Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A 17th century Rite II

As I mentioned Monday, the Prayer Book Society and the Anglican Mission in the Americas are producing a new edition of the 1662 BCP. Monday afternoon, PBS president Peter Toon gave more details:
It is a regrettable fact that most of the forms of service designed for use since the late 1960s in western Anglicanism have sought to set aside the pattern and doctrine within the historic Book of Common Prayer, and replace them with a shape and theology that is a mixture of ancient structure and modern doctrine. Even where some of the historic content has been preserved, as in Rite One services of the 1979 Prayer Book of The Episcopal Church, it is made to fit into the “shape” of the modern Rite Two.

Therefore, there is a real need in contemporary Anglicanism for the availability of classic Common Prayer in a way that is acceptable and usable by those who currently use Rite Two, or the Canadian 1985 Book, or the like. There is an open space developing for use of traditional services in contemporary English, where the doctrine and devotion of the historic Anglican Way are present, known and received.
Thus, the project is oriented at AMiA (low church) parishes — many of which switched to the Rite II 1982 prayer book before fleeing ECUSA in this decade.

I guess there was no reason for the PBS/AMiA to worry about the Anglo-Catholics, who can read the original edition online in 17th century language not that different from the 1928 BCP. Here is the collect for Sexagesima (two days ago)
LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Still, there is a big question of how far the PBS/AMiA went towards Rite II — in particular, did it follow the modern mainline Protestant (and Catholic) ICET translations of the original Latin? For many, the key test is the first response of the Sursum Corda.

Latin1662 BCPICET
PriestDominus VobiscumThe Lord be with youThe Lord be with you
PeopleEt cum spiritu tuoAnd with thy spiritAnd also with you

The older translation is more literal, and the two translations are not the same. Update: The Toonian 1662 BCP says “And with your spirit,” which preserves the meaning while dropping the thees and thous.

Of course, there are other innumerable other differences between the 1662/1928 renditions and the ICET. Some are inconsequential, such as “thy” vs. “your”; but others have doctrinal implications, such as “I believe” rather than “We believe.” Will the new PB modernize the Lord’s Prayer? Almost every Rite II parish I’ve attended still says “Our Father, who art in heaven.”

The whole point of the ICET was to unify English translations in modern language. If the PBS/AMiA project adopts the ICET, it can use the musical settings of Hymnal 1982, but it also adopts what many consider to be doctrinal errors.

If this project is not to be bound by ICET, then will this AMiA liturgy use responses unique in the English language? Or is there an opportunity to develop a contemporary, orthodox liturgy? The LCMS is the only remotely orthodox Protestant group in the current CCT, but perhaps Pope Benedict XVI could bring the US Catholic bishops to the table.

Either way, will this mean new musical settings to go with the new words? Rite II parishes abandoned Hymnal 1940 (in small part) to be able to sing “And also with you” and “Lord have mercy”.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Celebrating 30 years of schism

The modern Anglican wars began with the Congress of St. Louis in September 1977, in which 2,000 Episcopal clergy and laity met in reaction to the ordination of women and the 1979 revision to the prayer book. The result was the Affirmation of St. Louis and the beginnings of what we now call the “continuing Anglican” movement.

Last week, two of the major traditionalist Anglican groups held a convention, but more on that in a moment.

Thirty years ago today, the first four continuing Anglican bishops were consecrated in Denver by Rt. Rev. Albert A. Chambers, retired ECUSA bishop of Springfield. The bishops were James Mote of Denver, Robert Morse of Oakland, Calif., Peter Watterson of West Palm Beach, Fl. and Charles Dale Doren of Pittsburgh.

The next morning, the New York Times reported “Episcopal Dissidents Consecrate Bishops,” and the story was picked up by AP and UPI. The Times story reported:
The establishment of a hierarchy of bishops gives the Anglican Church of North America, as it it has been temporarily named, the full resources of an independent church and is expected by its leaders to spur the pace of growth.
Alas, it was all downhill from there, as the continuing Anglican movement degenerated into the alphabet soup that characterizes it today. Morse formed the APCK (Anglican Province of Christ the King), Mote formed the ACC (Anglican Catholic Church), Doren formed the UECNA (United Episcopal Church of North America) and Watterson (like many others) left for the RCC.

The rest of the traditionalist Episcopalians stayed in ECUSA, accepting the new prayer book and (in most cases) the ordination of women. However, the 2003 General Convention fueled another exodus, with consent to the ordination of Gene Robinson, failure to ban gay marriage and rejection of a basic statement of Christianity put forth by Bp. Keith Ackerman of Quincy. For others, GC 2006 was the last straw.

Twenty-plus years after the movement was born, did those leaving ECUSA after the GC 2003 and GC 2006 join with the continuing movement? No, they created their own hierarchies and bishops, notably the AMiA (Anglican Mission in the Americas) and CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America).

Some of these newer groups (AMiA, CANA) with some older groups formed the Common Cause Partners, whose website (“United-Anglicans.org”) is tragically laughable denial of the ongoing schism. At best, the CCP is a loose federation which might form a new denomination in a decade, but seems equally likely to spin apart on its own centripetal forces.

The proliferation of denominations gives credence to critics who say that all those (us?) continuing types can do is fracture and schism. Don’t get me wrong: if it’s a choice between heresy and schism, the early church fathers showed us that truth is more important than unity. However, between the continuing groups there are few doctrinal issues — notably that CANA can’t decide how it feels about women’s ordination. But most of the rest of the disagreements seem to be over liturgy (APCK vs. UECNA) or personalities (most of them).

There are a few signs of healing and perhaps sanity. Last summer, the ACC, UEC and APCK have put aside their differences of the preceding 29 years, joining back in communion the first three churches of the continuing movement. Both ACC and UEC were represented at the decennial APCK convention in Oakland last Friday, when James Provence was installed as Morse’s successor as APCK “primate.”

Meanwhile, the AMiA convention in Dallas last week attracted a number of Anglican bishops and clergy, including Common Cause bishops in the US and Anglican bishops from outside the US (including UK, and Africa). No sign of reaching out to new partners, but a strong show of unity from the existing ones.

Interestingly, the AMiA claims (according to David Virtue) to be producing a new translation of the 1662 BCP into modern language, co-authored by Rev. Dr. John Rodgers of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Rev. Dr. Peter Toon of the Prayer Book Society USA. No word of when or how the prayer book will be distributed — but this prayer book could become the first instrument of unity that bridges the St. Louis and recent defectors from ECUSA.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Anglican, Christian, or both?

In November, I offered up a 2x2 typology of Anglican liturgy and theology, in which I place my interests in the Anglo-Catholic quadrant. It seems to me that most of the Anglo-Catholics are those who left PECUSA left in the 1970s, before the 1979 prayer book and 1982 Hymnal. Meanwhile, those leaving recently tend to be more evangelical — but in the past 30 years adopted Rite II and praise music before heading for the exits.

Of course, the 2x2 typology is oversimplified. The theology part has much more nuance than just old/new “Christianity”. Heck, back in the 16th century Protestantism had the Lutherans and the Calvinists (Reformed, Presbyterian), and this was before Henry VIII and Elizabeth I gave us the Anglo-Catholic fudge that created the Church of England — let alone the rise of the Baptists, Congregationalists and Methodists, or the 19th century Evangelical movement.

Still, 50 or 100 years ago the variation between liturgical Protestant churches in America was not so very dramatic, particularly since all the hymnals would have an entry by Luther, Wesley and Watts. Across Christianity, there would be Catholic and Orthodox high church worship, a less high church liturgical worship, or a non-liturgical Bible church. On theology, the major heresies were long gone — there would be debates about real presence, or works righteousness vs. salvation by faith, but not about the divinity of Christ or the primacy of Scripture.

All of this is a long-winded way of my wondering whether there are three dimensions but not two: theology, liturgy and music. My rethinking of what constitutes “Anglican worship” was prompted by my visit this morning to a church very much outside my Anglo-Catholic comfort zone. The service this morning was at the Kanata Lakes Fellowship in West Ottawa, an Evangelical “Anglican” church that I heard about from David Virtue’s online news site.

The new parish (begun two weeks ago) is a reaction to the struggles in Canada within the Anglican Church in Canada, struggles that exactly parallel those in the US within TEC. Talking to the parishioners, they clearly draw inspiration from American leaders like Bishop Schofield.

The theological bonafides of KLF are not in question. The new parish is one of three in Ottawa aligned with the Anglican Network Canada. (ANC is headed by Bp. Don Harvey, retired ACC Bishop of Newfoundland). Two of the Ottawa parishes are still in the ACC, but KLF hopes to go straight to the ANC, joining two former ACC parishes in New Westminster (British Columbia). As in the US, the national church has been drifting slowly left for 50 years, but the exodus is accelerating in dioceses with aggressively revisionist bishops.

The service was led by Brian DeVisser, a graduate of the Wycliffe College at U. Toronto. After getting the drift of the ACC seminary’s theology, Brian chose not be ordained in the ACC but hopes to be ordained into the ANC. His sermon (like last week) was on Paul’s letter to the Colossians (this week Colossians 2:6-19), focusing on the sufficiency of Christ without additional works, ritual, or adherence to earthly rules.

In this regard, the theology of our prayer leader was clearly based on scripture (without much regard for the rest of the “stool”, i.e. tradition or reason). This reminded me of a BIble study, or the sermon in a non-denominational Bible church. While “evangelical” (whatever that means), its focus on the original Scriptural meaning and eternal salvation certainly puts it at the other extreme not only from the social Gospel of the TEC/ACC, but also from Joel Osteen (and others) who try to claim that reading the Bible can bring you riches on earth.

On the other hand, the worship style was fairly modern, as proclaimed on the cover of the service booklet:
Kanata Lakes Fellowship is an independent, evangelical church in the Anglican tradition.
Music leader Tony Copple used his electric guitar to lead singing of one hymn (“Beneath the Cross of Jesus” to the tune St. Christopher) and four praise songs. One of the praise songs, “As the Deer”, exactly fit the praise song stereotype of love songs to Jesus:
As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you;
you alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you. …
I want you more than gold or silver, even though you are a king;
I love you more than any other, so much more than anything.
I don’t claim to be an expert on the theology of praise music. However, in my limited understanding of Scripture, the God (in three persons) of the 1st, 11th or 19th century is omniscient and omnipotent, our Lord and savior, not a substitute for a spouse or significant other.

In addition to theology and music, a church is distinguished by its liturgy. The spoken part of today’s liturgy, a “Contemporary Service of Morning Prayer,” was based on a similar service by St. Alban’s (ACC/ANC) in Ottawa The prayers included the creed and the Lord’s Prayer, in modern renditions more akin to the Rite II versions of the US prayer book.

Between music and prayers, the worship was thus very unfamiliar to me, although it would be quite familiar to parishioners of evangelical Common Cause parishes (including, perhaps, Bp. Robert Duncan’s home parish). The theology was undeniably Christian, so where does it fit in the Anglican tradition?

Conversely, there are Christian churches that still use the great hymns and the Bible, but don’t do creeds, kyries or kneeling. A Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ parish might fit this model. So while traditional liturgy and hymns seemed to come as a package within the Anglican faith, they are clearly separable within the broader realm of biblically-based Christian worship.

This goes straight to the matter of the boundaries of Anglicanism. Rev. Peter Toon — the president of the Prayer Book Society USA and self-appointed arbiter of the Anglican faith — has been on a tear about two things. First, neither the US 1979 prayer book (nor any other experiments authorized by Lambeth 1968) is not a “Book of Common Prayer” but an “Alternative Service Book” because it is not faithful to the 1549 or 1662 BCP of the Church of England. Second, churches not in communion with Canterbury should not call themselves “Anglican.”

Today’s worship convinced me that Toon has it half right: parishes that use the BCP are Anglican, as long as it is a service that would be recognizable to Cranmer. This is a doctrinal rather than institutional definition of Anglicanism, analogous to that of Lutheranism or Calvinism rather than Catholicism. If the institution drifts doctrinally, then the definition should stay with the doctrinal (rather than property) heirs.

In Canada, the 1962 BCP would fit Toon’s definition of a prayer book, while the modernized 1980 Book of Alternative Services would not. Today was not a BCP service — so was it really Anglican?

To argue the point more generally, from an institutional standpoint, why would praise worship Christianity be Anglican? We already have non-denominational evangelical parishes adding the Nicene Creed to modern worship, so how is this any different? Other than having Bishops (and apostolic succession), why are the non-BCP parishes trying to be Anglican rather than Calvary Chapel? (Particularly if Calvary Chapel has more parishes, members and resources than biblical evangelical Anglicans).

If Common Cause eventually throws out the 1979 prayer book and goes back to the 1662 original — with or without the “thees” and “thous” — that would be Toonian liturgy. Presumably (unlike Rite II) that would include a confession of sin prior to communion, no matter how bad that might be for business.

A party, a philosophy, an ideology, a social movement — or a religion — is meaningless without boundaries that define what’s inside and what’s outside. It’s not for me to set the boundaries, or to push out members of the tenuous Common Cause coalition. But if we don’t share a prayer book and a hymnal — in addition to interpretations of scripture — would we really all be one church?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

On the last day of Christmas

Jan. 5th is Twelfth Night, and (under most calendars) the final day of the Christmas season.

The Dec. 30 episode of the LCMS radio show Issues Etc. featured a great interview focusing on a particular Christmas hymn, “What Child is This?” The interview was with Dr. Arthur Just, Professor of “Exegetical Theology” at Concordia Theological Seminary (the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod seminary).

The show examined the theology of the words to the hymn by William Chatterton Dix:
What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
To paraphrase, Dr. Just said the words remind us of the reality of Christ’s physical birth as an infant, despite being true God.

By extension, these words emphasize Christ’s presence as true man, and thus stand as a rebuttal to the many heresies that claim Jesus was divine but not human.

I have always enjoyed the hymn because it is quite singable, due to the reuse of the 16th century tune Greensleeves. In fact, we sang it last Sunday for the first sunday after Christmas. However, I had not previously appreciated its potential for Christian apologetics.