Convictional Anglican draws our attention to a lecture by +Paul Barnett, delivered in Australia, in which +Paul as an evangelical makes a point re fellow Anglican evangelicals and the direction some are heading in. Its title is Remember to Survive. The key to the survival of Judaism has been its remembering its past through present continuation of ritual. The future survival of Anglicanism (at least in its 'classical' expression is remembering and to this end +Paul reminds his audience of the virtues of the three legged stool of BCP, Ordinal and 39A.
Convictional Anglican is worth reading and I won't repeat the post here. But from the lecture PDF itself I offer this:
"1662 gave us a three-legged stool – the BCP, the Ordinal and the 39 articles of
The BCP was the public face of Christianity with liturgies for Sunday and liturgies for
the ‘occasions’ of life – birth, marriage, death.
The Ordinal set out the beliefs and practices to be followed by Bishops, Priests and
The 39 Articles of Religion specified the doctrines of the church.
The BCP: three Realities
First: The BCP expresses a faith that is ‘catholic’.
The word means ‘whole’ or ‘complete’.
It means a ‘complete’ account of Christian truth, based on the canonical scriptures. In
the early centuries ‘catholic’ defined those committed to the great creeds – belief
about the incarnation of the Son of God, his bodily resurrection and his revelation of
the Divine Trinity.
In contrast to the ‘catholic’ were those who were deemed ‘heretic’ or schismatic’.
The BCP expresses ‘catholic’ Christianity as defined by the Ecumenical Creeds of the
Second: The BCP expresses a faith that is ‘reformed’.
The medieval church departed from the NT in important matters.
•Jesus commanded 2 sacraments – baptism and the Lord’s Supper – the Roman
church introduced 5 others.
•The gospel teaches that sinners are saved by grace; the medieval church taught that
sinners were saved by religious works.
•Jesus taught that divine authority is found in the Bible; the medieval church taught
that authority was located in the Pope.
In response Cranmer provided for extensive church reading of the Old Testament,
New Testament and the Psalms.
Reading of the Bible is the central part of the services of the BCP.
Following the reading of the Bible comes the creed.
We the people make our response to God’s Word in the Bible by saying, ‘I or We
Cranmer made the Bible central in BCP services.
Cranmer was influenced by the teaching of the Apostle Paul in chapter 14 of First
Corinthians: ‘If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual man let him acknowledge 8
that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord’ (v. 27). The written
word is authoritative over what others speak.
Also based on 1 Cor. 14 Cranmer insisted that Church services must be intelligible to
the mind. Without the engagement of the mind there is no edification.
Furthermore, Cranmer understood well that Church services need to be orderly for the
sake of edification.
Third: The BCP expresses a faith that is defended liturgically
Liturgy is not for aesthetics but employed to defend truth.
•By confession of sins acknowledging the need for forgiveness.
•By sustained reading of the Bible followed by the Creeds.
•By using a church calendar for the great festivals and their doctrines:
-Incarnation at Christmas and the atonement and hope at Easter.
-The call to repentance in Lent.
-The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
-The Ascension of the Lord on Ascension Day.
-The reality of the Trinity on Trinity Sunday.
-The Second Coming at Advent.
Each needs to be emphasized throughout the year.
But the Calendar gives opportunity to highlight these.
The calendar provides ministers opportunity to preach doctrinally.
The ‘collects’ are prayers that ‘collect’ great doctrines of the faith."
+Paul makes some points I myself would want to make to fellow Kiwi Anglican evangelicals: the liturgical shape of Anglican life provides great structure for our patterns of worship and content for what we say in worship than our regular practice in some places suggests.
Yet I wonder if this lecture takes us as far as we need to go at this present time?
It is a good thing to survive and if survival is our only option, +Paul has thrown us a lifebelt. But is there not also a question of flourishing?* Are we doomed as Anglicans in the West to decline and decline and ... death?
Is there a future in which we turn around from decline and begin to grow again?
If so, how helpful is the three legged stool going to be?
I wonder if we need a four legged chair. Is a lot of our talk these days about finding and settling on what the fourth leg should be?
NOTE re 'flourishing': a commenter below rightly asks what I mean by 'flourishing'.
Here are possibilities, any one of which would be a good thing, all of which would be best.
1. numbers recorded (e.g. attendance, baptisms, weddings, funerals, confirmations, ordinations, census allegiance) trend upwards rather than downwards.
2. individual ministry units have signs of regeneration (e.g. a balance of generations participating in church life (compared with many congregations in which 80% regular attenders are aged over 60 or even 70) and/or new 'fresh expressions' of church life are being planted among the missing generations.
3. From within flourishing congregations people are called to leadership in mission (church planters, priests, missionaries, youth workers, etc).
4. New Christians join congregations, new disciples are made in response to proclamation of the gospel.