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.
Continue reading

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 .

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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).
Continue reading

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.