By Robin G. Jordan
Kevin Kallsen recently posted on Anglican TV the video of a short interview with Archbishop Robert Duncan, titled “Discussing the Ordinal with Archbishop Duncan.” I viewed the interview several times and jotted down some notes. They form the basis of this article.
Kallsen began the interview by asking Archbishop Duncan a question about the connection between the Thirty-Nine Articles and the new ACNA Ordinal. What was Kallsen’s intention in asking the question was not clear because it was not well phrased. In any event Duncan ignored the question.
In the interview Duncan explained that he had given instructions to the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force “to produce a Prayer Book that so commends itself that people everywhere want to use it….” He had made similar statement in his address to the Provincial Council at its last meeting. The new Ordinal was the initial step in the production of a new Prayer Book. The Ordinal had been chosen first because it was the most defective part of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. According to Duncan, the 1979 Ordinal’s chief flaw was that it was “discontinuous with previous Prayer Book Ordinals.” Its greatest defect was that it “did not guard the faith.” It was weak in its examination of candidates for ordination. For this reason the texts of the new Ordinal primarily were taken from the 1928 Ordinal. Duncan made a point of stressing that the 1928 Prayer Book, unlike the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book, was free from references to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.
After having repeatedly viewing the interview, I was prompted to wonder whether Duncan himself had actually examined the new Ordinal. He sounded as if he was repeating whatever the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force might have briefed him on the new Ordinal or he might have picked up from reading from the article that the ACNA website posted announcing the College of Bishop’s approval of the new Ordinal. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The alternative is that he was deliberately misrepresenting the new Ordinal.
Article 36 states that 1552 Ordinal, adopted in the reign of Edward VI contains all things necessary for the consecration of Archbishops and bishops and the ordering of priests and deacons. The 1552 Ordinal contains nothing that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. Consequently anyone who is consecrated or ordained according its rites is rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordained.
In the sixteenth century the giving of a paten and chalice with prepared bread and wine and the blessing and anointing of the ordinand’s hands was regarded as the form for the ordination of a priest. In 1552 the Prayer Book Ordinal in its fully reformed form did away with these practices and restored the New Testament practices of imposition of hands with prayer. The Prayer Book Ordinal added the public examination of the candidates to the ordination services for deacons and priests and substituted the giving of a New Testament to the new deacon for the giving of the Book of Gospels and the giving of the Bible to the new priest for the giving of the paten and chalice with the prepared bread and wine. It abolished the vesting of the new deacon with a stole and a dalmatic. It also abolished the vesting of the new priest with a stole and a chasuble. The Prayer Book Ordinal also did away with the giving a pastoral staff and ring to the new bishop and the anointing of the new bishop’s forehead. The new Ordinal, approved by the College of Bishops, restores all these practices. In the view of Article 36 such practices are unnecessary, superstitious, and ungodly.
The Thirty-Nine Articles reject the doctrines and practices with which the giving of the paten and chalice with the prepared bread and wine to new priest, the blessing and anointing of the new priest’s hands, and his vesting with a stole and chasuble are closely linked. They include the doctrines of transubstantiation, of the sacrifice of the Mass, and of the sacerdotal character of the priesthood and the practices of elevating the eucharistic elements, reserving them, carrying them in procession, and exposing them in a monstrance or similar vessel for adoration. The new Ordinal in restoring the practices of giving a chalice to the new priest, blessing and anointing the new priest’s hands, and vesting him in a stole and chasuble affirms these doctrines and countenances such practices. It not only repudiates Article 36 but also Article 6, 11, 12, 20, 25, 28, 31, and 34.
The claim that the Ordinal is the most defective part of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer raises two troubling questions: Why then has the ACNA and its ministry partner, the AMiA, continued to use this Ordinal at the ordination of their clergy, including the consecration of their bishops? Are the ACNA and the AMiA planning to reordain their clergy as the 1979 Ordinal was used at the ordination of the greater part of their clergy and at the consecration of almost all of their bishops? Obviously the ACNA and the AMiA has not had any scruples about using the 1979 Ordinal until now. They have no plans to reordain their clergy. These facts belie such a claim.
If the chief flaw of the 1979 Ordinal is its discontinuity with the Prayer Book Ordinal, as Archbishop Duncan claims, the new ACNA Ordinal is likewise flawed. It does not follow the pattern of the Prayer Book Ordinal either. It may use the texts of the 1928 Ordinal in places but it is modeled upon the 1979 Ordinal. It alters the language of the historic Preface to the Prayer Book Ordinal. It adds the singing or recitation of the Veni, Creator Spiritus and an ordination prayer before the laying-on-of-hands and changes the formula at the imposition of hands in the ordination service for deacons. It drops from the ordination service for priests the alternate formula at the imposition of hands. This formula has been a part of the American Ordinal since 1790. It has made other changes. None of the practices that it has restored are found in the Prayer Book Ordinal. If continuity with the historic Ordinals such as 1661 and 1790 were a major concern for the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force and the College of Bishops, it is not reflected in the new Ordinal.
If the 1979 Ordinal’s greatest defect was its failure to guard the faith, the new Ordinal also fails in this regard. In adopting wording from the 1928 examination of candidates for the diaconate in the examination of candidates for the presbyterate and the episcopate as well as the examination of candidates for the diaconate, it does not require blanket belief in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We know where that led in the Episcopal Church.
In the case of the Episcopal Church it was not the Ordinal that failed to guard the faith but the bishops and clergy. The 1979 Ordinal may not have reminded them of this responsibility at their ordination but if they had gone to seminary or otherwise received ministerial training, they were fully aware of their responsibility. With their approval of the new Ordinal the bishops of the ACNA have not shown that they are any better at guarding the faith than the Episcopal bishops and clergy. They have restored to the Ordinal ceremonies that the English Reformers discarded as unnecessary, superstitious, and ungodly, and which are tied doctrines and practices that they rejected as unscriptural.
The only references to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family in the 1962 Canadian Ordinal are found in the Litany, which is not actually a part of the Ordinal. The texts from 1962 Canadian Ordinal could have been used in the new Ordinal as much as the texts from the 1928 Ordinal.
What is evident from the General Introduction and Notes to the new Ordinal and Archbishop Duncan’s interview is that the explanation that they offer for the changes in the new Ordinal are simply talking points that have been developed to justify these changes, which are extensive and in a number of cases represent a radical departure from the Prayer Book Ordinal. One is left with the distinct impression that the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force and the College of Bishops are trying to gull the ordinary members of the ACNA. They cannot fool those who have studied the history and development of the Ordinal unless they want to be duped.
The new Ordinal certainly does not commend itself to Anglicans who uphold the historic Anglican formularies and stand in continuity with the English Reformers and the Protestant Reformed Church of England. When tested and measured by the standard of the Prayer Book Ordinal, it is a seriously flawed Ordinal. It should not have been presented to the College of Bishops, much less approved by that body, and it should be withdrawn immediately. However, I am not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
The College of Bishops has so far not admitted to having made any mistakes. Apparently the Bishops believe that they are infallible like the Pope. Nowhere in Scripture, however, do we find a passage that even remotely suggests that holders of the episcopal office are not liable to error. If even general councils may err when they meet, and sometimes have erred, as Article 21 states, a College of Bishops certainly is capable of erring. Their approval of the new Ordinal is also very revealing as to how they view the Thirty-Nine Articles.
If the Bishops approve a seriously flawed Ordinal, I dread to see what they will approve in the way of a Prayer Book. If Duncan’s statement that the Ordinal is the most defective part of the 1979 Prayer Book represents the view of the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force and the College of Bishops, I think that we can expect a reworking of the 1979 Prayer Book but with a few surprises. The ACNA top leaders look suspiciously like they are testing the waters with the new Ordinal. If the new Ordinal does not provoke a strong negative reaction, they will be emboldened to approve similar changes in the new Prayer Book as they approved in the new Ordinal.
The new Ordinal confirms what I have been saying from the outset. The ACNA does not take the Thirty-Nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1661 Ordinal with the seriousness they deserve as the primary historic Anglican formularies and the long-recognized doctrinal standard of Anglicanism. The provisions of the ACNA constitution and canon display an Anglo-Catholic bias in the areas of apostolic succession, ecclesiastical governance, the historic episcopate, ordination, and the sacraments.
From the perspective of a conservative evangelical like myself the ACNA has nothing more to offer than the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. All three churches have serious problems in the areas of doctrine, leadership, and morality.
The ACNA may yet be the undoing of GAFCON. The ACNA top leaders show little if any regard for the Jerusalem Declaration. This is obvious from the new Ordinal as well as the constitution and canons of the ACNA. Their disregard for the Jerusalem Declaration is likely to encourage of the leaders of other Anglican churches to ignore its provisions. It will quickly become valueless as a declaration of the tenets underpinning Anglican identity. Anglo-Catholic leaders in and outside of North America who dislike the Jerusalem Declaration would welcome such a development. They can be expected to do everything to hasten its occurrence. The ACNA is the weak link in the chain. As the saying go, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Archbishop Robert Duncan on the New ACNA Ordinal
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 8:00 AM