Monday, May 21, 2012

Article 34:

Today's article is pretty stock Anglican Common Prayer doctrine:

XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church
It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, and utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever through his private judgement, 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.

In other words, the Anglican Church does not have to follow the liturgical uniformity that Rome or Orthodoxy imposes, and yet we do so writ small. Anglicans do have to follow the Book of Common Prayer and pray in common, but it can be adapted to culture as warranted. 

No one can just do their own liturgical thing on a whim without the greater approval of the Church, however. We still have to pray in common because how we pray shapes how believe. If everything doing their own thing in prayer, then there is nothing really that holds the Anglican church together. 

I sometimes wonder if the Anglican church problems stem from the violation of this doctrine. Particularly in England, the Common Prayer tradition has completely broken down. Some parishes use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (still the official BCP in England until Parliament changes it); some use the English Missal from the Catholic Church in 1962; others use the Book of Common Worship or other supplements that came out about 10 years ago or earlier, and still others won't touch a prayerbook for a million British pounds sterling, opting for Willow Creek mega church praise and worship. 

Walk around Cambridge, UK, sometime and stop in at any of the plethora of Anglican churches within a 15 minute walk, and you will find a church using one of these. The thinking of most of my C of E brethren was that this was simply grand, diversity and all that. My question was, "If we don't pray in common, what holds us together? Certainly not doctrine or common cause." I never got a good answer.  

This is one of the reasons why I liturgical stick as close as I can to the Book of Common Prayer. The Episcopal Church has put out several worship supplements, particularly the Enriching Our Worship series, which I frankly refuse to use for a number of reasons. I don't do politically correct liturgies. Theologically they are dreadful. Beyond that, they are not even well written. The sentences and phraseology, particularly in the Eucharistic prayers, are very terse and choppy. They seem to have been written by and for a high school freshman.

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