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TRADITIONAL ANGLICAN CHURCHES

"Continuing Anglican" Churches - We would argue the most consistently traditional or "classical" Anglican churches.

Continuing Anglican Miscellany

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Reformed Episcopal Church - Currently part of the Anglican Realignment but these days much more like the traditional Continuing Anglican bodies.

ANGLICAN BLOGS AND WEB SITES

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Numavox Records (Music of Kerry Livgen & Co.)

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WOMEN'S ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD

A Defense of the Doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son  (Yes, this is about women's ordination.)

An (Extended) Short History of the Diaconate

"Buckle Your Seabelts": Can a Woman Celebrate Holy Communion as a Priest? (Video), Fr. William Mouser

Essays on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood from the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth

Faith and Gender: Five Aspects of Man, Fr. William Mouser

Father is Head at the Table: Male Eucharistic Headship and Primary Spiritual Leadership, Ray Sutton

FIFNA Bishops Stand Firm Against Ordination of Women

God, Gender and the Pastoral Office, S.M. Hutchens

God, Sex and Gender, Gavin Ashenden

Homo Hierarchicus and Ecclesial Order, Brian Horne

How Ordaining Women Harms Ministry to Men, C.R. Wiley

Let's Stop Making Women Presbyters, J.I. Packer

Liturgy and Interchangeable Sexes, Peter J. Leithart

Male-Only Ordination is Natural: Why the Church is a Model of Reality, Steven Wedgeworth

Ordaining Women as Deacons: A Reappraisal of the Anglican Mission in America's Policy, John Rodgers

Priestesses in Plano, Robert Hart

Priestesses in the Church?, C.S. Lewis

Priesthood and Masculinity, Stephen DeYoung

Reasons for Questioning Women’s Ordination in the Light of Scripture, Rodney Whitacre

Streams of the River: Articles Outlining the Arguments Against the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood ,

Traditional Anglican Resources

William Witt's Articles on Women's Ordination (Old Jamestown Church archive)

Women Priests?, Eric Mascall

Women and the Priesthood, Catholic Answers

Women Priests: History & Theology, Patrick Reardon

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Tuesday
Aug142012

The Relevance of the Historic Prayer Book to Evangelism

From Virtue Online:

In a Christian culture where historic worship and evangelistic zeal rarely seem to intersect, the Prayer Book Society leadership has made clear it is determined to rebuild the connection. On July 28th, All Saints' Church in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania the Executive Director of the Society, Fr. Jason Patterson, and the President, Fr. Gavin Dunbar, spoke about the nature of worship and the relevance of the historic Prayer Book to evangelism.

Before a group of laity and clergy from across the Anglican/Episcopalian spectrum, Fr. Patterson posed the question, "For what purpose do we gather for our Sunday Worship of God?" Many churches are only concerned with what an individual can get from worship. Fr. Patterson built a Biblical case that "worship is something we offer to God. It is for Him, not for us." This idea is foreign to the consumer mentality that has been embraced by the western Church. Noting that sacrifice is inherent to the Old and New Testament devotion of the people of God, Fr. Patterson encouraged the Church to recognize that worship will sometimes be uncomfortable particularly when the worshiper is himself a living sacrifice. Fr. Patterson noted that, by the grace of God, those that have properly ordered their worship toward God receive much in worship. But this is not the primary end of Biblical worship.

People instinctively worship. This drive is a part of divine imprint upon man. Yet because of sin, man's worship is misdirected. He is given to make idols out of most anything in the creation while neglecting the Creator. Therefore, fallen man must be "be taught both how and whom to worship." Consider Luke 11:1, where the disciples ask Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray..." Fr. Patterson argued that the Bible challenges popular conceptions that true worship must be a "genuine" or an "authentic expression of what one is feeling or experiencing." Fallen man, if left to himself, will have an authentically unbalanced and unbiblical approach to the worship of God. Worship must teach the wayward man to properly orient his life toward the Creator. Worship rightly ordered will challenge each individual, in different ways, to maintain essential elements or neglect innovations so as to offer a sacrifice that is truly please to God.

"I think," Fr. Patterson concluded, "that if we begin from the standpoint of distrusting ourselves (for we shall be inclined to worship wrongly), relying upon God the Holy Spirit as our teacher, and looking to the wisdom of the past we shall be well on our way to learning to worship God in spirit and in truth such that His name is glorified and He is pleased. As Anglicans we have a great treasure in the historic (i.e. 1662 in England, 1928 in the US and 1962 in Canada) Book of Common Prayer. It is not simply a collection of liturgical texts that we are to make use of as best suits our fancy. Rather, the BCP sets forth a system for Christian discipleship, discipline, parochial care, devotion and worship."

Fr. Dunbar's paper was a demonstration of the Biblical logic of Cranmer's Communion Service. Like Fr. Patterson, he spoke about the prevailing attitude that worship must conform to the culture in order to be evangelistically effective. This commitment has led many away from the church's tradition in favor of forms that resemble popular culture and commercial marketing strategies. Fr. Dunbar called this trend the "de-churching of the gospel." The apparent success of non-denominational mega-churches has function to validate this innovating approach for many evangelicals.

The Apostle Paul called Christians, however, to "be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Instead of being driven by the culture, the church brings its own culture to bear on this world. The culture of the church is embodied by its worship. Fr. Dunbar asserted that "worship transforms the way we think, act and live. Cultus changes culture... If your cultus is conformed to worldly culture, it will end up reinforcing worldly wisdom. It will produce more of the same, under some veneer of piety."

Because of this fact, the church's tradition or culture is not a dispensable vehicle for the salvation or enhancement of individuals. The church and her worship tradition are an aspect of salvation. From St. Cyprian (+258) to John Calvin (+1564) this truth has been affirmed by the ministers of the Gospel. "I do not mean to suggest," Fr. Dunbar clarified, "that liturgy itself is all that matters. Far from it: the church cannot do without evangelizing witness and teaching, the discipling of new Christians,[etc.] ; but such efforts will be in vain if in fact they do not begin and end in worship." For this reason, Fr. Dunbar encouraged Anglicans and Episcopalians to rediscover their classical Prayer Book heritage for the sake of the evangelism and change of the culture.

He outlined three aspects of Cranmer's liturgy which are vital to this end. 1) "The Prayer Book as worship of the Father - a liturgy that orients the Church not to the world but to the Father through the Sacrifice of the Son. 2) The Prayer Book as worship of the Word - both the Word that forms the Church, and the Church that bears the Word. 3) The Prayer Book as worship of the Spirit - the Spirit that directs the Church in its conversation to God, and the Church through which the Spirit works." Fr. Dunbar noted that the preparatory prayers of the Holy Communion, the Lord's Prayer and the Collect for Purity, direct the worshiper to the Father. The hallowing of the Father is the goal of worship and it is accomplished through the revelation of the Son and in the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. "The church's worship is thus a divine work, God's knowing himself, and loving himself through the church." It is a "movement from God to God and through God."

The height of this movement is found in the remembrance of Christ's sacrificial offering through which man is enabled to offer up the sacrifice of praise. Fr. Dunbar noted that only the sacrificial language, which Cranmer employed, reconciles man with God. All other theories of Christ's work and the church's worship are concerned with either man in relationship to man or God in relationship to the Devil. When the Church faithfully represents Christ's sacrifice, it is united to His body and returns with the Son to the Father. The liturgy is the means by which the Church is "caught up in the life of the Trinity."

Second, Fr. Dunbar affirmed the centrality of the Word in Prayer Book worship. This liturgy was intended to lead Christians into conformity with the Word of God. Although many might be surprised, Cranmer's emphasis on the Word was an evidence of his conservative commitment to Church tradition. It was only in the late Middle Ages that the reading of major portions of Scripture was abbreviated. Cranmer was firm in his belief "that ecclesial tradition generated by... the Word of the Gospel, was necessary to the Church's evangelization of society." When he prescribed the Scripture readings for Holy Communion, he made only minor changes to the tradition which had developed and lasted from the sixth century. As such, Cranmer was giving tacit approval to the belief that the Word of God is rightly read and preached within the Church and her tradition. Fr. Dunbar summarized, "the primacy of Scripture over the Church does not abolish but... authorizes and empowers the Church, as 'the pillar and ground of the truth.' (1 Tim. 3:15)"

Fr. Dunbar concluded by insisting that, despite appearances, Prayer Book worship is a liturgy of the Spirit. The Communion Service begins by calling the Spirit down upon the Church to make it worthy to worship. Moreover, it is the Spirit that converts men through the process of repentance, faith and works of charity. Fr. Dunbar noted that Morning and Evening Prayer follow this pattern. Even more interesting was his demonstration of Cranmer's intent to carry the Church through this cycle three times in the Eucharistic service. In an ascending spiral, the Church is drawn up by the power of the Spirit to join Christ in heaven at the throne of grace. Fr. Dunbar likened it to Aslan calling the children "further up and further in" to the land that depicts the Kingdom of Heaven.

In both of these lectures, Anglicans, were called to recognize the power of the historic Prayer Book to call men into worship which is rightly direct to the glory of God and therefore abundantly relevant to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Far from being dispensable or a matter of preference, the Church's tradition of worship is necessary for the work of communicating the Gospel.


Deacon Jonathan Kell serves Holy Trinity Church, a parish of the Reformed Episcopal Church, in Fairfax Virginia. He was recently appointed to the board of the Prayer Book Society, USA. Dcn. Jonathan received a M.Div. from the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

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