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Posted on 10/27/2006 5:34:56 PM PDT by sionnsar
Pittsburgh Episcopal Bishop Bob Duncan assesses the future of the Anglican tradition. His address, given at Nashotah House, is quite long so I want to focus on just two points. First, says Duncan, an American Anglicanism needs to value the Word of God over everything else. Especially its personal comfort:
To points 1) and 4) the experience of the American Church reveals all too starkly the pattern in contemporary Anglicanism that cannot be a part of our future, if there is to be a future. In 1973, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, allowing pastoral concern to trump Scriptural teaching, replaced its annulment canon with a canon allowing remarriage after divorce, not limiting such remarriage to those cases that might be argued from Scripture. By comparison to effects visited on the whole Church in the undermining of Scriptural authority in life after life and household after household, the confirmation of a bishop in a same-sex relationship in 2003 is but reasonable follow-on. Part of Anglicanisms magisterium was its fundamental submission to the theological and moral teachings of Scripture, especially when that teaching was personally costly, (8) all the while offering the grace that forever met sinners where they were. To each one in this room I ask, are we prepared together to recover this submission, or no? In Scriptures plain words, are we prepared to remain faithful to the wife of our youth, or no? (9) The future of Anglicanism is fundamentally dependent on submission of this sort, on submissions that break our own desires against Scriptures narrow way. And not just in theory, but in my life and in yours.
It needs to stop the ridiculous ECUSA practice of allowing just about any Bible translation individual parishes wish to use.
What I would also add to this is that the need for an Authorized Version of the Bible, at least parish by parish, or diocese by diocese, re-emerges alongside the need for a Book of Common Prayer. How shall we ever learn Scripture again except that we always hear it in the same way? The matter of formation needs to dominate our liturgical and ascetical thinking, rather than our desires for education, variety, correctness or newness. And since I have already given quite enough offense, I shall leave off here without arguing for hymnody that is static enough to produce texts that are known by heart.
And an American Anglicanism needs a Christian prayer book. And not the 1928 edition either.
To point 2) the loss of the Book of Common Prayer I want to be so bold as to suggest the following: that Anglicanisms practical magisterium its reliable teaching authority has been its Book of Common Prayer, and that without a restored Book of Common Prayer, reasserting the theological propositions of medieval Catholicism as reshaped by the English Reformation, best represented in the prayer book of 1662, Anglicanism will continue its theological disintegration apace. For that Western Church whose popular and practical believing was more nearly lex orandi, lex credendi than any other tradition for that Western Church whose practical magisterium was its prayerbook a fixed prayer book is essential. For a tradition that has a separate magisterium, Vatican II-style liturgy is a possibility. For us as Anglicans, it is, quite demonstrably, not. Forty years of alternative texts and expansive language have produced an undiscipled people and a theological wasteland. We have become a Church that actually does believe, in the words of one eucharistic canon, that we are worthy to stand before [Him]. (10) How staggeringly un-Scriptural and un-Anglican!
Read the whole thing.
Everyone has a favorite reason how and why the Episcopal Church went from Christian church to universalists in drag and all of these have some truth to them. But regardless of the reason for its decline, I think that ECUSA's doom was sealed with the publication of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
If you grew up, as I did, on the 1928 edition, the difference between the two is stark. Just about all sense of human sinfulness was removed in the 1979; in the current Episcopal prayer book, there's nothing really wrong with any of us. Here, for example, is the General Confession from the 1928 edition:
Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
And here is the same prayer from the 1979:
Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts,
we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare thou those who confess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
But if that one's too much for you, there's always Rite Two:
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Notice the downward progression? The first says, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." The third says, "Hey, sorry about that, Big Guy."
One could be a bit picayune here and wonder why Bishop Duncan stayed such a long time with a prayer book he thought was so inadequate. The response, of course, is that thanks to the
laws of the Medes and the Persians TEC canons, Duncan had no choice. So it's encouraging to me that the new American Anglicanism Duncan proposes seems to be willing and eager to rectify at least some of the deliberate and costly mistakes of its predecessor.
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