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Liturgy in the reign of Edward VI in 16th century England

Liturgy in the reign of Edward VI in 16th century England

Anglican Connection Conference

Dallas, Texas, USA – June 13-15, 2017

Stephen Tong (PhD, Cambridge)

 

Introduction

There is no doubt that the sixteenth-century Reformation changed the world. From politics and social attitudes to things like work and family life. To the art of Michelangelo, the music of J.S. Bach and the literature of Shakespeare. To those on board the Mayflower and to the establishment of the Thirteen Colonies.

The face of Western culture and society over the past 500 years would have been very different without the likes of Martin Luther, John Calvin and many others.

This is certainly true of the Church of England and the way it has developed into the modern Anglican Communion. And yet today, there is great ambiguity about what constitutes true Anglican identity. Where can we turn to in order to start answering such a vexed question?

Let me suggest that we can begin our answer by turning to reconsider one of the foundational Anglican texts: The Book of Common Prayer, originally composed by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

But since the Anglican Church has a five-hundred-year history, which edition of the Prayer Book captures the true essence of Cranmer’s vision for the Church? Is it the 1549, 1552, 1559, 1604, 1662, 1928, or 1979 Prayer Book?

What I’d like to do over the next few minutes is to take us back to the historical roots of the Anglican movement. Right to the heart of the Reformation as it unfolded in England under Edward VI from 1547-1553. And with a particular focus on liturgical reform. 

In doing so, I hope to offer an insight into the question of Anglican identity. And to do that, we need to meet a man who is, I’m sure, already familiar to many of us.

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556)

Thomas Cranmer was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Henry VIII in 1533. He continued in the post through the reigns of the next two English monarchs. First, Henry’s firstborn son: the boy-king, Edward VI. And then after Edward’s premature death at age 15: Henry’s first-born daughter, Mary. While Edward was a convinced Protestant, Mary was staunchly Roman Catholic.

So, the changing of the guard spelt danger and ultimately doom for Cranmer, the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury. He was soon imprisoned, tried and condemned as a heretic. And was burnt at the stake as a Protestant martyr in Oxford in 1556. Until his death, though, Thomas Cranmer was the leading English reformer.

Some of the key doctrinal issues that Cranmer sought to correct and overturn included papal infallibility; the cult of the saints; devotion to Mary; use of relics, idols and pilgrimages in worship; purgatory; praying for the dead; transubstantiation; sacramental penance and sacramental grace; and, of course, the role of faith and works in salvation.[i]

The first step in combatting these Roman Catholic heresies came just six months into the reign of Edward VI. A set of twelve sermons, or homilies, known as the Book of Homilies was issued and enforced on the population by a Royal Decree. Every parish was to purchase a copy of these sermons with the intention that they would be used each Sunday.

This volume of sermons replaced the steady diet of saints’ lives and morality tales that medieval congregations had been fed. And instead provided those ministers who were incapable of preparing sermons for themselves with a readymade text of approved doctrine.

So, the first piece of liturgical reform under Edward was to make expository preaching an essential feature of public worship on a regular Sunday service. In doing so, English congregations were now being taught that salvation was granted by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, as revealed by scripture alone.

The Book of Homilies was soon accompanied by three other documents that consolidated the reformed Protestant identity of the Edwardian Church. These were the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal, and the 42 Articles (which were later revised as the 39 Articles by Matthew Parker. We can see Parker’s red crayon at work here on a draft copy of the Articles).

It’s worth pointing out at this introductory stage, that all historians in the secular universities now accept that the most accurate and appropriate term to use when referring to reformers of the mid-sixteenth century is ‘evangelical’.[ii]  It was a contemporary sixteenth-century term used to describe those reformers who were neither Lutheran nor radical Anabaptists. From a strictly historical perspective, then, academics agree that Cranmer’s liturgical reforms were intended to shape the Church of England into an evangelical mould.

Therefore, we must acknowledge that the foundational documents, which have defined orthodox Anglican worship and doctrine for the past 500 years (the Homilies, the 39 Articles, the Ordinal, and the Prayer Book), are all products of evangelical industry. As a result, these formularies helped give birth to a reformed, Protestant Church of England. Which can rightly be thought of as an evangelical institution.

There are two further ways in which we should see the Book of Common Prayer, in particular, as evangelical.

First, it is mission-focused. Cranmer knew that the only way men and women meet the risen Lord is by meeting Him in the scriptures. Therefore, the new lectionary that Cranmer devised for the Prayer Book ‘mapped out a plan for daily churchgoers to hear the New Testament read out three times each year, the Old Testament once and the Psalms monthly’.[iii]

In addition to this routine of Bible reading, Cranmer composed mission-minded prayers.

For example, the Collect for Good Friday asks God to ‘have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Heretics, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word’. On the day that Christians come together to celebrate our salvation in Christ’s death on the cross, Cranmer encourages us to look to the salvation of others as well.

The second way we can think of the Prayer Book as evangelical is in its doctrinal content.

This will be made clear as we look at the Communion service in detail in just a moment.

But let me just say from the outset, that each service contained in the Prayer Book is characterised by the Reformation principles of sola gratia, sola fides, solus Christus, sola scriptura, and soli Dei Gloria.

Those living through the English Reformation were in no doubt about the direction Cranmer was taking the Church of England. Hence why Mary’s Roman Catholic reprisals were so vehement. The blood of 300 martyrs testifies to this. Cranmer included. His was a prize scalp for the Roman Catholic regime. Because he was recognised as the master architect of a Protestant, reformed, evangelical Church of England.

Note on Liturgy

Before going further, it is worth pausing to make a note on what liturgy is, and hence why liturgical reform was necessary in the sixteenth-century English Church. The purpose and nature of Cranmer’s liturgical reforms emphasise the obvious (but often overlooked) truism:

Liturgical practice reflects our doctrinal convictions. As such, we need to be very careful in the way we construct and conduct our services because public worship says so much about what we believe. Liturgy matters. Let me define my terms.

What I mean by ‘liturgy’ is simply the routine, or ordered framework within which any public meeting is conducted. Every church gathering follows a liturgy.

It can be as simple as having a few short readings from scripture, some prayers, another bible passage, and a concluding prayer. As bare boned as that service might be. That is still a liturgy. In fact, I’ve just described the burial service from the 1552 Prayer Book. The same service from which these famous phrases come: ‘In the midst of life we be in death’. And, ‘earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’.

Liturgy doesn’t need to be overly formal or ostentatious. Congregations don’t necessarily need to follow a set text in a published book.

But, the essential feature is that our liturgies need to be grounded in scripture with the double purpose of edifying our congregations so that they can glorify God. Of course, this is so wonderfully modelled for us in Cranmer’s original liturgical reforms. But in order for us to better understand what Cranmer was trying to achieve in his liturgical projects, we need to grasp something of his historical context.[iv]

History 

The first Book of Common Prayer arrived in 1549. It was accompanied by the first Act of Uniformity that enforced its use in every parish throughout the realm. This legislation effectively replaced a myriad of liturgical forms that had been used in various English dioceses throughout the medieval period.

Before the Reformation, the shape of public worship would vary depending on which diocese you might be in.[v] For instance, the well known ‘Sarum’ rite was widely used throughout the southern dioceses since it emanated from Salisbury. But in the north, where the Archbishop of York dominated the ecclesiastical landscape, the more common form of liturgy was that established by York.

But now, under Edward VI, the Church of England was unified by a single form of public worship. Every congregation in every parish in every diocese was to use the newly reformed English liturgy.

This was significant. Legally and institutionally speaking, Henry VIII’s Royal Supremacy had severed the pope’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction in England via an Act of the English Parliament in 1534. In practical terms, however, it was the changes to public worship ushered in by the Prayer Book that effectively cleaved English congregations from their medieval Roman Catholic past at the level of the local parish.

Previous to this, in late medieval Europe and England, ecclesiastical institutions were subject to papal authority. Public piety in late medieval England was centred on the Mass. And private devotion was dominated by an anxiety about being good enough to earn salvation, coupled with constant efforts to reduce the amount of time you or a family member would spend in purgatory.[vi]

Luther’s rediscovery of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, as revealed through scripture, effectively broke these three pillars of society. In mid-sixteenth century England, Cranmer’s liturgical reform was intended to help consolidate the primacy of the Gospel over these manmade constructions.

A prime example of this came in the Order for the Burial of the Dead. From 1549 onwards, there were no longer any prayers for the deceased. Although the priest did address the corpse at the point of burial, saying, ‘I commend thy soul to God’. This was later corrected in the 1552 Prayer Book. Where the minister comforts the living with a reminder that ‘it has pleased God of His great mercy to take unto Himself the soul of our dear brother [or sister] here departed: we therefore commit his body to the ground…’

But perhaps the most obvious change ushered in by the new liturgy was to replace Latin as the official language used in church services with the English vernacular. The same English vernacular that a young William Shakespeare would later hear each Sunday, and then transpose into some of the richest English vernacular in history.

Changing the language of public worship was a natural outworking of Cranmer’s reformation principles. Indeed, all Reformers shared this ideal of making the Gospel accessible and comprehensible. Think, for instance, of Luther’s German Bible, or Tyndale’s English Bible.

Cranmer made this clear in the ‘Preface’ to the Prayer Book. He explained that this change in language followed Paul’s dictum to the Corinthians about ensuring that the language used in church services edified the congregations: ‘So that they have [not] heard with their ears only; [but also with] … their hearts, spirit, and mind’.[vii]

In this sense, Cranmer’s Prayer Book gives us an early example of church planting and evangelism.

I can only speak from my own limited experience. But there are many parishes in the Sydney Diocese, Australia, that have language-specific congregations meeting on their premises. For example, in one parish church where there are 10 services each Sunday; 5 are in English, 2 in Farsi for the Persian community, and 3 in Chinese (1 in Cantonese, and 2 in Mandarin).

This is one of the great principles of Reformation Anglicanism at work today. Making the Gospel accessible and comprehensible. Without blunting the double-edged sword of God’s good message of salvation.

As good an achievement as unifying the English Church with a common liturgy in a common tongue was. The 1549 edition of the Prayer Book was not highly regarded by many reformers as being a finished product.

Cranmer himself realised that this was only the first step toward providing the national institution with a fully reformed liturgy. And so almost immediately after the 1549 Prayer Book was implemented, the Archbishop began planning its revision.[viii]

He enlisted the help of Peter Marytr Vermigli, an Italian reformer and Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and Martin Bucer, a German reformer and Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, to review the 1549 edition and offer any critical feedback.[ix]

One of the criticisms of the 1549 Prayer Book was that the Order for the Lord’s Supper left the door open to a Roman Catholic interpretation of the sacrament. In fact, a number of non-Protestant clergy even went as far as claiming that the new English liturgy promoted transubstantiation!

Such claims were based on the rubrics of institution that included an epiclesis in the text directing the priest to physically handle the bread and wine at this point. As well as instructing him to face the altar (and not the congregation). For those who wanted to see it (on both sides of the Reformation divide), this liturgical action could be interpreted as though the priest was offering a form of sacrifice to God.

In the end, the consensus was that the 1549 Communion Service was too theologically ambiguous. For the Reformers, this meant that it was too similar to the Roman Catholic Mass.

However, in defence of Cranmer, who cannot rightly be accused of holding suspect views about the Real Presence by this stage in his life, there was a significant difference between the 1549 Prayer Book and the Roman Catholic Mass.

Again we need to pay close attention to the rubrics.

Immediately following the words of institution, the minister is prohibited to do anything with the elements that might evoke idolatry or adoration of the bread and wine. The rubric reads:

‘These words before rehearsed are to be said, turning still to the Altar, without any elevation, of showing the Sacrament to the people’.

The inclusion of this rubric was a direct response to the Roman Catholic Mass, which emphasised the priest’s sacrificial role as mediator between sinner and God.

In 1562, the Council of Trent confirmed the Roman Catholic dogma that a ‘divine sacrifice is performed in the mass’.[x] And according to the doctrine of transubstantiation, the bread (or the ‘host’ as it is known) becomes the physical body of Christ.

Now, the English term ‘host’ comes from the Latin term hostia. Which literally translates as ‘sacrificial victim’. As such, during the Mass when the priest lifts up the ‘host’, after the prayers of consecration, the congregation believes they are seeing Christ crucified.

God’s sacrificial lamb in the form of a wafer.

Cranmer wanted to move people away from misconceiving the Lord’s Supper as re-enacting Christ’s sacrifice. The 1549 Prayer Book was Cranmer’s first attempt to gently bring the population along the road to a fully reformed, evangelical Church of England.

He was a patient reformer playing the long game. And hoped to win the entire Tudor kingdom for the Gospel. Having said that, he did realise that the 1549 liturgy needed further work.

The result was a second, and much more conspicuously reformed edition of the Book of Common Prayer that arrived in 1552. This was the defining liturgy for the English Reformation. And there are good historical reasons to suppose this.

After Edward died in 1553, his successor, Mary, outlawed use of the Prayer Book in the English Church as soon as she acceded the throne. The Prayer Book may have been buried. But it wasn’t dead.

It was taken into exile by those fleeing Mary’s persecution. Congregations of English refugees sprang up all over Germany and Switzerland and they continued to use the 1552 Prayer Book for public worship. When Mary died in 1558, these exiled English evangelicals returned to England.

The new queen, Elizabeth I, reacting to the previous decades of religious unrest, sought to impose a peaceful religious settlement that favoured Protestantism as the official religion of the Tudor kingdom.

Part of this was to restore the Prayer Book. The returning exiles as well as many of Elizabeth’s advisors who had stayed in England (including her chief politician, William Cecil), all urged the new queen to reinstate the 1552 without revision.

Instead, the 1559 version that Elizabeth authorised, and Parliament endorsed with another Act of Uniformity, contained some alterations that blended the 1549 and 1552 versions.

As a result, the primary theological thrust and impulse of Cranmer’s liturgical reforms under Edward were blunted. None of the subsequent revisions to the Anglican liturgy have ever quite recovered that original character.

Therefore, I believe, we have good historical reasons to hold up the 1552 Book of Common Prayer as the benchmark for Gospel-centred public worship.

The Purpose of Liturgy

Exercise in Formation

It is time now to consider the theological dimensions of that liturgy. As we do, I want to frame our discussion by thinking about the purpose of liturgy. We often forget that liturgy is an exercise in formation.[xi] That is to say, the doctrinal thinking and spiritual desires of individuals and congregations are shaped by the way they participate in public worship.

Shaping human desires and affections were at the heart of Cranmer’s liturgical reform.

Let me quote Ashley Null, the world’s foremost expert on Cranmer. ‘Here’s the heart of Cranmer’s liturgical vision: Divine gracious love, constantly communicated by the Holy Spirit in the regular repetition of Scripture’s promises through Word and sacrament, inspires grateful human love, drawing believers toward God, their fellow human beings, and the lifelong pursuit of godliness.’[xii] 

If we want to develop spiritual maturity in our congregations. If we want to encourage our congregations in their personal witness. If we want to ultimately transform society. Then we must let God’s Word shape our deepest desires. And, as Cranmer realised, the routines and rituals of public worship, as dictated and framed by an evangelical liturgy, carries the potential to do just this.

Formed by Word and Sacrament

While this principle of shaping Christian hearts by God’s love characterises every service in the Prayer Book. It is best captured in the Communion Service of 1552. Where congregations are formed by God’s Word and through receiving the sacrament.

It begins with the Collect for Purity: ‘Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy holy spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name: through Christ our Lord. Amen’.

This prayer sets the agenda from the very outset. Our hearts must be prepared by the Holy Spirit so that as we meet Jesus in scripture, we will be renewed by the love of the Father to magnify His holy Name.

In effect, we’re asking God to form our hearts and to stoke our desires with His love. As the service continues, one cannot avoid the centrality of God’s Word.

The Ten Commandments are read out. Prayers are offered. Scripture is read. The Creed rehearsed. A sermon is delivered. More scripture read. An offertory taken. And then more prayers.

At this point, those willing to receive communion stay in the church, while the others depart. The break in the service at this point is important. It provides an opportunity for us to weigh up what God has said to us from His Word. To allow the Spirit to convict us of our sin, and so to draw us to Himself in the Lord’s Supper.

Just before the intermission, if I can call it that, the minister warns all those present that if we presume to eat the bread and drink the cup without true repentance and faith in Christ, then ‘we be guilty of the body and blood of Christ our Saviour. We eat and drink to our damnation … [and] kindle God’s wrath against us.’

Article 26 of the 39 Articles echoes this warning: ‘they that receive the sacraments unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith’. Cranmer was paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 11.

This is an important component of the Lord’s Supper. For it emphasises the real spiritual dimension of the sacraments. We do not administer the sacraments because they are nice ecclesiastical traditions. We do so because they have been instituted by the Lord. And because they carry real spiritual benefits.

Again, as Article 26 states: Sacraments are ‘…badges and tokens of Christian men’s profession, … and certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will toward us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us; and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen, and confirm our faith in Him’.

The 1552 Communion service continues with only those who wish to receive the sacrament. And the minister repeats an exhortation to repentance:

‘You that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and be in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking henceforth in His holy ways. Draw near and take this holy sacrament to your comfort…’

A general confession comes next. Followed by an absolution. Or more precisely, a pronouncement of forgiveness in the Name of Jesus as confirmed to us in scripture.

This is not the minister acting as a modern-day Levitical priest, mediating between sinners and a holy God. He is simply, but confidently, declaring God’s forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ as revealed to us in scripture. Which is why Cranmer placed the comfortable words of Christ at this specific point in the liturgy.[xiii]

Having been reminded of our condition as totally depraved sinners. We can only be lifted up by our gracious God, whose nature is always to have mercy:

What a great comfort Matthew 11:28-30, John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15, and 1 John 2:1-2 are to us. For: ‘If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins.’

It is only fitting that we then respond with the sursum corda – ‘Lift up your hearts!’

‘We lift them to the Lord!’

The rhythm of sin, grace, forgiveness continues with the Prayer of Humble Access.

Alluding to the Syro-phoenician woman in Mark 7, we pray ‘We do not presume to come to this thy table (O merciful Lord) trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies: we be not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table: but thou are the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy…’

Here is another reminder of our sin. And that, like Moses before the burning bush, the only approach to our holy God is in humility and contrition.

The words of institution come next. After which the participants are told to ‘Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on Him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving’.

Thus, at the moment of eating and drinking the physical bread and wine, we are reminded that true sacramental reception is a spiritual reality enjoyed as a heartfelt response of gratitude to God’s grace.

That is why the Book of Common Prayer includes a service for Communion with the Sick. Not only was this an example of Cranmer’s pastoral accommodation during an age where the plague and the ‘sweating sickness’ took many lives. But it also underlines the biblical understanding of the Lord’s Supper as a spiritual exercise done in faith. Those who cannot ingest the physical elements should not be denied their spiritual food.

The introductory rubrics for this special Order for Communion explains that those who ‘by reason of extremity of sickness … or by any other just impediment, doe not receive the sacrament [physically]’ could still ‘eat and drink spiritually … profitably to his soul’s health, although he doe not receive the sacrament with his mouth’.[xiv]

This service presents the Lord’s Supper stripped to its core. Only a truly repentant heart, a steadfast belief in Christ, and hearty thanks are required to receive God’s spiritual blessings offered in His sacraments.[xv]

The 1552 Lord’s Supper can be further contrasted with 1549 and the Roman Catholic Mass at this point by noticing what is not being done. Again, we must take careful note of the rubrics.

There is no ringing of the sacring bell. No epiclesis. No elevation of the elements. No reservation of the bread. No altar – in fact a Royal Decree of 1550 ordered all altars to be destroyed and replaced by wooden tables (or the ‘Lord’s Board’).

This change in church architecture further emphasised that the Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice. But a family meal enjoyed by God’s children.[xvi]

Cranmer combined these stage directions with a specific order of prayers. And this ‘liturgical order is essential, [because it] reflect[s] the pattern of the gospel’.[xvii]

Just as the writer of Hebrews spends 13 chapters explaining that Christ is our true priest before he encourages us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Heb 13:15)/Rom 12:1-2). Cranmer concluded that any mention of offering or sacrifice is only appropriate after we receive the sacrament.

Therefore, the Prayer of Self-Oblation must follow and not precede, the eating and drinking of the Lord’s Supper.

‘O Lord and heavenly Father, we thy humble servants entirely desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving … and here [that is, after sacramental reception] we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and lively sacrifice unto thee…’ 

To conclude the service, the minister has a choice of prayers to pray. One of which sends the congregation out to serve the world by loving God:

‘We most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works, as thou hast prepared for us to walk in, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen’.

Amen indeed! This final prayer sums up what I want to say about liturgy as a formative exercise. Having been formed by Word and sacrament, Cranmer sent his congregations out into the world with the Gospel, in order to change the world through the Gospel.

Conclusion

Communal Aspects

We have just a few moments to consider one last point of significance by way of conclusion.

That is, the communal aspect of the Lord’s Supper.

While we can read the Bible and pray to God in the quiet of our own houses. And while we can download and listen to sermons anywhere and at any time. And while we can sing praises to God by ourselves, in the car or in the shower. We cannot receive the sacraments without the Church.

Not only does the Lord’s Supper proclaim Christ’s victory over sin. But, as Article 29 (‘Of the Lord’s Supper’) says: ‘The supper of the Lord is [also] a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another…’

Right at the start of the Communion service we are exhorted to be ‘in love and charity with our neighbours’. And as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:17, ‘Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf’.

That is why it is such a powerful symbol when we refuse to take communion with someone else. Considering the spiritual weight involved in the Lord’s Supper; is there a more potent form of ecclesiastical discipline than to deny communion?

Therefore, we must recognise that the current rupture in the ‘Communion of the Anglican Church’ speaks to a deeper reality. The full spiritual magnitude of which is known only to God.

The challenge for us modern Gospel-centred Anglicans, then, is to ensure that we continue to develop and use liturgies that communicate and embody biblical doctrines. So that our congregations will be formed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the love of God the Father, and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

[i] See Cranmer’s speech to the House of Bishops in 1536, Miscellaneous Writings, 79.

[ii] Dairmaid MacCulloch, Reformation: Europe’s House Divided, xx.

[iii] Tim Patrick, ‘Thomas Cranmer: the Reformation in Liturgy’, in Colin Bale, Ed Loane, Mark Thompson (eds.) Celebrating the Reformation (IVP, 2017), 153.

[iv] For more detail on the history of the Prayer Book itself, see Brian Cummings, The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662 (Oxford, 2011).

[v] See Richard Pfaff, The Liturgy in Medieval England: A History (Cambridge, 2009).

[vi] Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars (New Haven-London, 1992); Diarmaid MacCulloch, Reformation: Europe’s House Divided. Also Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between Devil and God.

[vii] BCP49, 18; BCP52, 194. All quotations from BCP are taken from The Two Liturgies in the reign of King Edward VI (Parker Society: Cambridge, 1844), ed. J. Ketley.

[viii] Ashley Null, Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love (Oxford, 2002).

[ix] For details see MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (New Haven-London, 1996).

[x] Council of Trent: Session 22 (17 September 1562), in Norma P. Tanner (ed.), Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (London, 1990), 773. Cf. Atherstone, ‘The Lord’s Supper’, 74.

[xi] See James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2013), introduction and passim.

[xii] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/five-reasons-reformation-anglicanism-relevant

[xiii] See Ashley Null, ‘Divine Allurement’.

[xiv] BCP49, 268; BCP52, 423.

[xv] ‘…yf he doe truely repent hym of his sinnes, and stedfastly beleue that Jesus Christ hath suffered death upon the crosse for hym, and shed his bloud for his redempcion, earnestly remembring the benefits he hath therby, and geuing hym hertie thankes therfore; he doeth eat and drynke spiritually the bodye and bloud of our sauioure Christe…’, BCP49, 268; BCP52, 423.

[xvi] On the theme of family meals, see Tim Chester, Truth We Can Touch: How Baptism and Communion Shape Our Lives (Crossway: Wheaton, Illinois, 2020).

[xvii] Andrew Atherstone, ‘The Lord’s Supper and the Gospel of Salvation’, in Lee Gatiss (ed.), Feed My Sheep: The Anglican Ministry in Word and Sacrament (Church Society, 2016), 84.

Australian Church Record Report on the Anglican Connection Conference, 13-15 June 2017, Dallas TX, USA

Australian Church Record Report on the Anglican Connection Conference, 13-15 June 2017, Dallas TX, USA

REPOSTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE ANGLICAN CHURCH RECORD
Written by Steve Tong

‘A dog’s breakfast’. During a recent conversation in the UK, a casual observer used that phrase to describe to me the Anglican Church in the United States of America. The fracture in the global Anglican Communion is most acute in the States, where the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) has been set up as a parallel Anglican province, bringing together the various Anglican groups that have been forming over the last twenty years or so – such as the Nigerian based, Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). However, the gospel clarity of the 16th century English Reformers – expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1552 Prayer Book – is not yet found in North American Anglican structures. This is why the formation of the Anglican Connection is important.

Initiated by John Mason[1] among others, the Anglican Connection works outside the formal structures of the Anglican Church. It is an affiliation of like-minded gospel-focused ministers and church leaders who are committed to making disciples of Christ and whose ministry is grounded in the Scriptures and framed by the riches of the English Reformation. (See: www.anglicanconnection.com) With this in mind, it was a privilege and honour to be invited to present a paper at the Anglican Connection Conference in June.

The conference was held in Dallas, Texas, and was well attended by ministers and lay folk from across the States and further afield (including Colombia and Cairo, Egypt!). The theme of the conference was how to be more effective as Gospel-centred ministers in light of the truths of the Reformation. As such, the five solas provided a framework for the various Bible studies and keynote addresses delivered across the two days.[2] Many of these were given by Australians, which served to strengthen our ties of fellowship with our American brothers and sisters.

Paul Barnett addressed the subject of Solus Christus under the title: ‘Good News that is also True News’.[3] Paul’s defence of the scriptures as historically reliable underlined the centrality of Christ in our faith and ministry. John Yates III (Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Raleigh, North Carolina) spoke on Sola Scriptura. He confronted us with ‘The Challenge of Biblical Illiteracy’, which is just as prevalent in secular society as it is in the Western Church for ordained and lay folk alike. Dr. Felix Orji (Bishop of CANA West) combined Sola Fide and Sola Gratia in his paper. The Nigerian explained that faith alone does not save, but only faith in Christ alone saves. Dr. Orji also provided us with possibly the most memorable quote from the conference: ‘Original sin is like a beard within us; we are clean shaven today but tomorrow it grows out again’.

John Mason rounded off the solas by speaking on Soli Deo Gloria. He spoke about God’s revealed glory culminating in Christ. John also touched on how Thomas Cranmer weaved this into the liturgy for Communion in the 1552 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. One of the gems of John’s presentation was to learn that the Collect for Purity that introduces the Communion service should be considered as Cranmer’s renovation of the epiclesis[4]; a conclusion he came to after discussing the question with Donald Robinson many years ago. This means that it is the believer’s heart that is spiritually renewed and transformed during the Lord’s Supper, not the physical bread and wine.

It was my job to explain the historical significance of Cranmer’s liturgical reforms under Edward VI. My paper held up the 1552 Prayer Book as Cranmer’s liturgical masterpiece, and defended it as the model par excellence for public worship in modern Anglican Churches. There is much to learn from Cranmer’s liturgical principles: public worship that is soaked in scripture (i.e. more than one Bible reading), set prayers that use biblical language for praise and petition, and an intentional order to public worship that shapes hearts and moves the affections through an acknowledgement of sin followed by a pronouncement of God’s love for sinners.

Peter Mayrick gave an excellent presentation and workshop on how to be more effective in ministry. Peter drew on a huge amount of research and statistics gathered through his role with Effective Ministries through the Centre of Ministry Development at Moore College.[5] One of the most sobering was the lack of time ministers spend in personal daily devotions. Neglecting to read God’s Word and pray beyond sermon/small group preparation is the number one factor in minster burnout, Peter told us.

To cap things off, the Getty Music team, led by Keith and Kristyn Getty (composers of ‘In Christ Alone’ and other modern hymns), led the conference in music and song. Their high-quality, biblical and gospel-focused lyrics and exemplary music was a fitting complement to the conference theme of ‘Gospel-centred ministry’. Keith also gave two excellent workshops on church and music, with Kristyn speaking about the importance of teaching our children hymns. The Getty’s likened this practice to buying shoes half a size too big so that your children will grow into them; we should teach our children deep theological truths through song, so that they will grow into them.

All in all, there is much to thank God for. The significance of this conference was expressed in the tears of one local minister who thanked John Mason for his leadership, continued pastoral support and biblical encouragement. As the unity of the global Anglican Communion becomes increasingly untenable, the need for the fellowship of the Holy Spirit within our denomination becomes more real. The Anglican Connection is one such manifestation of this fellowship. Please keep praying for God’s Church in America.
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[1]John is the former rector of St Clement’s Mosman in Sydney and the founding minster of two Anglican Churches in Manhattan, NY.
[2] Audio recordings of all sermons and papers delivered at the conference are available at: http://anglicanconnection.com/anglican-connection-conference-recordings/
[3] The text of this talk can be accessed here: http://paulbarnett.info/2017/06/god-news-that-is-also-true-news/
[4] The epiclesis is the part of the Roman Catholic Eucharist service in which the presence of the Holy Spirit is invoked to bless the elements or the communicants. The draft Anglican Church of North America liturgies continue the wording of the 1549 service where the Spirit is called upon to ‘bless and sanctify’ the elements of bread and wine, that they ‘might be unto us the body and blood’ of Christ. Cranmer removed this in his 1552 Service of The Lord’s Supper’
[5] https://cmd.moore.edu.au

dr-stephen-tong-bw
Since 2014 Steve Tong has been undertaking research for a PhD at Cambridge University on ‘Evangelical Ecclesiology and the English Liturgy during the Edwardian Reformation, 1545-1555’. Steve writes: My wife, Bettina, and three children, Sophie, Benjamin, and Edward, have come along for the ride, and we’re all enjoying our time in this great little town.