Skip to comments.1979 Catechism Exposed (Conclusion) [ECUSA]
Posted on 05/30/2005 9:41:41 AM PDT by sionnsar
The 1979 Catechism, as it touches on Holy Communion, departs from traditional Anglican instruction on three points: the institution of the sacrament, the nature of the sacrifice, and the benefits of the sacrament. We will consider each separately.
The Institution of Holy Communion
Traditional Anglican catechisms begin instruction on Holy Communion with this question: Why was the Sacrament of the Lords Supper ordained? The answer given is: For the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive hereby. The 1979 Catechism does not concern itself with why the sacrament was ordained. Instead it asks: What is the Holy Eucharist? The answer given is: The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again.
By asking what instead of why the 1979 Catechism, in keeping with 20th century trends, moves from ontology to phenomenology. Ontology is the study of being, source, and origin. Phenomenology is the study of what is sensibly perceived. Why is this significant?
An ontological approach requires faith in the Person of Jesus Christ and in the redemptive power of his death. A phenomenological approach involves description of the experience of Holy Communion. Orthodoxy maintains that a true description of the experience is possible only where there is faith in the One who ordained the Sacrament. In other words, asking why places value on the Sacrament because of the One who ordained it. Asking what devalues the Sacrament by drawing attention from the Author of sacrament to the thing itself.
The Nature of the Sacrifice
The 1979 Catechism includes the following question and answer: Why is the Eucharist called a sacrifice? Because the Eucharist, the Churchs sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself (p. 859). The drafters of the 1979 Catechism seem to have been motivated by a concern to strengthen the language of sacrifice as a corrective to a memorial view of the Lords Supper. To do this they needed only to restore Thomas Cranmers Eucharistic prayer. Cranmer refined sacrificial language in this, a theologically pithy prayer, and one of the most beautiful in the Anglican tradition:
Entirely desiring thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving: most humbly beseeching thee to grant that, but the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his Passion. And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that all we which be partakers of this holy Communion, may be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction. And although we be unworthy through our manifold sins to offer unto thee any Sacrifice: yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (1549 BCP)
The 1979 Catechism neglects to mention that we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. This is a serious oversight because, as Cranmer understood, the only reasonable response to Jesus sacrifice for us is to pour our lives as an oblation upon the sacrifice of Christ. We have nothing more to offer since we have no power in ourselves to save ourselves.
The Benefits of Holy Communion
A study of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer reveals the following benefits of Holy Communion:
1. being filling with grace and heavenly blessing
2. being made one body with Jesus Christ
3. dwelling in Christ and He in us
4. pardon of our offenses (if we be repentant)
5. strengthening and refreshing of our souls
6. innumerable benefits procured through Christs death and resurrection
A study of the 1979 Catechism (p. 859) reveals the following benefits of Holy Communion:
1. forgiveness of sins (assuming self-examination, p. 860)
2. strengthening of our union with Christ and one another
3. a foretaste of the heavenly banquet which nourishes in eternal life
To summarize this series on the 1979 Catechism, in as much as it represents what ECUSA believes, we have identified the following departures from traditional Anglican belief:
ECUSAs catechism unravels the creed and puts it together in such a way that it gives a false impression of the Three Persons of the Trinity.
ECUSA takes a big step toward Unitarianism by not retaining the statement of Three Persons yet One God necessary to preserve Trinitarian Faith.
ECUSA rejects the doctrine of original sin and so one of the traditional understandings of Baptism as a spiritual bath is rendered meaningless.
ECUSA insists that Humans are free to make choices to love God and to live in harmony with God, contrary to the Biblical teaching on our bondage to sin.
ECUSA reworks the Ten Commandments to make them support ECUSAs social agenda.
ECUSA regards the Lords Prayer as a template for prayer rather than a precious inheritance from the Lord.
ECUSA takes a phenomenological approach to the Holy Eucharist that devalues the sacrament by shifting attention from Christ to what is perceived by the senses.
ECUSA likes the language of sacrifice in the Eucharist, but not Thomas Cranmers uniquely Anglican language of sacrifice because Cramner believed in original sin and the absolute necessity of spiritual regeneration and hearty repentance.
ECUSA talks about the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another but not about the strengthening and refreshing of our souls. The 1979 Prayer Book seldom mentions the soul.
As an orthodox believer, I am compelled to go back to using the 1928 (or the 1662) Book of Common Prayer to stay grounded in the true Faith. I will do so until American Anglicans have the Book of Common Prayer in a 21st century version minus ECUSAs innovations and presumptuous falsehoods.
The orthodox church I attend uses the 1979 Prayer Book so I am faced with a decision concerning where I will worship. Until I locate a church that uses it, I will continue to use the 1928 BCP for my personal daily devotions.
Very interesting. Thanks for posting it.
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