Archive for the ‘Anglicanism’ Category

Dr. Roberta BayerI read this article in the Anglican Way Magazine and reprinting it here with Dr. Bayer’s kind permission…………

The “Deep Churchman” – Commentary on “C. S. Lewis, 20 Years After”

By Roberta Bayer

C. S. Lewis described himself as a “deep churchman,” in the passages quoted by Roger Beckwith. His avowed intent was to remedy misconceptions about the Christian past; he taught the mere Christianity of historic Christendom, considered in its unity, rather than parsed for disparities. “We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom”, Lewis wrote. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but such people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is left intact despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity. I know, for I saw it; and well our enemies know it. That unity any of us can find by going out of his own age.”

What does Lewis mean by ‘going out of one’s own age’? Despite the gaps and discontinuities found within Christian theological and liturgical history, Lewis’ approach illustrates a certain unity within Christianity that is not only visible from the outsider’s broader historical perspective, but also is worthy of our attention in attempting to reconcile contemporary differences between Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic traditions through a “deeper” perspective cultivated by wide reading. Furthermore, Lewis

suggests that contemporary controversies between Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic may share a good deal more in common than they realize. Of historical ecclesiastical divisions, he writes;

“Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now          absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united— united with each other and         against earlier and later ages—by a great mass of common assumptions.”

Lewis suggests that the only safety against blindness to the unity of assumptions that bind even the most opposed ecclesiastical groups today is to recall “a standard plain, central Christianity (“mere” Christianity as Baxter called it) which puts such controversies of the moment in their proper perspective.”

One way in which controversies of the moment can be put in their proper perspective is to read not only modern books, but also old books. “If [a man] must read only the new or the old [books], I would advise him to read the old,” wrote Lewis. “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” The old book puts the new book in perspective, he says, because every age has its own unique outlook. Every age is “specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period.”

In this way, ‘going out of one’s own age’ leads to a realization of the characteristic assumptions that shape contemporary discourse. Once soaked in the teachings that have been held in common throughout Christian history, Lewis writes, you will have an amusing experience if you then venture to speak. “You will be thought a Papist when you are actually reproducing Bunyan, a Pantheist when you are quoting Aquinas and so forth. For you have now got on to the great level viaduct which crosses the ages and which looks

so high from the valleys, so low from the mountains, so narrow compared with the swamps, and so broad compared with the sheep-tracks.” Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical disputants need a greater acquaintance with Hooker, Herbert, Traherne, Baxter, Taylor and Bunyan, Boethius, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Dante to afford greater knowledge of the kinds of arguments which allow one to uphold supernatural religion and the teaching of salvation (always of primary importance to Lewis), against liberal modernity.

From the ‘deep’ perspective, even the divisions of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation could be seen in a different light. Despite their deadly disagreement about the

merits of a vernacular Bible, William Tyndale and Thomas More were men of a particular age. In retrospect, Lewis wrote, William Tyndale and Thomas More had more in common than they realized and “though they were deeply divided in temper as well as by doctrine, it is important to realize at the outset that they also had a great deal in common.” “They must not,” Lewis says, “except in theology, be contrasted as representatives respectively of an old and a new order.” Both were Grecians, as he puts it, advocates of the new scholarship, and both were “arrogantly, perhaps ignorantly, contemptuous of the Middle Ages.”  Yet their age, which held to divisions that looked irreconcilable to them, in retrospect appear less than church dividing. How can, one might ask, such differences appear church dividing in light of the challenge presented to the common historical faith by the liberal theology of a Harvey Cox in Secular City?

But the object here is not to resolve the problems raised by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, but to note what Lewis has said about contemporary divisions within Anglicanism. It is obviously wrong to suggest that Lewis belittled real theological dispute. Lewis would not suggest that Thomas More, William Tyndale, John Fisher, and Richard Hooker or the Tractarians and Evangelicals of the 19th century are unworthy of reading. Rather, his point is that they ought to be read so to better understand ourselves and our age. This is touched upon by Roger Beckwith when he urges Anglo-Catholic priests to appreciate the Reformation Formularies, the 39 Articles and the Book of Common Prayer, just as Evangelicals should drink deeply of the teaching and theology of Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Patristic and Medieval metaphorical and allegorical Scriptural commentaries.

In his Letters to Malcolm, Lewis remarked that the key to Christian unity is not to substitute religion for God. He defended the 1662 Prayer Book against the liturgical reformers who had contracted the ‘liturgical fidget,’ yet at the same time he said that matters of liturgy or ceremony are not of central importance. Rather, changes are bad because disruptive to the person praying, and prayer is what matters. “A good shoe is the shoe you don’t notice. . . . The perfect church services would be one we were almost unaware of. .  . . But every novelty prevents this.” Words should be the means to facilitate a knowledge of God. “For me”, he wrote, “words are in any case secondary.” If liturgical changes keep the stream of prayer from flowing, they are a stumblingblock for the prayerful. What is primary is nothing but God Himself.

As Roger Beckwith has noted, if Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic both willingly defend what Lewis calls supernatural religion and the message of salvation found in the church catholic, they have no reason to take issue with the historic prayer books. The eight points of disagreement noted by Beckwith are easily resolved from the standpoint of the common theological inheritance of western and English-speaking Christendom. Anglo-Catholics need to recognize the

importance of Beckwith’s first point—the ‘catholicity’ of the Protestant reformation, as church bishop Christopher Wordsworth declared, just as Evangelicals must accept that the Church of England did not come into existence in the sixteenth century. This would be a lesson for Anglicans as to the true and proper teaching of the Reformation, which established in the Church of England both the primacy of Scripture and the central historical teachings of the

Church, in a way that avoids the errors of our age.


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Supreme Rulers

Mr. John Wesley

Though the American Prayer Book has granted various civil offices different emphases in its state prayers, it’s been asked if a hasty substitution of the Presidency for Monarch might upset older notions of an Ordered Society? The potential problems invoked by such swapping has been discussed in several places, especially with respect to the Litany(1). Nonetheless, students of American church history are probably mostly familiar with John Wesley’s Sunday Service. Further discussion on the development of American state prayers allots Wesley a candidate for influence upon the United States BCP. While not comprehensive regarding the question, this post aims to open some discussion.  (more…)

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RTBP on Facebook

Things have been slow here on the blog, but we also have activity on our Face Book Page.

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Common Prayer Day

Common Prayer  Initiative 2012

Though past, St. Bartholomew’s Day marked the 350th anniversary of the 1662 BCP’s issue for public use. The 1662 BCP is understood as the ‘gold standard’ for Anglican worship, being the sealed text backed by English statute law. However, the retreat of the British Empire (and the Acts of Parliament which accompanied it) precipitated an ecclesiastical vacuum that gave opened doors to significant local variety, starting with prayer books that have historical lineages to the Scottish Episcopal Church. Can such variant liturgies be better related to the 1662 standard or the principle of ‘common prayer’? (more…)

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A number of times the question of the state prayers in American Morning office has been brought up as if this somehow invalidates certain points made criticizing the 1928 litany (see the Litany’s Faldstool— especially the comment section). The 1928 inserted a petition for the US President where the Crown and royal seed formerly stood. The problem with this insertion is it equates the US Presidency to Christian kingship.  Christian kingship not only is rooted in the king as ‘first’ member of the local church, but in the English tradition, it possesses a sacramental and ministerial character that the modern Presidency repudiates.  For classical high churchmen, there are further considerations regarding the order of the church under the dignity of Supremacy, and if this same dignity ought to be given to an office that constitutionally rejects duties in the local church and rendering it more or less unitarian in nature. Consequently, the 1892 litany was suggested as a correction to the 1928.  However, the MP/EP state prayers was not addressed.


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The Holy Kiss

the "peace plate"

One of the many liberal modifications to the 1979 prayer book was the liturgical reinsertion of the Kiss of Peace. For about six months I worshiped in an Episcopal church which often made use of the more conservative Rite 1. No matter how similar Rite 1 was to the 1928 communion office, the kiss of peace always seemed to ruin that sense of tradition. Even before I knew anything about liturgics, the kiss of peace always felt  “hippie”. At the former TEC parish, the priest and entire congregation would mingle, hug, make small talk, too often turning the Pax into an intermission. At times people would even leave to catch coffee or make a phone call outside the church. It’s only redeeming quality in my mind was its potential to provide a time to bless and usher out possible catechumens. Anyway, the Pax seemed odd, and I had to ask if it was indeed an ancient practice of the church. This also required some digging into the prayer book.

The 1979 BCP seems to throw a bone to each type of churchmanship. The Kiss of Peace appears to be something that might satisfy the catholic. By placing the Holy Kiss at the offertory, the ’79 appears to defer to the ancient Eastern practice, dating back to the second century. The “Western Pax” appeared a bit later, roughly the fifth century, in Rome and North Africa. Instead of being done before the anaphora, it would have followed the end of the Latin canon where the Paster Noster is found. This is also where the 1549 BCP and Sarum Mass locate the Pax. So, the ’79 bcp had at least two options, and TEC revisionists apparently favored the more “ancient” location.

Not What it Seems: However, what is not said about the Holy Kiss is the rather sober manner which the primitive church administered it. Throughout the history of the Pax a fear of indecency or indiscretion is expressed. Thus, there is a certain restraint in its use. The Apostolic Constitutions confine the Kiss to estates within the christian assembly, namely, exchanging it between clerics in the chancel while laity pass it on to each other. But even amongst the laity the Kiss was carefully confined to gender: men exchanging amongst men, and women amongst women. Thus, the Kiss was never a “free-for-all” that bordered upon an intermission in the midst of the liturgy.

As time passed, though the Kiss remained part of the liturgy, it was gradually substituted for less disruptive devotions. By the middle-ages a variety of alternate forms for the Pax existed both East and West– e.g., kissing the altar, sacred elements, a relic, the bishop’s hand, or a stole. A limited Holy Kiss is found in the marriage rite, e.g., “you may kiss the bride“, and originally it was an oculation that passed from the priest to the groom to the bride. The Peace was also abbreviated by confining it between priest and deacon, most likely leaving the laity to conduct their own private reverences separately in the nave.  By the 13th century, osculatoriums, i.e., the “pax-board” or “pax-brede”, became common in England. Pax-boards were small plaques decorated by crosses that were kissed by the celebrant and then given to the congregation while at the altar rail. But even this practice gradually passed away.

In the Sarum rite the Pax is said at the end of the canon, exchanged between deacon and priest with the celebrant kissing the altar spread. The 1549 likely continued this practice, but the Latin location of the Pax finally disappeared upon Edward’s second prayer book where it becomes a preface to the benediction (A New History, p. 487). What’s interesting about the 1549 vis-a-vis later BCP editions is how the Pax is said specifically to the clerks, reading:

Then shall the Priest say, The Peace of the Lord be with you. The Clerks. And with thy spirit”

If working from the Sarum, the Priest is assumed to be facing  ‘choir-side’ while addressing these “clerks”. But in high mass ‘the clerks’ would naturally include the Deacon, acolytes, and perhaps cantor/choir. The Pax is not the only salute given between “clerks” and Priest. Unlike later BCP versions (1552/9, 1662 1789), the 1549 preserves the privilege of lower orders acting as a chorus, giving the “the clerks” more exclusive roles such as chanting the Gloria in Excelsis, Kyries, and the Angus Dei. This seems to give a more prominent role to assisting clergy that somewhat disappears after 1552, giving over to the ‘general priesthood’.

The Pax Today: Even in more recently ‘conservative’ revisions, such as in the Anglican Missal, the Pax is normally addressed to the people. However, the 1979 takes the Pax to a new level. Rather than make opportunity to genuinely restore an older liturgic, the 1979 appropriates what might appear an apostolic Pax, but uses it as pretext to expand the realm of ‘democractic’ worship. Furthermore, if the 1979 had actually continued the catholic direction that inspired earlier revisions like the 1928, the 1549 BCP (closest to the English Sarum) would have been the natural and more organic starting point rather than leaping back to mirky apostolic custom. If revisionists had started from the Sarum as the Anglican Missal had done, the newer BCP might have enlisted the Pax as a embankment to Anglican ecclesiology, emphasizing the special dignity once held between deacon and priest. Instead, the Pax is made a liberating gesture that frees the people from the mediative roles of priest-deacon, of which self-conscious ecclesiastical society breaks down for three to five minutes after the offertory. The 1979 appears to advance catholic ceremony but instead manipulates antiquity to make headway for democratizing movements in the liturgy. When praise music is added, there remains very little of Rite 1 that’s traditional.

If  Ordinaries permit the Pax (and some do with the 1928 BCP), they might consider the 1549 BCP’s application which favors the celebrant facing the deacon along “choir” or “clerk-side”. Liturgically, the 1549 might be treated as an opportunity to better highlight the function of the deacon as a second representative or leader of the people. This point was  made earlier at RTBP while writing on the possible benefits of keeping northside celebrations (as understood by Dearmer). Not only might we continue certain customs peculiar to earlier 1662 (northside) and 1549 (the pax) prayer books, but Anglicans can also use less well-known rubrics to slowly weaken the democratization of liturgy that has occurred over the last forty years, starting with a greater prominence to those lesser offices often acting in the chancel. The way we pray is the way we believe, etc..

As Lent passes and Easter is entered, Anglicans might consider how the law and gospel work together not only after church but in worship. When the faithful are dismissed from the communion, dismissal is not given to live as “hearts see fit” (sneaking in a coffee break before the end of divine worship, creating an intermission for small talk and short flirts, leaving the altar in the midst of public liturgy, etc.), but the Mass is given to live in Christ by His will and commandments. This ‘third use’ of the law ought to regulate even the Pax, not given licence to disorder but to enter Christ’s humility, thereby glorifying the Father.

Charles Bartlett lives and works in Northern California. He is a member-at-large in the UECNA, worshiping in the REC by bishopric dispensation. His blog, Anglican Rose, explores the nature of adiaphora in England’s Church beginning with late-Henrician standards.

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The Litany’s Faldstool

(A similar article dealing with the Daily Offices was also written: Supremacy in Offices) The faldstool in English ceremony was the movable seat otherwise reserved in the chancel as the chair for the visiting Bishop. From the faldstool, an Ordinary passed authority by laying on hands of both confirmed laity and clergy. But the faldstool also doubled as a prayer desk upon pentitential occasions where the bishop rested his arms upon the faldstool’s cushion while kneeling before it. The idea of the bishop’s faldstool representing a throne of authority in the church is embedded the BCP’s litany. From it we learn the peculiar order of authority within the Church of England.

Though today the prayer desk has replaced the faldstool, nevertheless, in the Parson’s Handbook the Rev. Dearmer explains the Litany is to be be given in the old position of the fladstool, namely,  in the midst of the church. According to Dearmer, the Litany should be recited regularly, normally Wednesdays and Fridays as well as between morning prayer and ante-communion on Sundays. But it is especially said upon penitential seasons.

However, these many details likely escape the majority of parishioners who rarely recite the Litany, and, perhaps they never do unless it be at Lent. Infrequent exposure to the Litany probably leaves more specifically Anglican features to pass unnoticed. The prayer book Litany differs from the Latin in a number of places. But perhaps the most conspicuous difference is the absence of heavenly saints of whom Romans and Eastern Orthodox commonly invoke. Instead, the Anglican emphasis is upon an earthy kingdom, or church militant. This ought to be an interesting point for Anglicans since our suffrages beg the Church of England instead of the heavenly hosts. The 1559 version of the litany lists the estates of the church [in bold] which are thus mentioned:

“We synners do beseche the to heare us (O Lord God,) and that it may please the to rule and governe thy holy Churche universally, in the right way…That it may please the, to kepe and strengthen in the true worshipping of the in righteousnes and holynes of lyfe, thy servaunt James our most gracious Kyng and governour…That it may please the, to rule his harte in thy faith, feare, and love, that he may evermore have affiaunce in the, and ever seke thy honoure and glory. That it may please the, to be his defender and keper, geving him the victory over al his enemyes. That it may please thee to bless and preserve our gracious Queen Anne, Prince Henry, and the rest of the King and Queen’s Royal issue… That it may please the to illuminate all Byshoppes, Pastours, and ministers of the Church, with true knowledge, and understanding of thy words, and that both by their preaching and livinge, they may sette it furth and shewe it accordingly…That it maye please thee to endue the Lordes of the Counsayle, and all the nobilitie, with grace, wisedom, and understanding…That it may please thee to blesse and kepe the Magistrates, geving them grace to execute justice, and to maynteyne truthe… That it may please the to blesse, and kepe al thy people.”


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