Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Next hymnal: Schism II without Schism I

Exactly a year ago, (following Peter Toon), I asked “A new US church - a decade away?” Looking at the progress of Common Cause Partners, I said “Five years seems like a best case.”

But exactly a week ago, the recent TEC and ACC defectors held a ceremony in Wheaton, Illinois to form a new Anglican province (hereafter NAP). AnglicanTV has a wide assortment of videos from the event.

While this is just a milestone en route to a full ecclesiastical authority — not to mention recognition in the broader Anglican Communion beyond the GAFCON bishops who visited Canterbury last week — it’s obvious that things are moving much more quickly than I predicted in December 2007. So if it takes a few years to become fully legal, then 2009 or 2010 (as I said in September) seems more likely.

However, this paragraph from David Virtue’s report caught my eye:
Asked about what Prayer Book would be used, [ACN Moderator Robert] Duncan said that that would be left to the various diocese and networks. There would no official Prayer Book, some will use the 1662 and others will use the 1979, he said.
This is troubling on two levels.

First, why continue to use the deeply flawed, revisionist PECUSA prayer book? As Peter Toon notes, it has so seriously broken the continuity with the original BCP that it should be called A Book of Alternative Services (1979). In fact, these alternative (Rite II) services that are exactly the services that the Evangelicals are using and why they adopted the 1979 prayer book.

Second, AMiA and Toon produced a 1662 prayer book with modern words. So if theology and words and beliefs matter, why continue to perpetuate the flawed theology of TEC née PECUSA?

But what really bothered me is what’s missing: the 1928 BCP. Yes, I know there are arguments about whether it is a faithful interpretation of 1549 or 1662, but those arguments are fewer than for the 1979 prayer book. More seriously, the earliest generation of Anglican rejectionists — who I term “Schism I” — formed around their rejection of the 1979 prayer book and its associated theology.

And back to the theme of this blog, what does this say for our next hymnal, one that does not enrich the TEC retirement fund? Alas, traditionalists are happy to continue using (and reinforcing the themes) of the TEC Hymnal 1982.

From a liturgical standpoint, I would think that the FiFNA (anti-WO) part of NAP should partner with Schism I parishes to create a traditionalist hymnal that is a worthy successor to Hymnal 1940, my favorite hymnal. If so, sign me up!

However, my fear is that NAP will make a watered-down, compromise hymnal in an attempt to maintain bureaucratic control and span the gulf that separates its Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical wings. This will bring us politically correct hymns that mangle doctrine, rather than building upon tradition and liturgy that reach out to us across the centuries.

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