Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Eucharistic Doctrine of the Anglican Church in North America

I originally posted this article about nine months ago. It is one of a number of selected articles that I have decided to repost. I have shortened the title to “The Eucharistic Doctrine of the Anglican Church in North America.”

As can be seen from this article, the eucharistic doctrine of the Anglican Church in North America as embodied in its proposed eucharistic rites unequivocally repudiates the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican Formularies. It is further evidence that the ACNA’s Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force and its College of Bishops do not, in the words of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), “uphold and maintain the faith of the Church expressed in the Holy Bible, the Anglican Formularies, and the Jerusalem Declaration.”

At its last meeting the ACNA College of Bishops approved a third form of Holy Communion. The eucharistic prayer used in this form is based upon the Anophora of Hippolytus of Rome, which also inspired Eucharistic Prayer II in the Roman Rite Mass, promulgated by Pope Paul VI. In a companion article I exmine this eucharistic prayer and comparing it with Eucharistic Prayer II. Both eucharistic prayers follow the structure of the Roman Canon and the ACNA eucharistic prayer incorporates language from Eucharistic Prayer II. .

By Robin G. Jordan

The Anglican Church in North America’s Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force has to date produced two services of Holy Communion. The College of Bishops has given its endorsement to both rites and authorized their publication in Texts for Common Prayer.

In evaluating the doctrine of these services, we will be looking at what elements have been incorporated into the rites, their sources, how they are used in the rites, and the order in which they are used. We will be focusing on those elements that reveal the theological leanings of the rites.

 It should be borne in mind from the outset that the use of words and phrases from Scripture in a rite does not make a rite agreeable to Scripture nor does the use of practices culled from Scripture. These words and phrases may be used in the rite in a way that gives them an entirely different meaning from their meaning in the Bible. The practices may be used in the rite in a way that it is not consistent with how they are used in the Bible. For a rite to be agreeable to Scripture its doctrine and liturgical usages must not conflict directly or indirectly with the clear teaching of the Bible.

Historically the Anglican Church, like other reformed churches, has yielded to the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice, interpreting Scripture by Scripture and reason, and considering the opinions of past interpreters of the Bible where their opinions are agreeable with what Holy Scripture plainly teaches. The Anglican Church has also taken the position, articulated in its Articles of Religion, that “it is not lawful for the Church to prescribe anything that is contrary to God’s written Word, or to expound one passage of Scripture in such a way that it disagrees with another” (Article 20).

Bear also in mind that even optional elements affect the doctrine of a rite. Their inclusion must be considered in a determination of the particular theological leanings of the rite. The same thing may be said about significant omissions from a rite.

The more recent Anglican service books generally include two or more services of Holy Communion from which worship planners for a congregation may select a rite that meets the needs of that congregation in light of its particular circumstances--population base, ministry target group, and other considerations.  In order to accommodate traditionalists in an Anglican province a service book may include a rite that uses traditional language or follows the traditional pattern of the 1662 Communion Service. In order to accommodate the theological diversity in an Anglican province, a service book may include rites that reflect this theological diversity. It may also include guidelines that worship planners for a congregation must follow in developing a local rite for its use.

The two services of Holy Communion that the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force developed and the College of Bishops endorsed do not offer such alternatives from which a congregation’s worship planners may choose. Rather one rite is intended for use on Sundays; the other for use on weekdays. There is not much difference between the two rites. The so-called “Short Form,” intended for weekday use, has a brief invitation to Confession, the Confession of Sin from Holy Eucharist Rite II of the 1979 Prayer Book, a slightly shorter Eucharistic Prayer, and a fixed Post-Communion Prayer.  Otherwise, there is no appreciable difference between the two rites. Both rites are lengthy and show the influence of the pre-Reformation medieval service books, the partially-reformed 1549 Prayer Book, the Laudian 1637 Scottish Prayer Book, the heterodox if not heretical 1764 Scottish Usager Non-Juror Communion Office, the retrograde 1928 Prayer Book, various Anglo-Catholic manuals from the nineteenth century, the 1979 Prayer Book, the Anglo-Catholic Anglican Service Book, the Roman Ordo, and the Anglican Use Rite from The Book of Divine Worship.

For readers who are not familiar with the Usager Non-Jurors, they believed that our Lord did not offer himself for the sins of the world on the cross but at the Last Supper. He only died on the cross. On this basis they maintained that the Eucharist was a reiteration or representation of Christ’s sacrifice. They espoused the restoration of what they claimed were apostolic usages to the 1662 Communion Service, hence the epithet "Usager.". These usages were“the Mixed Chalice at the Eucharist; public prayer for the Faithful Departed; prayer for the descent of the Holy Ghost on the Oblations; the Prayer of Oblation of the Consecrated Sacrament, from the Book of 1549.” Some Usagers maintained that the Eucharist was not valid without these usages. .

Both the older and newer Anglican service books make rubrical provision for shortening the Holy Communion service for weekday use. They do not provide a separate rite. The provision of separate rites for Sunday and weekday use and the use of the term “Form” to describe each rite points to an unreformed Catholic view of the Eucharist, which sees Mass as “the most perfect way to offer latria, or adoration, to God.” Implicit is the expectation that Holy Communion will be celebrated every day, hence the need for a weekday rite as well as a Sunday rite. “Ordinary Form” and “Extraordinary Form” are terms used in the Roman Catholic Church in descriptions of the different approved forms of Mass of the Roman Rite.

Both rites adopt the pattern for the Holy Communion service that the 1958 Lambeth Conference’s Subcommittee on the Holy Communion service recommended and which the 1958 Lambeth Conference endorsed. This pattern is also known as the Ecumenical order for the Holy Eucharist and reflects the influence of the Ecumenical Movement upon the Sub-Committee as well that of liturgical scholar Dom Gregory Dix. As Roger Beckwith, J.I. Packer, and others have pointed out, this pattern emphasizes what we are doing for God rather than what God has done for us. It has contributed to the theological drift in the Anglican Communion and is itself a manifestation of that drift.

Among the elements of the two rites that reveal their theological leanings is their use of the response “And with your spirit” to the greeting “The Lord be with you.” We do not learn until we read the General Instructions after the Long Form that the response “And also with you” may be used in place of the response “And with your spirit” after the greeting, “The Lord be with you.” The obvious favoring of one response over the other has doctrinal implications. Both greetings and responses use language taken from Scripture: one greeting and response is not more Scriptural than the other. The greeting and the response “The Lord be with you; and with your spirit,” however, carries theological freight that the greeting and the response “The Lord be with you; and also with you” does not carry. This theological freight has no real basis in Scripture and conflicts with the plain teaching of Holy Scripture. It has its origin in Catholic tradition.

Anglo-Catholics interpret the greeting and the response “The Lord be with you; and with your spirit” as a prayer for the priest who is celebrating Mass. The prayer is that God will stir up in the priest the special gift that he was given at ordination by the imposition of hands by a bishop who is a successor to the apostles due to his particular lineage (consecrated by bishops in a line of succession going back to the apostles) and who as a successor of the apostles is able to bestow this special gift upon a priest at his ordination. The special gift in question is the supernatural ability to confect bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and to offer on the altar at Mass Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world for both the living and the dead. The same special gift includes the supernatural ability to infuse the water in the baptismal font with the power to regenerate those baptized in that water. This belief underpins the medieval Catholic doctrines of transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the Mass, and baptismal regeneration. Due to its associations with these doctrines Archbishop Cranmer dropped this particular greeting and response from the 1552 Communion Service, which represents his mature thinking on the sacrament of Holy Communion. For the same reasons the 1559, 1604, and 1662 Prayer Books also omit this particular greeting and response from the Communion Service.

A peculiarity of the two rites is that the Summary of the Law is a fixed element while the Decalogue is an optional alternative. In the older Anglican service books the Summary of the Law was provided as an optional alternative to the Decalogue. In the newer service books both the Decalogue and the Summary of the Law are optional.  The beginning of the service is one of three places in the Holy Communion service that accumulate liturgical clutter. To reduce this clutter and restore something of the primitive simplicity of the earliest rites, the newer service books make optional the use of a Gathering Song, an Opening Acclamation or Sentence of Scripture, the Collect for Purity or its equivalent, the Gloria in excelsis or some other song of praise, the Kyries, the Trisagion, and the Greeting (or Salutation). In the early Church the synaxis of the Eucharist began with a greeting and a prayer and nothing else.

This peculiarity also has doctrinal implications. Historically the Decalogue has from the English Reformation on served as part of the preparation leading up to the General Confession and including the Lessons, the Creed, and the Sermon. The Summary of the Law does not function in the same way as the Decalogue in this regard. Liturgical commissions that are liberal in their theological leanings have preferred the Summary of the Law over the Decalogue as it may be interpreted to fit with their doctrinal views. They have viewed the Decalogue as too penitential. A number of more recent Anglican service books, recognizing how the Decalogue has functioned in the Holy Communion service, have moved the Decalogue to a position before the General Confession.

Another peculiarity of the two rites is their rubrics permit the omission of the Filoque clause from the Nicene Creed. Here again the peculiarity in question has doctrinal implications. The omission of the Filoque clause from the Nicene Creed, even though optional, represents a significant departure from what the Anglican Church has historically understood the Scriptures to teach about the relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and from the position the Anglican Church takes in its Articles of Religion. The GAFCON bishops’ response to overtures from the Anglican Church in North America seeking their support for a wider omission of theFiloque clause from the Nicene Creed was that it would create another division in a Communion that was already divided on a number of issues.

The Eucharistic Prayers used in the two forms of Holy Communion are very revealing into the theological leanings of these rites. The Eucharistic Prayer printed in the so-called “Long Form” adopts the structure of the Eucharistic Prayer found in the 1549 Prayer Book. In the 1552 revision of the Prayer Book Archbishop Cranmer would discard this structure for the Eucharist Prayer for a number of very good reasons. As Bishop Stephen Gardiner pointed out in his critique of the 1549 Prayer Book, the 1549 Eucharistic Prayer gave expression to the medieval Catholic doctrines of transubstantiation and eucharistic sacrifice even though the rubrics prohibited the priest from elevating the consecrated elements or showing the sacrament to the people. In the 1549 Eucharistic Prayer the Epiclesis and the Words of Institution precede the offering of the elements. From both an Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic perspective the elements are consecrated when the priest offers them. They are Christ’s Body and Blood. From his study of Holy Scripture Cranmer had concluded that these doctrines were repugnant to the Word of God. He also concluded that praying that God would bless and sanctify inanimate objects like bread and wine with his Word and Holy Spirit was contrary to God’s Word. Doing so had no basis in the teaching of the Bible and in fact conflicted with what the Bible did teach. In the Bible blessing and invocation of the Holy Spirit is confined to people. The Gospels make very clear that what our Lord did at the Last Supper was to give thanks to God over the bread and wine.  Where the Gospels describe our Lord as blessing the bread and wine, they are referring to the Jewish practice of blessing God’s name as a way of giving thanks to God.

When one examines the prayer over the bread and wine in the 1552 Communion Service and the prayer over the water in the 1552 Baptismal Service, one cannot help but notice the similarity between the two prayers. Both contain similar petitions. The petition in the prayer over the bread and wine humbly implores God that those receiving the bread and wine in the remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross will be partakers of his Body and Blood—participants in the benefits of that sacrifice. The petition in the prayer over the water humbly beseeches God that those baptized in the water will receive the fullness of his grace and remain in the number of his faithful and elect children for ever. Neither prayer presumes to tell God how he should accomplish what the respective petitions request. The two petitions are epicleses in the primitive sense of the word—a calling upon God.

Both the 1559 Prayer Book, the Prayer Book of the Elizabethan Settlement, and the 1662 Prayer Book, the Prayer Book of the Restoration and an Anglican formulary, are based upon the 1552 Prayer Book, which may be described as the Prayer Book of the English Reformation, embodying Cranmer’s mature thinking. In the 1552 Communion Service Cranmer did away with everything suggestive of eucharistic sacrifice. He eliminated the greeting and response “The Lord be with you; and with thy spirit” from the Sursum Corda,  dropped the anmnesis with its offering of the consecrated bread and wine from the Eucharistic Prayer, detached the intercessions and the self-offering from the Eucharistic Prayer , and placed the intercessions before the Eucharistic Prayer and the self-offering after the Communion where it serves as a grateful offering of ourselves for what Christ did for us on the cross and for the benefits we receive when we receive the bread and wine with faith and thanksgiving at the Lord’s Supper.

The Eucharistic Prayer printed in the so-called “Short Form” also adopts the structure of the 1549 Eucharistic Prayer. The main difference between it and the Eucharistic prayer printed in the so-called “Long Form” is its omission of the offering of the consecrated bread and wine from the wording of the anamnesis. The prayer, however, contains no rubric preventing the priest from ceremonially offering the consecrated bread and wine at this point in the prayer or at the conclusion of the prayer. Unlike the rubrics of the 1549 Communion Service, the rubrics of the two forms of Holy Communion published in Texts for Common Prayer and endorsed by the College Bishops do not prohibit the elevation of the consecrated elements or their showing to the people. As we shall see, the second Invitation to Communion contains wording associated the showing of the consecrated elements to the people for latria, or adoration, in a number of unreformed Catholic eucharistic rites. This practice is itself associated with the belief that Christ is substantively present in the consecrated bread and wine and offers himself for the sins of the world through the priest. This is the medieval Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which is held by Roman Catholics and many Anglo-Catholics.

If we are left with any doubts about the particular theological leanings of the two rites, we may look no further than the Fraction, the Preparation for Communion, the Invitation to Communion, and the Words of Distribution for additional confirmation of those leanings.

The first optional Fraction Anthem begins “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us….” It implies that Christ was sacrificed, if not during the Eucharistic Prayer, in the Breaking of the Bread. The second optional Fraction Anthem begins “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. The altered wording, however, does not exclude the interpretation that Christ through the priest offers himself in the Eucharist. It simply excludes the Breaking of the Bread as the point in the Eucharist at which this offering occurs. A number of Fraction Anthems are available that do not carry this theological freight. They include “Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb” and “Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread.”

The Breaking of the Bread is followed by a series of devotions, which formed the 1548 Order of Communion. These devotions consist of the Lord’s Prayer, the Prayer of Humble Access, and the Agnus Dei. Cranmer included this series of devotions in the partially-reformed 1549 Prayer Book but did away with it in the reformed 1552 Prayer Book. Among his reasons for eliminating it was that these devotions created too long a delay between the consecration of the bread and wine and its distribution and implied a substantive presence of Christ in the consecrated elements. The devotions served as a way of offering latria, or adoration, to Christ substantively present in the sacrament. Cranmer moved the Lord’s Prayer to a position after the Communion and inserted the Prayer of Humble Access between the Sanctus and “the Memorial of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper” in the 1552 Communion Service. He dropped the Agnus Dei altogether. The Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer Humble Access occupied the 1552 positions in the American Prayer Book up until the 1928 revision.

In her Churchman article, “The Prayer of Humble Access” Katie Badie points out that Cranmer’s relocation of the Prayer of Humble Access to this position “was part of a positive theological design and not merely a reaction to criticism.” 
We have explained why the Prayer needed to relocate, but not why Cranmer chose to separate it from the other 1548 Order texts and to incorporate it into the Eucharistic prayer. A general point is that this illustrates that the Prayer of Humble Access was not for Cranmer an integral part of what the ASB later called Prayers of Penitence. Modern authors criticise the heavily penitential atmosphere of the traditional Anglican Communion service to which, in their opinion, the unusual position of the Prayer of Humble Access contributes,13 but we can question if this was Cranmer’s intention, as it would seem that he considered it a prayer of humble thankfulness and for ‘worthy reception’ rather than a prayer of repentance. After all, in its original 1548 Order setting, the Prayer of Humble Access came after the declaration of Absolution and the assurance of the Comfortable Words—Bible texts confirming the forgiveness of those who repent (Matt. 11:28, John 3:16, 1 Tim. 1:15, 1 John 1:21). In the Protestant perspective of justification by grace alone, the believer does not respond to such ‘evangelical’ sentences by more penitence, but with thanksgiving. The Prayer of Humble Access therefore stands apart from the initial penitential sequence and is perhaps more joyful than we modern listeners appreciate!
Badie goes onto point out:
More specifically, we can better understand why Cranmer placed the Prayer of Humble Access between the Sanctusand the Memorial if we note that he had created a ‘hole’ in the traditional Eucharistic Liturgy, by removing to an earlier position the Intercession (which he had left in place in 1549). Now thoroughly purged of all oblational elements, this prayer no longer had any connection with the Eucharistic Prayer. The Prayer of Humble Access then filled the gap appropriately,14 preparing the communicant for the reception of the elements which was now the focus of the 1552 Communion Liturgy.
She further points out:
Lastly, an additional reason for this new location for the Prayer of Humble Access can be suggested: in the reorganisation of the traditional elements of the Liturgy, a new Biblical transition appeared, which meant that the Prayer of Humble Access fitted very well. As Colin Buchanan comments—
The Benedictus Qui Venit was removed from the end of the Sanctus, and the whole biblical order of Isaiah 6 came to light. If we catch the vision of God and sing the angels’ song, then, if Isaiah is to be believed, we immediately express our own unworthiness. What could be more natural than the location of humble access at this point?15
The first optional Invitation to Communion is derived from the Eastern Orthodox “holy things for a holy people” and when the bracketed “take them in remembrance that Christ died for you…” is omitted may be construed as affirming a substantive presence of Christ in the sacrament. The second optional Invitation to Communion, as already noted, is found in a number of unreformed Catholic eucharistic rites and is much more direct in its affirmation of Christ’s substantive presence in the consecrated elements. As previously noted, the rubrics do not prohibit the priest from showing the consecrated elements to the people for latria while saying the Invitation to Communion.

The Words of Distribution are taken from the 1559 Prayer Book with the 1552 Words of Distribution in brackets. The 1552 Words of Institution may be omitted and the 1549 Words of Institution used alone. Archbishop Cranmer discarded the 1549 Words of Distribution in the 1552 Communion Service because they implied the substantive presence of Christ in the consecrated elements. He replaced them wording, which while it emphasizes the commemorative aspect of the Lord’s Supper does not exclude Christ’s spiritual presence. One of the few changes that were made in the 1559 revision was to combine the 1549 and 1552 Words of Institution, resulting in Words of Administration that begin with a prayer and conclude with a charge. In combination with the 1552 Words of Institution, the 1549 Words of Institution do not carry the same theological freight as they do alone.

Both Post-Communion Prayers in the so-called “Long Form” and the Post-Communion Prayer in the so-called “Short Form” are contemporary language renderings of the post-communion prayer from the 1549 Communion Service. They suggest that for the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force, the 1549 Prayer Book was its standard of Anglican prayer and worship and that the task force was unwilling to make any foray outside this model except to incorporate material that would make it more unreformed Catholic in doctrine and practice.

The Exhortation printed after each rite is adapted from the Exhortation in the 1549 Communion Service and affirms the practice of auricular confession—something which the corresponding Exhortation in the 1552, 1559, 1604, and 1662 Communion Services does not do.

Among the significant omissions from the two rites is the lack of a larger selection of Eucharistic Prayers in particular prayers that are agreeable to Scripture in their doctrine and structure, the absence of rubrical permission to use the Lord’s Prayer at the conclusion of the Prayers of the People or after the distribution of Communion and to use the 1552 Words of Distribution alone or some other form that does not imply Christ’s substantive presence in the consecrated elements, and the omission of the Declaration on Kneeling.

At this point there can be no doubts about the theological leanings of the two rites. They are decidedly unreformed Catholic.

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