Saturday, December 03, 2011

ACNA Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force: Two Forms of the Holy Eucharist Under Development

By Robin G. Jordan

From The Apostle: The Anglican Church in North America's Ministry in Review Report:

Our worship of Almighty God is the foundation of our life together as Anglicans. It is in our worship and by the Word of God that we are united to God and to one another.

As Anglicans, we believe that how we pray forms how we will believe (lex orandi, lex credendi). If our liturgy is defective, our theology will be defective as well. Therefore, if we are to have a strong, vibrant orthodox church, it is essential that our liturgy reflect the orthodox faith of Jesus Christ. Many of us in the past have seen the theological result of faulty liturgy bringing forth faulty belief. We cannot have that happen again.

The orthodox content of our liturgy is crucial to having an orthodox church. The Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force was commissioned by Archbishop Robert Duncan in the summer of 2008. Our first task was to survey what our people were using for their liturgies and what their concerns were about this project.

After receiving their feedback, we authored what we have called our “Theological Lens.” This document has become our guide for all of the liturgies that we will author. It has been approved by our College of Bishops and the Provincial Council of the church.

In our liturgical work we have taken the path of learning from the past rather than being innovative. As we have noted in the “Theological Lens,” we want to have the liturgies of the church be rooted in the tradition of our Anglican heritage while also being accessible to both long-time Anglicans and those new to the tradition. The liturgies that we produce will not be innovative but clearly founded in the historic Anglican Prayer Book tradition.

Archbishop Duncan, in his charge to the task force, has written that he wants our new liturgies to be of such quality that they will commend themselves. In other words, there will be no coercion. That is a challenging charge which we on the task force are committed to fulfill.

Our task force has produced its first liturgy, the Ordinal, which is the liturgy for the ordaining of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. It is now being used throughout the province, and so far has been very well received. A copy may be procured on the ACNA website at:

We are now working hard on two forms of the Holy Eucharist, and we hope to bring these before the College of Bishops at the June 2012 meeting. The other task which we are working on is the liturgy for Baptism and Confirmation. As these liturgies are approved by the College of Bishops, they will be made available to congregations through links on the ACNA website.

There will be extensive opportunities for congregations and individuals throughout the province to give their feedback to the College of Bishops and our task force. This is a monumental task. Please be praying for us as we seek to be faithful in this endeavor. May God receive all the glory.

The Rt. Rev. Willian A. Thompson, Chair, Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task ForceBishop, Diocese of Western Anglicans

Sounds like Rite I and Rite II.

Nowhere in the ACNA constitution and canons does it authorize the ACNA College of Bishops as a body to authorize liturgies for the province.

Article V of the ACNA gives the Provincial Council power to make canons ordering the common life of the ACNA in respect to a number of matters including common worship. Title II.2.1 of the ACNA canons states:

"The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, are received as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline,and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.Until such time as a Book of Common Prayer for use in this Province has been adopted, all authorized Books of Common Prayer of the originating jurisdictions shall be permitted for use in this Church."

Title II.2.2 states:

"It is understood that there is a diversity of uses in the Province. In order to use these rich liturgies most advantageously, it is the responsibility of the Bishop with jurisdiction to ensure that the forms used in Public Worship and the Administration of the Sacraments be in accordance with Anglican Faith and Order and that nothing be established that is contrary to the Word of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures."

"Bishop with jurisdiction" is a reference to the Ordinary of a Diocese in the ACNA. It is a real stretch to interpret Title II.2.2, which refers to the responsibility of an Ordinary in his Diocese, as giving power to the College of Bishops to authorize the liturgies for the use of the entire province. This is a usurpation of the power of the Provincial Council to make canons in respect to common worship, which extends to making a canon or canons authorizing specific liturgies, for example, ordination services. This, however, would entail submitting such a canon or canons to the Provincial Assembly for ratification and risking its rejection of the canon or canons and the liturgy or liturgies to which it relates.

In the Episcopal Church adoption of a new liturgy required the vote of two successive General Conventions after province-wide and even Communion-wide scrutiny of the proposed liturgy.

Being Faithful: The Shape of Historical Anglicanism Today stresses mutual accountability within the Anglican Communion as a key principle of Prayer Book revision. It goes on to emphasize, "The further removed a proposed liturgy may be from the 1662 Prayer Book, the more important it is that it should be subject to widespread evalution throughout the Communion." The new ACNA Ordinal in a number of ways departs from the 1662 Prayer Book Ordinal. Was it subject to widespread evalution outside the ACNA? No. Rather it was presented to the ACNA as a fait accompli, what has become the characteristic pattern of how the ACNA leadership operates.


Stanley Nelson said...

Mr. Jordan seems more anxious to challenge and dispute and quarrel, rather than looking for what can be agreed upon and moving ahead with saving Anglican Christianity from the revisionists of the past 50 years or so and all the damage and destruction they have achieved. A powerful, God-centered motivation moves Archbishop Duncan and leading bishops of ACNA. We need to anticipate with joy and thanksgiving the appearance of their work in an Anglican Church in North America Book of Common Prayer. This is sorely needed for our unity and to show forth to the entire world the ties that bind us to each other and to our God and Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Stanley F. Nelson
Dallas, Texas

Robin G. Jordan said...

When did unity and consensus become so important that they trump the revealed truth of God’s Word? This is historically not what orthodox Anglicans have believed. They have held that all thinking must be submitted to Scripture and weighed against its revealed truth—appeals to unity and consensus notwithstanding.

Is saving Anglican Christianity how you are trying to spin what is happening in the Anglican Church? I would hazard that Anglican Christianity is in need of being saved from the Anglican Church in North America, as well as the Episcopal Church.

If the Holy Spirit was at work in the English Reformation—and generations of orthodox Anglicans have believed that to have been the case, then what we are witnessing is not a movement of the Holy Spirit. God would not undo what he has done. He restored the gospel and the Bible to the English Church and reformed the Church. He gave the reformed English Church its formularies along with the Holy Scriptures to guide it. Archbishop Duncan and leading bishops of the ACNA, like the liberals in the ECUSA, are seeking to undo what God has wrought. Duncan himself has gone on record saying that he wants to replace the Elizabethan Settlement which has shaped authentic historic Anglicanism with a new settlement, one which turns back the clock to a time before the English Reformation.

To this end the College of Bishops has encroached upon the role of the Provincial Council and has taken a large part of that role for itself. It has added disregard for constitutionalism and the rule of law to disregard for the Word of God and the Anglican formularies which are grounded in God's Word and derive their authority from the Word.

The GAFCON Theological Resource Committee has identified to two challenges to a renewed Anglican Church ruled by the Holy Scriptures and the Anglican formularies. One is liberalism; the other is the ideology that the College of Bishops is espousing.

The Prayer Book in preparation is a repudiation of authentic historic Anglicanism--embodying unreformed Catholic teaching and practices that English Reformers rejected in the sixteenth century and which evangelical Anglicans reject to this day. Only Anglo-Catholics and those who they have influenced subscribe to such teaching and practices. They are a minority in the Anglican Communion and represent an extraneous element. Their theology was imported from Roman Catholic Church and includes post-Tridentian Roman Catholic innovations in doctrine and worship.

Yes, arguably Anglican Christianity needs saving from the Anglican Church in North America--at least from its bishops.