We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Inclusion v. marginalization

Although I have been resolutely critical of the thoughts expressed on this blog, my criticism is a sign of my serious desire to address as many objections as possible. The ACNA has a strange structure but it may be the only way forward: the abandonment of the geographical diocese.

But rather than a second province within that structure, why not allow simply an English Communion Office and a Scottish Communion Office? With no need to hybridize, the respective beauties of both can be admitted and admired.

The plain fact is that there has been a functional bifurcation of rites in the various denominations of the Prayer Book from almost the very beginning.

Notice that Dearmer does not include any mythological elements of a supposed Ephesine rite.

What are the differences? They are twofold. One is "use" and the other is "rite."

First, use:

In 1618 the five Articles of Perth were introduced under James VI: 1) kneeling at reception of Communion; 2) Private Communion of the Sick; 3) Private Baptism in case of need; 4) Observance of the Holy Days of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost; and 5) the Confirmation of children. Yet the more commonly understood issue of ‘Usages’ also played a significant part in the Scottish Episcopal context: 1) the mixed chalice; 2) prayers for the Faithful Departed at the Altar; 3) the use of an Epiclesis as part of the consecration of the Elements; and 4) the use of a Prayer of Oblation; 5) Baptism by immersion; 6) the use of Chrism in Confirmation; 7) the sign of the cross; 8) the anointing of the sick; and 9) the reserved Sacrament for the use of the sick.

Here, I suppose, a decision must be made. (Since I find all of these usages acceptable, I don't know where to draw the line.)

But, second, the beauty of two rites is that no such further divergence is forced. Both are acceptable and both are legitimate: the terse English office and the more elaborate Scottish one. They express different things, both of which are valuable. Further particulars are as follows:

The First Scottish Prayer Book was introduced in 1637 and differed substantially from either 1552 or 1559. The 1637 Scottish Prayer Book was based on the 1549 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England and thus restored the ancient structure of the canon with both the anamnesis as well as an epiclesis included. Much has been made of the 1637 Communion Office so I shall therefore only briefly highlight the significant change it made to previous Reformed Eucharistic theologies. The first difference was the inclusion of an offertory prayer before the Eucharist that suggested a doctrine of the Real Presence.

More significantly the 1637 saw the introduction of an Epiclesis into the Communion rite:

“Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech thee and of thy almighty goodness vouchsafe so to bless and sanctify with thy word and Holy Spirit these thy creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son: so that we receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of the same his most precious body and blood.”xiv

This is the first instance of an Eastern consecration theology in a Reformed Western church. It is worth noting that in the 1637 Prayer Book the epiclesis comes before the Words of Institution whereas in later Scottish Communion Offices it comes after the Words of Institution ...

The 1637, as the 1549, places the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of Humble Access before the receiving of Communion. The placement of these prayers before the consecrated elements strongly suggests a Eucharistic theology of the Real Presence. The Words of Institution also only include the 1549 use:

“The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Amen. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Amen.”xv

The association of the bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ is a further indication of the doctrine of the Real Presence.

If all this is taken to show that as early as 1618 things were going radically wrong in Anglicanism, then I would have to insist that this view is historically false and, ultimately, psychotic. That ship has sailed. The question is: what is to be done (now)? I think this author makes the case that:

... the disestablished, non-juring history of the Scottish Episcopal Church and her ecclesiology and sacramental theology establishes a valid historical model of Anglicanism which is at odds with the example set by the Church of England. Thus the Anglican Covenant’s insistence on a historic commonality within the Communion, whether out of ignorance or design, effectively rewrites history and reduces historic diversity to an historical fiction for the sake of ecclesiastical expedience. This cultural insensitivity, especially considering the proximity of the Scottish Episcopal Church to the Church of England and the long history of persecution of the Scottish Church, raises serious issues about the effectiveness of the Covenant to address minority cultural and historical differences within the Anglican Communion.

An effective, coordinated response means coming to grips with reality as it is.

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