Thursday, March 21, 2019

“Did Ya Catch Anythin’?” The 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book and the Mission of the Church


By Robin G. Jordan

The doctrine of the 2019 Proposed ACNA Book of Common Prayer is not its only shortcoming. It suffers from a number of other drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some of these drawbacks.

Among the various drawbacks of the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book is that its rites and services contain a number of superfluous elements that should have been made optional or omitted entirely. These elements do not add to the solemnity of the rite or service but make it tediously lengthy. They suggest that the drafters of the rite or service were unfamiliar with the important liturgical principle that less is more.

One of the characteristics of the early Roman Rite was its leanness. It contained only what was essential. It was sparing in its use of language as well as ceremonial. It embodied what the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic liturgical documents characterize as a “noble simplicity.”

Its leanness and simplicity is what commended the Roman Rite to the Low German tribes that embraced Christianity after invading the British Isles and establishing what would be called England, or Land of the Angles. The Angles were one of the invading tribes, which included the Frisians, Jutes, and Saxons.

While the Low German tribes accepted Christianity largely through the efforts of the indigenous Celtic Church, they found its discipline far too austere and its liturgy far too florid and prolix for their taste. The worldliness of the Roman Church and the spareness of its liturgy and to a lesser extent the claims of the Bishop of Rome to be the successor to the chief apostle Peter would eventually lead them to switch their allegiance to the Church of Rome.

While the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy has made references to early Church models in its public statements, the influence that is discernible in the rites and services themselves is high Medieval and later. By the late Middle Ages the Roman Rite was had incorporated a number of features of the Gallican Rite and was much more complicated and elaborate than it had been in Anglo-Saxon times. The liturgical ideas of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century Ritualists are also discernible. They would produce what is collectively known as the Anglican Missal and would influence the revision of a number of Prayer Books during the first half of the twentieth century. The influence of the post-Vatican II Roman Rite is discernible too. While the 1662 BCP has been cannibalized for texts for the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book, its doctrine and liturgical usages are not evident.

Since the nineteenth century the Anglican Church has, in some quarters, been marked by a proclivity for ostentatious display and spectacle. Recognizing the English people’s love of pageantry, the nineteenth century Ritualists sought to capitalize upon it, turning the gatherings of the Church into sensory extravaganzas—incense, colorful vestments, banners, processions, and torches—what the nineteenth English evangelical bishop J.C. Ryle describes as “sensory worship.” While the Ritualists claimed that this style of worship attracted the poorer classes to their churches, the accuracy of this claim is debatable. In some parishes it may have but in most parishes it attracted the privileged and the wealthy.

In churches in which the clergy have been influenced by this style of worship, the services are apt to be overloaded with extraneous elements not only on church festivals but also on ordinary Sundays. As a result they tend to be quite long. Visitors who are unaccustomed to lengthy Prayer Book services experience them as tedious and boring. They may also have the same effect upon the younger member of the congregation. They did when I was a teenager and the attention spans of today’s youth are much shorter than my generation.

The way that the rites and services of the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book are constructed, not only reflects the influence of this style of worship but also caters to the clerical tendency to adorn the rite or service with unnecessary devotions.

In his article “Easter Checklist: Helping People Feel Welcome” Rick Warren offers these two pieces of advice for Easter services.
Look for ways to save time during the service. Most of your guests have short attention spans. Have the components of your Easter service written down for your team, with an expected time for each element. Trim that time as much as you can.

Keep your public prayers short. Unchurched people can’t handle long prayers. Their minds wander.
This is good advice not just for Easter services but also ordinary services. However, it is difficult advice for churches using the rites and services of the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book to follow. Its rites and services were not constructed with much thought to who might be visiting on a particular Sunday or occasion. The form of the Holy Communion, for example, contains several lengthy blocks of unrelieved text during which the congregation is expected to kneel, one of the worst features of the older Anglican service books. This points to another drawback of the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book. It was designed not for the twenty-first century but for an earlier time.

The style of worship which the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book promotes is one that only cathedrals and large churches which have ample resources are able to pull off. Their style of worship historically has tended to be seen as the standard for all churches in the province and the diocese irrespective of their size. The result is a standard of worship that is impracticable for all but the larger churches.

Churchgoers who have acquired a taste for this style of worship develop unrealistic expectations about how a church should worship. This in turn has a detrimental effect upon churches that cannot meet these expectations and offer them the “sensual worship” to which they have become accustomed. Their attachment to this style of worship has what may be described as an addictive quality. They may experience actual psychological discomfort when their expectations are not met. They may visit but after one or two visits decide to go elsewhere.

To this day I recall the apology an elderly lady offered me after church almost thirty years ago. I was the senior lay reader of a storefront Episcopal mission. “You all are very nice people,” she told me, “But the service today just didn’t feel like church.” After exploring with her what she meant, I referred her to my former parish where she would find what she missed. We did not offer the kind of worship that she had become accustomed to as a lifelong Episcopalian. I must point out that we were a growing church and were attracting people by the droves. But we lacked the ambiance that she associated with “church.”

What makes matters worse is that this particular style of worship is not an essential element of the Christian faith and is, as I have already noted, an acquired taste. It can create a barrier to hearing the gospel for unchurched guests since they may be unused to it and as a consequence put off by it. It also can have negative associations in the minds of these guests.

When a church adopts a particular worship style because it is the church members’ preference rather than consider what would be best style of worship to reach its ministry target group, the church is putting ecclesial preferences before missionary engagement. The 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book in favoring not only a particular form of doctrine and practices but also a particular style of worship encourages this tendency. The use of the book may prove to be a significant obstacle to reaching the unchurched population of a large area of North America.

The combination of an impracticable standard of worship and the unrealistic expectations of churchgoers can greatly tax the limited resources of small churches. They do not have the people, the worship setting, the ecclesial paraphernalia, and the other resources to pull it off this particular style of worship. The result is what Bishop Michael Marshall describes in his book Renewal in Worship as “a kind of Monty Python version of worship at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminister Abbey, or The National Cathedral in Washington!” It is not the kind of worship experience that leads visitors to conclude that a church takes the worship of God seriously. This conclusion is one of the reasons that formerly unchurched people have given for starting to attend a church.

One of the reasons that a church may be small is that it adopted the wrong style of worship for the community or neighborhood in which it is located. This happened to a number of Anglican churches that were started in the 1970s. They were wed to an older Anglican service book—the 1928 Prayer Book—and to a particular style of worship. In some communities and neighborhoods this combination resonated with the local population. They were able to attract other residents of the community or neighborhood beside disaffected Episcopalians like themselves. In other communities and neighborhoods it did not. The only people that they were able to attract were disaffected Episcopalians who shared their preferences.

Episcopalians who have fled the Episcopal Church since 1970s have exhibited different preferences. Some had an affectionate regard for the 1928 Prayer Book, others have never used the book and do not have the sentimental attachment to the book that older Episcopalians do. The latter have tended to form new congregations of their own rather than join the older congregations. For a variety of reasons they do not feel an affinity with these congregations. They may not be attracted to the often rigid traditionalism of the older former Episcopalians. They may have been influenced by the charismatic and Third Wave (or Vineyard) movements that had an impact on segments of the Episcopal Church from the 1960s on. They may have a different view of the ordination of women.

The lack of interest that these later Episcopalians have shown in the older Anglican service book has been the sounding of the death knell for these older congregations. As the number of disaffected Episcopalians who formed their base has shrunk so have these older congregations. They have not come to terms with the harsh realities of the twenty-first century.

Except for a few literary and theater majors at the local university, most young people do not understand the language of the 1928 Prayer Book or the King James Bible, which is also used in these older churches. Moreover, except for those whom I have mentioned, they show no interest in learning it. Like Latin, it is a dead language to them. The foreign exchange students who take English literature classes struggle with its archaic vocabulary and grammar. They do not see the connection with modern English, which for them is challenging enough to learn.

Those Episcopalians who broke with the Episcopal Church in the opening decades of this century and who adopted the 1928 Prayer Book and the style of worship under discussion tend to blame the community for their own shortsightedness. They are not willing to admit that they should have sized up the community before they settled on a service book and a style of worship. If they had taken the time to exegete the community and to tailor their worship to the local population, they might be enjoying greater success at reaching the unchurched in the community. They might have pared down the Prayer Book services, used a modern translation of the Bible, and made greater use of music that resonates with the local population. They might have foregone the high altar against the east wall and settled for a freestanding communion table. However, they put their own preferences first and are experiencing the consequences of this self-indulgence.

I do not remember where I read the following observation but it is one that North American Anglicans should take to heart. The mission of the Christ’s Church is not to propagate a particular style of worship, a particular service book, or a particular set of practices. It is to spread the gospel, make disciples, baptize them, and teach them what Christ has commanded. If our style of worship, our service book, or our practices do not genuinely serve that mission, we need to replace them. The Church’s mission comes first. Our preferences are secondary.

The same combination of an impracticable standard of worship and the unrealistic expectations of churchgoers to which I referred earlier can create all kinds of problems for new church plants. This is one of the reasons why planting a new church with a core group or nucleus form an existing church may be one of the more difficult methods of planting a new church. The members of the core group or nucleus have pre-conceived ideas of “church” These ideas, however, may be “more of a missionary liability than a gospel-engaging asset.” Rather allowing conditions on the ground to inform how the church worships, they will want put their own worship preferences first. In doing so, they may erect barriers between the new church and the ministry target group that the new church was ostensibly planted to reach.

The 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book feeds into this dynamic. Its underlying philosophy reflects the kind of thinking associated with what Jeff Christopherson describes as “the self-indulgent church” which prioritize “ecclesial practice” over “missional engagement.”

The rites and services in the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book are far more elaborate than they need to be. As I noted earlier, this may be attributed to a lack of appreciation for the important liturgical principle that less is more. However, another contributing factor appears to have been a desire to elevate the role of the clergy as ministers of the sacraments and dispensers of sacramental grace in the eyes of the congregation. This is done at the expense of those whom the churches using the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer might have reached with the gospel if its rites and services were simpler and shorter.

The same rites and services do not appear to be constructed with much attention to the needs of smaller congregations, particularly those meeting in non-traditional worship settings. As well as lacking simplicity and brevity, they lack flexibility and adaptability. The commissions that compiled 1928 and 1979 Prayer Books to some extent recognized this need when preparing those two service books. However, the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force appears to have been solely interested in developing rites and services that are impressive more than they are practicable.

Along with the need for doctrinal continuity with the Articles of Religion of 1571 and The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, the Archbishop of Sydney’s Liturgical Panel was attentive to the need for simplicity, brevity, flexibility, and adaptability when they prepared Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings (2012), a development and expansion of the Liturgical Panel’s earlier work, Sunday Services (2001). Both Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings and Sunday Services were developed for use alongside the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, An Australian Prayer Book (1978), and A Prayer Book for Australia (1995). The 1662 Prayer Book is the official Prayer Book of the Anglican Church of Australia and An Australian Prayer Book and A Prayer Book for Australia are collections of authorized alternative services to the 1662 Prayer Book services. Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings is a modification of the last two service books allowed under the provisions of the canons authorizing the two books. It is presented to the churches as a resource for gospel-shaped gatherings in the evangelical Anglican tradition.

I have reviewed the final revised draft and the hardback edition of Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings and while the final revised draft and the hardback edition have some minor differences, my overall impression of the book is that it is an excellent resource for North American Anglicans committed to remaining faithful to the Holy Scriptures and historic Anglican beliefs and practices and serious about fulfilling the mission of the Church. The final revised draft is online. The hardbound edition can be purchased from Christian Education Publications and Koorong.Com. The e-book edition can be purchased from Itunes, Apple,Inc. While developed for use on the Australian mission field, Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings is exceptionally suited for use on the North American mission field, in the United States and Canada. Unfortunately it has not been translated into Spanish, Nahuatl, Yucatec Maya, or Mixtec; otherwise I would recommend its use in Mexico.

Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings is not a complete service book. It does not include a catechism, ministration to the sick section, a psalter, or ordination services. Modern English versions of the Prayer Book Catechism are found in An Australian Prayer Book and A Prayer Book for Australia along with prayers for the sick, forms for confession and absolution, forms for communion of the sick, psalters, and ordination services. bettergatherings.com provides additional resources for use with Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings The website also explains the theology of Christian Assembly behind Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings

While Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings is described as a resource for gospel-shaped gatherings in the evangelical Anglican tradition, its church services and other gospel-shaped gathering are not wed to any particular style of worship. While Sydney Anglicans might cringe at the idea, they can be used with a charismatic style of worship—uplifted hands, body movement, spontaneous praise, and that sort of thing. One sees that style of worship in a restrained form in non-charismatic churches in the United States as well in a more exuberant form in charismatic and Pentecostal churches. They can also be used with a style of worship which, while it is not Catholic in doctrine, incorporates a number of practices which are historically associated with Catholicism but which have found their way into a number of mainline Protestant churches. These practices include simple, unadorned eucharistic vestments; freestanding altar tables, seasonal altar and lectern paraments, candles, and restrained ceremonial.

In any event the primary factor in determining what style of worship should be used with its church services and other gospel-shaped gatherings should be the specific ministry target group that the church is seeking to reach with the gospel and not the preferences of the congregation. I learned that lesson over 30 years ago: Taylor the worship of a church to its circumstances. This particularly includes the local population.

Jesus calls us to be fishers of men. As every fisherman knows, if you want to catch fish, you must use the right tackle and the right bait. You must fish at the right time of day and in the right place. Most of all you must know the habits of the fish that you are trying to catch. It also does not hurt to have a measure of good luck.

In southeast Louisiana where I spent a good part of my adult life it was not an uncommon sight to see someone fishing with a cane pole wherever there was a river, a pond, a lake, a creek, a canal, or a bayou. People of all ages went fishing—little kids to old grandmas. Those who fished a lot picked their spot, their bait, and the time of day they went fishing. They would go home with a bucketful of fish.

Surprisingly you can sometimes catch more fish with a cane pole than a fancy rod and reel. It depends upon what you are fishing for.

Those who did not know any better would plump down at any old spot and fish with any old bait at any old time of day. They might, if they were lucky, go home with a fish or two in their bucket. They also might go home with a bad case of sunburn and covered with mosquito bites. But they would figure that they had done the right thing because of the tiddly little fish swimming around in their bucket.

Unless they were absolutely heartless, their friends who fished at the right spot with the right bait at the right time of day and went home with a bucket full of fish would say nothing. Their friends might compliment them on their catch and offer them something for their sunburn and skeeter bites and maybe a cold beer.

However, if these poor fellows were ever going to learn how to catch fish, someone eventually decided to sit them down and put them straight. They might not have wanted to hear it. They might not have listened. But someone took the trouble to explain the right way to catch fish to them. Now if they didn’t catch fish, it was their own fault.

To my mind congregations that use the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book are like these poor fellows. They are heading for the wrong spot with the wrong tackle and the wrong bait at the wrong time of day. But they are going to think that they have done everything right because they catch a fish or two by a stroke of good luck. They will never realize that they could have caught many more fish if they had used different tackle and bait and picked a different spot and time of day.

They may not appreciate me yelling after them, “That aint the right tackle and bait for the fish you’re tryin’to catch. You’re goin’ to the wrong spot at the wrong time of day.” But if they don’t catch anything, it won’t be my fault. It’ll be their own. I tried to tell them but they wouldn’t listen.

The different working groups of the Prayer Book and Common Worship Task Force may have devoted a lot of time and energy to the various sections of the 2019 Proposed ACNA Prayer Book. But it is still the wrong tackle and the wrong bait for most of the fish swimming in the waters of the North American mission field. It makes no sense to use the book when the right tackle and the right bait is available.

The mission of the Anglican Church in North America is not to please its leaders. It is to obey the Lord Jesus Christ and fulfill the great commission. For the task of fishing for men to which our Lord calls his disciples, clergy and congregations must use what is best for the task and not what denomination leaders, for reasons unrelated to that task, want them to use. It is to the Lord that they must give a final accounting and not to these leaders. The leaders will have to explain to the Lord why they did not ensure that the clergy and congregations under their care were provided with what was best for the task.

Towards Missional Effectiveness: An Introduction (Part 1)


Like most people, I want what I buy to work and be effective at what it was created to do.

For instance, I have a smartphone that keeps track of my life. I call, text, surf the web, tweet, Facebook, use Maps to get directions, make calendar appointments, etc. It helps me to function at a high level. In fact, I must confess that I couldn’t imagine going back to the pre-age of smartphones. I assume I would manage, but not without making some major adjustments.

However, the good news is that smartphones are here to stay and the technologies and capabilities will be ever increasing to help enhance our lives in some capacity.

But what if all of a sudden my smartphone didn’t work effectively? What if the screen started to freeze frequently and Siri started telling me where she wanted to go, rather than me telling her? I would likely be frustrated and look for an upgrade. Why? Because we want what we buy to work effectively at what it was created and designed to do.

When it comes to the mission of God (missio Dei), God bought a vehicle (the Church) by which He will carry out His mission in the world. The Church is God’s Plan A for advancing His mission in the world.

There is no Plan B.Read More

See Also:
Individual Mission

Pastors and Power: Part 4


What Does It Look Like to Embody Gospel-Shaped Power?

In this final post, I want to address practical ways pastors and church leaders can properly and biblically use power to help foster healthy churches and communities.

I suggest five key elements you can implement. Read More

Six Common Misperceptions about Revitalization


There are some misperceptions and misconceptions about church revitalization that we hear often. Today, Thom Rainer and Jonathan Howe tackle six of them. Listen Now

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday's Catch: 'Easter Checklist' and More


Easter Checklist: Helping People Feel Welcome

Easter services are among the most important events at your church each year. You not only celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but you also have one of the best opportunities all year to reach new people.

In chapter 14 of The Purpose Driven Church, I shared some ideas on how you can improve the guest experience at your church. With Easter coming up, I’ve put together this checklist to help you prepare for the big day. Read More

We Do Small Church A Lot, Why Aren’t We Doing It Better?

What would happen to small churches if we changed the way we talk about them? Read More

Pastor, Why Do You Want a Big Church?

Does that strike you as a strange question? Of course we want big churches because that will mean more people know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. That may be true, but not in all cases. Read More

Seven Warnings about Memorials and Plaques in Your Church

Here are the negative issues we have heard associated with memorials and plaques in the church…. Read More

9 Signs that Church Leaders are Not Really Leading

Many churches have great leaders. Some churches, though, have people who seek to lead but don’t really get there. That is, some church leadership is not really leadership. Here are some signs I’ve observed what that appears to be happening…. Read More

11 Things Leaders Do To Go From From Ordinary To Extraordinary

It has been said the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just a little extra. As a leader looking to improve your team’s performance, you can apply the following key learnings to go from ordinary to extraordinary…. Read More

How to Find Your Purpose in Life

Let’s take a brief look at how to discover your God-given purpose. I’ve never met a person who didn’t want to know why they exist and how to make a difference in their sphere of influence.

There are at least three things you can do that will help in the process of discovery. Read More

Your Calling and God's Will

There are times I can remember in life where I’ve put intense pressure on myself to know God’s will for my life. One of those instances was trying to discern whether I was called to ministry. I spent a lot of time listening to sermons on calling, praying, and talking to other people who were called to ministry. Trying to figure it out felt a little stressful if I’m honest. Read More

African-Americans More Likely to Drop Out of Church as Young Adults

African-American young adults are more likely than their white counterparts to drop out of Protestant churches during their early adult years, new research shows.

But equal percentages of black and white young adults say they currently attend services regularly. Read More

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Five Churches that Shouldn’t Reproduce


There is legitimate reason to caution against a universal plea toward blind reproduction.

There is a growing awakening to the need of a multiplying church movement within North America, as the best—and likely only—means to bring the gospel within proximity to those who desperately long for good news.

As an advocate of this for many years, both as a church planter and as a pastor of a multiplying church, I am in complete agreement with this idea. I cannot envision a future where the gospel is accessible to all without the permeation of community after community with an Acts-esque behaving church.

But I would caution against a universal plea toward blind reproduction. In the clarion call to church planting, I have observed the launching of new congregations that have not necessarily been, from my limited perspective, a kingdom win.

There are some church ideas that, when are reproduced, actually seem to become more of a missionary liability than a gospel-engaging asset. Let me suggest five churches that, for the sake of the kingdom, should never be reproduced or exported. Please. Read More
Most of the churches planted by the Anglo-Catholic traditionalists who left the Episcopal Church in the 1970s over prayer book revision and women's ordination have not flourished. Those which survive for a large part are struggling. The Anglo-Catholic traditionalists put ecclesial preferences before missional engagement. Their church ideas proved a liability on the North American mission field. Their story is a cautionary tale for the New Tractarians who, like them, are wed to a particular ecclesial praxis.

Power and Pastors: Part 3


Jesus schooled the world on how to understand and exert power.

Jesus schooled the world on how to understand and exert power.

Rather than wielding it through a sword, a harsh tongue or a prestigious position of authority, Jesus exerted power through two particular images: a lowly servant washing the feet of guests and a suffering sinner hanging on a cross. What’s amazing about these two images depicted by Jesus is that He had no business doing either. He was God incarnate. He created the cosmos. He was the sinless Son of God.

If anything, Jesus should have been walking around demanding people bow down and worship him. But that’s not how Jesus acted. Rather, Jesus exerted power through service and sacrifice. In short, he exerted power not to demand something from people but to do something for people. Therefore, Jesus sets the trajectory for how believers—especially pastors and church leaders—understand and exert power.

In Part 2 of this series, we saw that the power of the Fall calls for extraordinary discernment. But Jesus teaches us at least two more ways to guard against the misuse and abuse of power. Read More

When to Risk Offending People


It can be very important to offend certain people and lose them from your church … when it’s for the right reason and over the right thing.

Here are four times I’m willing to offend someone and see them walk out the door. And, if you’re a leader, you should, too.... Read More

Why “We Need to Reach the Young People” Might Distract Your Church


“If you don’t reach young people your church is going to die”.

I have heard that sentiment quite frequently when thought leaders (whatever those are) get together and discuss revitalization in local churches. Logically it’s absolutely true. If an organization does not perpetuate it will not survive into the next generation. It is right for a church to be concerned if they only have gray heads. But there is an underlying theology within this statement which I believe will lead to death instead of life.

Peel off a layer of that onion and you see what dominates the conversation is self-preservation. It’s not unnatural to not want to die. It’s quite normal to not want a beloved organization to die. In fact, God can use a drive for self-preservation for His glory. A church which realizes it is dying is far better than one living in denial. A church which says, “we’ll do anything to not die” is in better shape than one which says, “we won’t change even if it means death”.

But a church cannot stay there. Because a church focused upon it’s own survival is a church just waiting to die. The church, just like disciples, is meant to be self-denying for the sake of the kingdom. Doing things which are motivated by self-preservation are opposed to the ethics of God’s kingdom. A church might even “turn around” by a good focused mission. But if the foundation is self-preservation instead of kingdom-expansion, don’t be surprised when the good news of Jesus becomes more explicitly secondary. Read More

Monday, March 18, 2019

Pigs, Protestants, and the Anglican Church in North America


By Robin G. Jordan

I spent my teen years in what was then rural Louisiana. The area in which I lived was mostly pine woods with a few scattered farms and houses. Wild pigs roamed the pinewoods along with deer, foxes, raccoons, opossums, and other wildlife.

Every year the local residents would round up the pigs on horseback with the help of dogs. They would pen the pigs and feed them on corn and table scraps. This served two purposes. It fattened the pigs and rid them of parasites. They then slaughtered the pigs.

Everyone knew it was pig sticking time because the loud terrified squeals of the pigs could be heard for miles in the otherwise quiet countryside. The pigs were hoisted up by their hind legs and their throats were cut. Until that day arrived, the pigs had no suspicion of their fate. While they had lost their freedom, they were given plenty to eat. In their pens they looked and sounded content.

I cannot say the same thing of ACNA'ers who are fully committed to remaining faithful to the Holy Scriptures and historic Anglican beliefs and practices. By “historic Anglican beliefs and practices” I mean those beliefs and practice that are in step with the Articles of Religion of 1571, The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, the two Books of Homilies, and what J. I. Packer calls “the central Anglican theological tradition.”

Anglo-Catholic and liberal Anglicans make no effort to conceal their designs on the Anglican Church. They are pretty upfront about their intentions.

In my last article I mentioned a 2012 Anglican Rose article, “Catholic International.” It is lengthy article but it documents the aims of the Catholic wing of the Anglican Church within the Communion and outside it.

By now they should realize that Anglo-Catholic and liberal Anglicans do not have their best interests at heart. They cannot look to the global South bishops for help. A number of these bishops appear to be too willing to compromise on the theological integrity of historic Anglicanism. They can look only to God and themselves.

Focusing upon parish ministry to the neglect of important areas of the life of the province has been a historic weakness of such Anglicans. On the other hand, Anglo-Catholic and liberal Anglicans have paid more attention to these areas, recognizing that what happens at the provincial level has impact at the diocesan and parish levels.

A pastor who is fully committed to remaining faithful to the Holy Scriptures and historic Anglican beliefs and practices may establish and build up a congregation that shares these values. However, unless the pastors who succeed him share the same values, all the work that he did will be for nought.

If he does not recruit and mentor pastors and other church leaders who will inculcate these values in their congregations and who, in turn, will recruit and mentor more pastors and other church leaders, who will do likewise, his labors will be in vain.

Even if he does establish an effective leadership pipeline in the church in which he is ministering, the province and the diocese can create significant obstacles to the pastors and other church leaders that it produces playing a leadership role in the church. The province and the diocese set the standards for pastors and other church leaders in the province and the diocese. At the diocesan level the bishop and his appointees enforce these standards.

If the pigs knew what was coming, they might have broken out of their pens and fled back in to the woods. One or two do escape from their pens, preferring the freedom of the woods to the confinement of the pen.

ACNA'ers who are fully committed to remaining faithful to the Holy Scriptures and historic Anglican beliefs and practices do know what is coming. They can hear the knife being sharpened on the whetstone. They can see the block and tackle dangling overhead. They have watched the barrel in which their carcass will be scalded rolled into place. They know what these things mean.

Pigs are intelligent animals. The smarter ones may sense that things are not right. Rather than allowing a full trough to lull them into a false sense of security, they test the weak points of their pen and when they find one, they take advantage of it. They make a break for the freedom of the woods. They are usually the older ones who have roamed the woods for most of their lives. The younger ones who have known little else than the pen are the ones most likely to fall victim to the butcher’s knife.

Human beings are supposed to be more intelligent than pigs. This makes the seeming apathy of these Anglicans to their survival not just as a legitimate theological school of thought in the Anglican Church but as the one such school which stands the most in continuity with the English Reformers and historic Anglicanism even more puzzling. The Catholic and liberal wings of the Anglican Church have organized to further their respective causes and are exploiting every opportunity to do so. They are making use of whatever leverage is available to them.

These Anglicans, on the other hand, appear to be content to sit on their hands. Their indifference to their self-preservation boggles the mind. Perhaps they have convinced themselves that things are not as bad as they might seem and that they do not need to do anything about the state of the Anglican Church in North America. Perhaps the younger pigs, when they bury their snouts in the trough overflowing with food think the same thing. Things are not so bad in the pen. They do not have to forage for food as they did in the woods.

The Catholic wing of the Anglican Church has certainly taken note of this passivity and is turning these Anglicans’ acceptance of things as they are to its advantage.

Perhaps the same Anglicans do not really value the Holy Scripture and historic Anglican beliefs and practices as much as they claim to value them. They certainly stand to lose a great deal if the Anglo-Catholics whose views are mentioned in the aforementioned Anglican Rose article have their way. Yet this does not appear to trouble them. Perhaps they are over-confident in the security of their position in the Anglican Church. If that is indeed the case, I for one do not see on what they are basing that conclusion.

The Catholic wing of the Anglican Church has historically proven to be quite adroit at achieving its aims. One New Tractarian, for example, was able to change the doctrinal foundation of an Anglican province by taking on the hefty responsibility of drafting a new set of canons for that province. See my article, “The Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper of the ACNA’s Catechism: What It Is and Where It Comes From.” The Anglican Church’s Catholic wing has always been willing to do the grunt work if such tasks further its cause.

The position of these Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America is a shaky one. The deck is stacked against them. For readers who are unfamiliar with this phrase, it means that their chances of future success are limited by factors over which they have little, if any, control. All of the doctrinal standards in the ACNA—the constitution, the canons, the proposed catechism, and the proposed service book—take an Anglo-Catholic party-line on key issues.

Sometimes it is necessary to fight fire with fire, dogmatism with dogmatism. To the dogmatist those who take a conciliatory approach are perceived as weak pushovers. They can be manipulated and co-opted. The aforementioned Anglican Rose article suggests that that is the Anglican Church’s Catholic wing’s perception of those who the article described as “evangelicals.”

The Anglican Church’s Catholic wing, however, has demonstrated skill at dealing with dogmatists as it has with conciliators. In the nineteenth century it gained the sympathy of the public by provoking an overreaction from its opponents and then playing the role of underdog or victim. To this day it continues to play that role even while it is victimizing those who oppose its aims. The Anglican Church’s liberal wing was quick to learn from the Catholic wing and adopted a similar approach to its opponents.

ACNA’ers who are fully committed to remaining faithful to the Holy Scriptures and historic Anglican beliefs and practices, on the other hand, have yet to learn from the two wings of the Anglican Church, which have done the most to eat away at the doctrinal foundation of the Anglican Church—the Holy Scriptures and the historic Anglican formularies.

The Anglican Church’s Catholic wing, while it is a minority in most Anglican province, has strong convictions and is vocal in expressing these convictions. It may as a consequence exercise an influence that is disproportionate to its size.

In the case of the Anglican Church in North America, it has tended to overshadow the less vocal segments of that province, creating the false impression that the province is predominantly Anglo-Catholic. This impression has, as the aforementioned Anglican Rose article points out, prompted greater willingness on the part of leaders in GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans to work with Anglo-Catholics in the Anglican Communion and the extramural Anglican churches.

The problem is that, while Anglo-Catholics may have entrenched themselves in positions of leadership in the Common Cause Partnership and subsequently the Anglican Church in North America and dominate the College of Bishops, the larger number of clergy and congregations in the ACNA are not Anglo-Catholic. The Anglo-Catholic dioceses are relatively small. Some of these clergy and congregations fall in what might be described as the mushy middle. The others are—at least on paper—committed to remaining faithful to the Holy Scriptures and historic Anglican beliefs and practices.

If I was an Anglo-Catholic strategist, I would push this strategy:
1. Take every step that can be taken to strengthen the impression that the Anglican Church in North America is a bastion of Anglo-Catholicism and to encourage the belief of the leaders of GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans that in dealing with its Anglo-Catholic leaders, they are dealing with the representatives of the majority of the clergy and congregations in the ACNA.

My primary aim would be to have the leaders of GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans accept these leaders in the role of mediators between the ACNA and GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confession Anglicans. In this role they would interpret what is happening in the ACNA to the leaders of GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and in turn what is happening in GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans to the clergy and congregations of the ACNA. They would not only be in the position to control the flow of information between the three bodies but also to influence the same bodies through their control of this information.

An additional aim would be to isolate ACNA’ers who are Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical in their doctrinal leanings from those who share their doctrinal leanings in GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

2. Take every step that can be taken to promote the acceptance of the proposed catechism and the proposed service book as the official formularies of the Anglican Church in North America. While they may not be ideal from an Anglo-Catholic perspective, they provide tools that can be used to not only further move the ACNA in a Catholic direction but also to further marginalize ACNA’ers who are Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical in their doctrinal leanings.

My ultimate aim would be to induce these ACNA’ers either to accept these doctrinal standards or to leave the ACNA.

3. Take every step that can be taken to persuade the institutionalists in the mushy middle to accept the proposed catechism and the proposed service book as the official formularies of the Anglican Church in North America.

My aim would be to appeal to their instutionalist sentiments and to convince them that in supporting these doctrinal standards, they would be supporting the ACNA. Once a critical mass of these leaders is achieved, the other leaders in the mushy middle can be expected to fall into line.

4. Take every step that can be taken to close the leadership pipeline at the provincial and diocesan level to ACNA’ers who are Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical in their doctrinal leanings.

My aim would be to prevent ACNA’ers who have these doctrinal leadings from occupying a position of influence within the ACNA.
I would not be surprised if the more dogmatic of the Anglo-Catholic leaders in the ACNA are thinking along similar lines.

ACNA’ers who are fully committed to remaining faithful to the Holy Scriptures and historic Anglican beliefs and practices do need to become more pro-active in safeguarding what they value. Instead of waiting to see if anything bad is going to happen to them and then responding to it, they need to take control of their situation. They can do this in a number of ways—form a distinct jurisdiction within the Anglican Church in North America, concentrate all clergy and congregations sharing their vision and values into a single body, develop their own catechism and liturgy, establish their own leadership pipeline, and network with like-minded Anglicans outside the ACNA and North America.

If worse comes to worse, and things do not improve in the Anglican Church in North America, they can, as a second alternative North American province, go their separate way. Unlike the pigs in their pens oblivious to their impending fate, they can do something. They do not need to extend their throats to the butcher’s knife.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper in the ACNA’s Catechism: What It Is and Where It Came From - REVISED AND UPDATED


This article is a companion article to my two-part article, “The Lord’s Supper Explained: The Historical Anglican View of the Sacrament”—Part 1 and Part 2.

By Robin G. Jordan

While searching the Internet for 1962 Revised Catechism of the Church of England, I ran across an article, entitled "The Revised Catechism," that J. I. Packer had written for the Church Society’s quarterly journal Churchman in 1961. In the article Packer critiques the then proposed Revised Catechism. The article is fascinating reading.

Packer concludes early in the article that the Commission that the Archbishops set up "to consider the revision of the Church Catechism in order that its scope may be enlarged and its language made more suitable for present conditions," when it came to enlarging the scope of the Church Catechism, was faced with an impossible task due to the state of the Church of England at the time. Packer goes on to delineate two principles for deciding what a catechism should, and should not, contain.

The first principle is that “a catechism should limit itself to Christian essentials.” The purpose of the catechumenate, he notes, is “to inculcate ‘mere Christianity’.” “It is theologically improper,” he concludes, “for catechisms to include more than the minimum that is thought necessary for a healthy adult faith. Non-essentials have no place in them.” It is also wrong to use catechisms “for the purposes of denominational propaganda.” The only justification for putting “denominational distinctives” into a catechism is that “knowledge of these things is ordinarily necessary for salvation-in other words, that they are, in fact, part of the Gospel.” Packer further notes:
But nothing that cannot be defended as being part of the Gospel has any right of entry into a catechism. Catechisms exist to set out the bare essentials of catholic Christianity, and if they go beyond these it is not a virtue, but a defect. It would be theologically wrong to enlarge the scope of any catechism beyond the realm of that knowledge which is necessary for the spiritual health and safety of the individual Christian.

This has an important corollary for Anglicans. Historic Anglicanism rests on the principle that "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation" (Article VI). It follows, therefore, that in any catechism that is fit for Anglicans to use every assertion will admit of Scripture proof.
All the Reformation Catechisms, including the Church of England’s, Packer points out, were compiled on the principle that “every part of the catechism must be capable of proof by Holy Scripture.” This principle is the only one that is open to Anglicans. He concludes:
…any part of a catechism for the Church of England which could not be proved by Holy Scripture would, by Anglican standards, have no business to be there; for what cannot be proved by Scripture cannot be necessary to salvation, and doctrines, however true, and facts, however interesting, that are not necessary to salvation have no place in rightly constructed catechisms.
The second principle “for determining the proper contents of a Catechism,” which Packer delineates, is that “the Catechism should limit itself to Christian essentials as professed and understood by the Church which is to use it.

Packer goes on to point out that a “properly-ordered catechumenate” in which “the contents of that Church's Catechism are faithfully and thoroughly taught” can exercise a tremendous influence upon the younger generations, decisively shaping their faith.

The following points Packer makes especially caught my attention due to their particular relevance to the Anglican Church in North America.
A Church's Catechism is its official manual of instruction for those who would become adult communicants. As such, it has a confessional significance. It has the status of what the Church of Scotland calls a "subordinate standard " ; that is, it is a normative exposition of the faith of the church that uses it second only in authority to that Church's Creed, or Confession. It is thus a foundational document in any Church's life. It is, or should be, the basic form in which the growing child meets that Church's faith.
Packer then cites a passage from Principles of Prayer Book Revision, which shows the doctrinal importance of the Catechism.
Changes in the Catechism are of considerable moment for two reasons : first, because it provides the priest with a syllabus of what he is required to teach candidates for Confirmation, whether children or adults, and, though he may supplement the syllabus, he cannot omit anything which it contains; secondly, because it can be appealed to as an authoritative interpretation of the faith of the Church (p. 59) [Emphasis added].
Packer concludes:
It is clear, then, that a Church's Catechism is a document of major importance. It is clear, too, that the effect of altering a Church's Catechism will be (assuming that its catechumenate is well ordered) to alter its faith within a couple of generations [Emphasis added]. What you strike out of the Catechism, you absolve the clergy from teaching and the laity from learning. When you add fresh matter to the Catechism, you thereby charge the clergy to present it, and the laity to receive it, as vital to the health and safety of the Christian soul. The Catechism must not therefore, be changed irresponsibly; changes in the Catechism have the most far-reaching consequences. For the Catechism is, for teaching purposes, the archetypal, fundamental, and normative presentation of the Church's faith.
Packer draws three equally relevant conclusions:
But if this is true, three things clearly follow.

First, it follows that the teaching of any Church's Catechism must be wholly in line with the teaching of its official confession of faith, and of any other subordinate standards that it may have; otherwise the effect of the Catechism will be to throw that Church into disorder on the theological level.

Second, it follows that any Church's Catechism must command the assent of that Church as a whole, and especially of the clergy as a whole; otherwise it will not be regularly and universally used, and that Church will, in consequence, be thrown into disorder on the pastoral level.

Third, it follows that the contents of a Church's Catechism must not be made a party issue. The essentials which the Catechism contains must be essentials agreed upon by all parties. There is no place in the Catechism for unrepresentative minority views or party lines; otherwise the Catechism, instead of standing as an agreed platform of Church teaching, becomes itself a bone of contention and a cause of further division within the Church.

Now, therefore, we can see why it is simply impossible to revise the Catechism satisfactorily with the Church of England in its present state.

In the first place, there is not sufficient agreement about Christian essentials. Those who hold that a particular doctrine of the Church, and of its ministers and ministrations, is part of the Gospel, would think the Prayer Book Catechism defective for not covering these topics, and would not be content with any Catechism that did not deal with them. Those, however, who take a different view would object on principle to the inclusion of much that the former group would think indispensable, and would object in detail to much that the former group would want said on these themes.

Then, in the second place, there is not sufficient contentment with, and loyalty to, the doctrine defined in the Articles, embodied in the Prayer Book, and expounded in the Homilies, concerning grace, the Church, the ministry, and the sacraments.

Some would demand that any new Catechism move away from this doctrine; indeed, the hope of moving away from it all along the line is a main reason why some are pressing for Prayer Book revision at the present time.

Others, however, would argue, on grounds equally of truth, of principle, and of expediency, that it would be disastrous for the Church of England to authorize any forms of worship or instruction which cut loose from the historic Anglican position, and would demand that all Prayer Book revision be confessionally controlled, lest the Church of England condemn itself to a life of everlasting theological schizophrenia.

With minds in the Church of England thus divided, it is clearly impossible for a new Catechism that will give general satisfaction to be produced at present. However much or little approval the existing Prayer Book Catechism commands, it seems certain that any new Catechism will command less. And a Catechism that has not gained the approval of the whole Church would be, as we saw, a liability, not an asset, in the Church's life.*
Packer notes that the Commission in revising the Church’s Catechism appears to have relied upon “the compromise formula and the principle of something for everybody.” “The result,” he points out, “is a document that at certain points is out of step with the Articles, the Prayer Book, the Homilies, and the central Anglican theological tradition.”

Packer then goes on to examine the proposed revised catechism in detail. His critique of specific parts of that catechism is consistent with what he has written in Keep in Step with the Spirit, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Belief, Growing in Christ, and other works.

The views that Packer expresses in this article contrast sharply with the assertion that he makes in the Introduction to To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, that is, its contents are agreeable to all legitimate Anglican theological schools of thought. Packer’s critique of the specific parts of the Church of England’s 1962 Revised Catechism is applicable to a large extent to To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism as are the paragraphs of his article, which we have just examined. Together, they belie his assertion.

As we shall see, like the Church of England’s 1962 Revised Catechism, To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism “at certain points is out of step with the Articles, the Prayer Book, the Homilies, and the central Anglican theological tradition.” One of these points is the section on the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

As Packer emphasizes in his article, "the teaching of any Church's Catechism must be wholly in line with the teaching of its official confession of faith, and of any other subordinate standards that it may have." The Anglican Church in North America, however, has no confession of faith. Its Fundamental Declarations equivocate in their acceptance of the authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and dilute the authority of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. They infer the existence of other doctrinal standards to which the ACNA looks but do not identify these standards, much in the way John Henry Newman did in his exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. In the ACNA its proposed catechism, it is second only to the three Catholic Creeds. I refer to the catechism as proposed because while it boasts an impressive list of editors, contributors, and consultants and has the endorsement of the College of Bishops, it has never been officially adopted by the ACNA. The Provincial Council has not approved a canon authorizing its use nor has the Provincial Assembly ratified such a canon.

When we interpret the Prayer Book Catechism, we must do so in accordance with the teaching of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, which provide the doctrinal standards by which the Prayer Book must be interpreted. In the case of the proposed ACNA catechism, however, we must look to this amorphous body of doctrine that the Fundamental Declarations do not identify. To determine its identity, we must search for internal clues within the catechism itself and in this search Packer’s article is an invaluable guide.

To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism takes the question, “What is the inward part, or thing signified?” and its answer from the Prayer Book Catechism and changes the wording. This altered wording is not needed to make the question and answer more understandable to a speaker of modern English. It appears to be intended to modify the doctrine of the question and answer and to transform the question and answer into an affirmation of the Real Objective Presence in the consecrated elements.
112. What is the inward and spiritual thing signified?

The spiritual thing signified is the body and blood of Christ, which are truly taken and received in the Lord’s Supper by faith. (1 Corinthians 10:16-18; 11:27; John 6:52-56)
As can be seen the question and answer only superficially resemble that question and answer in the Prayer Book Catechism. As well as being awkwardly worded, they are open to interpretation as affirming the Real Objective Presence in the consecrated elements. As I pointed out earlier, those interpreting this question and answer are not under any constraint to apply the doctrinal standards of the Articles in their interpretation. They are free to look to the doctrinal standards of their own choosing—the Holy Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the writings of the Medieval Schoolmen, the Decrees of the Council of Trent, John Wesley’s abridgment of Daniel Brevint’s The Christian Sacrament and Sacrifice, and so forth.

The Scripture references cited are favorites with those who maintain that Christ is substantively present in the consecrated elements. They interpret Paul as speaking literally in 1 Corinthians 10:16-18 and 1 Corinthians 11:27. They interpret Jesus as speaking literally in John 6:52-56, rather than figuratively as in the other “I am” discourses in John’s Gospel. In their interpretation of the passages in question they are relying on tradition and not solid exegesis of the text. The way they interpret these passages, however, are not the only way that the passages can be interpreted.

The context of the two passages in 1 Corinthians points to Paul’s use of figurative language in these passages. He is referring to Christ’s suffering and death. In Matthew 26:29 Jesus, after having referred to the contents of the cup as “my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” refers to the cup’s contents as wine. Those who choose to interpret his words literally also choose to overlook this passage.

Paul was a former Pharisee and was intimately acquainted with the Passover meal and its traditions. He would have understood Jesus to have been speaking figuratively. In John’s narrative the “I am the Bread of Life” discourse follows the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, which the Synoptic Gospels place well before the Last Supper and Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper. Having begun the “I am the Bread of Life” speaking figuratively, it is unlikely that Jesus would have suddenly switched to speaking literally as those who espouse the doctrine of the Real Objective Presence would have us believe.

Several other clues point to the body of doctrine to which those who drafted this section of the proposed ACNA would have us look in interpreting the meaning this question and answer.
113. What benefits do you receive through partaking of this sacrament?

As my body is nourished by the bread and wine, I receive the strengthening and refreshing of my soul by the body and blood of Christ; and I receive the strengthening and refreshing of the love and unity I share with fellow Christians, with whom I am united in the one Body of Christ. (1662 Catechism)
The Prayer Book Catechism states:
Question. What are the benefits whereof we are partakers thereby?

Answer. The strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the Bread and Wine.
It echoes the sentiments expressed in Nowell’s Middle Catechism:
Master. What is the heavenly part and matter removed from outward senses?

Scholar. The body and blood of Christ, which are given, taken, eaten, and drunken of the faithful, in the Lord’s Supper ;  only after a heavenly and spiritual manner, but yet verily, and indeed.  In so much, that as the bread nourisheth our bodies, so Christ’s body hath most singular force spiritually by faith to feed our souls.  And as with Wine men’s hearts are cheered, and their strengths confirmed, so with his blood our souls are relieved and refreshed through faith :  which is the mean whereby the body and blood of Christ are received in the Supper.  For Christ as surely maketh them that believe in him, partakers of his body and blood, as they surely know that they have received the bread and wine with their mouths and stomachs.  And it is also a gauge of our Immortality, and a pledge of our Resurrection.
While the proposed ACNA catechism attributes it to the Prayer Book Catechism, we find nothing along the lines of receiving “the strengthening and refreshing of the love and unity I share with fellow Christians, with whom I am united in the one Body of Christ” in that catechism. We do, however, find similar sentiments in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the sections “What Is This Sacrament Called”  and “The Paschal Banquet.”

After Vatican II a number of popular works explaining Roman Catholic eucharistic theology were published. These works emphasized that the faithful’s sharing of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist gave tangible expression to the Mystical Body of Christ. It is not only strengthened their union with Christ but also with each other. If it was the intention of the drafters of this question and answer to express this doctrine, they did not do a good job of it.

While the Lord’s Supper may serve as a visible sign of our unity in Christ, it is the Holy Spirit that unites us to Christ and to each other and knits us into the Body of Christ.

To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism contains a question and answer in the Holy Communion section of that catechism, the equivalent of which I have not found in any other revised Anglican catechism that I have examined.
115. What is expected of you when you have shared in Holy Communion?

Having been renewed in my union with Christ and his people through sharing in the Supper, I should continue to live in holiness, avoiding sin, showing love and forgiveness to all, and serving others in gratitude.
The closest thing that I have to this question and answer is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the section “The Paschal Banquet.”  The sentiments expressed in the answer to this question are reminiscent of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the “fruits of the Holy Communion”

However, what unites us to Christ and with our fellow Christians is the Holy Spirit, as I previously noted. Showing gratitude to God’s for his mercies; pursuing holiness; practicing godliness and shunning sin; loving and respecting others, forgiving them, and treating them as we would be treated; and serving Christ in our fellow human beings are what are normally expected from a disciple of Christ not as a response to the Eucharist but as a response to Christ himself and to his suffering and death on the cross for our salvation. They are things that we are able to do because the Holy Spirit has given us the good will to do them and continues to work with us once we have been given that good will (Article X).

The section of the proposed ACNA catechism dealing with what it describes as the “other sacraments” is an important clue to this body of doctrine’s identity.
116. Are there other sacraments?

Other rites and institutions commonly called sacraments include confirmation, absolution, ordination, marriage, and anointing of the sick. These are sometimes called the sacraments of the Church.
117. How do these differ from the sacraments of the Gospel?

They are not commanded by Christ as necessary for salvation, but arise from the practice of the apostles and the early Church, or are states of life blessed by God from creation. God clearly uses them as means of grace.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church as “the sacraments of the Church.” Anglo-Catholics who embrace the Roman Catholic Church’s sacramental system sometimes refer to confirmation, absolution, ordination, matrimony, and the anointing of the sick as the “lesser sacraments.”

The only purported Anglican document that I have examined and which refers to these rites as “the sacraments of the Church,” was the work of Canon Kevin Donlon, a former Episcopal priest who is an ex-Roman Catholic and who has studied Roman Catholic canon law. It was the new set of canons which he had prepared for the Anglican Church of Rwanda.

Into this set of canons Donlon had not only incorporated Roman Catholic governing principles but also Roman Catholic doctrine. A number of sections of the canons were taken almost word for word from the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church. They included the canon governing the relationship between the Archbishop of Rwanda and the “Primatial Vicar” overseeing the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). It was taken from the section of the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church governing the relationship between the Pope and the archbishop of a province of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Anglican Church of Rwanda has roots in the Anglican Evangelical Revival; the Church Missionary Society, an offshoot of the Anglican evangelical movement; and the East African Revival, an important renewal movement within Protestant evangelical Christianity in East Africa. For the Rwandan Anglican Church to adopt a set of canons that was so strongly influenced by Roman Catholicism was highly unusual. 

From what I have been able to piece together, when then Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini presented the revised canons to the Rwandan House of Bishops, he claimed that their adoption would enable the AMiA to revise its charter, which he further claimed was in need of revision. 

Among the results of their adoption was that they gave the late Chuck Murphy as “Primatial Vicar” authority over the AMiA, which was second only to the Archbishop as the chief bishop, of the Rwandan Anglican Church, and which included approving all candidates for missionary bishop in the AMiA before the names were submitted to the Rwandan House of Bishops for final approval. They also made Bishop Murphy solely accountable to the Rwandan Archbishop. 

Murphy would later break with the Rwandan Anglican Church when the new Archbishop began to exercise his authority over the AMiA.

The revised canons not only changed the doctrine of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, they also changed the doctrine of the AMiA. Under their provisions and the new AMiA charter, the AMiA was required to adhere to the doctrine of the Rwandan Anglican Church of which it was an extraterritorial missionary district. With the adoption of the revised canons and the new charter that doctrine became Roman Catholic!

At the time Donlon was a priest of the AMiA and served as Canon of Ecclesiastical and Ecumenical Affairs for the AMiA advising former Rwandan Archbishop Kolini as well as to the late Bishop Chuck Murphy. In that capacity he was a corresponding member of the Global South Anglican Theological Formation and Education Task Force on Anglican Catechism in Outline. He also served on the GAFCON Theological Resource Group that drafted Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today. He was known for his pronounced Anglo-Catholic views and his vigorous championing of a Catholic identity for the Anglican Church.

In addition Donlon served as the AMiA representative on the Common Cause Governance Task Force that drafted the constitution and canons of the Anglican Church in North America and may have influenced its adoption of material from the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church. From what I gather, he took an active part in the task force’s deliberations, making suggestions and raising objections. He is credited with thwarting a number of proposals to bring the Fundamental Declarations more in line with historic Anglicanism.

At one point Donlon was promoting what he claimed was a new approach to ecclesiastical organization which was generating excitement among the African bishops.

Donlon is co-author of “Appendix 4. Guiding Principles of This Catechism” of To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism.

A 2012 Anglican Rose article, "Catholic International," identifies Canon Kevin Donlon as one of the New Tractarians, a group of clergy that includes Bishop Keith Ackerman, Canon Arthur Middleton, and Bishop Ray Sutton, that are promoting a new Oxford movement within the Anglican Church and are seeking not only to move the Anglican Church in North America but also Global Anglican Future Conference and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in a more unreformed Catholic direction.

In a Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Belief J I Packer explains that it was a medieval mistake to classify the rites of confirmation, absolution, ordination, marriage, and anointing of the sick as sacraments. In his article “The Revised Catechism,” at which we took a look earlier, Packer suggests that the passages dealing with what the Church of England’s then proposed revised catechism calls “other ministries of grace” and what the proposed ACNA catechism calls “the sacraments of the church” should be dropped from the catechism. He bluntly states that the notion that these rites “convey a special grace ex opere operato is without warrant in Anglican theology-not to mention the Bible!” He poses three questions:
Can it be held that the knowledge of these five "ministries of grace" is in any way essential to salvation ? Can the things that are said, in particular, about Confirmation, and matrimony, and absolution, be proved from Scripture? Can any warrant or sanction for them be found in existing Anglican formularies, or in the main stream of the Anglican theological tradition?
He concludes that the answer to all three questions is “no” and therefore the rites should be removed from the catechism.

What troubled Packer was not just the wording of the passages dealing with these rites but their departure from “historic Anglican teaching.” They amounted to what he calls “party-lines.” They also represented what he describes as “the habit of mind which takes its cue from Rome and aims to keep step with Rome wherever possible” This habit of mind, while it was found in the Church of England, Packer maintained, was not authentically Anglican.

Much of what Packer wrote in 1961 is applicable to passages dealing with the “other sacraments” or “the sacraments of the church” in the proposed ACNA catechism. The wording is different. The historical context has changed. The Anglican Ordinariate has siphoned off those who wanted to walk in lockstep with Rome.

The Anglican Church in North America, however, contains an element that, while it is not attracted to the Roman Catholic Church, is attracted to Roman Catholic doctrine and practices. This same element has the Catholicization of the Anglican Church as its aim.

In The Thirty-Nine Articles: A Restatement the late Philip Edgcumbe Hughes explains that the rites of confirmation, absolution, ordination, marriage, and anointing of the sick “have in part developed from a false understanding of apostolic practice and in part represent states of life allowed in the Scriptures.” This is the historical Anglican view of these rites. The answer to Question 117, on the other hand, is what Packer calls a “party-line.”

Questions and answers 122 -127 are related to what the proposed ACNA catechism refers to as sacrament of ordination and the three-fold ministries of deacon, priest, and bishop. In his critique of the Church of England’s 1962 Revised Catechism Packer questions the need for the equivalent of these questions and answers in that catechism.
Such instruction could only be held essential if this organizational structure were itself essential to the being of the Church, as such, so that where this threefold ministry could not be recognized the Church must be judged non-existent, and the conclusion drawn that there are no valid or efficacious Eucharists there. Knowledge about the threefold ministry would then be "saving knowledge " in the strict sense, for valid sacraments are generally necessary to salvation ; but is this the historic Anglican view? Can it be proved by Scripture, which " containeth all things necessary to salvation " ? The answer is no in both cases. It is true that a vocal minority in the Church of England today holds this opinion in some form, but it does not seem right to give space in the Revised Catechism to a matter whose presence there could only be justified if this minority view were accepted as being Scriptural and normatively Anglican. This section leaves the impression that the ministry is the Church for all practical purposes….
Their inclusion points to a particular body of doctrines related to the gospel sacraments and the “other sacraments,” as the proposed ACNA catechism describes them, and not just ordination. This body of doctrine, as should be clear by now, is that of the Roman Catholic Church. Their inclusion is not warranted as Packer points out unless they relate to something necessary to salvation. What they relate to has historically been viewed by the Roman Catholic Church in that light but not by Scripture or the reformed Anglican Church. The Roman Catholic Church maintains that uninterrupted succession of bishops leading back to the apostles is necessary for the validity of the sacraments and that the sacraments play an important role in our salvation and sanctification but only a one segment of the Anglican Church influenced by the theology of the Roman Catholic Church subscribe to that view. This segment also subscribe to the doctrine of the Real Objective Presence in the consecrated bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist.

The influence of the same body of doctrine is also evident in the proposed ACNA Book of Common Prayer, bringing these two would-be standards of the Anglican Church in North America into line with each other. As with the proposed Prayer Book, To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism may not always openly teach a particular doctrine. However, it points to that doctrine and permits its teaching. When all the elements of these two proposed standards are taken into consideration, their slant is decidely toward unreformed Catholicism, the Catholicism of the Roman Catholic Church and to a lesser extent of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Intentional or not they are geared to undoing the effects of the Protestant Reformation in the Anglican Church.

*In 2011 the Church of England's House of Bishops, taking note of the success of Alpha and Christianity Explored commissioned a new discipleship course to replace the 1962 Revised Catechism. This discipleship course was prepared by Bishop of Chelmsford Steven Croft and three other co-authors, Stephen Cotrell, Paula Gooder, and Robert Atwell, and is entitled The Pilgrim's Way A Guide to the Christian Faith. The course consists of four sets of lessons build around the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Beatitudes. It was launched in 2017.

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