Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, September 18, 2005

One Book, Several Editions...?

While I greatly admire Dr. Peter Toon and the work he is doing with The Prayer Book Society, I have to wonder if he understands that merely going back to the original liturgy is not enough? Prior to 1970 theological liberalism existed in the Episcopal Church USA. Having an orthodox liturgy is no guarantee that the parish, the priest or the congregation will be born again Christians.

I have to wonder if those who deny justification by faith and faith alone can genuinely be called born again Christians? To take part of the credit for our salvation in any degree is to deny the very Gospel that Jesus and the apostle Paul preached. There is a subtle danger here of being deceived by the enemy. In our desire to fight postmodern theological liberalism we could be duped by so-called conservatives and traditionalists into accepting heretical ideas that are unscriptural and leave us in no better condition spiritually than theological liberalism would leave us in.

Joining forces to fight the devil is a good thing I suppose. However, joining forces with the devil to fight the devil in another guise is like having a house divided against itself. There can be no peace between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals unless and until Anglo-Catholics retract the doctrines that contradict the Gospel. Salvation is not by faith and works but by faith and faith alone. There can be no prayers to the saints or Mary and no veneration of the same because that would be a violation of the first commandment and is in fact idolatry. Furthermore, there is only one theory of the atonement that is completely Scriptural in every point and that is the substitutionary/penal view. Until Anglo-Catholics come clean on these points and numerous other ones there can be no unity among so-called "conservatives."

Perhaps a needed voice in these calls for unity would be input from our Evangelical brothers and sisters in The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and other theological conservatives who are calling Evangelicals in general to return to their traditional confessions of faith and to traditional worship? However, for Anglicans and Episcopalians here in the U.S., I fail to see how simply returning to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer will unite Evangelical Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics. While there are disputes even between Evangelicals and Charismatics, the differences with Anglo-Catholics are many.

The low church side of Anglicanism can be problematic because in their haste to object to Anglo-Catholic liturgy, vestments and other silly issues that are beside the point, they have forgotten the main point: the Gospel. If Evangelical Anglicans want to protest against Anglo-Catholicism it should be on the basis of doctrines like transubstantiation, doing penance, praying to the saints and justification by faith. Objections over placing candles on the Lord's table and wearing vestments is just misplaced. Low church Anglicans need to learn to appreciate a solidly Anglican liturgy complete with bells and smells and vestments--but without going to the extremes of Anglo-Catholic liturgy like adding to the service prayers to Mary and other innovations that are NOT in the prayer book of 1662 OR 1928.

Anglo-Catholics should be ashamed of themselves. They pretend to be following the 1928 Prayer Book but in reality they have introduced innovations into the liturgy that are not part of the 1928 Prayer Book at all. I observed this personally at St. Albans in Oviedo, Florida where Bishop Grundorf presides.

Doesn't anyone get it? The liturgy in the Prayer Book is NEITHER low church NOR Anglo-Catholic. It is Anglican and Evangelical. Those low church parishes which refuse to have holy communion weekly should be ashamed of themselves, as well. I get a bit irritated when I attend so-called "traditional" Anglican services at a local charismatic Anglican parish because even in the early morning traditional service the prayers of the communion service are edited or shortened with authorization from the rubrics in the prayer book itself. How can this be a "common" prayer service when the prayers are mutilated and butchered? The problem lies with charismatics who are so low church that the prayer book is meaningless to them?

Moreover, I think Dr. Toon would be disapproving of this parish because it uses the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which he says is basically just a book of alternative services. Actually, one can find some of the elements of the 1928 Prayer Book in the 1979 book but the prayers are shortened or edited even further.

If Anglicans and Episcopalians are to get back to true unity there must be a unity of doctrine and liturgy. Frankly, I don't see that happening. Giving lip service to Reformation doctrines that are essential to the Gospel is not enough. Returning to a modern edition of the 1928 or 1662 Prayer Book would be a great help but only if the provinces or churches in question also adopt a strict interpretation of the 39 Articles of Religion and an Evangelical and Protestant interpretation of the Prayer Book and the Holy Scriptures. With God all things are possible. Maybe I'm too much of a pessimist?


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