What’s Wrong with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer?

December 18, 2008 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

By Robin G. Jordan

In this article I seek to answer from a Reformed perspective the question, “What’s wrong with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer?” Classical Anglican Evangelicalism had disappeared from the Protestant Episcopal Church by 1900.The 1928 Prayer Book was adopted at the time the Anglo-Catholic and Broad Church movements were the dominant schools of thought in the Protestant Episcopal Church and the book reflects their doctrinal emphases.  At the 1925 General Convention Anglo-Catholics and Broad Churchmen united to remove the Thirty-Nine Articles from the American Prayer Book. They adopted a resolution dropping the Articles from the Prayer Book. However, they were thwarted by the denomination’s Constitution that required an amendment of the Constitution to abolish the Articles. The resolution, which required the ratification of a successive General Convention, was quietly dropped at the 1928 General Convention.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer was the first major revision of the American Prayer Book. It goes far toward undoing the work that was accomplished for the Anglican Church at the Reformation. Many things rejected by the sixteenth century Reformers because of their inconsistency with biblical and Reformation doctrine, are introduced into the Prayer Book.

Morning and Evening Prayer
The 1928 Book of Common Prayer dilutes the American Prayer Book’s doctrine of sin. The ten penitential sentences that had survived the 1892 revision of the American Prayer Book are reduced to three each in Morning and Evening Prayer and placed under the season of Lent. This eliminates an important evangelistic element from Morning and Evening Prayer. Samuel Luenberger draws to our attention:

“The text of our sentences are so compiled that they let one discern for himself the way to overcome sin through repentance. The following texts from the twelve quotations occupy a particularly important position: Ezekiel 18:27; Psalm 51:3.9, and 17; Joe; 2:13, etc.

“The very first quotation from Ezekiel 18 shows the way to prevail over sin:

“When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” [1]

In its use of Sentences for the Seasons the 1928 Book of Common Prayer imitates the 1928 English Revised Book of Common Prayer and the 1929 Scottish Book of Common Prayer, both which are much more Catholic in tone than 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The Evangelicals in the Church of England and the British Parliament rejected the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book because it modified the doctrine of the Church of England, and replaced the biblical-Reformation theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with unreformed Catholic doctrine. The upper house of Convocation would defy Parliament and authorized its use in Dioceses where the Ordinary consented to its use. The Scottish Episcopal Church has historically been more High Church and Catholic than the Church of England, preserving such customs as the wearing of eucharistic vestments during the Communion Service and the elevation of the consecrated host during the Prayer of Consecration. The 1929 Scottish Prayer of Consecration included an Epiclesis invoking the Holy Spirit upon the bread and the wine so that the eucharistic elements should “become” the Body and Blood of Christ. Like the 1928 Prayer of Consecration, the 1929 Scottish Prayer of Consecration is derived from the 1764 Scottish Non-Juror Prayer of Consecration.

The 1928 Prayer Book permits the substitution of a short Invitation for the Exhortation in Morning and Evening Prayer with its view of man “in a strictly evangelical-Reformation way as one who wishes to disguise his sinfulness and lives with a propensity for avoiding God.” [2]

A short Absolution taken from the medieval Sarum breviary may be used in lieu of Cranmer’s fuller Absolution. This short Absolution, as well as a simplified Confession, is offered as an alternative at both Morning and Evening Prayer in the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book and the 1929 Scottish Prayer Book. As we shall see, the short Absolution is one of number of features that the 1928 Prayer Book shares with these books.

The 1928 Prayer Book permits the omission of the first Lord’s Prayer or the second Lord’s Prayer at Morning Prayer. In the 1552 Prayer Book the first Lord’s Prayer forms a part of a sequence that begins with the penitential sentences. Cranmer’s Absolution does not make sense if the first Lord’s Prayer is omitted. The 1928 Prayer Book permits the omission of the Exhortation, the Confession, the Absolution, and the first Lord’s Prayer at Evening Prayer. This represents a significant departure from the Reformed form of Evening Prayer of the 1552 Prayer Book and a return to the unreformed Catholic form of the medieval Sarum breviary and the 1549 Prayer Book.

Invitatories for optional use in the form of medieval Antiphons are prefixed to the Venite. Cranmer had omitted Invitatories from the 1552 Book of Common Prayer because they were interpolated between the successive verses of the Venite and other passages of Scripture and broke the continual course of the reading of the Scripture. (See The Preface in the 1552 Prayer Book). With the Sentences for the Seasons that replace the penitential sentences, they give further emphasis to the Seasons. In the 1928 Prayer Book observance of the Church Year overshadows repentance at Morning and Evening Prayer. This is just one of a number of ways that the 1928 Prayer Book minimizes the gravity of sin.

The Holy Communion
The revised Order for the Holy Communion includes elements that quite definitely bring it into line with the medieval Roman Mass. Among the changes that 1928 Prayer Book introduced are the following:

1. The opening rubrics of the 1928 Order for Holy Communion direct the priest to stand before the Holy Table, his back turned to the congregation. This is how the priest stood at the medieval Roman Mass. This position, commonly referred to as the “eastward position,” is associated with the unreformed Catholic and Roman doctrinal views that presbyters are a sacrificing priesthood and the Mass is a sacrifice.

2. The rubrics direct the priest to offer the bread and wine and then place them upon the Holy Table at the Offertory. An offering of the bread and wine during the Prayer of Consecration had already been incorporated into the American Prayer Book with the adoption of the Scottish Non-Juror Prayer of Consecration in 1789. The two offerings of the bread and wine, one at the Offertory and the other during the Canon or Prayer of Consecration are taken from the medieval Roman Mass and are associated with the doctrines of the Sacrifice of the Mass and Transubstantiation.

3. The Prayer for the State of Christ’s Church contains a petition for the departed. This is also a feature of the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book and the 1929 Scottish Prayer Book.

4.  After the Sursum Corda the rubrics direct the priest to “turn to the Holy Table” with his back turned to the congregation—the eastward position associated with the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

5. The 1928 Prayer of Consecrations closely follows the pattern of the medieval Roman Canon, except the latter has no Epiclesis.

6. The theology of the 1928 Prayer of Consecration represents a modification of the theology of the 1764 Scottish Non-Juror Prayer of Consecration. 1764 Scottish Non-Juror Communion Office was the work of two elderly Scottish Non-Juror bishops. They were the last of the surviving Usagers, a Scottish Non-Juror church party that taught that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. They believed that Christ had not offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for our redemption on the cross but at the Last Supper. He had only been slain on the cross.

“The Eucharist is both a Sacrament and a Sacrifice. Our Lord instituted the Sacrifice of the Eucharist when He began to offer Himself for the sins of all men, i.e. immediately after eating His Last Passover. He did not offer the Sacrifice upon the Cross; it was slain there but was offered at the Institution of the
Eucharist.” [3]

Bishop Thomas Deacon in his Comprehensive View describes a proper celebration of the Eucharist from this standpoint. The priest, he writes

“does as Christ did…he next repeats our Saviour’s powerful words “This is my Body,” “This is my Blood” over the Bread and Cup. The effect of the words is that the Bread and Cup are made authoritative Representations or symbols of Christ’s crucified Body and of His Blood shed; and in consequence they are in acapacity of being offered to God as the great Christian Sacrifice….God accepts the Sacrifice and returns it to us again to feast upon, in order that we may be thereby partakers of all the benefits of our Saviour’s Death and Passion. The Bread and Cup become capable of conferring these benefits on the priest praying to God the Father to send the Holy’ Spirit upon them. The Bread and Cup are thereby made the Spiritual, Life-giving Body and Blood of Christ, in Power and Virtue.”  [4]

The theology of the 1928 Prayer of Consecration is far removed from the Reformed theology of the 1552 and 1662 Prayers of Consecration or even the theology of the 1549 Canon. In the latter prayer the Epiclesis precedes the Words of Institution and there is no Oblation, or offering of the bread and wine.

6. The 1928 Prayer of Consecration contains an invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine that, as both Martin Bucer and Stephen Gardiner drew to Cranmer’s attention, suggest that the bread and wine undergo some kind of change other than a change in use. For this reason and the following reason the invocation of the Holy Spirit was dropped by Cranmer from the 1552 Book of Common Prayer. An invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine is a feature of the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book and the 1929 Scottish Prayer Book.

7. Bucer also objected to the invocation of the Holy Spirit upon inanimate objects. There was no warrant for the practice in the Bible. It also represented a departure from Biblical practice. In the Bible the Holy Spirit is invoked only upon people. The Holy Spirit also descends only upon people. Now where do we find in Scripture the invocation of the Holy Spirit upon inanimate objects.

The blessing of Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and 1 Corinthians 10:16 refers to the Jewish practice of blessing God over a cup of wine as a form of thanksgiving and not to the blessing of the wine itself. This is clear from Luke 22:17-20:

“And he received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I shall not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.”

And 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:

“For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.”

It is not an example of Jesus pronouncing God’s blessing upon an inanimate object—a cup of wine.

In the 1552 Communion Service in the prayer, “Almighty God oure heavenly father, whiche of thy tender mecye…,” the priest humbly asks God that those receiving the bread and wine may be partakers of Christ’s Body and Blood. In the 1552 Baptismal Office in the prayer, “Almightie euerliving God, whose most dearely beloued sonne Jesus Christ…,” the priest humbly asks God that all his servants who are to be baptized in the water, may receive the fullness of his grace and ever remain in the number of his faithful and elect children. There is no invocation of the Holy Spirit or God’s blessing upon the bread and wine or the water in the font.

8. Nowhere in Scripture do we read that Jesus commanded the disciples to celebrate and make a memorial before God with the bread and wine or to offer them to God. Jesus instructed the disciples to eat the bread and drink the cup in remembrance of him. He said nothing about celebrating and making a memorial before God as if God needed to be reminded of what he had done. Paul speaks of proclaiming Christ’s death with the bread and the cup until he comes again. But he is not speaking of proclaiming to God but to our fellow men.

9. The 1928 Prayer of Consecration contains the words: “…with these thy gifts, which we now offer unto thee….”  It also contains the words: “And though we be unworthy to offer unto Thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech Thee to accept this our bounden duty and service.” The Reformers rejected the doctrine that the priest offers a sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood. Cranmer therefore removed from the 1552 Prayer Book all expressions that taught a presence of Christ in the consecrated elements, and all expressions that implied the offering of them as a sacrifice. For this reason Cranmer removed the word “Altar,” and all words in the Prayer of Consecration relating to any offering of a sacrifice by the priest. The Reformers also discarded eucharistic vestments such as the chasuble.

10. The rubrical permission to sing a hymn immediately before the distribution of the Communion permits the singing of the Agnes Dei. Coming where it does, it suggests a presence of Christ in the Bread and Wine as a result of the words of Consecration, and for this reason it was removed by Cranmer from the 1552 Prayer Book. This suggestion is further strengthened by the placement of the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of Humble Access immediately before the distribution of the Communion. For the same reason they were moved by Cranmer to different positions in the 1552 Prayer Book, the Lord’s Prayer to a position immediately after the distribution of the Communion and the Prayer of Humble Access to a position immediately after the Sanctus.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer also changes the baptismal theology of the American Prayer Book.

1. The opening sentence of the Exhortation of the Baptismal Office “forasmuch as all men are born and conceived in sin” has been omitted.

2. The 1928 Prayer Book drops the Flood Prayer that had been in the Book of Common Prayer since the 1549 Prayer Book and in the American Prayer Book since 1789. The Flood Prayer teaches that God has “sanctified the element of water to the mystical washing away of sin” through Our Lord’s baptism in the River Jordan. For this reason the form for the private baptism of infants in the 1552, 1559, 1604, and 1662 Prayer Books does not contain a blessing of the water used in baptism.

One cannot make even the slightest alteration in a text without affecting the doctrine of the text. Dropping the Flood Prayer that stresses God’s sanctification of the element of water for the purpose of baptism is as serious an alteration of doctrine in the 1928 Prayer Book as the addition of prayers for the departed.

3. The biblical language of the Prayer for the Baptismal Candidate has been watered down.

4. The 1928 Prayer Book recasts the prayer “Almighty, everliving God, whose most dearly beloved Son, etc…” along the lines of the Prayer of Consecration in the service of Holy Communion. This recasting emphasizes the priestly blessing of the water in the font. This is also a feature of the 1928 English Revised Prayer Book and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book.

The rubrics of 1928 Prayer Book do permit private baptism even by a baptized layperson in cases of dire emergency without a blessing of the water since its omission would have gone against Catholic tradition but its inclusion does not counterbalance the recasting of “Almighty, everliving God, whose most dearly beloved Son, etc…”.

5. The signing of the newly baptized with the cross upon the forehead, a practice that Evangelicals view as without warrant in the Bible, to which they have long objected, and which was optional in the 1892 Office of Baptism, is made mandatory.

6. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer gives liturgical expression to the unreformed Catholic doctrine that a bishop in a line of succession going back to the apostles, through the imposition of hands, has the power to confer upon an ordinand in turn the power to convert the substance of the eucharistic elements into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ (Transubstantiation) and to impart to the element of water the power to regenerate the human soul (Baptismal Regeneration).

The Thirty-Nine Articles rejects the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics are sharply divided over the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. The Privy Council, the highest judicial authority for the Church of England at the time, ruled against Bishop Henry Philpotts and the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration in the Gorham decision in 1850. The Privy Council ruled that Baptismal Regeneration was not a doctrine of the Church of England and Bishop Philpotts should not have denied a living to George Gorham in the Diocese of Exeter because Gorham did not believe that the grace of regeneration invariably accompanied the act of baptism.

Baptismal Regeneration was one of the latent Catholic doctrines in the 1789 Book of Common Prayer that, with the growth and increased influence of Tractarianism in the then Protestant Episcopal Church, prompted Bishop George David Cummins and conservative Evangelical clergy and laypersons to leave the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1873 and to form the Reformed Episcopal Church.

The Catechism
The 1928 Book of Common Prayer replaces the Prayer Book Catechism with two Offices of Instruction. The Second Office articulates a view of Confirmation, which has no real basis in the Bible and is not found in the Reformed Prayer Book of 1552, the classical Anglican Prayer Book of 1662, or the first two American Prayer Books of 1789 and 1892. It is a sacramental view of Confirmation that differs from the catechetical view of Confirmation that was held by the English Reformers and is given liturgical expression in these four Prayer Books. It is also a view of Confirmation over which Anglicans are sharply divided.

The 1928 Prayer Book omits the preface to the Office of Confirmation that was a feature of the 1662, 1789, and 1892 Offices of Confirmation and which emphasizes the catechetical nature of Confirmation. The presentation of the candidates for Confirmation to the bishop is modeled upon that of the presentation of candidates for ordination. The 1928 Prayer Book includes Acts 8 as an optional reading. This particular reading and what it means is the subject of much heated debate.

Burial of the Dead
The biblical language of the Burial Office has been diluted. The Burial Office includes a number of prayers for the departed.

In the Ordinal there is a significant change in the form of the question put to the deacon concerning the Bible. Instead of being asked, “Do you unfeignedly believe all the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments?” the candidate is asked “Are you persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contains all Doctrine required as necessary for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?” The candidate is no longer required to affirm a blanket belief in the teachings of the Bible.

Consecration of a Church or Chapel
In the Form for the Consecration of a Church or Chapel any reference to God’s anger or wrath has been expunged

From a Reformed perspective the 1928 Book of Common Prayer suffers from a number of serious theological defects. This rules out the use of the 1928 Prayer Book in public worship in an Anglican church that is Reformed in its doctrine. If prayers and liturgical material are used from the 1928 Prayer Book, great care should be taken to see that their doctrine conforms with the biblical-Reformation doctrine of the Thirty-Nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1661 Ordinal.

Anglicans have long recognized how we pray reflects and shapes what we believe. What good does it do to preach one thing when the liturgy that we are using and the worship practices that we have adopted teach another? Both our preaching and our liturgy and worship practices need to convey the same message.

[1] Samuel Leuenberger, Archbishop Cranmer’s Immortal Bequest The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England: An Evangelistic Liturgy, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990) 152.
[2] Leuenberger, 153.
[3]Henry Broxap, The Late Non-Jurors, “Appendix II Non Juror Doctrine and Ceremonies” (Cambridge 1928), 1, appendix on the Internet at: http://anglicanhistory.org/nonjurors/broxapapp2.pdf
[4] Broxap, 1-2.



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  1. Robin,
    Excellent post. There is one thing I want to point out in all American Prayer Books since 1789. The last four verses of the Venite (Psalm 95) have been left off and substituted them with Psalm 96:9,13. Massey Shepherd’s American Prayer Commentary makes this statement,

    “The American Prayer Book has omitted since 1789 the last four verses of this Psalm and substituted in its place Pslam xcvi.9,13. The Scottish Book of 1929 simply allows the omission of the four distasteful verses. Bishop White quaintly said of the alteration made by the 1789 Book: ‘We left out the latter part of the “Venite,” as being limited to the condition of the Jews.’

    Distasteful verses? Limited to the condition of the Jews?

    The four verses are as follows:

    To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness;

  2. Robin,
    Excellent post. There is one thing I want to point out in all American Prayer Books since 1789. The last four verses of the Venite (Psalm 95) have been left off and substituted them with Psalm 96:9,13. Massey Shepherd’s American Prayer Commentary makes this statement,

    “The American Prayer Book has omitted since 1789 the last four verses of this Psalm and substituted in its place Pslam xcvi.9,13. The Scottish Book of 1929 simply allows the omission of the four distasteful verses. Bishop White quaintly said of the alteration made by the 1789 Book: ‘We left out the latter part of the “Venite,” as being limited to the condition of the Jews.’

    Distasteful verses? Limited to the condition of the Jews?

    The four verses are as follows:

    To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness;
    When your fathers tempted me: proved me, and saw my works.
    Forty years long was I grieved wit this generation, and said: It is a people that do err in their hearts, for they have not known my ways.
    Unto whom I sware in my wrath: that they should not enter into my rest.

    Are the words of Scripture distasteful? Is sinfulness limited to the condition of the Jews?

    Small changes in the Prayer Book do in fact make a big difference in theology.

    • Joe,

      A good point. One of the positive changes that the 1928 BCP did introduce was that it permitted the use of Psalm 95 instead of the shorter “Venite.” Cranmer’s Morning and Evening Prayer are more services of the Word than they are prayer services. It was Cranmer’s intention that the people would attend Morning and Evening Prayer in their parish churches and hear the Scriptures read, including the Psalms. For this reason they are read in course. The last four verses of Psalm 95 make it a particularly suitable introduction to the psalmody in a service of the Word–“Today if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”If you hear God speaking to you through his written Word, harken to what he says. Do not harden your hearts against him.

  3. Robin:

    Glad you pointed out the issue with the baptismal service, to wit, baptismal regeneration. Evangelical and Reformed Churchmen have always been cautious, less so than our Lutheran brethren, re: baptismal regeneration. In fact, I find evangelical Anglican viewpoints to approximate the sage and cautious chapter on baptism as found in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The WCF does NOT gut the dominical sacrament of baptism, but proceeds with grand wisdom and caution.

    You called our attention, rightly, to the vigourously debated issue btween Rev. Gorham and the Bishop of Exeter, Mr. Philpott, a decidedly High Churchman who felt all evangelicals deserved to embrace his view. Philpott regaled Rev. Gorham with 149 written questions–to be answered in writing of course-over almost a four month period. Philpott’s decision to not install Gorham to his living was based on Gorham’s principled stand. One observer–name eludes me now–called Philpott’s inquiries Spanish and inquisitorial in nature. The battle was worked out in various courts in Gorham’s favour, to the lamenting chagrin of the Oxfordians, Ritualists, and even Old High Churchmen.

    I plan to read William Goode’s “The Doctrine of the Church of England as to the Effects of Baptism in Infants.” Goode writes during the time frame of Gorham. Toon calls brief mention to it in his modest volume. Goode’s work can be accessed freely at http://books.google.com/books?id=eSQBAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=goode+william+baptism.

    The REC had the same problem. Charles Cheney of Chicago was defrocked, degraded and deprived of presbyterial orders in the (then) PECUSA by the High Churchman, Bishop Whitehouse. Same issue that faced Rev. Gorham, 1850, in England which was resolved in Gorham’s favour.

    The REC, on my view, in fact, did gut the baptismal service–Zwinglianizing it unwarrantably. Yet, their instincts were correct. Would that they had the sense of the Westminsterians on the sacrament of baptism. Would that they had crafted their service along those lines. But the 1928 phrase, “This child is now regenerate…” is explainable, but again, it needs modification.

    Also, I stand by Cranmer in using the word “minister” instead of “priest.” The historic REC-ers had that right too. All manner of Romewardizing has been played off that word. One gets tired of explaining that “priest” is a contraction of “presbyter.” Edit “priest” out, or add a rubric, to wit, that the priest-minister is leading his fellow-priests.

    Thanks for raising the issue of baptismal regeneration and the 1928 BCP.

  4. Robin:

    Thanks to your posts, I’ve switched to the 1662 BCP for the daily offices. I had used the old REC BCP for years and years. Then, adopted the 1928 BCP for the last year or two.

    Thanks again. The penitential dimension in the opening sentences of MP is missing in the 1928 BCP.

  5. Question re: Evening Prayer in the 1662?

    Why is the Lord’s Prayer cited two times for use?

    Also, the word “priest” needed to be expunged as a Romanizing germ that bore ill-fruits. Cranmer and the original REC-ers were correct in their elemental instincts.

    The lectionary also as amplified or expanded Biblical readings, which represent an advance on the 1928 BCP. Somewhere I read that Cranmer wanted one entire chapter of the OT and NT read for the lessons. Most excellent.

    Help on the Lord’s Prayer question.

  6. Another question re: 1662 BCP.

    If one, on any given Sunday, uses the Morning Prayer, Litany, and Holy Communion services, he or she will have prayed the Lord’s Prayer four times? Help?

    Also, the 1662 Communion Service gives no option re: shortening of the 10 commandments or referring to a summary in Mt. 22. This adjustment in the 1928 is not good. Thoughts?

  7. While I certainly agree that the 1789 BCP and the later 1928 BCP teach the Creedal doctrine of Baptismal regeneration, they are actually less definitive in their statements on Baptismal regeneration than the 1552/1559 BCP which states:
    “And that no man shall think that any detriment shall come to children by deferring of their Confirmation; he shall know for truth, that it is certain by God’s word, that children being baptized, have all things necessary for their salvation, and be undoubtedly saved.”

    This “certain” and “undoubted” Salvation of the child in Baptism (which the Articles/Homilies teach as causing the child to be “justified”/cleansed from “original sin” as stated in the Homily of Justification*) is in sharp contrast to the “presumption,” for example, expressed in the Burial Service of the 1552/1559 BCP (where it is expressly said that it is “our hope” that the deceased is with the Lord and not “certain” or “undoubted” as the Baptized child’s receiving of Salvation is expressly stated to be).

    Of course, more rigidly Calvinist Churchman have applied a “looser” interpretation of the Creed and the historic BCP for a long time on this point (for example, Bishop Ussher who prefered to read the Service of Baptism in a “presumptive” sense–in contrast, for example, with the moderate Calvinist Divines Samuel Ward and Bishop who corresponded with Ussher on Baptismal efficacy and insisted in their writings on maintaining the actual “non-presumptive” teaching of the BCP on Baptism).

    For this reason I’m not arguing that it is necessary for all Anglicans to hold the Creedal “non-presumptive” baptismal regeneration taught in the historic BCP, and I think that the use of liturgical revisions which do not maintain Baptismal regeneration as the historic BCPs do is reasonable (it’s certainly more reasonable than trying to maintain the strained low-church reading of the historic BCP Office–a point which was noted well in the writings of the Reformed Episcopal Church’s founders).

    And there is the similar issue for many low church men with the “deadly” or “mortal” sin taught in the Articles/Homilies/BCP (Article 16, and throughout the Homilies, sins which cause the loss of the Holy Spirit are spoken of).

    As Latimer states briefly in relation to the subject:
    The Seventh Sermon of M. Latimer preached before King Edward, April nineteenth, 1549]:
    “Remember, God must be honoured. I will you to pray, that God will continue his Spirit in you. I do not put you in comfort, that if ye have once the Spirit, ye cannot lose it. There be new spirits start up now of late, that say, after we have received the Spirit, we cannot sin. I will make but one argument: St Paul had brought the Galatians to the profession of the faith, and left them in that state; they had received the Spirit once, but they sinned again, as he testified of them himself: he saith, Currebatis bene; ye were once in a right state: and again, Recepistis Spiritum ex operibus legis an ex justitia fidei ? Once they had the Spirit by faith ; but false prophets came, when he was gone from them, and they plucked them clean away from all that Paul had planted them in: and then said Paul unto them, O stulti Galati, quis vos fascinavit? “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?” If this be true, we may lose the Spirit that we have once possessed.”
    The Entire Sermon can be read here:

    In the following passage Latimer describes in further detail the “deadly” (or, “mortal” sin) spoken of in Article 16, and in particular the “deadly sin” of fornication spoken of in the BCP Litany (of course Latimer affirmed the “Augustinian” teaching in Article 17 that the Elect Good Ground or Vessels of Honor, do not fall utterly from Salvation as other men but ultimately persevere to the end).

    “But there be two manner of sins: there is a deadly sin, and a venial sin; that is, sins that be pardonable, and sins that be not pardonable. Now how shall we know which be venial sins, or which be not ? for it is good to know them, and so to keep us from them. When ye will know which be deadly sins or not, you must first understand, that there be two manner of men: when I say men, I understand also under the name of men
    women, that is, all mankind: and so doth scripture understand women by this word men; for else we should not find in scripture that we should baptize women, for the scripture saith, Baptizate eos, ” Baptize them.” He speaketh in the masculine gender only. Also, Nisi quis renatus fuerit ex spiritu et aqua, ” Except a man be born again through spirit and water.” Here is made no mention of women, yet they be understood in it: for the salvation and everlasting life pertaineth as well unto faithful women as it doth unto faithful men ; for he suffered as well for the women, as he did for the men. God would have them both to be saved, the men and the women: so ye see that this word men signifieth or containeth both kinds, the man and women, at some times, though not always. But I say there be two manner of men: some there be that be not justified, not regenerate, nor yet in the state of salvation; that is to say, not God’s servants : they lack the renovation or regeneration ; they be not come yet to Christ. Now these persons who be they that be not come yet to Christ, or if they were come to Christ, be fallen again from him, and so lost their justification, (as there be many of us, which when we fall willingly into sin against conscience, we lose the favour of God, our salvation, and finally the Holy Ghost;) all they now that be out of the favour of God, and are not sorry for it, sin grieveth them not, they purpose to go forward in it; all those that intend not to leave their sins, are out of the favour of God, and so all their works, whatsoever they do, be deadly sins : for as long as they be in purpose to sin, they sin deadly in all their doings. Therefore, when we will speak of the diversity of sins, we must speak of those that be regenerated and made new, and clean from their sins through Christ. Which be venial sins? Every sin that is committed against God not wittingly, nor willingly ; not consenting unto it : those be venial sins. As for an ensample : I see a fair woman, I am moved in my heart to sin with her, to commit the act of lechery with her : such thoughts rise out of my heart, but I consent not unto them ; I withstand these ill motions, I follow the ensample of that godly young man, Joseph ; I consider in what estate I am, namely, a temple of God, and that I should lose the Holy Ghost; on such wise I withstand my ill lusts and appetites, yet this motion in my heart is sin ; this ill lust which riseth up ; but it is a venial sin, it is not a mortal sin, because I consent not unto it, I withstand it ; and such venial sins the just man committeth daily. For scripture saith, Septiea cadit Justus, ” The righteous man falleth seven times;” that is, oftentimes: for his works are not so perfect as they ought to be. For I pray you, who is he that loveth his neighbour so perfectly and vehemently as he ought to do? Now this imperfection is sin, but it is a venial sin, not a mortal : therefore he that feeleth his imperfections, feeleth the ill1 motions in his heart, but followeth them not, consenteth not unto the wickedness are to do them ; these be venial sins, which shall not be unto us to our damnation…I put the case, Joseph had not resisted the temptations of his master’s wife, but had followed her, and fulfilled the act of lechery with her ; had weighed the matter after a worldly fashion, thinking, “I have my mistress’s favour already, and so by that mean I shall have my master’s favour too ; nobody knowing of it.” Now if he had done so, this act had been a deadly sin ; for any act that is done against the law of God willingly and if sin have wittingly, is a deadly sin. And that man or woman that committeth such an act, loseth the Holy Ghost and the remission of sins ; and so becometh the child of the devil, being before the child of God. For a regenerate man or woman, that believeth, ought to have dominion over sin ; but as soon as sin hath rule over him, he is gone: for she leadeth him to delectation of it, and from delectation to consenting, and so from consenting to the act itself. Now he that is led so with sin, he is in the state of damnation, and sinneth damnably. And so ye may perceive which be they that sin deadly, and what is the deadly sin; namely, that he sinneth deadly that wittingly falleth in sin: therefore it is a perilous thing to be in such an estate, to be in the state of damnation and everlasting perdition.”
    The entire Sermon can be read here:

    And he speaks likewise on the subject in his other Sermons.

    Blessings in Christ,
    William Scott

    p.s. *Portions alluded to above from the Homily of Justification (cited in the 39 Articles for the expounding of the Articles’ teaching on justification):
    “…we must trust only in God’s mercy, and that sacrifice which our high priest and Savior Christ Jesus, the son of God, once offered for us upon the cross, to obtain thereby God’s grace, and remission, as well of our original sin in baptism, as of all actual sin committed by us after our baptism, if we truly repent and turn unfeignedly to him again.”

    “Our office is not to pass the time of this present life unfruitfully and idly after we are baptized or justified, not caring how few good works we do to the glory of God and profit of our neighbors. Much less is it our office, after that we be once made Christ’s members, to live contrary to the same, making our selves members of the devil, walking after his incitements, and after the suggestions of the world and the flesh, whereby we know that we do serve the world and the devil, and not God.”

    [i.e. we enter into the remission of sins in Baptism and through a living, repentant faith we continually and freely participate in the remission of sins in the Blood of Christ–and if we cease from a living faith we cease to be members of Christ, and instead make ourselves “members of the devil.”]

    • Baptismal regeneration strictly speaking is not what the 1662 or the 1552/59 books are saying. In fact, the need for catechism and confirmation in the faith flies in the face of that. HOWEVER, what the prayer book and even Cranmer would have argued is that infants dying before committing actual sins are promised salvation due to the covenantal aspects of the visible church. This is a Calvinist argument as well. One need not read Anglo-Catholic or high church views into the 1662 services.


    • In fact, the 1662 service for the public baptism of infants adds this rubric at the end of the service:

      “It is certain by God’s Word, that children which are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved.” http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/baptism/index.html

      One might also note the several times the prayers asks God to “grant” His Holy Spirit to the child, etc. These are clearly Augustinian prayers and not sacerdotal prayers!

  8. Sorry for typo:
    The Moderate Calvinist Divine mentioned with Samuel Ward above was the Bishop of Salisbury John Davenant.

    Also, William Goode’s arguments are answered by Robert Isaac Wilberforce (although I must say that some of the easily observable errors of William Goode are not as well debunked by Robert Wilberforce as they could be).

    Blessings in Christ,
    William Scott

  9. Also on the issue of Confirmation–the position of the 1928 BCP is simply that of Hooker.

    Hooker’s position can be read beginning at pg 71 of the following link to his Ecclesiastical Politities:

    Blessings in Christ,
    William Scott

    • William,
      Does claim that the position of the 1928 BCP is “simply that of Hooker” then settle the question in your mind? The position of the 1928 BCP from my own reading is akin to that of Jeremy Taylor who from his writings appears to have such a high view of Confirmation that he barely stops short of calling it a sacrament. But his view of Confirmation and the 1928 view of Confirmation depart from the catechetical view of the Confirmation of the 1552, 1559, 1608, and 1662 Prayer Books. For my own views upon Confirmation and the Book of Common Prayer, I refer you to An Anglican Prayer Book (2008): The Catechism and the Order of Confirmation on the Internet at: http://exploringananglicanprayerbook.blogspot.com/2008/04/anglican-prayer-book-2008-catechism-and.html Both Hooker and Taylor may be benchmark Anglican divines but I do not personally belong to the school of thought that regards them as infallible.

  10. p.s. I’m also a “Confessing Anglican” in my beliefs just in case anyone was wondering.

    • If you are referring the “Confessing Anglicans” website, then that is a far cry from Confessional Anglicanism which hold that Anglo-Catholicism is unfaithful to the 39 Articles of Religion, the 1662 BCP, and the Ordinals. One cannot be a confessional Anglican while denying what the 39 Articles plainly teach, which is Reformed, Protestant, and Evangelical as opposed to “Anglo-Catholic.”

  11. Phil,

    This is what I have found so far from,
    ‘The Tutorial Prayer Book for the Teacher, Student, and General Reader; Charles Neil & J. M. Willoughby; The Harrison Trust, London, 1913,(reprinted by http://www.wittenberghall.com)

    on page 110:

    “Objection has been taken to the repetition of The Lord’s Prayer, a repition which in the Irish Book has been obviated by a special rubric. The Lord’s warnings against mechanical repetitions is interpreted by His own repetitions in Gethsemane (Matt.xxvi.44). Repetition need not be mechanical, and the best defence of the practice here is that the Prayer is so condensed in its completeness that it is impossible for any worshipper, however devout, to exhaust its meaning in utterance.”

    The Lord’s Prayer appearing twice began with 1549 BCP, and as far as I know, did not appear just once in the Daily Office until Bishop White’s proposed 1786 American BCP.

    I would like to read what Cranmer wrote himself about using The Lord’s Prayer twice.


  12. Hello Robin Jordan. I hope you’ve had a blessed Christmas and New Years. I wanted to thank you for the link to your article–I found it was quite good on many points.

    I thought it might be helpful to note a few points but first, I want to make clear (and I realize that this wasn’t made clear from my earlier posts) that I do not consider the 1928 BCP the ideal or best BCP [for example, although prayers for the dead are present in the 1549 BCP Communion and Burial Service I don’t think it was best for the 1928 BCP to add them back, and I certainly don’t agree with many of the other unfortunate alterations (many of which you noted above–such as to the Baptismal Office and the penitential statements–not to mention others, such as the clear “liberalizing” of the Office for Holy Matrimony).

    Going, though, to the Confirmation issue–the ‘higher’ position regarding the laying on of hands in Confirmation maintained by Hooker (which the 1928 BCP, of course, likewise explicitly maintains) need not exclude a high view of the “catechismal” aspect of Confirmation (and I believe the 1928 BCP certainly maintains this high view of the catechizing aspect of Confirmation).

    Conversely, a strong emphasis on the catechismal aspect of Confirmation as is seen in particularin the historic BCPs, does not exclude a “high view” of the laying on of hands in Confirmation.

    That said, I realize my previous post on Confirmation may not have been as clear as it needed to be. In stating that the 1928 BCP Confirmation teaching is “simply that of Hooker” I did not mean to imply that the 1928 BCP contains Hooker’s teaching to the exclusion of any other notable Anglican divine such as Taylor. [For, while Taylor, for example, expresses a more extreme “high view” of the laying on of hands in Confirmation than Hooker–both agree on the basic points of the explicitly “high view” taught in the 1928 BCP (needless to say, I believe Hooker’s treatment on the matter is better than Taylor’s)]

    And the point of my statement was not to give undue authority to Hooker, but to note that the explicitly “high view” of the laying on of hands expressed in the 1928 BCP is not a novel tractarian or romanizing teaching but is a classic Anglican position. And of course, Hooker’s position (and therefore the 1892/1928 BCPs position) on the laying on of hands, to say the least, does not contradict the 1552/1559/1662 BCPs teaching at all.

    Blessings in Christ,
    William Scott

  13. Wow! Sorry for all the careless, and sloppy writing in my last post (I’ve got to do a better job of re-reading and correcting before posting).

  14. Someone by email referenced these blog comments. I was forced to return to http://www.reformationanglicanism.blogspot.com, to make sure it is/was posted there. It is. Thanks Robin. And thanks for the thoughtful commentary above.

  15. Thanks for helping me understand why I’m an Anglo-Catholic, and accordingly why I love the ’28 BCP.

    • Robin, Thanks for helping me understand why I’m NOT Anglo-Catholic, and accordingly why I don’t so like so well the ’28 “BCP.”

  16. Looks like it’s been downhill since 1552.

    1662 was almost a comeback, but then, the slide was on, culminating in the 19th Century thud.

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