognize that other theologies may have been evident during this period but they represent minority theological streams in the Anglicanism of the period.

Fr. Robert Hart said...
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Fr. Robert Hart said...

Yes, there are two passages in the New Testament in which the Holy Spirit is received without the laying on of hands (and as an old Charismatic myself, I know that God can grant the grace of the sacrament without the form of the sacrament, as he is not limited). But, the two passages are Acts 2 and 10, each dealing with an extra-ordinary (no pun intended) situation. One was the pouring out of the Spirit initially at Pentecost, and the other the first such outpouring on the Gentiles, which Peter saw as a repetition of that completely divine action, in order to make a point about the uncircumcised ("...as on us at the beginning" Acts 11:15).

The norm, however, is Acts 8 and 19, where the laying on of the apostle's hands is the norm, and where the gift is given by those means.

Furthermore, this is not an Anglo-Catholic peculiarity. It is the only doctrine set forth in Christian Tradition, and the clear doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer itself (Confirmation Rite), both in the selection of Acts 8 as the lesson, and in the clear words of the bishop's prayer (both excluded from the '79 so-called Prayer Book). It is not a party doctrine of High Churchmanship, and never was. It is the only doctrine Anglicans ever believed.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

1549 version of the bishop's prayer at "Confirmacion"

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who hast vouchesafed to regenerate these thy servauntes of water and the holy goste: And haste geven unto them forgevenesse of all their sinnes: Sende downe from heaven we beseche thee, (O lorde) upon them thy holy gost the coumforter, with the manifold giftes of grace, the spirite of wisdom and understandyng; the spirite of counsell and gostly strength; The spirite of knowledge and true godlinesse, and fulfil them, (o lord) with the spirite of thy holy feare.

Clarke said...

Dear Mr. Jordan,

I am an AMIA pastor born in Central KY who really appreciates your work. I have tried to find your phone number but have failed. I would love to talk with you about your project. I gave feedback very similar to yours concerning the Trial Use and the 2008 AMIA book during the draft phases, and thus am sympathetic. I'd like to confer about your service book and offer my parish for "trial use" for its test. I'd be happy to send you bulletins of my own attempts at communion and baptismal liturgies which are classical, modern, (E)vangelical, missional and small church friendly. God be with you,
Clark M. Cornelius
www.graceac.org
(334) 798-0000 (cell)

Robin G. Jordan said...

Fr. Robert Hart also posted his comments in response to my article,
"A Plea for a Biblically Faithful Mission-Oriented Prayer Book," on Virtue Online where the article was first posted. I posted the following response to his comments:

In interpreting Acts 8 and 19 we must consider the Luke’s primary intent for writing the narrative and how each section of the narrative in some way fits into and contributes to Luke’s primary intent. Luke wrote his Gospel and its sequel the Acts of the Apostles for Theophilus and a Gentile audience. They form one continuous narrative. Acts 8 is included in an account how God revealed to the Jewish church that He had accepted the Gentiles as well as the Jews. From Acts 8 we gather that the apostles in Jerusalem, the Jewish church, had heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God.

The kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The policy of the Assyrians was to deport and resettle into other parts of their kingdom the inhabitants of the countries that they conquered. The people of Israel were taken into exile in Assyria. The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They adopted the religion of the Israelites while persisting in their former religious practices. See 2 Kings 17:7-40. The Samaritans were the descendents of these people. Considerable enmity existed between the Samaritans and the Jews.

The Jewish church sent Peter and John, two of the apostles, to investigate this development. When they arrived in Samaria, they discovered that the Samaritans, while they had been baptized in the name of Jesus, did not receive Holy Spirit. To remedy this deficiency, they prayed and then laid hands on the Samaritan at which the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. The receiving of the Holy Spirit by the Samaritans confirmed to them that God had accepted the Samaritans. The account goes on to tell us how God revealed to the Jewish church that he had accepted another group of Gentiles, the Romans, the most recent conquerors of Palestine.

The receiving of the Holy Spirit by the Samaritans was not only a sign to the apostles and the Jewish Church that God had accepted the Samaritans but the hand-laying and the subsequent receiving of the Holy Spirit would have been a sign to the Samaritans and have held special significance for them. In adopting the religion of the Israelites, the Samaritans had adopted the Torah, the oldest part of the Hebrew Bible. In the Torah hand-laying is not only associated with blessing but also dedication to God and commissioning. The hand-laying would have been to the Samaritans a reminder of how the Levites had been brought before the Lord and the Israelites hands laid hands on them, of how the Levites had been presented before the Lord as a wave offering to God so they might be ready to do the work of the Lord. It would have been to them a reminder of how the Levites had been set apart from the other Israelites and had been God’s, of how they had been the Israelites who had been wholly given to God (Numbers 8:10-22).

The Samaritans would have recalled how God took of the Spirit that was on Moses and put the Spirit on seventy of Israel’s elders (Numbers 11:7) When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied (Numbers 11:25). They would have recalled how two men, Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They had been listed among the elders, but had not gone out to the Tent of Meeting. Yet the Spirit had also rested on them and they had prophesied in the camp (Numbers 11:27). They would have also recalled Moses’ response to Joshua son Nun: “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”(Numbers 11:29).

The Samaritans would have further recalled the commissioning of Joshua son of Nun (Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 34:9). The hand-laying would have been a sign to them that the apostles recognized them as part of God’s people and the subsequent receiving of the Holy Spirit would have been confirmation of this status for both Samaritans and Jews: they shared in the same Spirit.

As can be seen, Acts 8 contributes to the ongoing narrative and the theme of God’s acceptance of different people groups to whom the Jews accorded an inferior status to themselves as God’s chosen people. Here was God revealing to the apostles and the Jewish church that these people groups were also a part of God’s elect, the true descendants of Abraham and the chosen people of God.

Acts 8 concludes with Philip’s meeting with the Ethiopian eunuch, the eunuch’s conversion upon hearing the good news of Jesus Christ, and his baptism. If the laying on of the apostles’ hands on all baptized persons is the norm as Padre Hart claims, we would expect this section of Acts to support his interpretation of the preceding section but it does not. After the eunuch is baptized, the Holy Spirit whisks Philip away and the eunuch goes on his way rejoicing.

We do not find any evidence in Acts 8:4-17 or in the immediate preceding or following passage that Luke was establishing a precedent. Acts 8:4-17 does not provide a Scriptural warrant for the practice of the laying on of hands by the bishop upon all baptized persons.

Padre Hart classifies Acts’ description of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius, his relatives and close friends upon hearing the message of the gospel as one-time events. However, Acts 8:4-17, when viewed in context of the ongoing narrative, itself appears to describe a one-time event.

On the other hand, Acts 10:10-48, when considered in the light of what is said in Acts 11:1-18 and elsewhere in the New Testament, appears not to be describing a one-time event but rather the norm for all Christians. Before we examine a number of texts that support this interpretation, we do well to look at Saul’ conversion in the next section of the narrative.

Ananias lays hands on Saul before he is baptized. “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus…” Ananias tells Saul, “has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Saul’s sight is restored. He then got up and was baptized (Acts 9:17-19). It is not unreasonable to expect that, if the laying on of the apostles’ hands on all baptized persons is the norm, God would have sent one of the apostles to lay hands on Saul after he was baptized. Instead he sent Ananias to lay hands on Saul before his baptism. Luke does not record whether Paul received the Holy Spirit at the laying on of Ananias’ hands or at or after his baptism.

From Luke 11:13 we gather that God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. This points to the willingness of God to bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit upon those who earnestly desire it. From John 7:38-39 we gather whoever believes in Jesus will receive the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 2:38 Peter tells the crowd, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We further gather from Acts 5:32 that God will give the Holy Spirit to those who obey him. Acts 6:5 and Acts 11:24 pair faith and the Holy Spirit.

We also gather from Acts 10:44-46 that the Holy Spirit came on all who heard Peter’s message. In reporting what happened to the church at Jerusalem, Peter explains, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, WHO BELIEVED IN THE LORD JESUS, who was I to think that could oppose God?” (Acts 11:13-17 NIV) Later the apostles and elders met to consider whether the Gentiles should be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses. After much discussion Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might HEAR FROM MY LIPS THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL AND BELIEVE. God, who knows the heart, showed that he had accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he PURIFIED THEIR HEARTS BY FAITH” (Acts 15:6-9 NIV).

Writing to the church at Rome, Paul draws to the attention of its members, “Consequently, FAITH COMES FROM HEARING THE MESSAGE, AND THE MESSAGE IS HEARD THROUGH THE WORD OF CHRIST” (Romans 10:17 NIV). He further points to their attention, “…for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (or adoption). And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16 NIV).

In his letter to the Galatians Paul asks, “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or BY BELIEVING WHAT YOU HEARD” (Galatians 3:3 NIV). He further asks: “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOUR HEARD?” (Galatians 3:5) He goes on to write: “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that BY FAITH WE MIGHTY RECEIVE THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT” (Galatians 3:14 NIV). Paul continues, “You are all sons of God THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS (Galatians 3:26 NIV). He stresses, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’…” (Galatians 4:6 NIV).

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes: “And you also were included in Christ when you HEARD THE WORD OF TRUTH, THE GOSPEL OF YOUR SALVATION. HAVING BELIEVED, YOU WERE MARKED IN HIM WITH A SEAL, THE PROMISED HOLY SPIRIT, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV).

In his first epistle John writes, “And this is his command: TO BELIEVE IN THE NAME OF HIS SON, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: we know it by the Spirit he gives us. (1 John 3:23-24 NIV). John goes on to write, “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God (1 John 4:13-15 NIV).

From these passages we gather that hearing the gospel, believing, and receiving the Holy Spirit is the norm for all Christians and Acts 10:10-48 describes that norm.

How then are we to interpret Acts 19: 1-16? Did Luke in describing the particular ministry practices in this section of his narrative intend that future generations of Christians should follow these practices? In the preceding section we learn that Paul sailed to Ephesus, ministered there for a time, and then left, promising to return if it was God’s will. While Paul is ministering elsewhere, “strengthening all the disciples,” Apollos comes to Ephesus. Luke writes: “He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:24-26 NIV).

When Paul returns to Ephesus, he finds there some disciples and asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. They answer that they had not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit. Paul asks them what baptism did they receive. They reply the baptism of John. Paul points to their attention that John’s baptism is a baptism of repentance. John told people to believe in the one coming after him, that is Jesus. “On hearing this,” Luke writes, “they are baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul places his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19: 5-6 NIV). The following sections describe Paul’s ministry in Ephesus and the resistance he meets.

Padre Hart would have us view Acts 19:1-6 as a Scriptural warrant for the rite of Confirmation but is it? Note that Paul asks the Ephesians whether they received the Holy Spirit WHEN THEY BELIEVED. Upon learning they did not even know there is a Holy Spirit, he asks them what baptism they received. It is becoming evident to Paul that this group of individuals has not been evangelized and he takes the necessary actions to remedy this state of affairs. There is nothing in Acts 19: 1-16 to suggest that Luke intended that the practices described in this section of his narrative should be normative for the church everywhere for all time. Acts 19:1-16 is certainly does not establish as normative the laying on of apostolic hands upon all baptized persons. Nowhere in his epistles does Paul support such a notion.

As Gerard Austin points to our attention, the Holy Spirit for Cranmer was given in Baptism, not in Confirmation. Cranmer’s interest in Confirmation was catechetical. [1] He did not do away with Confirmation as did the Continental Reformers Calvin and Zwingli. He retained the rite and remodeled it upon that of the Bohemian Brethren. In the Second Book of Common Prayer of 1552, which represents Cranmer’s mature theology, he dropped the prayer “Sign them, O Lord…” from the Confirmation rite. [2] It contained the phrase, “Confirm and strength [sic] them with the inward unction of thy Holy Ghost, mercifully unto everlasting life.” He revises the prayer, “Almighty and everliving God, who has vouchsafed to regenerate…”. He struck out the words, “Send down from heaven we beseech thee (O Lord) upon them thy Holy Ghost the Comforter, with the manifold gifts of grace,” and replaced them with the words, “…strengthen them, we beseech thee, (O Lord,) with the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase in them the manifold gifts of grace…”. He moved the prayer to a position immediately before the hand-laying. He altered the words accompanying the hand-laying to “Defend, O Lord, this child with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine for ever, and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he comes unto thy everlasting kingdom. Amen.” These alterations presuppose that the candidate for confirmation has received the Holy Spirit, which should indeed be the case if the candidate has heard the message of the gospel and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The final rubric, “And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion: until such time as he be confirmed” was revised to “And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion, until such time he can say the Catechism and be confirmed.” This placed greater stress upon the learning of the Catechism that preceded the rite. Cranmer’s aim as articulated “Of Ceremonies, Why Some Be Abolished, And Some Retained” was “the setting forth of God’s honour or glory” and “the reducing of the people to the most perfect and godly living, without error or Supersticion.” The 1552 Book of Common Prayer was the definitive Prayer Book of the Church of England for almost 100 years, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is substantially the 1552 Prayer Book. The Restoration bishops added to the Confirmation rite the preface, “To the end that Confirmation…” and the ratification and confirmation of the baptismal promise and vow.

“The Book of Common Prayer” to which Padre Hart refers is not the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which for global Anglicanism is the classical Anglican Prayer Book. It is the 1928 revision of the American Prayer Book, which deviates in a number of significant ways from the 1662 Prayer Book in its doctrine of Confirmation. First, it adds a Second Office of Instruction to the Catechism in which it is taught that the candidates receive “the strengthening gifts of the Holy Spirit” in Confirmation. The Second Office of Instruction concludes with a prayer that the candidate may receive “such a measure of the Holy Spirit, that they may grow in grace unto their life’s end.” Second, it omits the 1662 Preface, which was included in the 1789 and 1892 American Prayer Books. Third, it adds the passage from Acts 8 where Peter and John lay hands on the Samaritans, and they receive the Holy Spirit. Fourth, it slightly alters the wording of the ratification and confirmation of the baptismal promise and vow. Fifth, it adds the question, “Do ye promise to follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?” and the answer, “I do.” With the exception of the last two, these additions take the position that the bishop confers the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands at Confirmation, a position that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer does not take. The Church of England’s Proposed Book of Common Prayer of 1928 took the same position but the English Parliament wisely rejected it. A number of English bishops, however, permitted its use in their dioceses.

In the assertion that his own interpretation of the theological significance of Confirmation is “the only doctrine Anglicans ever believed” Padre Hart neglects to mention that for 400 years Anglicans have been divided over the meaning of Confirmation. The Scriptures do not enjoin the laying on of episcopal hands upon all baptized persons. The Scriptures do not contain any passage that PRESCRIBES the practice. The Scriptures DESCRIBE the apostolic practice of laying on of hands under a variety of circumstances – healing, setting apart for ministry or service, and Acts 8:4-17 and Acts 19: 1-16. However, the practice of laying on of hands upon all baptized persons “cannot with certainty be read out of Scripture—shown, that is, to be unambiguously expressed by one or more of the human writers.” Article XXV – The Sacraments – states that Confirmation is not be received as a sacrament of the gospel since it has in part developed from a false understanding of apostolic practice. It also has no visible sign or ceremony commanded by God. The Preface that precedes the Catechism in the 1549, 1552, and 1559 Prayer Books and 1637 Scottish Prayer Book does not claim that Confirmation is a biblical rite but that “it is agreeable with the usage of the church in times past.” While early seventeenth century Caroline divine Jeremy Taylor viewed Confirmation as a “Holy Rite” at which the bishop conferred the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, a sacrament in everything but name only, the leading proponents of this sacramental view of Confirmation are the Tractarians and the later Anglo-Catholics. But for Evangelicals such a view is not only unbiblical but also fraught with danger.

First, it takes a magical view of God and the rites of the Church. Second, it denies the reality of the vast number of Christians who have never had a bishop lay hands upon them and yet manifest the Holy Spirit in their lives. Third, it can led the unconverted to believe that they have received the Holy Spirit because a bishop has laid hands on them even though the Holy Spirit is not manifested in their lives and they persist in all kinds of sin and ungodliness.

As I have repeatedly drawn to the reader’s attention in my series on An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), the Anglican Mission adopted in its Solemn Declaration of Principles and the Common Cause Partnership Theological Statement as its standard of Anglican doctrine the Holy Scriptures, the Creeds, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal and as its standard of the Anglican tradition of worship the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal and the Books that preceded it. The doctrine and liturgical practices of the 1549 Prayer Book and the 1928 Prayer Book carry no weight. The evidence is that the 1549 Prayer Book was only a transitional book designed to prepare the English people for a more reformed liturgy. Cranmer was already working on the Second Prayer Book at the time of the publication of the First Prayer Book. The 1928 Prayer Book is not closer to the 1549 Prayer Book but to the Medieval service books that preceded it. Its similarities to the 1549 are superficial.

Endnotes:
[1] Gerard Austin, The Rite of Confirmation: Anointing with the Spirit, Collegeville, Min.: Liturgical Press, 1985, 70
[2] Roger Beckwith, “‘For the More Explanation’ and ‘For the More Perfection’: Cranmer's Second Prayer Book,” Churchman Issue 2002 116/3

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The reply to my comment shows a flawed method of biblical interpretation into two ways. First, it requires that every detail of divine action must appear in every text, which means that no use can be made of reason. That the scriptures tell of the outpouring of the Spirit as a promise, and also show the apostles and the laying on of hands as an outward sign of this grace, is not swept under the rug by the absence of this sign in every mention. The principle is obvious.

(The matter about the eunuch is not useful, because we really don't know what followed; but, we do know that Phillip, for some reason, did not lay hands on the Samaritans either, but waited for the apostles. Anyone who actually grasps the classic Anglican interpretation, not to mention the entire Tradition from the earliest of times, knows what to make of this, in light of Apostolic Succession. Phillip was neither ἀπόστολος, nor συμπρεσβύτερος. He was, however, an evangelist.)

We know exactly what the Anglican understanding always has been. We know the difference between divine actions in which God gives grace without the normal application of sacraments versus the application of those sacraments as established in scripture, and interpreted by Tradition. And, frankly, to silence the interpretation of the Fathers is the quickest way to misinterpret the scriptures.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Perhaps one of my articles could assist in understanding my point.

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2008/
02/grace-of-sacraments.html

Reformation said...

Let's get on with a Calvinistic, Protestant, Confessional, and Reformed work, shall we? The Anglicans have become Manglicans...with a mangled theology.

n6okj said...

Could an acceptable BCP be gleaned from UK's 1662, PECUSA's 1789 & 1928, and the REC's 1874 & 1963?

Could a group form of ex-REC-ers, TPEC-ers, AOC-ers, and over the pond, the FCE gang?

God give us an Anglican-Calvinist witness!

Just thinkin',

Hugh McCann
hughmc5@hotmail

Fr. Steve said...

God give us an Anglican-Calvinist witness!

God help us all if that every comes about. We're Anglicans, not Presbyterians.