Guide Our Anglican Heritage, Second Edition: Can an Ancient Church be a Church of the Future?

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These three points can be easily shown to defend the Ordinal against three different parties present in 16 th century England, namely the Roman Catholic Church, the Presbyterian party, and the Dissenters. While broadly similar to the Roman rite in the use of a long consecratory prayer, the Veni, creator Spiritus , and the calling down of the Holy Spirit, the Edwardian Ordinal does represent a departure from the medieval Western tradition.

In no portion of this Ordinal is the priest ever suggested to offer a sacrifice in the same way a Roman priest would. Renew in their hearts the spirit of holiness, so that they may be steadfast in this second degree of the priestly office received from you, O God, and by their own lives suggest a rule of life to others. For priests, it is the remission of sins, for bishops, the imposition of hands. This is a strong assertion of an essential aspect of the presbyteral ministry, though it is different than that which is found in the English Ordinal.

It should be noted that the Apostolic Constitutions does maintain the explicit reference to the office to which the individual is ordered, and even to the manner of their choosing. In either case, the ministry and explicit duties are imposed by the Holy Ghost in all three forms, Roman, English, and Apostolic. This imposition of duties by the Spirit is, without a doubt, the necessary form of the ordination. The second point, that the Ordinal has nothing which of itself is superstitious and ungodly, aims to combat the claims that the Ordinal, or specifically the ceremonial directions contained therein, are contrary to the word of God or ritualistic.

The rubrics in question from the Ordinal are as follows —. After the Gospel and Creed ended, first the elected Bishop having upon him a Surplice and Cope shall be presented by two Bishops being also in surplices and copes, and having their pastoral staffs [1] in their hands unto the Archbishop of that Province, or to some other Bishop appointed by his commission. And then the Archdeacon shalt present unto the Bishop, all them that shall receive the order of Priesthood that day, every of them having upon him a plain Alb. The Bishop shall deliver to every one of them, the Bible in the one hand, and the Chalice or cup with the bread, in the other hand, and saying ….

After the exhortation ended, the Archdeacon, or his deputy, shall present such as come to be admitted to the Bishop every one of them, that are presented, having upon him a plain Alb. The primary objection to these ceremonial rubrics is the elevation of the minister whether they be deacon, priest, or bishop over the laity. For if we begin to busy ourselves with novelties, we shall tread under foot the traditions handed down to us from the fathers in order to make room for worthless superstitions.

Henry VIII & Early Anglicanism

This last sentence is key to our understanding of the use of vestments and other ritual in the Ordinal — they are not novelties. They do not represent a break with the catholic tradition found in England prior to the Reformation in the same way that a black academic gown worn by the minister at Communion might. The deliberate choice of an alb contrary to a surplice, or the delivery of chalices and scripture contrary to the delivery of a pastoral staff, serve not to create theological differences, but merely to ensure godly order in the church, and remind the ordinand of their duties.

The change in rubrics reveals even more clearly the principle behind Anglican vestments and ritual — the maintenance of godly order. This point is not so much a theological proposition as it is an enforcement of English law.


The At the ordering of priests and deacons, as well as the consecration of bishops, the Ordinal mandated that the following oath be sworn:. This oath is truncated compared to that found in the Ordinal, which presupposes that the main opponent to the royal supremacy would be the Bishop of Rome. In the post-Reformation era, this oath allowed the monarch to maintain ceremonies, polities, doctrines, and other various ecclesiastical issues which would have been gotten rid of had it been a decision made by the church herself. Parker used this idea of the royal supremacy in his Advertisements, so as to claim the backing of the Crown.

All these parties presumed to ordain and consecrate without the permission of the established government. In order to combat this, the final clause of Article 36 is necessary. These three key points establish the basis for episcopal polity in the reformed English Church, as well as protect conservative elements of ritual and ceremonial and the established church.

The near-Erastian implications of the third clause, however, leave the appellation of this article subject to debate. Perhaps through further study, we may find some greater truth or understanding of our theology through this Article and the Ordinal it rests on. Jacob Hootman is a lay reader at St.

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Laurence Anglican Church in Southlake, Texas. Of those Articles of Religion that are most at risk of being accused of obsolescence, Article 35 on the Books of Homilies is surely a foremost candidate.


The Article enjoins ministers to read the sermons from the Second Book of Homilies, published in its final form in and largely authored by the great Elizabethan Anglican apologist John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury — The Homilies are, in theory, the only book that stands alongside the Scriptures and the various versions of The Book of Common Prayer as a normative articulation of Anglican doctrine, yet the Homilies are so little known today that many Anglicans will never have heard of them.

Indeed, a modern edition of the First and Second Books of Homilies was not even available until Before considering the historical context of the Homilies, it is worth noting the ambiguous language of Article 35, which is phrased in such a way that it does not necessarily make the reading of the Homilies compulsory. The Article compares the Second Book of Homilies with the First Book, which was necessary in the time of Edward VI just as the Second Book is necessary in the reign of Elizabeth, but there is no clear statement that the First Book remained relevant or appropriate after the Elizabethan Settlement.

As it stands, Article 35 cannot be read definitively as an endorsement of both Books of Homilies, but only as an explicit endorsement of the Second Book of Homilies. The Books of Homilies served three main purposes. Firstly, the sermons within them articulated Anglican doctrine, especially Anglican positions in ecclesiology and soteriology, in much more detail than The Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Secondly, the sermons served as an accessible theological resource that underpinned the preaching of the clergy at a time when little distinctively Anglican theological writing yet existed, and the writings of the Continental Reformers were both hard to obtain and written in Latin. And thirdly, the Homilies could be read in place of a sermon by clergy and, in some parishes, lay readers who did not hold a licence to preach. It was this third purpose of the Homilies that was the most important, because licences to preach were strictly controlled by the Elizabethan bishops and issued sparingly.

Some bishops regarded preaching as a specialist ministry, which should be confined to university-educated clergy or even doctors of divinity holding senior positions within the diocese, such as the cathedral clergy. The Books of Homilies were thus a flashpoint in the conflict between Puritans and more willing conformists that simmered within the Church of England between the s and the s and eventually tore it apart.

The role of the Homilies as sermon-substitutes is also a key reason why they became largely obsolete from the later seventeenth century onwards, as bishops became less cautious in their licensing of preachers. With the advent of toleration for nonconformists after the Revolution of , the bishops became less concerned about controlling the preaching of Anglican clergy and more focussed on the preaching of Anglican orthodoxy in the first place.

John Wadsworth Howe (born November 4, ), American bishop | Prabook

The Homilies faded into the background, a theological mainstay of an earlier age of universally-enforced religious conformity. In contrast to the First Book of Homilies, which focussed on issues of systematic theology that characteristically preoccupied the Reformation theologians of the sixteenth century Scripture, justification and the relationship between faith and works , the themes of the 21 sermons of the Second Book of Homilies are more practical. Homilies 1 and 2 address the importance of maintaining and correctly using the church building; Homilies 4—6 and 20—21 deal with moral conduct; Homilies 7—9 are about prayer.

Homilies 12—14 and 17 are seasonally specific to Christmas, Passiontide, Easter and Rogationtide. The remaining Homilies tackle almsgiving Homily 11 , worthy reception of the Sacrament Homily 15 , the gifts of the Holy Spirit Homily 16 and marriage Homily The Second Book of Homilies makes up for the potential shortcomings of the highly doctrinal First Book by recognising the importance of the material environment of the worshipper, the practicalities of worship, the seasonal life of the church, and the role of the church in moral exhortation and the policing of mores.

What, then, should we make of the continuing presence of an Article of Religion enjoining the use of the Book of Homilies? By contemporary homiletic standards, the Elizabethan homilies are surely unusable. Furthermore, the importance of the lectionary in the contemporary Anglican church makes it difficult to see where some of the themes of the Homilies would fit into the liturgical year. In some cases, the language used against other Christians, especially Roman Catholics, is inappropriate to the modern world — not to mention the difficulty that a contemporary congregation would experience in accessing early modern English.

No-one, therefore, would or should consider using the Books of Homilies for one of their original purposes — namely, reading them out in place of a sermon to the congregation. However, as we have seen, acting as substitute sermons was only one of the original purposes of the Homilies. The Homilies were also a compendium of Anglican doctrine and a theological resource for clergy writing sermons. In these two respects the Homilies remain as important as they ever were.

They present the theology of the Church of England as it existed at a point when the clergy of the Established Church clearly understood themselves as part of the nascent Reformed tradition, but with distinctively English emphases and approaches in both doctrine and practice. Furthermore, the Homilies are a valuable reminder of the significance that not only Scripture, but also the Fathers of the Church, held for early Anglicans.

While the Homilies expected a rather longer attention span than we might find in a contemporary congregation, they cannot be written off as nothing more than excessively complex theological articulations thrust in the ears of ordinary folk, because the concerns they address are down-to-earth, pressing, and real. The existence of the Homilies may trouble some Anglicans who cleave to the position that Anglican theology is defined solely by liturgy. This was not the intention of Cranmer and Jewel, who wanted to flesh out Anglican theology in as much detail as possible.

The Homilies are simultaneously uncompromising and measured in tone; theologically comprehensive, yet straightforward; learned, yet practical especially in the Second Book. What can Anglicans do to reclaim and rediscover the Homilies? What is needed next, perhaps, is an edition of the Homilies in modern English that will be accessible to the average contemporary parishioner — so that the Homilies can regain their position alongside The Book of Common Prayer as normative articulations of traditional Anglican theology and practice, a rich resource for the Anglican Communion that embodies the roots of Anglican faith.

Article 35, along with the other Articles of Religion, was adopted at the Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States, but Article 35 had a qualification added to its adoption. Yet in a changing church, one where fewer clergy walk the path of a three-year seminary degree, where more clergy are serving congregations in a part-time or volunteer capacity, where some congregations are truly living a shared ministry of leadership between laity and clergy ministry, including the ministry of preaching, and where generations of those coming into the Christian community of the Episcopal Church have little or no familiarity of the Christian tradition, perhaps a conversation with our Anglican past and its insight about homilies, their importance, and their value in forming Christians is due a revisit.

The original intent of the Books of Homilies, how they were needed and used in the Anglican Church and, by extension, the Episcopal Church, and the changing nature of the church makes the qualification added to the original passage of Article 35 as relevant as ever. The Books of Homilies were born from a Convocation of mostly-English bishops gathered in These bishops recognized the importance to educate both clergy and laity in the reformed tradition of the church, the Holy Scriptures, and the theology of Christianity and the sacraments.

Preaching has its foundations in apostolic biblical account of the first followers of Jesus sharing the Good News by word and example. In the patristic period of the church, writings share of the reading of Holy Scripture, followed by admonitions and instruction to aid early Christians as they followed the teachings of Jesus.

The homily became a tool of teaching and a reminder that worship included insight, formation, and learning. Settled in the context of prayer, praise, and communion, homilies informed the faithful of theology, spoke against the latest heresies of the church, and provided a conversation with the people and God about how Christians expressed and practiced their belief in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Preaching continued to be influenced by the shifts and changes in Christianity. Various councils and correspondence reflect the growth of itinerant preachers from the monastic tradition and the concerns thereof; the concern that those preaching were too excited about their own personality and celebrity to preach well the Gospel of Christ; and the reality that many clergy were adept at celebrating the sacraments, but were woefully incompetent to preach an adequate homily.

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These concerns wax and wane for several centuries, and the newly-established Anglican Church gave Cranmer and his fellow church leaders the power not only to refocus the homily as a tool for instruction for Christians within the setting of worship, but also the ability to assist local parish priests and no doubt a few bishops as they used the homily teach accurate theology in the Anglican tradition. Thus, the first Book of Homilies was produced. The demand for the first Book of Homilies, published during the reign of Edward VI, was high, although in some congregations there were clergy who could not read the homilies because they were illiterate and other clergy who would not read the homilies because of their opposition towards church reforms.

A second Book of Homilies was published under Elizabeth I, and the titles of the sermons are those listed in the current embodiment of Article These titles are homilies that help craft a foundational faith in the Anglican tradition. They address matters of prayer, of how we understand scripture, and of the Nativity and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and other major feasts and fasts. They address issues of the sacramental understanding of time in the liturgical calendar, of common and well-experienced sins, and of the care and keeping of the holy space that is the church.

The sermons were rooted in Holy Scripture and the writings of the church fathers. They encouraged Christians to read, learn, and inwardly digest Holy Scripture, to pray regularly, and to engage in a true and lively faith. They informed church leaders, both lay and ordained, of church history, patristic theology, the heresies of the church, and the practices of the Roman Catholic church with which the Anglican church and, more broadly, the reformed tradition, disagreed and even on some occasion, agreed.

These collections of sermons were considered, along with the Book of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion, as foundational Anglican theology. These sermons were appointed to be read on Sundays and on Holy Days. These sermons explained doctrine. The gave context to Anglican theology and were a vehicle to share this theology during the Holy Eucharist with the gathered faithful.

There were not merely TED talks about self-improvement, personal enlightenment, or motivational chats that could be live-tweeted; they were about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as understood by the Church. The Books of Homilies addressed the complex and humble aspects of our faith, reaching back into the ancient wisdom and forward into growing insight. They were and still are significant contributions of the substance of Christian faith. The Episcopal Church endorsed the content of the homilies, but did not endorse reading the homilies themselves until they could be updated.

I wonder, then, if that time has come. The internet provides countless options for sermons and homilies, many posted by Episcopal clergy. The Episcopal Church itself has homilies available for laity and clergy to use on Sundays and Holy Days.

follow url We certainly recognize the need for homilies to be preached. But what about the content of them?

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  8. Cranmer wanted Christians to know what they believed, why they believed, and how that belief was to be lived in daily life. Too often, preaching is heavily focused on style over substance. Some of these techniques can be learned. We can all learn to enunciate, to allow our personal voice to be present, and to ground our homilies in scripture. But our Anglican tradition, even our Christian tradition, is deeply rooted in substantial homilies.

    Some people have a charism for preaching homilies with a style that is clearly of the Spirit. Martin Luther King, Jr. But the substance of what he says is equally, if not more, important. The substance of their holy words is why we still share their words. More and more people coming to hear the Good News of Jesus have little to no knowledge of the Christian faith. Might these realities call us to revisit the hope of our General Convention from over two centuries ago and take seriously the need to have a resource of homilies that contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, necessary for these times, that can be read in Churches by the Ministers, both laity and clergy, diligently and distinctly, so they may be understood by the people?

    Might we revisit the homilies of our ancestors and let the substance of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit wash over us and drench us in the what, whys, and hows of our Episcopal faith? Might we, in this new age of the Church, remember the value of substantial homilies that, along with prayer and sacrament, speak of God?

    Laurie Brock serves as rector of the St. Whosoever, through his private judgment, 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. What is Anglicanism? Defining the essential aspects of Anglicanism has always been a contentious enterprise.

    To be Anglican is to be part of a tradition that both has a stable set of qualities and yet also avoids simple reductions. The thirty-fourth article of the Articles of Religion help us see why this is so. This article underlines that the essence of belief has to do with the basics of Christian doctrine. Ceremonies and traditions can be good and edifying but will always have an incidental quality to them, especially given the reality of diverse national practices.

    Any effort to define Anglicanism according to what is incidental will always lead to multiple definitions of it given the differing cultural expressions of Anglicanism. This insight allows us to think of the Episcopal Church and other expressions of Anglicanism as a synthesis of local contexts and core Christian commitments expressed within a specific denominational heritage.

    Article 34 has two key points. First, it lays out a classic Protestant Reformation principle that because of diverse national contexts, not all ceremonies or traditions need to look the same in every place. The key barometer is whether they are in accord with Scripture and do not contradict it. This too is classically Protestant in tone.

    But once a church has established a tradition or ceremony, it cannot be lightly violated by any individual. This might both violate the authority of those entities that approved this ceremony or tradition and it might harm the conscience of other Christians. This first point reveals a great deal about the Protestant Reformation context in which this article was composed. It takes aim at Roman Catholicism and its insistence on a universal norm of practice, ceremonies and traditions.

    Many Protestant appealed to a wide variety of church practices in areas outside of Western Europe, especially in Eastern Orthodox lands, to show that uniformity of worship could vary from place to place. While insisting on national diversity of worship, the Church of England argued that within its own context of England, there should be one clear, uniform mode of worship in its ceremonies and traditions. Here is the influence of royal supremacy, the oversight of the Church of England by the monarch. If the monarch, Parliament, and church synods decreed that surplices ought to be worn in worship or that communion ought to be administered with the people kneeling, then no variance from this should occur.

    While surplices and kneeling were not commanded in Scripture, neither did they violate its teachings and so ought to be followed. The other major point of this article is a reaffirmation of the right of every national church to establish its own ceremonies and rites for the sake of edifying those in worship. Wearing a surplice for clergy or using the sign of the cross at baptism were repugnant in other Reformed contexts like Geneva. What the church and magistrate commands for England is appropriate for English Christians in so far as these practices might be edifying.

    While the Thirty-Nine Articles were composed for the established Church of England, this thirty-fourth article proved vital for the development of the Anglican Communion. As the Church of England spread globally and as colonial churches gained their own independence over the centuries, the idea that the worship of any local church ought to reflect appropriately the culture in which it was located became a guiding principle of liturgical and other ecclesial practices.

    Writing a century ago in his commentary on the Articles of Religion, E. What is fitting in one place may not be in another. Careful discernment is needed to ensure that practices are not followed due to cultural imperialism or misplaced nostalgia for past practices. A generation on the other side of the liturgical renewal movement, we can see the fruit the perspective inherent in this article has born throughout the Anglican Communion. While Anglican worship has core similarities wherever one goes, cultural practices also deeply inform it.

    This is as true for the Episcopal Church as anywhere else.

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    The Book of Common Prayer in very real ways reflects fundamental aspects of the American culture in which it was shaped. Its rubrics permit for a wide range of customs and forms of celebration while retaining the core structures of Anglican worship. At the same time, the book was composed for a largely white church in a time when the country was still perceived as predominantly white.

    One of the overarching questions for the future of the Episcopal Church is how its worship will reflect the cultural diversity of the contemporary church. The largest diocese numerically in the Episcopal Church is Haiti. Article 34 argues that diverse practices are appropriate for diverse nations. But it assumes that each nation will be uniform in practice. The situation in the Episcopal Church reveals a vastly different social reality. Beyond the wide range of ethnic and racial differences, there is also the reality of Christian diversity with multiple expressions of worship and devotional practices.

    What then is appropriate for customs and traditions in the Episcopal Church and how does this inform our own Anglican identity? A common theme was what it meant to be Anglican without being Anglo. How is can Anglican traditions be expressed without reverting to customs and traditions that have no cultural resonance for diverse communities?

    One speaker passionately spoke of Article 34 as the Anglican principle that allows for non-white communities to develop their own customs that both reflect their cultures and do the work of edifying people in worship. For this person, the path for faithfully living as a Latino Episcopalian ran through Article I argue that a more conscientious use of the principles of Article 34 can help many parts of the Episcopal Church to reflect on how their worship and practices can be expressed in ways that edify in a wide range of cultural contexts.

    The Episcopal Church typically feels like a church designed aesthetically for wealthy white city-dwellers and country club suburbanites. But we all know that very few members of the Episcopal Church are as wealthy or elite as our reputation implies. Our days of cultural dominance are over. This is the package for anybody who wants to access every spiritual, theological, historical, and exegetical detail informing study of the Word. This massive collection combines The New International Commentary on the Old Testament and The New International Commentary on the New Testament to provide an exposition of Scripture that is thorough and abreast of modern scholarship, yet at the same time loyal to Scripture as the infallible Word of God.

    This conviction, shared by all contributors to The New International Commentary on the Old Testament and The New International Commentary on the New Testament, and defines the goal of this ambitious series of commentaries. Choose Format. Recommend for Me. Reg: Print:. Regular price. There are likewise no reports in the local newspapers during that time. Obviously, the Second World War took place during that period and all churches experienced difficult times.

    The church was not exempt from the general cloud of gloom that hung over our country. Each day brought news of our young men and women being killed on far-flung battle fields, far from home, to keep our country free. There are differing stories of what happened in the churches during that period. Many ministers were called up for active duty and lay pastors filled the pulpits. Some churches found their congregations diminished while others were filled with people praying for sons and daughters in the services overseas.

    The war ended and the country and the church began to reconstruct itself and try to discover its identity once again. There was a lack of leadership as many young people who had run church activities did not return from the war. Many who returned home were in no condition to take up the duties they had done before the war.

    It was a period of slow reconstruction. On April 28, it is recorded that 20 people held a meeting at the West Hoxton Union Church to consider the purchase of an ex-army hut to be used as a church hall and to be located on the southern side of the church. The hall also provided a venue for other fellowship activities. The people raised the required finances but then God spoke to them in a way that directed that money for a different purpose. The church had always been very missionary minded. Often it would take them several days to travel between villages.

    Alf made his need known in correspondence to the church, asking them to pray about it. The result was that the church decided to use the money set aside for the hall and purchase a Suzuki Four-Wheel Drive Car for the use of the Norman family. The church still needed a new hall, so in September, it was decided to build a totally new hall. Each family donated money for this purpose. Some loaned money from their much-needed savings. There were lamington drives, selling of cakes and jams on election days and making craft items for fund-raising stalls. The church put as much money as possible into the building fund from the weekly offerings.

    It took two years to pay back some who had loaned money, however some found their finances improved and donated the money they had loaned. One lady in the congregation received an inheritance and gave most of that money to the church for the new hall. The church was pleasantly surprised at the amount of money generated. And so work began. The builder was the brother of a church member who was paid for his work, but all the church men helped in its construction.


    The church ladies saw that the men were well nourished by bringing along morning tea and lunch for the hungry workers. There was insufficient funds to install a ceiling so the Boys Brigade used the exposed beams for abseiling, swinging from the rafters and anything else they could think of.

    However, when events were held in the hall on rainy days, the rain on the roof was deafening. The church decided a ceiling had to be fitted. The church paid for the materials and two of the men, Norman Wells and Harley Goldfinch installed the ceiling all on their own. It would have been quite a job, but they did a good job of it and it is still as good today as when it was installed in — 30 years ago. But the church is not just a building or an organisation — it is made up of people and without them the building would just be an empty shell.

    Many people were committed to Christ and the church and showed it by their actions.