Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Article 36: On Consecration


Now we start getting into the legal domain of the Articles of Religion. None of this is particularly of thrilling theological stuff, but it is interesting in terms of Anglican history. 

XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers
The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing, that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the Rites of that Book, since the second year of the forenamed King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same Rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.

One will notice in the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer that this one is altered entirely. The American version found in the 1792 American Prayerbook is worded thusly:

The Book of Consecration of Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, as set forth by 
the General Convention of this Church in 1792, doth contain all things necessary to such 
Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing that, of itself, is superstitious and 
ungodly. And, therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to said Form, we 
decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.

One will note that following the American revolution, the American Anglican church had to scramble to come up with its own ecclesiology and worship forms, which had heretofore simply been that of the Church of England. All references to King and Parliament are erased in the 1792 BCP Articles of Religion. (This will come into play in tomorrow's article as well.) I have always found it interesting that the new American Anglican Church felt the need to keep the Articles of Religion and yet alter them to their new American political situation and not simply come up with their own, new set of Religious Articles. 

During the American Revolution, the Anglican Churches in America were largely viewed as suspect by the rebels in terms of allegiance. Many Anglican Churches by English law still had to pray for the King and the Realm. Many continued that practice and openly sided with the British. In fact, the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, who were both Anglican priests, had a major falling out over the American Revolution. John was largely ambivalent and pragmatic about the Revolution, ordaining his own "Superintendents" to function as Bishops when England would not send any rightly ordained Bishops to help in America. 

Charles Wesley, on the other hand, would have no part of rebellion against the King of England. He largely broke with John and moved back to London, never to return or even speak with John again. The two became estranged, largely over the issue of the American rebellion. In fact, Charles went on to write propaganda hymns and satirical poetry of a particularly vicious nature against the American rebels that were published in many of the London newspapers at the time. He even wrote an ode to the illegitimacy of George Washington's birth and referred to the whole lot of American rebels as spawn of the Devil. Charles took this Article of Religion seriously, perhaps too seriously, and it affected his ministry and his relationship to his brother John. 

Think about that the next time you sing 'Christ the Lord is Risen Today!" on Easter, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing!" on Christmas, or, one of my all time favorites, "Lo, He comes in Clouds Descending" during Advent. 

3 comments:

Henri said...

I thought you would say a word on how the edwardian ordinal was changed after apostolicae curae, or on how Anglican Bishops were consecrated using the Roman pontifical, in latin language, by Old-Catholic Bishops...

+ PAX et BONUM

The Archer of the Forest said...

I thought about discussing how the Ordinal evolved over time, but I thought that would be simply too much information for this little blog entry. Maybe I will return to that at some point.

Robert said...

Sounds like a great posting for a future entry!