Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another Celebration of the 1662 BCP's 350th Anniversary

"That old and godly Book," the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
Don't look to Americans for appreciation here!
Professors, seminarians, and denominational leaders do no know "that old Book."
Another Celebration of the BCP’s 350th
          A new blog appeared on the horizon, entitled “The Briefing.”  Is this an Anglican blog?  Source?  Academic background on poster?  What?  "Keep a sharp lookout, boys!" (Gen. Buford, U.S. Army, first day of Gettysburg battle, 1863).  Yes, we must maintain a sharp lookout.
          What are we to think with the proliferation of books, blogs, social media and more?  Caveat emptor!
          Initial instincts?  Good or bad?  Scholarly or unscholarly?  We continue to review and vet blogs, books and public elites, not just in the media, but in the religious arena.  We have earned some rights to do that…that is, vet theological exclaimers and proclaimers.
          We have no views re: this blog, to date.  Preliminarily, it looks good.  It was recommended by the Australian Anglicans.   It was posted by the Anglican Church League at:  We appreciate the general thrust of the post:  the celebration and use of the Book of Common Prayer, 1662!  Time and reading will tell.
          As to the 1662 BCP, what do the American Anglicans know of this “old Prayer Book?”  Never mind the Baptists, Baptacostals, Pentecostals that dominate the map.  Nor, never mind the mainline Protestants either.  How about the bishops in the ACNA or AMiA, allegedly conservative Anglicans?  Naturally, we exclude American Episcopalians—mainliners—from the question, e.g. what do TEC Churchmen know of the 1662 BCP?  Quick answers for international readers?  As a summary, they know nothing of “this good old Prayer Book.” 
          Here’s the blog post.  See: .

BCP’s 350th!

Sandy Grant | 19 May, 2012

I love my historical anniversaries. (Regular readers will know this, as do members of my church!) Anyway, 350 years ago today, on 19 May 1662, The Act of Uniformity received the royal assent in England. This enforced use of the Book of Common Prayer. There is a sad side to compelling the consciences of some Christian ministers, who preferred different ways of ordering their public church assemblies, but I will return to that another occasion.
Today I want to share a little about the famous 1662 BCP, as it’s often called for short. For a start, it has almost been as influential on the English language as the King James Bible! Think of such resonant phrases like “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (Burial of the Dead), or “till death us do part” and “for better for worse” (both in the Solemnization of Matrimony). These come from the BCP, not the Bible! Of course, on the other hand, the concepts and phrases found in such prayer book services reflect deep immersion in the biblical worldview.
The Book of Common Prayer emphasised the centrality of the Bible as God’s word to mankind. It urged its systematic reading at some length, in the language of the people. So it was a book to learn of God, and by which to worship God with others or alone. But it was also a book to live, love and die to! Millions of English-speaking people—both believing and forgiven or indifferent and wicked—have been baptised, married, or buried to its words.
It has travelled the world wherever there were English colonists, traders or missionaries: Canada to Brazil, Nigeria to Sri Lanka. It has also been translated into Gaelic, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Maasai, Hausa, French, Dutch, Italian, Cantonese, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Burmese, Fijian, Vietnamese and Inuit! Sometimes it has been a nation’s first printed book.
Now it is mostly ignored, a mere cultural memory, copies piled up in church cupboards or gathering dust on dining room bookcases. People today think of its old-fashioned language as being lofty and stately. But I understand that in its day, the BCP’s prose had a certain direct urgency and energy in its exhortations to do business with God, or rather to let him do business with you. And of course, for those who believe its wording is sacrosanct and should never be altered, the BCP’s own preface recognised that language changes over time, and its expression must be updated and adjusted to local circumstances. But its doctrine and patterns remains a legal standard for Anglicans, and its shape influences modern efforts today.
Of course the BCP had a history prior to 1662. The English Protestant Reformer, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer published a first version in 1549. It moved right away from mediaeval Catholicism but was only halfway reformed. It was soon followed in 1552 with a version that gave full expression to Cranmer’s Reformed evangelical doctrine, made politically possible under the keen young Protestant but short-lived King, Edward VI. It was banned under Queen Mary’s bloody counter-Reformation. It was restored under the moderate Protestant Queen Elizabeth I in 1559, but retreated a little from Cranmer’s clarity over the Lord’s Supper. And this pattern continued after the brief English Republic, when the Monarchy returned and as part of that BCP was restored in the standard form that we have today.
Apart from its biblical phrasings, the part I love best is that it ensures all our public praying and exhorting of one another is based solely on the worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death for our sins. The Anglican monk Dom Gregory Dix, (with very Catholic leanings) said the BCP was “the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to the doctrine of justification by faith alone”. Long may its influence continue!

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