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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 Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's Wrong with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer? by Robin Jordan

"The 1928 Prayer Book was adopted at the time the Anglo-Catholic and Broad Church movements were the dominant schools of thought in the Protestant Episcopal Church and the book reflects their doctrinal emphases."

[The following article is used by permission from The Heritage Anglican Network, by Robin Jordan, a Reformed Anglican and a free lance writer who lives in Kentucky.]

What's Wrong with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer?

By Robin G. Jordan

Introduction


In this article I seek to answer from a Reformed perspective the question, "What's wrong with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer?" Classical Anglican Evangelicalism had disappeared from the Protestant Episcopal Church by 1900. The 1928 Prayer Book was adopted at the time the Anglo-Catholic and Broad Church movements were the dominant schools of thought in the Protestant Episcopal Church and the book reflects their doctrinal emphases. At the 1925 General Convention Anglo-Catholics and Broad Churchmen united to remove the Thirty-Nine Articles from the American Prayer Book. They adopted a resolution dropping the Articles from the Prayer Book. However, they were thwarted by the denomination's Constitution that required an amendment of the Constitution to abolish the Articles. The resolution, which required the ratification of a successive General Convention, was quietly dropped at the 1928 General Convention.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer was the first major revision of the American Prayer Book. It goes far toward undoing the work that was accomplished for the Anglican Church at the Reformation. Many things rejected by the sixteenth century Reformers because of their inconsistency with biblical and Reformation doctrine, are introduced into the Prayer Book.

Morning and Evening Prayer


The 1928 Book of Common Prayer dilutes the American Prayer Book's doctrine of sin. The ten penitential sentences that had survived the 1892 revision of the American Prayer Book are reduced to three each in Morning and Evening Prayer and placed under the season of Lent. This eliminates an important evangelistic element from Morning and Evening Prayer. Samuel Luenberger draws to our attention:

"The text of our sentences are so compiled that they let one discern for himself the way to overcome sin through repentance. The following texts from the twelve quotations occupy a particularly important position: Ezekiel 18:27; Psalm 51:3.9, and 17; Joe; 2:13, etc.

"The very first quotation from Ezekiel 18 shows the way to prevail over sin:

"When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive." [1]

In its use of Sentences for the Seasons the 1928 Book of Common Prayer imitates the 1928 English Revised Book of Common Prayer and the 1929 Scottish Book of Common Prayer, both which are much more Catholic in tone than 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The Evangelicals in the Church of England and the British Parliament rejected the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book because it modified the doctrine of the Church of England, and replaced the biblical-Reformation theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with unreformed Catholic doctrine. The upper house of Convocation would defy Parliament and authorized its use in Dioceses where the Ordinary consented to its use. The Scottish Episcopal Church has historically been more High Church and Catholic than the Church of England, preserving such customs as the wearing of eucharistic vestments during the Communion Service and the elevation of the consecrated host during the Prayer of Consecration. The 1929 Scottish Prayer of Consecration included an Epiclesis invoking the Holy Spirit upon the bread and the wine so that the eucharistic elements should "become" the Body and Blood of Christ. Like the 1928 Prayer of Consecration, the 1929 Scottish Prayer of Consecration is derived from the 1764 Scottish Non-Juror Prayer of Consecration.

The 1928 Prayer Book permits the substitution of a short Invitation for the Exhortation in Morning and Evening Prayer with its view of man "in a strictly evangelical-Reformation way as one who wishes to disguise his sinfulness and lives with a propensity for avoiding God." [2]

A short Absolution taken from the medieval Sarum breviary may be used in lieu of Cranmer's fuller Absolution. This short Absolution, as well as a simplified Confession, is offered as an alternative at both Morning and Evening Prayer in the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book and the 1929 Scottish Prayer Book. As we shall see, the short Absolution is one of number of features that the 1928 Prayer Book shares with these books.

The 1928 Prayer Book permits the omission of the first Lord's Prayer or the second Lord's Prayer at Morning Prayer. In the 1552 Prayer Book the first Lord's Prayer forms a part of a sequence that begins with the penitential sentences. Cranmer's Absolution does not make sense if the first Lord's Prayer is omitted. The 1928 Prayer Book permits the omission of the Exhortation, the Confession, the Absolution, and the first Lord's Prayer at Evening Prayer. This represents a significant departure from the Reformed form of Evening Prayer of the 1552 Prayer Book and a return to the unreformed Catholic form of the medieval Sarum breviary and the 1549 Prayer Book.

Invitatories for optional use in the form of medieval Antiphons are prefixed to the Venite. Cranmer had omitted Invitatories from the 1552 Book of Common Prayer because they were interpolated between the successive verses of the Venite and other passages of Scripture and broke the continual course of the reading of the Scripture. (See The Preface in the 1552 Prayer Book). With the Sentences for the Seasons that replace the penitential sentences, they give further emphasis to the Seasons. In the 1928 Prayer Book observance of the Church Year overshadows repentance at Morning and Evening Prayer. This is just one of a number of ways that the 1928 Prayer Book minimizes the gravity of sin.

The Holy Communion


The revised Order for the Holy Communion includes elements that quite definitely bring it into line with the medieval Roman Mass. Among the changes that 1928 Prayer Book introduced are the following:

1. The opening rubrics of the 1928 Order for Holy Communion direct the priest to stand before the Holy Table, his back turned to the congregation. This is how the priest stood at the medieval Roman Mass. This position, commonly referred to as the "eastward position," is associated with the unreformed Catholic and Roman doctrinal views that presbyters are a sacrificing priesthood and the Mass is a sacrifice.

2. The rubrics direct the priest to offer the bread and wine and then place them upon the Holy Table at the Offertory. An offering of the bread and wine during the Prayer of Consecration had already been incorporated into the American Prayer Book with the adoption of the Scottish Non-Juror Prayer of Consecration in 1789. The two offerings of the bread and wine, one at the Offertory and the other during the Canon or Prayer of Consecration are taken from the medieval Roman Mass and are associated with the doctrines of the Sacrifice of the Mass and Transubstantiation.

3. The Prayer for the State of Christ's Church contains a petition for the departed. This is also a feature of the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book and the 1929 Scottish Prayer Book.

4. After the Sursum Corda the rubrics direct the priest to "turn to the Holy Table" with his back turned to the congregation—the eastward position associated with the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

5. The 1928 Prayer of Consecrations closely follows the pattern of the medieval Roman Canon, except the latter has no Epiclesis.

6. The theology of the 1928 Prayer of Consecration represents a modification of the theology of the 1764 Scottish Non-Juror Prayer of Consecration. 1764 Scottish Non-Juror Communion Office was the work of two elderly Scottish Non-Juror bishops. They were the last of the surviving Usagers, a Scottish Non-Juror church party that taught that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. They believed that Christ had not offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for our redemption on the cross but at the Last Supper. He had only been slain on the cross.

"The Eucharist is both a Sacrament and a Sacrifice. Our Lord instituted the Sacrifice of the Eucharist when He began to offer Himself for the sins of all men, i.e. immediately after eating His Last Passover. He did not offer the Sacrifice upon the Cross; it was slain there but was offered at the Institution of the Eucharist." [3]

Bishop Thomas Deacon in his Comprehensive View describes a proper celebration of the Eucharist from this standpoint. The priest, he writes

"does as Christ did…he next repeats our Saviour's powerful words "This is my Body," "This is my Blood" over the Bread and Cup. The effect of the words is that the Bread and Cup are made authoritative Representations or symbols of Christ's crucified Body and of His Blood shed; and in consequence they are in acapacity of being offered to God as the great Christian Sacrifice….God accepts the Sacrifice and returns it to us again to feast upon, in order that we may be thereby partakers of all the benefits of our Saviour's Death and Passion. The Bread and Cup become capable of conferring these benefits on the priest praying to God the Father to send the Holy' Spirit upon them. The Bread and Cup are thereby made the Spiritual, Life-giving Body and Blood of Christ, in Power and Virtue." [4]

The theology of the 1928 Prayer of Consecration is far removed from the Reformed theology of the 1552 and 1662 Prayers of Consecration or even the theology of the 1549 Canon. In the latter prayer the Epiclesis precedes the Words of Institution and there is no Oblation, or offering of the bread and wine.

6. The 1928 Prayer of Consecration contains an invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine that, as both Martin Bucer and Stephen Gardiner drew to Cranmer's attention, suggest that the bread and wine undergo some kind of change other than a change in use. For this reason and the following reason the invocation of the Holy Spirit was dropped by Cranmer from the 1552 Book of Common Prayer. An invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine is a feature of the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book and the 1929 Scottish Prayer Book.

7. Bucer also objected to the invocation of the Holy Spirit upon inanimate objects. There was no warrant for the practice in the Bible. It also represented a departure from Biblical practice. In the Bible the Holy Spirit is invoked only upon people. The Holy Spirit also descends only upon people. Now where do we find in Scripture the invocation of the Holy Spirit upon inanimate objects.

The blessing of Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and 1 Corinthians 10:16 refers to the Jewish practice of blessing God over a cup of wine as a form of thanksgiving and not to the blessing of the wine itself. This is clear from Luke 22:17-20:

"And he received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I shall not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you."

And 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:

"For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come."

It is not an example of Jesus pronouncing God's blessing upon an inanimate object—a cup of wine.

In the 1552 Communion Service in the prayer, "Almighty God oure heavenly father, whiche of thy tender mecye…," the priest humbly asks God that those receiving the bread and wine may be partakers of Christ's Body and Blood. In the 1552 Baptismal Office in the prayer, "Almightie euerliving God, whose most dearely beloued sonne Jesus Christ…," the priest humbly asks God that all his servants who are to be baptized in the water, may receive the fullness of his grace and ever remain in the number of his faithful and elect children. There is no invocation of the Holy Spirit or God's blessing upon the bread and wine or the water in the font.

8. Nowhere in Scripture do we read that Jesus commanded the disciples to celebrate and make a memorial before God with the bread and wine or to offer them to God. Jesus instructed the disciples to eat the bread and drink the cup in remembrance of him. He said nothing about celebrating and making a memorial before God as if God needed to be reminded of what he had done. Paul speaks of proclaiming Christ's death with the bread and the cup until he comes again. But he is not speaking of proclaiming to God but to our fellow men.

9. The 1928 Prayer of Consecration contains the words: "…with these thy gifts, which we now offer unto thee…." It also contains the words: "And though we be unworthy to offer unto Thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech Thee to accept this our bounden duty and service." The Reformers rejected the doctrine that the priest offers a sacrifice of Christ's Body and Blood. Cranmer therefore removed from the 1552 Prayer Book all expressions that taught a presence of Christ in the consecrated elements, and all expressions that implied the offering of them as a sacrifice. For this reason Cranmer removed the word "Altar," and all words in the Prayer of Consecration relating to any offering of a sacrifice by the priest. The Reformers also discarded eucharistic vestments such as the chasuble.

10. The rubrical permission to sing a hymn immediately before the distribution of the Communion permits the singing of the Agnes Dei. Coming where it does, it suggests a presence of Christ in the Bread and Wine as a result of the words of Consecration, and for this reason it was removed by Cranmer from the 1552 Prayer Book. This suggestion is further strengthened by the placement of the Lord's Prayer and the Prayer of Humble Access immediately before the distribution of the Communion. For the same reason they were moved by Cranmer to different positions in the 1552 Prayer Book, the Lord's Prayer to a position immediately after the distribution of the Communion and the Prayer of Humble Access to a position immediately after the Sanctus.

Baptism


The 1928 Book of Common Prayer also changes the baptismal theology of the American Prayer Book.

1. The opening sentence of the Exhortation of the Baptismal Office "forasmuch as all men are born and conceived in sin" has been omitted.

2. The 1928 Prayer Book drops the Flood Prayer that had been in the Book of Common Prayer since the 1549 Prayer Book and in the American Prayer Book since 1789. The Flood Prayer teaches that God has "sanctified the element of water to the mystical washing away of sin" through Our Lord's baptism in the River Jordan. For this reason the form for the private baptism of infants in the 1552, 1559, 1604, and 1662 Prayer Books does not contain a blessing of the water used in baptism.

One cannot make even the slightest alteration in a text without affecting the doctrine of the text. Dropping the Flood Prayer that stresses God's sanctification of the element of water for the purpose of baptism is as serious an alteration of doctrine in the 1928 Prayer Book as the addition of prayers for the departed.

3. The biblical language of the Prayer for the Baptismal Candidate has been watered down.

4. The 1928 Prayer Book recasts the prayer "Almighty, everliving God, whose most dearly beloved Son, etc…" along the lines of the Prayer of Consecration in the service of Holy Communion. This recasting emphasizes the priestly blessing of the water in the font. This is also a feature of the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book.

The rubrics of 1928 Prayer Book do permit private baptism even by a baptized layperson in cases of dire emergency without a blessing of the water since its omission would have gone against Catholic tradition but its inclusion does not counterbalance the recasting of "Almighty, everliving God, whose most dearly beloved Son, etc…".

5. The signing of the newly baptized with the cross upon the forehead, a practice that Evangelicals view as without warrant in the Bible, to which they have long objected, and which was optional in the 1892 Office of Baptism, is made mandatory.

6. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer gives liturgical expression to the unreformed Catholic doctrine that a bishop in a line of succession going back to the apostles, through the imposition of hands, has the power to confer upon an ordinand in turn the power to convert the substance of the eucharistic elements into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ (Transubstantiation) and to impart to the element of water the power to regenerate the human soul (Baptismal Regeneration).

The Thirty-Nine Articles rejects the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics are sharply divided over the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. The Privy Council, the highest judicial authority for the Church of England at the time, ruled against Bishop Henry Philpotts and the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration in the Gorham decision in 1850. The Privy Council ruled that Baptismal Regeneration was not a doctrine of the Church of England and Bishop Philpotts should not have denied a living to George Gorham in the Diocese of Exeter because Gorham did not believe that the grace of regeneration invariably accompanied the act of baptism.

Baptismal Regeneration was one of the latent Catholic doctrines in the 1789 Book of Common Prayer that, with the growth and increased influence of Tractarianism in the then Protestant Episcopal Church, prompted Bishop George David Cummins and conservative Evangelical clergy and laypersons to leave the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1873 and to form the Reformed Episcopal Church.

The Catechism


The 1928 Book of Common Prayer replaces the Prayer Book Catechism with two Offices of Instruction. The Second Office articulates a view of Confirmation, which has no real basis in the Bible and is not found in the Reformed Prayer Book of 1552, the classical Anglican Prayer Book of 1662, or the first two American Prayer Books of 1789 and 1892. It is a sacramental view of Confirmation that differs from the catechetical view of Confirmation that was held by the English Reformers and is given liturgical expression in these four Prayer Books. It is also a view of Confirmation over which Anglicans are sharply divided.

Confirmation


The 1928 Prayer Book omits the preface to the Office of Confirmation that was a feature of the 1662, 1789, and 1892 Offices of Confirmation and which emphasizes the catechetical nature of Confirmation. The presentation of the candidates for Confirmation to the bishop is modeled upon that of the presentation of candidates for ordination. The 1928 Prayer Book includes Acts 8 as an optional reading. This particular reading and what it means is the subject of much heated debate.

Burial of the Dead


The biblical language of the Burial Office has been diluted. The Burial Office includes a number of prayers for the departed.

Ordination


In the Ordinal there is a significant change in the form of the question put to the deacon concerning the Bible. Instead of being asked, "Do you unfeignedly believe all the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments?" the candidate is asked "Are you persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contains all Doctrine required as necessary for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?" The candidate is no longer required to affirm a blanket belief in the teachings of the Bible.

Consecration of a Church or Chapel


In the Form for the Consecration of a Church or Chapel any reference to God's anger or wrath has been expunged

Conclusion


From a Reformed perspective the 1928 Book of Common Prayer suffers from a number of serious theological defects. This rules out the use of the 1928 Prayer Book in public worship in an Anglican church that is Reformed in its doctrine. If prayers and liturgical material are used from the 1928 Prayer Book, great care should be taken to see that their doctrine conforms with the biblical-Reformation doctrine of the Thirty-Nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1661 Ordinal.

Anglicans have long recognized how we pray reflects and shapes what we believe. What good does it do to preach one thing when the liturgy that we are using and the worship practices that we have adopted teach another? Both our preaching and our liturgy and worship practices need to convey the same message.

Endnotes:


[1] Samuel Leuenberger, Archbishop Cranmer's Immortal Bequest The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England: An Evangelistic Liturgy, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990) 152.
[2] Leuenberger, 153.
[3]Henry Broxap, The Late Non-Jurors, "Appendix II Non Juror Doctrine and Ceremonies" (Cambridge 1928), 1, appendix on the Internet at: http://anglicanhistory.org/nonjurors/broxapapp2.pdf

[4] Broxap, 1-2.


The Third Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom though hast given an hearty desire to pray, may by thy mighty aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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