Category Archives: RPW

The Aberdeen Assembly

Aberdeen Cathedral

Over the last couple weeks Anglican and Presbyterian doctrine have been on my mind. While the differences between Presbyterian and Anglican faith sparked the Great Rebellion, these two churches nonetheless share a common interest for establishment under the same Crown, and, when squared against Independents like Cromwell and fifth monarchists, Presbyterians finally joined ranks with Anglicans to ensure the continuation of a national church in both Scotland and England by the restoration of Charles II (sic.,  treaty of Breda). Therefore lines of fraternity can be surprising. Nevertheless, the WCF stems from a family of Swiss confessions proven generally impatient of the 39 Articles and oftentimes hostile to the BCP.   If certain differences in ‘faith and order’ can ever be bridged, two reforms would be considered: 1) the historical complaints lodged by  Presbyterians against the English BCP; 2) the reforms proposed by the 1616 Aberdeen Assembly as a starting point for any principled engagement.
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Matthew 15:9

“They worship me in vain that teach doctrines and commandments of men: for you leave the commandments of God to keep your own traditions.” –Matt 15:9 (KJV 1769)

Matthew 15 has been a proof text used by iconoclasts to purge public worship of man-made ceremony and custom. Surprisingly, even Weslyan Methodists, who ought to known better by their 25 Articles, commended plain worship by this same verse, overturning ceremonies otherwise understood by Anglicans as  ‘laudable’ or ‘indifferent’. When iconoclasts believe ‘man-made worship’ is forbidden by the  second commandment rather than whether they server edification or “good order”, puritans loose touch with the older protestant idea of adiaphora, “It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word” (Article 34). Nor are puritans especially consistent when the prior biblical imperative is used .

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Questions for RPW

Bishop Thomas Morton 1618

After King James dismissed the Puritans’ Millenary Petition at Hampton Court, Puritan complaint against ceremony naturally intensified. A longer list of ‘unlawful rites’ were compiled when ministers refused to subscribe to Whitgift’s Three Articles, publishing their grievances in the 1605 Lincolnshire  Abridgment. Thomas Morton, Bishop of Chester, answered the Abridgment in a treatise called A Defense of the Innocence of the Three Ceremonies. Here, Morton handles the three biggest controversies– viz. kneeling at holy communion, the cross in baptism, and the surplice. The arguments which Morton applied were already laid by Nicholas Ridley who defended the cope in 1550 against the parsing of Hooper. Likewise, the 1604 canons gave an elaborated defense for signing the cross, and the same type of apology– namely, the indifference of church ceremony– would also be written by the Scottish bishops at Perth for the sake of bowing.  Continue reading

Two Great and Admirable Rules

George Herbert d. 1633

George Herbert recently got my mind back upon RPW. Regulativism is not altogether different from the radical sacramentarianism of Rome. Richard Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity was a massive and brilliant answer to both extremes. For the most part, Anglican worship is based upon general principle not precise commands. In the 39 Articles and the BCP Preface these precepts are generally described as benefiting  ‘peace’ and ‘edification’. It is hard to imagine how Anglicanism might theologically explain itself without a defense of kinds of law. With respect to the above precepts, the justify our synods and usage of Common Prayer. Below Hooker nicely sums the precepts mentioned in our BCP preface , Continue reading

Article on Freewill

The Fall

An earlier post on Necessary Doctrine made some general statements about Henrican theology. I’d like to recap two points. First, the early date of clerical subscription was as early as 1536,  followed by the Catechism in 1538. The intent of catechism, bible, and articles teaching together was a continuous feature of Settlement, beginning with Henry. Second, Henry’s theology, even in the mid-1530’s, was ‘reformed’ (Augustinian). The Henrican view of God’s grace began to theologically impact Worship, first, with respect to saints and, by Edward’s reign, vulgarities in the Mass.  Henrican Catechisms and Articles were not merely ‘negative statements’ but were tied to matters of ceremony, each connected to the same doctrine of salvation. In this respect, Henrican theology offers a system of thinking, centered on the idea of ‘justification’. A high treatment of grace does not downplay sacrament but extols dependence on the very means instituted by Him.
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Institution of Ministers

christchurchparishNicely, the 1928 Office of Institution, included as part of the Ordinal, conveniently contains a section which delineates our standards of faith. We might call these standards, “the Books of the Church”. Together they sum Anglican Faith, Order, and Worship. Churches that use the 1928 prayer book might want to re-examine the same Institution Office, an office first known to the American version (1).
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The Saxon Visitation

Chancellor Crell

Chancellor Crell

The Saxon Visitation Articles were published in 1593 to counter the influence of receptionism amongst Lutheran Churches in Saxony. They define an effectual, localized, spiritual presence in the bread. While Thomas Cranmer had died a convinced ‘receptionist’, Archbishop Parker added article XXIX, modifying Cranmer’s earlier spiritualization of sacrament so that an objective and local presence might be also confessed in the bread,

“The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament”

The XXIXth Article permitted a distinctly  literal (verba) interpretation of sacrament. In so far as the Article persisted after the Restoration, the 1662 Black Rubric might to be read as ‘consubstantiationist’. Hence, the Restoration, like Elizabethan settlement, technically brought Anglicanism to a more German-catholic view.

How secondary elements (like ornaments) relate to Article 29 is another story. Generally speaking, Tudor and Stuart monarchs favored late Henrican worship (1538 Injunctions) and also wished to restore aspects of the 1549 against more ‘puritan’ elements pressed from the vantage of the 1552 BCP. A discrepency in eucharist theology persisted between what would become Parker’s 39 vs. Cranmer’s earlier 42 articles.  The modifications to the 1559 BCP tried to resolve such, and, though Elizabeth restored the older words of administration, the prayer of consecration could also be understood to locate the oblation with worshippers (the real presence located in hearts of the people) rather than in the elements. Thus, between 16th century articles and prayer book, the CofE comprehended both Calvinistic and Lutheran views of sacrament. This would leave her, confessionally speaking, somewhere near the Wittenberg Concord (1536) and Variatas Augsburg (1542) on the continent. The latter was also composed by Melancthon and signed by Calvin. These along with Bucer’s writings deserve re-examination if we are to speak of a “classicaly Anglican”  eucharist.

The image above is Chancellor Nicholas Crell’s head. Crell was executed for “acts of treachery” against the Duke in Wittenburg , 1601. Amongst these ‘acts’ were propagating receptionist views. Frederick William I with Rev. Aegidius Hunnius managed to reverse Calvinist gains through such Visitation powers. Below is Visitation Article’s used to exclude Calvinist views on the Holy Supper, summing the genuine Lutheran position.

Article 1. Holy Supper

The pure and true doctrine of our churches concerning the Holy Supper:

I. The words of Christ, “Take, eat, this is My body; drink, this is My blood” are to be understood simply and according to the letter, as they read.

II. In the Sacrament there ae two things that are given and received with  each other: one earthly, which is bread and wine; and one heavenly, which is the body and blood of Christ.

III. This giving and receiving occurs here on earth, and not above in heaven.

IV. It is the true natural body of Christ that hung on the cross, and the true natural blood that flowed from the side of Christ.

V. The body and blood of Christ are received not only by faith spiritually, which can also occur outside of the Supper, but here with the bread and wine orally. Yet this happens in an unexplainable and supernatural way, as a pledge of assurance of the resurrection of our bodies from the dead.

VI. The oral partaking of the body and blood of Christ is done not only by the worthy, but alos by the unworthy, who approach without repentance and true faith. Nevertheless, this leads to a different result: by the worthy for salvation, by the unworthy for judgment.

1559 Injunctions


The Queen's Chapel

The Ornament Rubric (which permitted a Henrican church aesthetic as per the second year of Edward VI) should be understood in light of the 1559 Prayer Book, where it is first found, alongside the Articles of same era. The Swiss influence on Cranmer’s 1552 liturgy was moderated by Elizabeth’s ‘catholic affections’, and while the 1559 Supremacy Act repealed Marian codes (sic., Romanism), the Queen requested the Prayer Book commission restore early Edwardian ceremony (G.G. Perry, p. 260).

Early Edwardian ceremony would keep England in the Protestant fold yet by forbidding destruction of medieval roods and altars, she would keep her catholic aesthetic. Early Edwardian-Henrican ceremony was not Romanism carte blanche. They were restricted by 1547 and 1538 codes as well as Henry’s Ten Articles (Lutheran inspired). It should be noted Elizabeth’s own chapel was illustrative of the conservative standard she pursued, and Puritans were distraught by her use of crucifix, vestments, and candles. The 1559 Act of Supremacy restored early Edwardian standards, and Elizabeth would strengthen the early Tudor sensibility by adding her own twenty-five items to it.

Elizabethan Injunctions are important because they informed English ceremonial law for nearly two centuries. We must remember Elizabeth was not a Puritan nor were the Carolines Romanists. The English settlement forbade both Radicalism and Romanism. More important than the Ornaments which constitute Anglican aesthetic (e.g., crucifixes, patens, rails, pyxs, candlesticks, garlands, etc.) is the context of their liturgical use. The Injunctions tell how ornaments conform to Articles and Prayer Book. Ornaments continued where they did not transgress key reforms of the CofE—namely the pruning devotions to the saints; regulationg real presence as expressed in communion; and the exhibiting of Holy Orders, particularly bishops, in the church. Such issues were controverted in lights, the position of the table, vestments, and musical instruments.

Lighting.  Unlike the Swiss Reformation, Anglicans refrained from abolishing commemorations of saints yet opposed their cultic abuse. Veneration of saints were consequently regulated, and various codes aimed to end their misuse—i.e., “pilgrimages, relics, or images, lighting of candles, kissing, kneeling, decking the same, or any such superstition” [Art. 2, 3, 23, 35 below]. The 1538/47 Injunction(s) regarding veneration both read, “admonishing their parishioners, that images serve for no other purpose but to be a remembrance, whereby men may be admonished of the holy lives and conversation of them that the said images do represent: which images if they do abuse for any other intent, they commit idolatry in the same” (item 3). The 1549 liturgy similarly provides the praise and example of saints yet avoids direct prayer, “…whose examples, O Lord, and steadfastness in thy faith, and keeping thy holy commandments, grant us to follow”. While this does not abolish saints (their fast/feast days, commemorations, and images are kept), how honor given to which saints was reworked. For example, Thomas Becket’s feast day was banned, and veneration given to saints was clearly set apart from worship.

This implicated use of ornaments, particularly candles. The Injunctions limit candles within the church banning candles before images of saints (such as St. Mary Lady chapels which frequently had four) while allowing only two on the altar. Two altar candles were the minimum subscribed by S. Osmundi, designating Low Mass while four or more candles indicate High. Two candles became canon law under Henry VIII (Item 7, 1538 Injunctions), and in generally limited the number of candles throughout the church, “only the light that commonly goeth across the church by the rood loft, the light before the Sacrament of the altar, and the light about the sepulcher, which for the adorning of the church and divine service shall remain” (ditto). The 1559 Injunctions continued this restriction, saying:

II. Besides this, to the intent that all superstition and hypocrisy crept into divers men’s hearts may vanish away, they shall not set forth or extol the dignity of any images, relics, or miracles; but, declaring the abuse of the same, they shall teach that all goodness, health, and grace ought to be both asked and looked for only of God, as of the very Author and Giver of the same, and of none other.

III. [carried from 1538 Injunction] …and that the works devised by man’s fantasies, besides Scripture (as wandering of pilgrimages, setting up of candles, praying upon beads, or such like superstition), have not only no promise of reward in Scripture for doing of them, but contrariwise great threatenings and maledictions of God, for that they being things tending to idolatry and superstition, which of all other offences God Almighty doth most detest and abhor, for that the same most diminish His honor and glory.

XXIII. Also, that they shall take away, utterly extinct, and destroy all shrines, coverings of shrines, all tables, candlesticks, trindals, and rolls of wax, pictures, paintings, and all other monuments of feigned miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry, and superstition, so that there remain no memory of the same in walls, glass windows, or elsewhere within their churches and houses; preserving nevertheless, or repairing both the walls and glass windows; and they shall exhort all their parishioners to do the like within their several houses.

XXXV. Item: that no persons keep in their houses any abused images, tables, pictures, paintings, and other monuments of feigned miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry, and superstition.

Musical Instruments. The English Reformation made the liturgy a ‘work of the people’, bringing the entire Church into the call and response not just the clergy. Consequently, vernacular translations of the Mass appeared, and prayer was to be audible. The Injunction ordered liturgy/song to be “plainly understood and perceived”.  Loud instruments like bells and organs that might drown out the voice of the congregation were scrutinized and regulated.

Bells also had implications beyond noise. Typically bells had been used during the consecration rite and were thus connected to the elevation and visual adoration of the elements. Lutherans defended this practice (WA, 54, 122) as necessary to fence off receptionist opinions. Anglicanism however simultaeneously integrated both receptionism and sacramental union (e.g., consubstantation) into her rite. Elizabeth restricted bells to a single chime before the call to worship, the sermon, and the Eucharist prayer. The English Prayer Book from 1552 onwards directs:

…the curate that ministers in every Parish Church or Chapel, being at home, and not being otherwise reasonably letted, shall say [Morning and Evening Prayer] in the Parish Church or Chapel where he ministers, and shall toll a bell thereto, a convenient time before he began, that such as be disposed may come to hear God’s Word, and to pray with him.

In England that often means that the bell is rung for five minutes one half-hour before public service adn then again for five minutes immediately before. (Anglican Catholic, p. 95)

Said chant impacted processions as well. The banning of processions was partly due to dubious litanies which invoked saints or transubstantivist observances like Corpus Christi that ‘parade the sacrament about’. But also processions were considered disorderly by nature where “wanderings about” was deemed disorderly and interruptive to public liturgy.  Remaining in pews allowed better audibility and edification. Outside Rogation Sunday (and the beginning/end of service) processions were generally forbidden.  From the Injunctions:

XVIII. Also, to avoid all contention and strife, which heretofore hath risen among the queen’s majesty’s subjects in sundry places of her realms and dominions, by reason of fond courtesy, and challenging of places in procession; and also that they may the more quietly hear that which is said or sung to their edifying, they shall not from henceforth in any parish church at any time use any procession about the church or churchyard, or other place; but immediately before the time of communion of the Sacrament, the priests with other of the quire shall kneel in the midst of the church, and sing or say plainly and distinctly the Litany, which is set forth in English, with all the suffrages following, to the intent the people may hear and answer; and none other procession or litany to be had or used, but the said Litany in English, adding nothing thereto, but as it is now appointed. And in cathedral or collegiate churches the same shall be done in such places…and all ringing and knolling of bells shall be utterly forborne at that time, except one bell at convenient time to be rung or knolled before the sermon. But yet for retaining of the perambulation of the circuits of parishes, they shall once in the year at the time accustomed, with the curate and substantial men of the parish, walk about their parishes, as they were accustomed, and at their return to the church, make their common prayers.

XLIX. Item, because in divers collegiate and also some parish churches heretofore there have been livings appointed for the maintenance of men and children to use singing in the church, by means whereof the laudable science of music has been had in estimation, and preserved in knowledge; the queen’s majesty neither meaning in any wise the decay of anything that might conveniently tend to the use and continuance of the said science, neither to have the same in any part so abused in the church, that thereby the common prayer should be the worse understanded of the hearers, wills and commands, that first no alterations be made of such assignments of living, as heretofore has been appointed to the use of singing or music in the church, but that the same so remain. And that there be a modest and distinct song so used in all parts of the common prayers in the church, that the same may be as plainly understanded, as if it were read without singing; and yet nevertheless for the comforting of such that delight in music, it may be permitted, that in the beginning, or in the end of common prayers, either at morning or evening, there may be sung an hymn, or suchlike song to the praise of Almighty God, in the best sort of melody and music that may be conveniently devised, having respect that the sentence of the hymn may be understanded and perceived.

Altars.   Puritans returning from exile reimposed the 1550 Edwardian ordinance that replaced wood tables for altars.  By 1557 an ornamental chaos emerged. Some churches had altars, others tables; some located their tables in sanctuaries, others in the choir or the naïve; some celebrated to the east, others northward, etc..  A table might be anywhere short of the market. Relocation of altars often accompanied removal of rails and roods.

Upon Elizabeth’s ascension altar desecration was prohibited without approval of wardens and curates who were allowed to install wood tables, yet these tables were to be, “decently made, and set in the place where the altar stood”. Returning tables behind the rail restored the greater sacerdotal and holy sense of communion. It also restored ecclesial hierarchy and clerical Holy Orders.

Vestments. The puritan bid to flatten clerical into lay authority made vestments no less controversial than altars in the chancel. The 1559 injunction prescribes vestments, “as were most commonly and orderly received in the latter year of the reign of King Edward VI.”  Edward’s “latter year” means the 1552 Prayer Book which put forth the following words at he beginning of the morning service, “The priest shall wear neither alb, vestment, nor cope—but he shall have and wear surplice only”.  However, Elizabeth continued the wearing of a cope in the Queen’s chapel, and Archbishops of Canterbury during the Tudor reign did the same. The Canons of 1604 confirm this usage allowing the wearing of copes in cathedrals. Copes were thus proper garb for Bishops.  The princely significance of the cope required its holding by one or two acolytes to free the wearer’s arms during manual gestures of consecration and to keep it clear while mounting the steps during the approach to the sanctuary. Eighteenth and nineteenth century debates over vestments were waged over the black, Geneva gown vs. continuation of surplice-only. Not until the Oxford movement would vestments find their way back. Queen Elizabeth’s preference for Henrican style is better revealed in retention of ecclesial garb for deans and academics. Likewise, the 1563 introduction of a Latin BCP for use in university chapels aimed to counter and restrain puritan influence (RPW) amongst seminarians.

XXX. Item, her majesty being desirous to have the prelacy and clergy of this realm to be had as well in outward reverence, as otherwise regarded for the worthiness of their ministries, and thinking it necessary to have them known to the people in all places and assemblies, both in the church and without, and thereby to receive the honour and estima-tion due to the special messengers and ministers of Almighty God, wills and commands that all archbishops and bishops, and all other that be called or admitted to preaching or ministry of the sacraments, or that be admitted into any vocation ecclesiastical, or into any society of learning in either of the universities, or elsewhere, shall use and wear such seemly habits, garments, and such square caps, as were most commonly and orderly received in the latter year of the reign of King Edward VI; not thereby meaning to attribute any holiness or special worthiness to the said garments, but as St. Paul writeth: Omnia decenter et secundum ordinem fiant.

Summary: The Injunctions establish important qualifications for the Ornament rubric which does not simply translate to Sarum ceremony carte blanche. Dearmer’s lists of ornaments do not necessarily indicate contraband. Thus, we must look to the Injunctions. Important differences are: a local option for wood tables or altars but each remaining in their place as determined by medieval custom; vestments specified as surplice and cope; single bell tolls at the beginning and end of worship, the eucharist, and the sermon only; two candles on or above the altar/table (a permanent low mass); no candles or censing for saints (plus a separating of black from red-letter saints); restricting processions to the beginning & end of service as well as once-a-year on Rogation Day (marching the parish bounds); a preference for congregational plain and said chant vs. song, organs, and choirs; the placement of vernacular bibles in the churches for public prayer; and installation of Latin prayer books in some academic and private chapels. The chapel and to some extent cathedral observances would remain reservoirs of catholic ceremony. Parish churches more generally were ‘purified’.

I hope to next study Caroline injunctions, then the low church 18th and 19th centuries, considering how each impacted ritualism, distilling what is common.

Article X. On Adiaphora

philip An often misunderstood and abused, adiaphora was a  crucial apologetic, used to reform the Church against  Rome while preserving England from Puritanism. Against    radicals who demanded a precise biblical prescription for  all worship, Anglican divines (particularly Hooker)  defended the validity of the  Prayer  Book by adiaphora  argument; quoting Article XXXIV:

“It is not  necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places    one, or utterly like…Every particular or national church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, ceremonies or rites of the church ordained only by man’s authority”.

Adiaphora’s implications were bigger than canonical ceremony.  In so far as ritual conveyed “grace”, rites might be ranked by importance. Ceremony was divided between rites which forgave sin (divinely instituted worship) from ritual that was man’s response to justifying grace (Melanchthon calls this “Eucharistic worship”). What has been established by custom for the purpose of praise, edification, and memory, the church has liberty to change or modify when necessary. But what God has instituted which is not part of ‘tradition’ but divine command, no alteration may occur. Such differentation sets apart God’s grace  from man’s love, and this is the fundamental distinction between ‘justification by faith’ and merit, i.e., man’s work/response does not remit sin but comes from the promise and efficacy thereof.

When properly understood in the context of the early reformation debates, adiaphora not only seperates God’s decree from man’s response/works but also distinguishes the Church apart from the world. Reformers believed the visible marks of the Church– sacraments and preaching– made her unique from civil institutions. Without such divine signs (Word and Sacrament) the Church might as well be a political party or social welfare program. This is an important apology. Melanchthon says,

“The true adornment of the churches is godly, useful, and clear doctrine, the devout use of the Sacraments, fervent prayer, and the like. Candles, golden vessels, and similar adornments are fitting, but they are not the specifically unique adornment belonging to the Church. If the adversaries (Rome) make these things the focus of worship, and not the preaching of the gospel, in faith, they are to be numbered among those whom Daniel describes as worshiping their god with gold and silver (Dan. 11:38)”.  (Apology, XXIV.51)

No “License”:

While ‘adiaphora’ translates ‘indifferent things’ (sic., sub-title of Article X), it does not mean ‘unimportant’.  Adiaphora issues are no less important than charity, mortification/penance, catechism, or even prayer. They constitute our works or response to sin forgiven. We should use the term strictly, meaning rites which do not “justify” or ‘remit’. The Most Reverend Mark Haverland, in Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice, also distinguishes between essential and non-essential matters, “Other beliefs may be true, and important or even necessary for salvation. Anglican also have historically and strongly distinguished dogmas or essential doctrines (which are few and clearly established in scripture) from pious opinions and inessential truths” (p. 3)

Adiaphora thus draws a sharp line between divine grace and man’s response, lending itself to a strong Augustinaian, high-grace teaching (said above). While we may say non-justifying rites are mutable, this does not automatically mean reducing rites to a bare minimum or breaking from a long established tradition is wise. But in extremis, where custom confuses or undermines the Word and Sacraments, tradition calls for reform.

Sadly, adiaphora is wrongly conceived as “license”. Perhaps this is more likely amongst Baptists (and those who have no historical exegete but are congregationalist and radical in polity), yet it is not the case with the Thirty-Nine Articles where the Crown and Bishops were conservative weights . The CofE principally restrained private liberty according to over-arching but real Christian obligations— e.g, obedience to the civil authority, consideration of the weaker brother, mutual submission between churches, and the antiquity of fathers. These restraining principles were summed by Hooker and the BCP Preface. In contrasting such with RPW, we might call them the Canonical Principle of Worship (CPW). The Thirty-Nine Articles say:

“Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren” (Article XXXIV).

Article X

Where the 39 Articles relegate questions of adiaphoric ceremony to common order (e.g., Article 34, above), Lutheran confessions more often appeal to theological reasoning. That said, Anglican agreement with Lutheran confessions is not altogether wrong given the Thirty-Nine Articles were an abbreviated reply to continental debates borne after 1530 where Strasburg, Zurich, and Wittenberg pleaded their case at the Augsburg Diet. Lutheran influence during the formative period of the Settlement justifies treating German Concords as virtual tertiary formulas.

The Formula of Concord succinctly defines adiaphora as:

“Some ceremonies and Church practices are neither commanded nor forbidden in God’s Word, but are introduced into the Church with good intention, for the sake of good order and proper custom, or otherwise to maintain Christian discipline” (Article X, Formula Concordia)

Ceremonies which in principal are contrary to God’s Word are not ‘indifferent’ or ‘free’ but “must be avoided as things prohibited by God”. Ceremonies which are perhaps venerable and owe respect yet not divinely given for the remission of sin may be changed (as the Thirty-Nine Articles say “not all rites being the same”) in a way most useful and edifying for the churches of God. “Nevertheless, all frivolity and offense should be avoided in this matter. Special care should be taken to exercise patience toward the weak in faith…We believe, teach, and confess also that no church should condemn another because one has less or more outward ceremonies…This is true as long as they have unity with one another in the doctrine and all its articles and in the right use of the holy sacraments. This practice follows the well-known saying ‘disagreement in fasting does not destroy agreement in faith’ (X.5, 7; Formula).  Should the ban on frivolity be akin to the ‘newfangledness’ warned of by the 1550 BCP? [see Preface]


What stands out between Lutheran and Anglican Formulas, especially between late 16th century divines, is Anglicanism’s conservative character. While early Lutherans, like Philip Melanchthon, revered the fathers (Article XXI.1, Augsburg) and regarded old ceremony (Article XV. 44, Apology), later men like Martin Chemnitz bore no adiaphora with Rome as if any discussion with Papacy was instantly compromising. Non-adiaphora Lutherans reasoned that in times of persecution, Christians best “confess every aspect of religion…In this case, even in adiaphora, they must not yield to the adversaries or permit these adiaphora to be forced on them by their enemies, whether by violence or cunning” (X.10, Formula).  Thus a prejudice against catholic custom grew though not characteristic of Lutherans until after 1580.

And, while Anglicanism had its own Puritan party, the Puritan expectation that all external worship have divinely command was resisted by Parker and Whitgift. Anglican adiaphora therefore allowed older church rites to survive. The Queen’s chapel, which Puritans disparaged frequently, was a deposit of conservativism which weighted the settlement. The Anglican treatment of lawful custom is thus found not only in her Prayer Book (which despite various revisions, changed very little following 1559) but the Royal Injunctions which interpreted the Ornament Rubric and England’s catholic continuity. We cannot further define the Ornament Rubric without exploring these very important Royal Injunctions  (these being the Injunctions of 1559, 1566, 1604, 1629, etc..).

Ordering of Priests

normativism The boundaries of liberty given in normativist  worship have so far been probed (well-summed  by the BCP Preface and Hooker’s Four Precepts).  However, normativism has yet to answer this quesiton, “Besides general principles of  restraint, what elements of worship is  specifically required by God; thus, what has no  liberty?”   I found a ready answer in the 1928 BCP rite for “the Form and Ordering of Priests”:

Bishop. Will you then give your faithful diligence always so to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same, according to the Commandments of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your Cure and Charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?
Answer. I will so do, by the help of the Lord.

What God Instituted Be clear. Both Anglicans and Lutherans provide distinction between divinely instituted and man-made worship. Both belong in their own category and are treated differently. Ceremony instituted by God must be performed while those belonging to tradition are conditionally approved. Unlike Presbyterians, Anglicans retained man-made rites that did not diminish the gospel but were good for common peace, order, deference to precedence, and edification of the Church. The very nature of the episcopate compelled both uniformity and continuity in ceremony that other Protestants neglected.

Nonetheless, because certain worship is man-made Article XXXIV says, “It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly alike…Every particular or national church hath authority to ordain, change, abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done edifying.  The Lutherans (whom Anglicans consulted in the course of our Articles) likewise retained a good amount of catholic ritual given such edifies. The line, however, is drawn where rites and custom pretend to merit grace and forgive sin, elevating ‘custom’ to the status of dominical sacraments. While antique and venerable, they do not have such power.  Melanchthon says in the Augsburg Apology:

“We should not add to God’s covenant, for God promises that He will be merciful to us for Christ’s sake…Why do we need a long discussion? No tradition was set up by the Holy Fathers for the purpose of meriting forgiveness of sins, or righteousness. Rather they were instituted for the sake of good order in the Church and for the sake of peace” (Apology, p. 190)

Man cannot change or alter the terms of God’s covenant. The visible marks of covenant principally remit sin. After all what would be the church be without this power? Consequently, the Church is known wherever the forgiveness of sin is administered, “For the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree about the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments” (AC, Article VII). The Prayer Book tells us the episcopate possesses the Keys which “forgive and retain sin”, and by the laying of hands from Christ, to His episcopate, to their priesthood, these Keys are thereby delegated and used. The 1928 BCP  rite, “Ordering and Form of Priesthood”, summarizes the necessary rites of God (hence, His Keys) :

RECEIVE the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy Sacraments; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

A: What’s instituted, commanded, required by God, suffering no alteration, are the “retention and forgiveness” of man’s sin. God appointed His Word and Sacrament for this expressed purpose (mission), without which the church is mere political society, no different than, say, the Elks or Moose lodge.

How many Sacraments? It is readily apparent the Presbytery is charged not only with the instruction, peace, and otherwise canonical obligations (discipline) of the Church but particularly that which Christ appointed, Word and Sacrament. But what are the Sacraments? The St. Louis Affirmation says there are seven, and each is “His covenanted means for conveying His grace”. The Affirmation does not detail the “kinds” of grace conveyed (sanctifying or justifying), but a distinction is nonetheless acknowledged, differentiating Baptism and the Holy Eucharist from the other seven by calling such “necessary”. The Thirty-nine Articles also seperates the rank and dignity of Baptism and the Supper from the lesser, particular rites:

“There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not the like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God” (Art. XXV)

The Elizabethan “Homily on Common Prayer and the Sacraments” (Art. 35) likewise distinguishes Two from Seven:

“But in a generall acception, the mane of a Sacrament may be attributed to any thing whereby an holy thing is signified. In which understanding of the word, the ancient writers have given this name, not only to the other five, commonly of late yeres taken and used for supplying the number of the seven Sacraments: but also to divers and sundry other ceremonies, as to oyle, washing of feete, and such like, not meaning thereby to repute them as Sacraments, in the same signification that the two forenamed Sacraments are” (Homily on Common Prayer, p. 4)

By “corrupt following” perhaps the Articles implicate traditions that have befallen ‘confused usage’? An interesting study would be how the “Mass” is an “uber-liturgy’, broadened by the inclusion of various offeretory elements other than money, bread, and wine. Depending upon occasion, rites like Matrimony and Orders join the presentation alms and bread at the altar, given for God’s blessing.  Perhaps the “uber-liturgy’ of Mass (one rite ecnompassing a number of others) is the origin of the confusion? If so, it’s a beautiful one, but confused where the location of confection is mistaken– i.e.,  A married couple are not Bread and Wine for ‘eating’ . Perhaps I speculate.

Discussing the mystery and mode of sacraments is truly elusive. The Reformation seperated the Supper and Baptism from other rites according to their unique power to “remit or bind” sin. Can we say marriage ‘remits sin’ like Baptism? How about birthday blessings? Obviously palm leaves, paschal candles, and advent wrethes are man-made, albeit revered rites, and as a consequence cannot forgive sin. There must be a criteria, otherwise we become like the Eastern Orthodox who confuse custom with sacraments rendering even style of liturgy ‘essence’. Melanchthon highlights the problem:

“But if marriage has the name ‘sacrament’ because it has God’s command, other states or offices also, which have God’s command, may be called Sacraments, as, for example, the government. Finally, if among the Sacraments everything should be numbered that has God’s command, and to which promises have been added, why do we not add prayer, which most truly can be called a sacrament? For it has both God’s command and very many promises. If numbered along the Sacraments, although in a more prominent plaace, it would encourage people to pray. Alms could alaso be counted here…But let us leave out these things. For no levelheaded person will labor greatly about the number or the term, if only those things are still kept that have God’s commands and promises” (Apology, p. 185-6)

The problem with numbering sacraments is mistaking historical symbols (like crucifixes) and gestures (like the sign of the cross) that perhaps stir and excite faith with covenanted signs instituted by God to forgive sin. Tradition has an allegorical or memorialist signifcance, perhaps preparing us for the greater benefits of Christ, and thus indirectly assist our salvation, but God’s sacraments convey directly divine righteousness. It is not just a matter of ‘scope’, i.e., the universality or general application of the sacraments, but a specific grace which they grant,  i.e., justifying grace. Ultimately at stake is the uniqueness and mission of the Church, “Can man institute rites (seperate from Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Preaching of the Word) which bind and loose”? If so, then what is wrong with the blood of goats and bulls? Or Rome?

A matter of Adoration?                                                                                           Reformers revealed their medieval-scholastic colors by their systematic division of faith and love. Perhaps they were guilty of over-definition, but how else are abuses like indulgences addressed except through theology? Behind debates over justification and sanctification is the very nature of grace, “Is grace conditioned upon man’s civil righteousness?”  Rome based her economy of merit on pelagian and semi-pelagian concepts. The Reformation attacked Roman soteriology through rather rigid Augustinian categories. In fact, Anglicanism was the most true to Augustinian thought. What Anglican (Tudor) Reformers said about ‘justification’ (how sin is remitted) also pertains to dominical sacraments, i.e., their ex opera operato justifying power, wholly outside man.  From the Elizabethan Homily,

“First, you shall understand, that in our justification by Christ, it is not all one thing, the office of GOD unto man, and the office of man unto GOD. Justification is not the office of man, but of GOD” (Homily on Justification, p. 5)

“That we be justified by faith only, freely and without works, is spoken for to take away clearly all merit of our works, as being unable to deserve our justification at GODS hands, and thereby most plainly to express the weakness of man, and the goodness of GOD, the great infirmity of our selves, and the might and power of GOD, the imperfectness of our own works, and the most abundant grace of our Savior Christ” (ditto, p. 9)

Hall is rather final on the subject, the matter having resonance with Donatism,

“St. Augustine met this difficulty by enunicating the catholic doctrine that the true minister in every sacrament is Jesus Christ, and that it is because of HIs agency that when the external requirements are rightly and seriously performed the promised operation of the Spirit is pledged. It is the Savior’s institution and promise, rather than the earthly minister’s faith and worthiness, that makes the sacrament valid. This teaching has been determinative, ever since, of catholic thought on the subject” (Hall, Vol. IX, p. 5).

Answering the question against NPW, “What does God command?”.  One response might be, “whatever ceremony deserves our adoration”. God commands the cure of souls not by man-made rites (no matter how ancient or edifying) but by the very “hands of God”, which the Homily (above) calls “God’s Office”. Luther says the Gospel (promise of remitted sin) comes by four offices– spoken Word, baptsim, supper, and Absolution (aka. keys). The importance of Justification is to understand there is nothing we add to reconciliation and the forgiveness of sins. We must look outside ourselves for divine righteousness and approval, our eyes fixed upon the peculiar signs God has appointed for His Word to give comfort. Word and Sacrament alone reconcile and ‘prevent’ men from sin and to God. The Ordering of Priests beautifully encapsulates this truth when the Bishop hands the candidate a Bible and/or Chalice whereupon fidelity to “Word and Sacrament” is sworn. Normativism gives no liberty with God’s offices, “The chief point is God’s Word and ordinance or command. For the Sacrament has not been invented nor introduced by any man. Without counsel and deliberation it has been instituted by Christ” (Large Cathechism, Part 5.4), and so this is an answer to Regulativists who believe NPW leaves nothing to obey/duly administer.

I am finally drawing closure in my rants against RPW. NPW differs with Regulativism by insisting some (but not all) worship requires the express command of God. Man has a liberty in our response to grace, but none where sin is forgiven. Puritanical RPW lipsyncs Eastern Orthodoxy (and even Rome) when it raises all worship to the dignity and efficacy of sacrament. This is an abuse and gross error. Down the road I’d like explore the “lesser sacraments”, their correlation to the greater, and their essential relation to good works– i.e., responsive and preparatory to divine grace.

The Ornament Rubric

two candles, rail, altar, lamp

Henrican Style: two candles, altar, single lamp, rail

Note: While this essay deals with the nuts-and-bolts of the Ornament Rubric, here is a more recent overview.

Perhaps the description of the Elizabethan Settlement, “protestant in doctrine, catholic in practice”, is  cliché? Anglican reformers treated worship (outside the sacraments and preaching) as ‘indifferent’, leaving England’s Christians to be governed by more general principles like ‘peace, unity, edification, and antiquity’ of her Church. However, in time, Hooker’s “four precepts” (distilled from the Prayer Book’s Preface) was eclipsed by the Puritan controversy against manual gestures, vestments, and various devotional customs. Evangelicals perhaps sympathetic to radical iconoclasm ought to reconsider the actual canonical standard which defined England’s catholic practice. Against extreme Presbyterian iconoclasm was the Prayer Book’s Ornament Rubric which, in her 1662 Morning Prayer, stated plainly,

“And here is to be noted, That such Ornaments of the Church, and of the Minister thereof and at all times of their Ministration, shall be retained, and be in use, as were in this Church of England, by the authorization of Parliament, in the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth”.

How was the Ornament Rubric to be understood? First, an Ornament is any furniture, vessel, art, vestment, fabric, or icon that otherwise might ordain worship in a church. Therefore, this prayer book rubric does much to delineate Anglican aesthetic.  There are two key phrases, ‘the Minister thereof and at all times of their Ministration”, meaning for all services (e.g., Matins, Vespers, Marriage, Communion, etc.), and “as retained, and be in use….in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI”. This date is the year 1549. What ornaments were ‘retained’ and/or “in use” in early 1548-1549?

The Victorian Reverend Percy Dearmer studied this question, and in 1897 drew up a list (in his Ornament of the Rubric paper). Since Edward’s monarchy began Jan. 28, 1547, his second year would have been between Jan. 28, 1548 to Jan. 27, 1549.  The Rev’d Dearmer makes a critical distinction between those ‘Acts and Articles’ from Henry VIII and Edward’s later Protestantism. The latter date, Jan. 27 1549, would have encompassed the first Prayer Book. Otherwise, with the exception of the Privy’s Council’s 1547 Injunctions, Henrican statutes defined aesthetic boundaries. The Prayer book says relatively little about ornaments (other than certain vestments to be worn during public prayer). However, the 1547 canons and Henrician articles say more.

Injunction Act 1547
Henry is known for flirting with Lutheran teachings but restoring old Roman Catholic usages in 1543.  Upon Henry’s death, the King’s protestant barons, namely Duke Seymour, on behalf of Edward’s minority passed an Injunction. Rev. Dearmer summed this Injunction, saying it removed,

“All relics, shrines, and everything connected with them were taken away, and all images which had been abused by offerings and other superstitious observances ; also all pictures which recorded ‘feigned miracles.’ Lights were no longer to be set before any such nor elsewhere in the church, except two before the Sacrament of the Altar… The Injunctions forbid certain uses of bells, and order the setting up in every church of a copy of the great Bible in some place where the parishioners could read it; and that a pulpit should be provided in every church that did not already possess one… The injunctions of 1547 order the provision of a chest with three keys near the high altar for alms”. (Ornaments of the Rubric 1893).

The 1547 Injunctions made important qualifications. Church steeple bells may be rung before the service. Processions were permitted, “in so far, at least, as they belonged to the service at the altar”. Percy also notes while Monstrances were in use during 1548, they were finally prohibited under both Edward and Elizabeth. Other rites like ‘stations of the cross’ (inside church) were introduced much later and are outside the 1549 cut-off date.

Despite these various restrictions, certain late-Henrican aesthetic lawfully continued into Edward’s early regency and was affirmed by Tudors. Permissible ornmanents included great stone and wood altars (vs. moveable tables of mid-1549); images of great saints;  rood screens; minor and portable altars; altar canopies, covers, and curtains; chancel carpets and tapestries; the pyx for reserves; lamps and candlesticks (given no more than two placed on altar); linens; the crucifix; the altar textus; chalice, paten, and spoons to serve communion; garlands; stools; organs; baptismal fonts; asperages, lavatories, along with washing basins; and pulpits plus lecterns, etc.. (Ornaments, 1893)   But these were canons not of greater authority than the prayer book rubric. Read about the nature of canons here.

Ten Articles 1536
The 1547 Injunction basically returned England to Henry’s Ten Articles as adopted by Convocation and Parliament in 1536. The Ten Articles, somewhat similar to the Lutheran, was England’s first confession, moving her in the direction of Wittenberg until 1552 whereupon Cranmer veered toward the Swiss (sic., Martin Bucer). Nonetheless, there is an appeal to primitive practice. The Ten Articles are interesting because they detail the rites which the 1559 Preface judges beneficial:

Art. IX. Of rites and ceremonies: “As concerning the rites and ceremonies of Christ’s church; as, to have such vestments in doing God’s service as be and have been most part used: as sprinkling of holy water, to put us in remembrance of our baptism, and the blood of Christ sprinkled for our redemption upon the cross: giving of holy bread, to put us in remembrance of the sacrament of the altar, that all Christian men be one body mystical of Christ, as the bread is made of many grains, and yet but one loaf; and to put us in remembrance of receiving of the holy sacrament and body of Christ, the which we ought to receive in right charity, which in the beginning of Christ’s church men did more often receive than they use nowadays to do: bearing of candles on Candlemas-day, in memory of Christ the spiritual light, of whom Simeon did prophesy, as is read in the church that day: giving of ashes on Ash-Wednesday, to put in remembrance every Christian man in the beginning of Lent and penance, that he is but ashes and earth, and thereto shall return, which is right necessary to be uttered from henceforth in our mother-tongue always on the Sunday: bearing of palms on Palm-Sunday, in memory of the receiving of Christ into Jerusalem a little before his death, that we may have the same desire to receive him into our hearts: creeping to the cross, and humbling ourselves to Christ on Good-Friday before the cross, and there offering unto Christ before the same, and kissing of it in memory of our redemption by Christ made  upon the cross: setting up the sepulture of Christ, whose body after his death was buried: the hallowing of the font, and other like exorcisms and benedictions by the ministers of Christ’s church…” (Fuller, the Church History of Britain, p. 165)

By approving of these ancient customs, Article IX likewise approves their instruments, e.g., candles, processions, crosses, pyxs, and apserages likewise implicated.  Of these rites their antiquity, Article IX concludes,

“[of them]… and all other like laudable customs, rites, and ceremonies, be not to be condemned and cast away, but to be used and continued, as things good and laudable, to put us in remembrance of those spiritual things that they do signify, no suffering them to be forgotten, or to be put in oblivion, but renewing them in our memories from time to time; but none of these ceremonies have power to remit sin, but only to stir and life up our minds unto God, by whom only our sins be forgiven.” (ditto)

The 1559 Ornament Rubric, if interpreted by other Anglican canon, is strikingly Elizabethan. The Rubric is exemplary of the Elizabethan s“media via”—fencing off the errors of both Radicals and Rome, reforming church teaching along protestant lines but retaining catholic sensibility and heritage. It was a Lutheran confession of worship. In fact, Elizabeth might be accused of Lutheran preference, rejecting the Calvinist 42 articles prepared by Arch-Bishop Whitgift while approving Parker’s Lutheran 29th Article (objectivity of the sacrament). At least doctrinally speaking, behind the Elizabethan settlement is the Augsberg family of confessions– the Tudor’s Erastian counterparts. But pertaining to ritual aesthetic, Elizabeth restored indeed reached back to her father, i.e, Henrican piety. Interestingly, this was in keeping with her personal devotions upon which Puritans ridiculed Queen Elizabeth’s conservatism of praying by candles, images, and the altar crucifix.

The coherence of Anglicanism has suffered terribly under  “broad church” . Rather than seeking unity in her Reformed Catholic standards– Scripture, ecumenical councils, aesthetic, articles, bishops, king, canons, homilies, authorative apologies, and prayer book– she avoided discipline by entertaining a diversity which breached standards and process. The Ornament Rubric is one standard amongst many needed for reclaiming Protestant Catholicity. Specifically, for Anglicanism it brackets ritualism, canonically defining the aesthetic boundaries of our worship, delineating what is ‘adaiphora’ while articulating what we may call ‘Anglican’.

ABC Williams discusses the divergence of traditions, especially those which  impact the marks of the church, namely her gospel and sacraments, but to an extent this applies to aesthetic as well:

When a local church seeks to respond to a new question, to the challenge of possible change in its practice or discipline in the light of new facts, new pressures, or new contexts, as local churches have repeatedly sought to do, it needs some way of including in its discernment the judgement of the wider Church. Without this, it risks becoming unrecognisable to other local churches, pressing ahead with changes that render it strange to Christian sisters and brothers

Williams is discussing ‘recognizability’ between churches-in-communion. What is permissable depends upon episcopate canon and rules like the Prayer Book. Sadly, arugments over Common Prayer  have been doggedly polemicized. But Pery Dearmer’s Rubric of the Ornament gives a studied answer. When Ritualism arrived in America (a generation after the founding of English Tractarianism), John Hopkins wrote an answer how high-church worship fits within the the lawful boundaries of both Prayer Book and royal injunction, The Law of Ritualism (1866). Also, read Percy’s Loyalty to the Prayer Book.