Returning to the Old Paths: A Traditional (and Restored) Language ACNA BCP

The ACNA blogosphere and social media has been dominated by the new kid on the block, the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer. Meanwhile, I overlooked an emerging project to render the 2019 BCP into the language of Cranmer.  But this isn’t simply a Rite I job on the ACNA prayer book, instead, it is actually restoring key language. Exhibit A, from the Daily Office Confession:

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us.

What you may notice is the omission of “and apart from your grace” preceding “there is no health in us.” This was an addition to the 2019 ACNA BCP that Professor Samuel Bray took to task over at the North American Anglican.

Now enter Exhibit B, also from the confession:

But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.

Ah, there it is. Miserable Offenders unite.

It is my understanding this project has the blessing of the Liturgy Task Force (there is a rubric allowing for traditional language in the ACNA BCP).  There is potential this work will be published officially by the ACNA with the College of Bishops’ blessing. I hope some of the changes to the classic canticles are also reversed and for heaven’s sake, put the Opening Sentences, well, in the opening of the offices.  Also, based on my use of the ACNA BCP when compared to using the 2003 REC BCP offices, it would be a huge and simple improvement to place the supplemental canticles and seasonal antiphons within the text of the offices to prevent from needlessly flipping several times during the offices.  When using the 1928 BCP or 2003 REC BCP I have found a congregation does not miss a beat so long as you print the page number in the bulletin for the canticles that will be used in the service or simply announce “turn to page x” and read the title of the canticle being read/sung next.  It is far easier to tell a congregation to skip a page or two on an optional canticle than jump to the back and hold your place in the office and then pick up where you were without confusing someone (see, I can be “missional”!).

It is with great joy that the twenty and thirty somethings have been pushing for this project (and I do believe Jacob Hootman, who spearheads this project was not yet nineteen when he started this work!).  Please contact the Liturgy Task Force AND the College of Bishops and let them know you support the project and want the restoration of important, classical Anglican language.

My wish list for this noble project would include restoring the simple, yet theologically heavy, classic catechism as it can be memorized and truly provides a new Anglican with the core of what is necessary for confirmation. This is not meant to degrade the ACNA Catechism as we do need their longer catechism to educate persons in a post-Christian society, but for the purpose of ensuring each confirmand knows what is key prior to confirmation the shorter catechism is better-suited and is based on the model of St. Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures (the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed).  Perhaps merely re-adopt the 1928’s Offices of Instruction would suffice since it is a liturgy for the entire church to recite and learn the catechism together (something we recently did at Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd). Additionally, instead of noting Ash Wednesday and Good Friday “are encouraged” for fasting, it would be important to note that these are required days of abstinence and all Fridays are days for fasting to keep within the prayer book tradition. If my memory serves me correctly, the American prayer books dropped the requirement in the 1662 BCP, in the “Concerning the Service of the Church”, requiring “And all Priests and Deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer either privately or openly, not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause.”  This should be restored in this traditional language version as a requirement for the clergy in a rubric before the major daily offices.

Please note, I am not opposed to contemporary language prayer books as I submitted my proposals to the task force, but I do believe words have meaning and excising words or providing additional contextual language comes dangerously close to crossing the boundaries of revision to revisionism. I do not believe the Liturgy Task Force had any intent of the latter and this traditional language ACNA BCP project provides the opportunity to ensure ACNA “not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28) but instead to “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Sacraments as Means of Justification

Great piece from the Rev. Dr. Eric Parker, who resides in the little slice of heaven known as Lexington, Virginia.

EPISTOLÊ

As Christians we believe the words of St. Paul when he says that sinners are justified by faith, and as Protestants we recognize that the added “sola fide” of the Reformation was not a novel invention meant to remove the human element in salvation, but a traditional way of adding emphasis to a word (see the line in Thomas Aquinas’ “Pange Lingua” – “Sola fides sufficit“), and in this case adding emphasis to the filial trust that believers have in the word of God who declares sinners to be “righteous” apart from their merits.

When God declares something about a sinner, he always uses inanimate and animate instruments to conveys that message. He used a burning bush to get his message across to Moses, and he used Moses to point Israel to that guiding flame and cloud, through the wilderness and into the Promised Land. And, it was…

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From The North American Anglican: Jacob Hootman on the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer

Another addition to the debate on the fidelity of the 2019 ACNA BCP to the 1662 BCP.

Prydain

Having mentioned two posts on The North American Anglican about the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer, I thought I would link to another perspective published therein – this one by Jacob Hootman.  Its title is The ACNA Prayerbook: Faithful to the 1662 BCP? and it is worth reading along with the others.  His conclusion?

The 2019 Prayer Book is, without a doubt, the closest that anyone can get in the aftermath of 1979 to a contemporary English Prayer Book-style liturgy. It is truly a book of compromise, forged over the last ten years by many capable and Godly individuals, but it is also a book of principles, which have been uniformly applied throughout the text. I have every confidence that this prayer book reflects the doctrine and practice of the 1662.

I will let you read the post by Mr. Hootman and see what he says in reaching this…

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For Anglicans in Search of Their Heritage

I strongly suggest reading Brandon Letourneau’s essay, Principles and Distinctives of Anglican Ceremonial, published by The North American Anglican.

Some nuggets:

So then, the first principle of Anglican Ritual is the conviction that all public worship, as an administration of the Church’s teaching authority, ought to convey biblical truth. This is precisely why aping other traditions, who do not share this conviction, results disastrously. If ceremonial communicates an underlying principle, then shouldn’t it be assumed that ceremonials not our own are communicating a different and at worst a damaging principle? The fact that a good many American priests have never read our formularies is evidence of this intellectual usurpation. And yet, there is perhaps nothing more “Anglican” in the American Church than the emulation of other jurisdictions.

Here’s another point where I had to resist the urge to grab a highlighter and go to work on my computer monitor, but instead I have bolded my personal emphasis:

This brings me to a second point of Anglican ceremonial, and it’s quite maddening that this point must be made at all, and yet here I am: Anglicanism is not Roman Catholicism, or Eastern Orthodoxy, or American Revivalism. Anglicanism is Anglicanism. Not only are we not these others, but these others have failed us. Bl. Percy Dearmer puts it best:

This Church was, in fact, in a mess. She had tried so many ways of escape! She had tried Geneva; she had tried Rome; she had essayed a mixture of the two in varying proportions, which was called Moderate; she had tried laissez faire, by which each man did what he found easy and thought nice; she had even tried (heroic and marvellous as it may seem) to establish a Cathedral type of Service in every village church. The one thing that she had never tried to do was to carry out her own laws, and to apply her own principles. (Loyalty to the Prayer Book)

I could go on and on about how inconsistent Anglican worship has become due to the ignorance or obstinacy of some (most?) clerics. But I will leave this for the reader to discover. One need only place himself within three Anglican parishes to experience three different liturgies and a thousand conflicting doctrines. This is all to say that our apparel matters. Our actions and words matter. There is no part of the liturgy that is flippant or irrelevant, and very few that one party or another hasn’t given a martyr or two for. This is because Anglican worship is permeated with a sense of its audience. It is for someone, or someones, and we care a great deal about its presentation.

I would hope every ACNA postulant and current clergy read, mark, and inwardly digest.

My Last Reflection Before Leaving Law for the Ministry

The following was my last contribution to The Jere Beasley Report, the long-time publication of my former law firm that I was honored and truly blessed to call my home for nearly a decade.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to submit my favorite Bible verse in the regular section of The Report. It can be accessed on page 33 of the online edition.

My favorite verse since I was a teenager are the following words of Christ that have pierced my soul since I first read them: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). These words of Christ have forever been seared in my mind as a reminder that life is not about money, power, or self-gain, but is about losing ourselves to His will. Namely, this is serving our neighbors by showing our love through acts of service, which demonstrate the faith we have in trusting—truly trusting—that our Creator has redeemed us to serve others.

Many have asked why I am going into the ministry. It is not because formal ministry is “more holy” but due to a call placed on my heart. It was an irresistible call and one I was not looking for but no matter who we are, or where we are, we are called to serve others as we are and in our careers. It is our vocation to be fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, employees, and ultimately Christbearers to all we encounter. I urge the reader to understand that it is not a higher calling to go into the ministry as we are all minsters in our own locations to each and every one we encounter each and every day. Look around you. The people you work with, befriend, and love are those whom you minister to and to whom minister to you. They bear the image of God and as C.S. Lewis so eloquently put:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

-C . S . Lewis “The Weight of Glory”

Treasure those immortal souls who are around you and protect your own soul by selflessly serving them. Serve others by relinquishing the burdens of this world and casting your trust on the One who created the world, Jesus the Christ. God bless you all in your own ministries wherever you are.

Uncommon Prayer Continues…

Moreover, although the 1662 did not please all sides in the Church of England, it reflected not a mix-and-match theology but a coherent and consistent one: the theology the Book of Common Prayer shares with the Articles and the Homilies. Listening to Jefferies discuss the ACNA 2019 prayer book leaves me only more confused regarding the relationship between this book and the 1662 prayer book.

(Emphasis mine). Read the whole article here from The North American Anglican and take a listen to the podcast episode in question here.

I am still digesting the ACNA Book of Common Prayer and gathering my thoughts. There are a few things I can say as of now: 1) common prayer remains dead in Anglicanism (the ACNA Diocese of Quincy, who former Bishop is on the ACNA Liturgy Task Force, will be using the the English Common Worship instead of the 2019 ACNA BCP);  2) the ACNA book is a step in the right direction away from the 1979 TEC BCP (the ACNA 2019 BCP is an evolution rather than a revolution as my friend Canon Isaac Rehberg has aptly noted); 3) there are aspects in this evolution that I love and aspects I absolutely hate; and 4) I remain convinced the REC Modern Language 2003 BCP should have been used as the base text with minimal alterations and the publication of a simultaneous Book of Occasional Services could address any optional offices.

Those interested in a good overview of the changes to the 2019 ACNA BCP should take a look at Drew Nathaniel Keane’s prior article on the topic and I recommend Canon Rehberg’s article expressing the concerns that the 1979 TEC BCP was used as the starting point for ACNA’s own BCP.